Indonesia is a land of great tradition and mystery, and when it comes to beauty and well-being, Indonesian women have secrets that have been passed down from generation to generation. From traditional Balinese massage — which develops from a number of different techniques including acupressure and reflexology — to Boreh, a herbal paste that is applied on the body to heal rheumatism and colds, the island has its fair share of unique treats.
While the W's Away Spa does not really do full-on traditional treatments, they do incorporate certain aspects of these of these into their own massages I tried the Well-Healed Massage at the Away Spa. Inspired by a Balinese-style massage, this uses various traditional healing techniques, such as acupressure, stretching, and medium-strength palm and thumb pressure to relieve muscle tension and improve circulation.
At the start of the massage, a pack of warming, fresh ginger is placed on areas of concern such as the upper back or shoulders to loosen up a stressed and tired body while your masseuse works on you. Do note, that unlike the harder-pressure massage that many Singaporeans are used to, this is a relatively gentle massage, though you can ask for firmer pressure to release muscle tension.
Borrowing elements and modernising is the way that the Away Spa does their Indonesian-inspired treatments. We learned more from the W Retreat & Spa's director of spa & recreation Ni Made Ary Sitiari. Says Ary, "There are still traditional ingredients used in our spa treatments. For example, our scrub is not called Lulur (a traditional Javanese skin treatment) because it is not a pure Lulur, but the ingredients used — like turmeric and rice powder — are still quite traditional."
Another Balinese-specific treatment is Boreh. "Boreh is a warming, body mask that relieves muscular pains and helps treat arthirits. Ingredients include ginger, clove, turmeric, rice, rice powder and black pepper. Balinese people tend to apply it on focussed areas like their back, neck, knees and their forehead and leave it on for a maximum of 30 minutes or so." These exotic spices stimulate the body's circulation and warm the skin with an aromatic blend.
There are other Indonesian treatments that are carried out throughout the islands, including Bali. Away Spa's version of the creambath uses essential oils like tangerine and virgin coconut oil in their products. Hair is washed, before the cream is applied and a scalp massage is done. As with all Indonesian treats, a relaxing neck and shoulder massage is included, before hair is steamed and the treatment is washed off. Ary also says that a lot of Balinese women also use candlenut to maintain the lustre and blackness of their tresses.
Natural fruit facial
Ary says that in some spas, fresh, natural ingredients are still used. "They use yoghurt as a cleanser, sugar as a scrub as well as other fruits like papaya and avocado as a mask." However the number of spas offering such traditional treatments has inevitably decreased, and Ary admits that finding them can be tough as many now use packaged, cosmetic products rather than fresh, raw ingredients. Still having experienced the pure indulgence and efficacy of these treatments firsthand, we would highly recommend seeking these out and giving them a try.
Here are some spas that still do traditional-style treatments recommended by the W Retreat & Spa's spa director Ni Made Ary Sitiari and their Insider Rika Wisna:
Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali
Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera
Jimbaran, Bali 80364,
COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali
Banjar Begawan, Desa Melinggih Kelod Payangan
Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571
Mandara Spa at Grand Nikko Bali
Jalan Raya Nusa Dua Selatan,
Nusa Dua, Bali 80363
To view more insider tips from our #BuroInBali guide, click here.