Woke up this morning after an insanely solid sleep the night before. Having said this, it was still relatively early – I had expected that we would sleep in a lot more then we did. As it was, we ended up getting up and getting to breakfast at around 8am. I do love the sunrise in the tropics, it really helps you want to get out of bed!
We were also able to appreciate our room a little more then we did the last night. Spacious king-sized bed, lovely balcony and high windows that looked out on a small tropical garden. Honestly, lovely. Really happy to be staying here.
At breakfast, we first met up with my cousin Jade (groom’s sister) and her boyfriend Kenneth (Ken), Aunty Steph and Uncle Alan (mother and father of the groom) joined us shortly after and we had a lovely breakfast and catch up together.
The breakfast spread was VERY impressive with a multinational buffet on offer. As we tend to, we made sure to eat a hearty (free!) breakfast as we would then be able to skimp a little on lunch.
We met Sarah who checked in with us last night – we only had bleary memories of this as they were as wrecked as we were. We noticed that they got a “wedding welcome pack” the same as us when we checked in the night before so we knew they were part of our group though we hadn’t been introduced.
Also during breakfast, we met Josh Woischuk (my uncle’s ‘step’-son) and were introduced to his new girlfriend Dayna.
Josh did help me out when I worried I had broken the coffee machine by reaching around and using the old “have you tried turning it off and on again?” trick, made the ERROR6 message disappear.
Shortly after breakfast, after Nick and I had both showered and changed, a driver despatched from Zahra Spa came and picked us up from our hotel lobby. Now, according to google when I had researched the place, we should have only been a 20 minute walk away from the place. However, we drove for nearly 25 minutes and I was starting to worry slightly about where they were taking us when we arrived to the villa.
It turns out, there is a “main branch” of Zahra Spa which is close to our hotel, but I had booked us for a private villa session. Nick and I were the only people there and there were a team of four ladies who were looking after us.
Firstly, as soon as we walked in, we were offered a lovely welcome drink of guava juice and some snacks (puffed rice crackers and some yummy plantain chips). After we were allowed a little time to snack and relax, we were led to the outside pool area of the villa where were were given a rose petal foot bath including a short foot massage (never fear – there was to be more in depth foot massage action later!)
Following this we were taken upstairs to a double bed treatment room and advised to disrobe, put on some paper (disposable) underwear and wrap ourselves in a couple of silk sarongs. There was an adjoining bathroom to this room as well which we could use if needed. We laid face down on the table to start and the massage portion of the visit began.
Firstly, the massage started with a dry acupressure massage. They started with my back and shoulders and then moved to my calves and feet where there was a lot more tightness (and pain!) then I was expecting!!! After this, they followed with an oil massage of the same areas – long sweeping motions which obliterated my knots quite thoroughly. Finally, they then used hot stones on my calves and back. They allowed the stones to sit on my tightest muscles so that the heat penetrated deep and relaxed me.
The procedure was repeated when they asked me to turn over and they did my thighs, arms and (weirdly) stomach. There was also a small head and decolletage massage which was very soothing!
After the massage was over, we moved on to the facial. I have only ever once had a facial before (back home in Australia) but this one was so much better. They started with a through cleanse with a thick, moisturising cleanser, followed by a chemical exfoliation. The exfoliation was quite weird as I had never had it done before. I had thought initially that they were doing another cleanse but it started to feel stickier and thicker and eventually, I could feel the dead skin making little ‘clumps’ in the exfoliating gel. Freaky, but my face has literally never been smoother so maybe there is something to it. This was followed by a clear mask which was allowed to dry for maybe 15 minutes before being peeled off Patrick Bates style. During the mask drying stage, I really badly needed to pee so I had to jump up, half peel off one of the eye patches they put over my eyes (which were stuck on by the mask) and stumble to the bathroom. Ha ha ha, I was really uncoordinated as my muscles felt loose from the previous massage. I blame the odd stomach massage putting pressure on my bladder making me need to pee!
As Nick and I were getting dressed to head out to the next stage of our visit, he called me a spud for my impromptu bathroom break. Man, for someone who literally pees every 10 minutes, I don’t think he can afford to throw too many stones!
Reflexology was the next stop and – ouch! There was some parts that genuinely made me flinch with pain but as I kept telling the girls, I wanted a strong massage and they delivered!! During the reflexology, we were served more afternoon tea and snacks ( a bowl of peanuts which Nick obliterated and some rice crisp sticks which were lovely), and a lovely ginger tea which looked sort of milky but I was pretty sure was non-dairy.
I drowsed off a few times during this foot massage and when it was over, that was the end of our treatments. The girls were so cute and let us take pictures with them. We also promised to leave them a super positive review on Tripadvisor. When we told them we heard about them from Tripadvisor they all simultaneously broke into a chorus of “#1 on Tripadvisor” which was super cute and funny!
Being led back downstairs, we were surprised with an (included) lunch for two which could have EASILY fed five. The dishes were all home made, traditional Balinese meals and were wonderful! The problem for me was that I had had a decent breakfast and with all the snacks we had had I wasn’t able to eat much of anything. Nick though, amazing husband that he is, managed to make a fair tilt at it for both of us. Way to take one for the team my love!!
Honestly, it was the best spa experience I have ever had in my life and back home, you would have easily paid $300 each and not had as warm or friendly a day (not to mention lunch!!). Nick and I together paid less then $180AUD for 5 hours of relaxation. I highly recommend this place to any one travelling to this area.
We were dropped back at the Novatel (with a side trip to the main branch to pick up some other Zahra clients who needed to be dropped off) and commenced exploring the area. Specifically, we wondered down to the beach where several of my family members had the cool beach-side villas.
It was not at all surprising then that we ran into my cousins again and we ended up grouping up and hanging out. Having a few drinks by the poolside and chatting with everyone was a really lovely way to spend an afternoon. I also discovered lemon Bintang. Finally! A beer I can ACTUALLY drink. Purists amongst beer drinkers probably don’t classify Bintang as a beer, but as its the drink of choice here, I decided that “when in Rome…”
My dad also made it over to our hotel and we chatted for a while with him and Aunty Steph and Uncle Alan before we all decided to head out for dinner. We ended up splitting into an older crowd and younger crowd to go out. Nick and I ended up going with the younger crowd to “Black Tom’s Bar and Grill”.
Now, the food was quite cheap, pretty average tasting but the drinks were icy cold. The real thing that made this place a fun night out was the band, who were talented, had a WIDE repertoire and accepted song requests from the audience.
We were sitting at a large table directly in front of them and once it was made known that we were in Bali together for Thoren and Sam’s wedding we were called on quite often by the band.
At one point they had Toz and Sam do a “practice first dance” for their wedding to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Jade found this very emotional and started crying. It was super sweet and adorable. I hope Jade remembers to wear waterproof mascara on Wednesday though!!
Nick and I danced to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” and the band continued to impress by seamlessly transitioning from Backstreet Boys “I Want it That Way” to Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”. They were also multilingual, accepting requests from Japanese and Chinese tourists, speaking to them in their respective languages. They even sang a whole song in Mandarin.
I really enjoyed their rendition of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water”.
Slightly drunk, we collectively herded everyone back to the hotel. Along the way, we saw dad and Aunty Steph having a massage out at one of the many parlours (these ones are akin to Max Therapy back home). $6AUD for an hour!
We didn’t stop and chat as it was still waaaaay past my bedtime at this stage and I was looking forward to showering, getting ready for the next day (which would involve a cooking class!) and sleep. Thankfully, we made it back with no incidents and after having a MUCH more relaxing day then the day before, we turned in feeling great!