Offering work-weary urbanites a clean, green antidote to the haste of modern life, Gdas Bali Health and Wellness Resort will have you saying namaste (or local greeting ‘om swastiastu’) quicker than you can switch off your smartphone. Tucked away in forest-flanked Ubud and enclosed in a patchwork of paddy fields, you’ll find ancient Balinese philosophy underscoring every aspect of this blissed-out retreat, with a plant-based restaurant, spiritually-informed spa and a deep respect for all Mother Nature’s offerings. Connect mind, body and soul at the pitched yoga shala, delve into local culture and customs on a guided village stroll, or simply sit back, smoothie in hand, and ride out your new-found Zen from a heavenly poolside perch.
Noon ordinarily, but 4pm for Smith members. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £548.62 (IDR10,150,000), including tax at 21 per cent.
Rates include a plant-based, three-course breakfast of Asian and international fare, seasoned with Balinese spices.
The wellness centre is still in development until the end of July 2023, until then the fitness centre, Lanang Wadon restaurant, spa, bath house and health suite clinic will not be accessible. Allocations to rooms near the site will be as limited as possible, to ensure noise disruption is kept to a minimum.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, yoga studios, library, and boutique. In rooms: TV, iPad, bathrobes and kimonos, shopping bag, tea- and coffee-making kit, and Saga bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The Grand Deluxe room, named after Balinese herbs renowned for their healing properties, are full of local character and ideal for couples in search of a little privacy. Inside you’ll find furnishings made by craftsmen from neighbouring village Mas and a luxurious freestanding stone bath tub for long and lazy afternoon soaks. For families, or simply those partial to more spacious abodes, villas offer an open-plan escape full of regal touches, like soaring Javanese joglo roofs and a serene private plunge pool.
Take your pick of pools. The main one is a long, rectangular number overlooking the rice paddies, where guests are invited to soak up the sun from a lounger, or set up on one of the shaded cabanas for a spot of breezy sipping ‘n’ snoozing. There’s a circular Jacuzzi at the head of the pool, too. In the Bali Eden wellness centre you’ll also find a circuit of hot-and-cold plunge pools designed for contrast therapy – a muscle-tightening, circulation simulation and inflammation-reducing excuse to spend your afternoons blissfully submerged.
You'll find the spa tucked away inside the resort's wellness centre, Bali Eden, a one-stop-shop for wellness where modern technologies meet ancient philosophies. There's also a salt room, sauna, steam room, yoga shalas and fully-equipped gym. Based on the Balinese concept of Tri Hita Karana – a philosophy which centres on the spiritual and social needs of guests – all creams and potions used at the Arana spa are made fresh with local herbs to foster a deep connection with nature. Choose from traditional massages, cryotherapy and hydro-colonic, oxygen and IV treatments; or get your pump on with one of the resort's personal trainers. Yogis are spoiled for choice, too, with daily disciplines ranging from hatha to tantric, a hot-yoga salon, and majestic pitched-roofed shala surrounded by decorative pools.
Less is more; bring good intentions to muse over during calming hot yoga sessions. And, if temple-hopping is on the cards, a sarong-style cover-up will come in handy.
There is ramp access from the parking area to the lobby, and a single accessible room for guests with mobility issues. Please ask Smith’s travel team when booking.
Welcome. Babysitting is available with 24 hours notice for IDR250,000 an hour.
Sustainability is at the heart of Gdas’ ethos, who prioritise the wellbeing of the planet and their community wherever possible. From eco-friendly amenities to bamboo straws and a standardised practice of ‘glass over plastic’, the resort understands that small steps add up. Though that’s not to say their efforts are without ambition. In fact, each building in the resort is made with locally-sourced materials and furnished with the handiwork of Balinese makers. Most impressively, however, is the circular ecosystem of their plant-based kitchen, where any waste from the home-grown fruit and vegetable dishes is turned into an eco-enzyme solution, which functions as a planet-friendly cleaning solution, insect repellent and plant fertiliser.
Culinary enthusiasts should bag a seat at the bar to catch a behind-the-scenes view of the kitchen, while lovers will be wooed by the carpets of green unfolding at Tangi’s edges.
Billowing maxi dresses and barely there footwear.
You won’t be surprised to learn that, much like everything else in this forest-flanked holistic haven, dining is a good-for-you affair. Each of the two restaurants offers a plant-based take on international cuisine, combining nutrition-packed menus with knee-weakening views. Overlooking the main pool, Lanang Wadon makes a fine spot for a post-swim lunch, though it’s Tangi – the resort’s main restaurant – where you’ll want to fill up come evening. Fully vegan, all its produce is sourced from the on-site garden to create rainbow-coloured salads and soups alongside wholesome flavourful mains. Go for the braised aubergine in rich chilli galangal with coconut cream sauce or treat yourself to a healthy tofu take on classic fish and chips.
There are two bars, one in each restaurant. They’re not your typical drinkeries, mind – since booze is pretty far down the to-do list here, you’ll find drinks lists more health-conscious than hedonistic with homemade herbal concoctions, made with Balinese plants; fresh juices; teas and smoothies. Though if you’re gasping for a vino, head to Tangi where you’ll find a small but selective list of low-intervention and natural bottles.
Breakfast is served in both restaurants between 7am and 10am, while lunch runs from 11am to 5pm, dinner from 6pm to 10pm.
A separate service menu is available for round-the-clock doorstep deliveries.
You’ll find Gdas Bali Health and Wellness Resort deep within Ubud, a concentrated forest area in the centre of the island, surrounded by rice fields and lush greenery, though only a short drive from the district’s popular markets, temples and restaurants.
Ngurah Rai International Airport is an hour and 15 minutes away from Gdas. From here, transfers can be arranged for around $50 each way. Please note, transfers can accommodate a maximum of three guests, plus luggage, and must be arranged at least a day in advance.
Traffic is notoriously bad on the southern stretch of the island, so opt for a moped instead. Better still, hire a local driver so you can sit back and enjoy the views stress-free. There’s free 24-hour valet parking near the lobby.
Worth getting out of bed for
There’s a raft of wholesome diversions to get stuck into at Gdas, from muscle-pummelling massages in the garden to invigorating dips in the resort’s traditional Balinese bath house. In fact, you could easily spend a week or two just hopping between yoga classes at the hotel’s various shalas where even seasoned yogis are bound to find a style to challenge them. If it's a taste of the local culture you’re after, the concierge team can organise Balinese dance performances, loloh-making classes (a medicinal drink made with local herbs) or a Banjar walk around the neighbouring village Kumbuh, to glimpse how everyday life is lived by locals). Though Gdas – surrounded as it is by seemingly endless stretches of rice paddies and lush forest – may seem worlds away from Bali’s bustle, the island’s cultural heart is actually right on your doorstep. Yep, Ubud central (around a 15-minute drive away) boasts the highest concentration of galleries on the island, as well as vibrant markets, workshops, artisan homeware stores and plenty of cafés. One of the most notable when it comes to galleries is Museum Puri Lukisan, where you’ll find an extensive collection of 20th-century Balinese painting as well as artefacts from both pre- and post-independence eras. Of course, you’ll find a hearty helping of temples knocking about, too – they don’t call it the ‘island of the gods’ for nothing… Goa Gajah (or the ‘elephant cave’ as it’s known locally) is one of the oldest and most unique with a carved-stone demon mouth for an entrance through which you descend almost 15-feet underground. There are a great deal more to discover – over ten thousand, actually – if you’re willing to travel. On the west coast, Pura Tanah Lot, meaning ‘land in the sea’, is exactly what it sounds like: a washed-up temple where locals gather to worship sea deities. And, on the east coast, don’t miss Lempuyang Temple and its gates of heaven that frame Mount Agung volcano. Back in Ubud, the Monkey Forest is a rite of passage for first time visitors, a postcard-worthy sanctuary home to over a thousand Balinese macaques. You might want to leave your sunnies at home for this one, though, lest these long-tailed kleptomaniacs fancy themselves a new pair of Ray-Bans.
While fine dining may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Bali, the island is fast becoming something of a foodie hotspot, thanks to a handful of gourmet greats setting up shop here. Among them, Nic Vanderbeeken, the executive chef of Apéritif restaurant, whose cooking combines Indonesian tradition with modern European panache. Overlooking lush belts of jungle, tuck into one of four tasting menus (signature, vegan, vegetarian and candlelight) which include dishes like Kagoshima wagyu with sweet potato, pear, sesame, and vegan honey; Kaluga caviar; or plant-based plates, such as mushroom Wellington with kale and rendang. Equally reputable is Nusantara by Locavore, tucked away behind Ubud market. Here you’ll find regional fare that reflects the diversity of the archipelagic state. Opt for the Jepit Siap from Payangan; chicken leg marinated with turmeric, galangal, palm sugar, cloves, nutmeg, kaffir lime leaves, shrimp paste and coriander seeds, then grilled over an open wood fire.
With a Wes Anderson-esque penchant for pastel colours, Ubud café Milk & Madu is fast becoming the go-to hang out for Bali’s caffeine cultists. Alongside freshly poured brews – with non-dairy options – and elevated brunch-time faves (Russian pancakes with grilled peaches and sour cream, anyone?), they also spin a rather ravishing pizza come afternoon.
Nowhere does cocktails quite like the Night Rooster, an after-hours hang-out where nightcaps are served with a flourish. Inspired by Indonesian folk tales, each of the 10 rotating drinks on the menu comes served with house infusions and homemade liqueurs, topped with local flowers and herbs. If you’re willing to travel a little, Canggu’s clandestine cocktail parlour the Shady Pig is – like all good secrets – password-protected. You’ll have to Whatsapp those hard-to-get mixologists for a shot at entry, but if you like barrel-aged negronis served by a Peaky Blinders-style barman, it's worth the effort.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this health-forward hotel in Ubud and unpacked their well-trodden yoga mats and hand-embroidered kamben (sarong), a full account of their holistic break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Gdas Bali Health and Wellness Resort…
Ringed by rice paddies and soaring palms, Gdas Bali Health and Wellness Resort is a back-to-nature retreat occupying a particularly private slice of upmarket Ubud. Though the resort is but a short drive from the district's bustling centre, you wouldn’t know it, drenched as it is in a soothing silence, save for the chirping of birds and trickle of water. In keeping with the hotel’s earthy disposition, suites and villas are made entirely from natural materials, draped in greens and full of handmade carvings and textiles from the local craftsmen of the neighbouring village. Indonesian architect Ida Bagus Oka Genijaya has taken great care to infuse each space with a sense of Balinese tradition while ensuring the overall look is one of modern minimalism; thatched joglo roofs and pared-down wood and stone finishes are combined with sleek, contemporary furnishings, clean lines and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Soak up the sun from a poolside lounger, stretch out at the thatched yoga shala and refuel on the best of nature’s bounty at the hotel’s plant-based restaurant. Though the real jewel in Gdas’ good-for-you crown is the spa, nay, full-blown wellness centre, where ancient Balinese philosophy meets state-of-the-art biotechnology. Fittingly, ‘govinda das’, from which the hotel takes its name translates to ‘servant of the divine’, and after a traditional massage, contrast-therapy circuit, an oxygen top-up and a stint of tantric yoga, you’re bound to feel celestial.
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