When I heard I would be staying at the W Retreat, I was intrigued. To me, W Hotels are synonymous with a playful, party vibe – so I was curious to find out what their interpretation of a retreat would be. Would we be served juice instead of cocktails at the bar, and would fruit replace pastries at the breakfast buffet?
I figured that there are worse places to be deprived of Cosmopolitans and fries than the sunny beaches of Seminyak, Bali. At least the sun would be shining – and going without a poolside pizza would probably do my bikini body a great deal of good.
As I approached the resort in a golf buggy, I was struck by how happy everyone seemed – whatever this retreat entailed, it seemed to be working.
I checked into my Ocean-Facing Escape Room and my suspicions were soon put at ease – between the huge tray of welcome chocolates and jelly sweets and the fully-stocked minibar, it seemed that this was a retreat less about deprivation, and more about indulging in what makes you happy.
Photo: Garden View Room, W Retreat
Grinning, I popped a chocolate in my mouth and stood on my huge balcony, taking it all in: the buzzing restaurants and bars, the vast expanses of pools and sun loungers, and a little further ahead, the dazzling blue ocean. I’m going to be very happy here, I thought.
I headed straight for the pool and flopped on a giant poolside sofa, stirring every now and then to reach for a strawberry skewer or coconut water shot that were constantly circulated by the friendly attendants.
As the sun began to go down, I moved across to Woobar, where a DJ set had started and groups of sun-kissed people gathered around shisha pipes, sipping from cocktail glasses and enjoying each other’s company.
But for me, I sat mesmerised by the sight of the red sky – and before I knew it I had drained three margaritas. Note to self: do not become so distracted by gorgeous sunsets that you lose track of alcohol consumption, especially in hot countries… Realising I needed to sober up, I dragged myself off the day bed and went to get ready for dinner.
Photo: Woobar, W Retreat
Soon after I was seated at Fire Restaurant, a waiter presented me with a board covered in the different steaks to choose from. Drooling, I picked an Australian tenderloin, while my companion – who is more suited to the traditional ‘retreat’ side of things – was spoilt for choice by separate vegetarian and vegan menus.
As I devoured my steak, she tucked into a more virtuous saffron cous cous, but made a concession for the signature chocolate dome dessert – a melting globe of 64% chocolate which encased a scoop of white chocolate ice cream and popping candy. Now I knew why the guests looked so happy all the time.
I slept like a baby that night, and decided to work up an appetite for breakfast by joining a morning boxing class in the resort’s fitness studio. Even workouts are given a fun twist – weekend yoga classes are set to special DJ playlists. Suitably sweaty, I showered off in my rainfall shower and then prepared myself for the feast that awaited me at the breakfast buffet.
I never thought I’d be one to feel overwhelmed by choice when it came to breakfast, but I did not know where to begin. From flatbreads to sashimi, dim sum to yoghurt parfaits, French toast to shakshuka, I couldn’t think of a single thing lacking – other than my stomach’s ability to taste everything on offer. I settled for a three-course affair of coconut chia pudding to begin, avocado and feta on sourdough toast to follow, and a cappuccino donut to finish, accompanied with freshly-squeezed carrot, orange and ginger juice. And I might have also snaffled a few brownies and M&Ms on my way out. Perhaps.
Exhausted by the digestive efforts required of my body, I returned to a floating pillow in the pool and was lulled in and out of a snooze by the ripples of the water. Having had a good few hours to recover, it was time to explore what else the resort had to offer.
Photo: WET Pool, W Retreat
As I walked through the lobby I was struck by a phenomenal Mad Hatter-themed afternoon tea display featuring the tallest cakes I had ever seen, decorated in rainbow colours. I resisted temptation and grabbed a healthy fruit platter and granola bar from the adjacent Fuel Bar instead, feeling only a little envious of the guests tucking into gigantic slabs of chocolate and red velvet cake smothered in cream cheese icing…
Having indulged my sweet tooth enough, it was time for a different kind of treat: a massage at the AWAY Spa. An oasis in the sizzling heat, I understood now why this place was called W Retreat. The treatment melted away all the tension and stress of the outside world and left me feeling unbelievably relaxed.
I had planned to head out and explore that evening, but the prospect of climbing into my giant bathtub, wrapping myself up in a fluffy robe and watching a DVD chosen from the menu in my room was more appealing. Lying in bed with a glass of wine and a rom-com, this was exactly the kind of retreat I wanted.
Having not known what to expect before I arrived, it was clear that the W Retreat really does cater to every guest’s needs, be that healthy food and relaxation, or indulgence and celebrations – or something in between. Looking at myself in the mirror the next day, I realised that I too was emitting that glow I’d noticed in the other guests previously. And with that, I reached for another muffin at the breakfast buffet – for medicinal purposes, of course…
Photo: Chill Bar at AWAY Spa, W Retreat
Rooms at W Retreat start at $360 per night.