The Place Retreat, Bali
Stunning healing retreat with psychotherapy for short and long-term stays
Best For: Those who feel a little ‘lost’ in life or in need of a some of peace and quiet in a tranquil setting
Not For: Anyone who doesn’t enjoy their own company or who feels uncomfortable opening up about themselves
Housed in two neighbouring villas in the affluent beach resort area of Seminyak in Southern Bali, The Place is a ‘total care’ life changing retreat set up by psychotherapist Jean-Claude Chalmet, who has 20 years’ experience as a psychotherapist and family therapist and specialises in treating individuals dealing with emotional abuse. Everyone is welcome, and the retreat provides a range of daily holistic treatments to tend to both mind and body, from acupuncture and massage to meditation and psychotherapy, all designed to help people reconnect with themselves, discover their true purpose in life, and heal both physically and emotionally. Book a one-week stay, or give yourself the chance of fully benefitting from their transformative programme by staying several weeks – many visitors book a long stay from 40 to 90 days.
Apart from meal-times, treatment sessions and classes, visitors are pretty much left to their own devices and encouraged to treat the grounds like home. You can come and go as you please, mingle with fellow guests as and when you like, watch DVDs in the outdoor living room, head downtown for some nightlife, or simply stay in your room. There is no pressure to stick to a rigorous regime and staff are on site 24/7 to tend to your needs.
It can get a bit noisy at night as traffic and people from the street below can be heard from some of the rooms. While there is a yoga studio and pools available, there is no gym for those who want to work out during their stay – though this may be a bonus for some, and there is a pay-as-you-go gym available a ten-minute walk away and several in town you can visit.
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There are numerous activities to chose from at The Place and your programme is tailor made to suit your needs. Guest are asked to fill out a health and wellness questionnaire before arrival so the team can assess which treatment will help them the most. A typical day begins with Kundalini yoga followed by a hearty breakfast then a treatment shortly after such as acupuncture or a Balinese massage. Everyone has a minimum of three weekly one-on-one psychotherapy sessions with Jean-Claude however as these are seen as a vital part of the transformational process.
Founder Jean-Claude Chalmet is a 58 year old Belgian who has lived in Bali since 2015 and has over 20 years’ experience as a psychotherapist and family therapist under his belt and specialises in treating individuals dealing with emotional abuse, past or present. His psychotherapy sessions at The Place are mostly private but long-stay retreaters also have group therapy.
Unlike counselling, psychotherapy here is designed to help people really address the root of their problems, heal their emotional wounds, and learn techniques, such as inner-child nurturing exercises, to enable them to make positive changes in their life.
Held in a room at the main house, the private sessions are integrative and collaborative and last an hour. Group therapy sessions are also held weekly in the main house, helping guests deal with all sorts of issues from depression and anxiety to addiction, relationship problems and sexual abuse.
Kundalini classes are on offer each morning, Yin yoga once a week, and a private session once a week too. Kundalini classes – otherwise known as the Yoga of Awareness – are a return to the grass-roots yoga that was intended as a form of meditation and a way to strengthen the mind/body connection, using a combination of breathing techniques (pranayama), deep relaxation, chanting and various exercises and movements designed to balance the glandular system, strengthen the nervous system, expand lung capacity, and enhance awareness. Every session is different and teacher Manuela Herreros also holds private sessions. Find out more about Kundalini yoga here.
Tantra workshops are taught by guest teacher Angela Perez three times a week for couples and occasionally for others, to help you better connect with yourself and others. Held in the outdoor yoga studio, participants are paired up and then encouraged to perform a series of exercises such as looking deeply into each other’s eyes or holding hands whilst saying how they interpret the other person. This way, you learn to let your guard down and be more open.
Guests are given regular Balinese massages to relieve physical tension and offer a little pampering. These are traditionally full-body, deep-tissue massages, using a combination of gentle stretches, acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy to stimulate the flow of blood, oxygen and energy. Techniques used include kneading, stroking, skin rolling, and pressure-point stimulation, combined with the aromas of essential oils and soothing hot towels. If you’ve never had a Balinese massage before you’ll be amazed at how light and soothed you’ll feel afterwards. There are two massage therapists, both female and local.
Led by Spiritual Healer Elisa Senese, these hour-long, private one-on-one sessions are a form of bodywork in which gentle touch is used on the head, neck, spine and pelvic bones to reduce stress in the body and build up underlying energy. Craniosacral Therapy is said to regulate the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and aid respiration as well as help the body to restore and heal itself. The idea is that the practitioner senses tensions in the body and helps to release them, leaving the recipient calm and energised, with increased clarity of mind and a feeling of wellbeing.
If you arrive at The Place suffering from any aches and pains then Andy Taylor is the man to see. Combining Chinese osteopathy with Japanese acupuncture, Dr Taylor uses age-old bone and joint maneuvering that predates Western medicine, as well as acupuncture and moxibustion – a traditional Chinese medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body – to heal all manner of ailments from acute pain and headaches, to bloating, insomnia and depression. Sessions usually start with half an hour of osteopathy followed by the application of acupuncture needles and moxa cones, which are then lit to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body. The heat is meant to improve circulation, relax tense muscles, relieve pain and promote relaxation.
Between treatment and classes, there’s plenty of time to relax, digest and rejuvenate. The villas are only a ten-minute walk from the beach – a long, sweeping stretch of sand with plenty of bars and eateries set far enough back so you can still sunbathe in peace and quiet. The beach is spotlessly clean and the sea is lovely and warm by evening but it can get very busy on Sundays when the locals are off work. You can also try some scuba diving or go horse-riding during the day if you enjoy beach activities. It’s also just a 12-minute walk from the bustling town centre of Seminyak where boutique fashion stores, top dining spots and stylish bars spring to life in the evenings. There are also numerous day spas where you can go for facials and treatments, gyms and health food stores and private yoga studios.
Bedrooms: There are six double rooms at The Place – four in the guest accommodation area, and two in the main house. They all have king-sized beds, a seating and desk area, and private outdoor bathrooms with stone baths and powerful showers. The rooms are all decorated in neutral colours with Balinese rugs spread out on the floors and huge heavy beige curtains on floor to ceiling windows that open up to reveal a beautiful outdoor seating area with a sofa lounger, coffee table, and exotic plants. With the curtains open it almost feels as though the bedroom and garden are open plan.
The rooms are split into two, with the second partition comprising built-in wardrobes, a safe, and a selection of books with heavy ceramic bookends holding them up. The desk has a large lamp at one end and paper and a pen at the other, in case you want to do some journaling or feel inspired to write. There is no TV or radio here, for the idea is to relax in between therapy and treatment sessions and, when it does get too hot outside, the powerful air-conditioning in each room is a godsend.
Other spaces to be: You can hang out at the yoga studio in between classes if you want some real time alone or sit in the garden area at the main house where there are plenty of seating areas hidden away in shaded areas under trees and among colourful plants and flowers. The resident puppy Bella might come over for the odd cuddle but otherwise you won’t be disturbed.
Bring a couple of smart casual items of clothing with you in case you do end up eating out as some of the more high-end restaurants will expect you to dress up a little – The Place usually arranges a night out for the guests at the retreat once a week during the staff’s day off where everyone goes to a local restaurant to dine. And don’t forget to pack some strong insect repellant and anti-histamine cream – the mosquitos come out in force at night and those prone to getting bitten can really suffer.
When to Go
If you want to avoid high season in July and August the best months to visit Bali generally are April, May, June and September when it is still dry and not too humid. Temperatures reach an average of 27-28 degrees Celsius.
Three generous and delicious meals a day using locally sourced ingredients are served. Both breakfasts and evening meals are eaten together with other retreaters at the main outdoor table in the guest accommodation area, which looks out onto the central garden. The table is simply decorated with a vase of fresh flowers in the centre and candles in the evening, while lunches are served individually between 1.30-3.30pm, depending on when you want to eat, in your room or at a table.
All of the meals are freshly cooked by in-house chef and staff manager Harrison Johnson and comprise both Asian and European dishes. Breakfast is a huge buffet of toasted bread with various condiments, cheese, omelettes, frittatas, fruits, yoghurt, porridge and, on Fridays, a special treat of pancakes.
Lunch is kept light to accommodate late afternoon Yoga or Tantra sessions and usually consist of tasty vegetable soups or salads such as quinoa and feta cheese or tomato and rocket.
Evening meals come in buffet style again, with an array of dishes laid out on the main table for guests to help themselves at 7.30pm. Fish features heavily on the menu but pork and lamb are served too, accompanied by side dishes such as sautéed potatoes, aubergine salad, and fragrant rice.
They use organic products, and guests can help themselves to fruit and yoghurt from the fridge whenever they want as pudding or a snack. Vegans, vegetarians and those with allergies or food intolerances can also be catered for. Wine and beer is given on request, as are fruit juices, coke, tea and coffee, but meals are all served with water and coconut water.
The Place is big on recycling and staff make sure they recycle all packaging daily. Food is never wasted – any left overs from mealtimes are given to staff to eat on the premises or take home. The retreat provides filtered water from a water station in reusable plastic cup and all food is locally sourced. All staff are locals.
Coco Grove, Jalan Sari Temuku, gg. Sangat, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten, Badung, Bali 80361
Transfer time: 30 minutes