Review: Auriga Spa at Capella Ubud – A wellness oasis cocooned in the heart of a rainforest.


Ubud in the hills of Central Bali has always been one of my favourite spots on the island, thanks to its abundantly green rice paddies and serene temples scattered across the landscape. So when Capella unzipped the tents of its jungle camp property in July 2018, I was raring to check out the hotel. Unfortunately, due to high occupancy, I wasn’t able to book a stay this past July when I visited Bali — a year in, the retreat was proving to be an incredible success. So I settled for the next best thing: a spa experience at their renowned Auriga Spa which, in this particular property, is founded on Balinese and Hindu traditions.

At First Glance
Using Capella Singapore’s Auriga Spa as my reference point (one of the city’s best spas), Capella Ubud’s outpost blew me out of the water. The entire property is surrounded by idyllic lush foliage everywhere you look, giving you the impression that you are, most certainly, in the middle of the unspoiled rainforest.

A welcome drink of rosella tea and a refreshing towel at Capella Ubud’s Auriga Spa reception

Upon arrival at “The Station” — the hotel lobby — you’ll descend down a short flight of stairs to the open-air “Camp’s Post” bale, which is divided equally between the welcome reception and spa reception spaces. Another short walk along a brick-laden path will take you to the spa’s three treatment tents located one after the other on a slope.

The Story
Capella Ubud is the only luxury hotel in the Keliki Valley in Ubud, Bali. The spa itself, opened in Spring 2018, is set within the tranquillity and peace of the compound’s surroundings, reflecting the sanctuary of privacy and rustic luxury that is offered to guests when they come here.

Based on the philosophy that the phases of the moon impact our bodies in different ways, every aspect of Auriga’s spa experiences are designed in harmony with these varying energies of the lunar phrases to align, balance and restore your wellbeing. Other holistic therapies include Balinese cleansing rituals, meditation, yoga and sound healing.

The Hollandia tent from the outside

The Room
There are a total of three luxurious treatment tents dedicated to the spa. I was ushered into the Hollandia tent, which could accommodate two people. Designed and furnished by Bill Bensley of Shinta Mani fame, the space was adorned with two wall paintings depicting shelves of curios like Buddha statues, jars of varying shapes, exotic fruits, and even a trident. Plastic sheets for windows, just as you would expect in a typical camping tent, made up the other “walls”, where one could overlook more greenery.

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The double vanity area, with the other wall painting behind it

Featuring a small foyer area, double copper vanities, a rain shower with ornate woodwork, and a toilet that’s literally built like a wooden throne, it was the most eclectic, whimsical spa room I’d ever been in. Like 19th century Europe meets the Balinese jungle camp.

The Hollandia treatment tent

The Treatment
I was told that my New Moon treatment — for renewal and introspection — was meant to enable me to “reach [my] higher potential and [set] new intentions”.

It began with a foot scrub and bath, followed by a massage of my feet — “my foundation”. Next, the body portion followed with a muscle massage that successfully unravelled the knots that had been weighing down on me — and even some that I didn’t know were there. There’s a spot on my back upper arm, just above my armpit, that I’d only recently learnt was the point of much tension; thanks to hours of working on my laptop and fiddling with my phone. In my experience, most massages don’t give these pressure points the attention they deserve. Thankfully, this massage was not one of them.

The spa uses The Organic Pharmacy products, as well as organic solutions exclusively blended for the hotel

After 1.5-hours of kneading, probing and pushing with a heavenly massage oil courtesy of The Organic Pharmacy brand, a quick Carrot Butter Cleanser facial followed to gently awaken me. As I climbed off the bed, I truly felt lighter on my feet and clearer of mind, body and spirit.

The Hospitality
With 7-years of experience under her belt, my therapist, Agung, was deftly effective in massaging out knots in my upper back and shoulders — the most problematic parts of my body. She was truly one of the best I’ve experienced. Be sure to request for her.

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Even though I’d opted for no music but the sounds of the outdoors during the session, I wasn’t once bothered or taken by surprise by unexpected movement sounds or heavy breathing (as I have experienced before). The entire duration was more than pleasant and peaceful.

Location
If you’re an in-house guest, I’d highly recommend booking yourself into a treatment. Since there are only three tents available at any one time, slots can be snapped up quickly so do make an appointment in advance.

If you’re not a guest, you can still come in for some pampering. The car ride duration depends on where you’re coming from on the island, although the hotel is fairly far away from most places (a small price to pay, you’ll realise, once you get there). But, if you wish, you can arrange for a private transfer in a Wi-Fi-enabled luxury car.

For Your Consideration
The entire property is built on slopes (guests are handed walking sticks when they check-in) and the bricks that line the paths are laid a brick space apart from one another. If you’re not comfortable navigating such bumpy terrain, this might not be the place for you. If you desire somewhere sleeker, clean-lined and less “into the wild”, you’re better off picking another spa.

The room was adorned with two wall paintings depicting shelves of curios and, even, a real jackfruit tree

The Noteworthy
There was a real jackfruit tree — with one huge, ripe fruit — in the room. And even though I knew that I was in a tent (essentially), I often forgot this fact in light of the hardwood floors, interior design and general sturdiness of all the facilities.

The Summary
I’m already looking forward to my next visit. That says it all, doesn’t it?

Tents
3

Staff
Attentive and obliging

Amenities
Innovative rustic luxury

Note– The critic was invited by the hotel. But all the opinions expressed herewith are her own.

Where: Capella Ubud (A member of The Leading Hotels of the World)
Jl. RY Dalem, Keliki, Tegallalang,
Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80561, Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 2091888

The luxe factor is

7 Location
10 Spa
10 Service
9