On arrival at Sukhavati, guests receive a thorough consultation with one of the resort’s excellent Ayurvedic doctors to discuss their ailments and goals, have their mind-body state assessed using traditional Ayurvedic diagnostic techniques, and uncover their prakriti (individual constitution) in order to guide the design of a customized treatment program. While specific diet restrictions and prescribed treatments will vary for each guest, meat, caffeine and alcohol are all banned at Sukhavati. The writer was forbidden to eat fruit during detoxification, and was ordered a daily round of ghee (a type of clarified butter) medicated with herbs to bring accumulated toxins to the stomach, from which they were then purged with three days of castor oil. Although not for the faint of heart, this regime did exclude the enemas that were prescribed for most other guests.
While colonics are part of the deal for some, guests receive them in luxury. All treatments are administered in private, open-air pavilions set over a burbling river and looking out at lush tropical foliage. The extensive array of Ayurvedic treatments on offer includes pizzichilli, a slow, indulgent massage by two technicians using warm herbalized oil; shirodhara, involving a gentle, continuous stream of warm oil poured across the forehead to alleviate mental strain, insomnia, and stress; and navarakizhi, where cloth bags are filled with Navar rice and soaked in medicated milk before being applied as part of a synchronized full body massage. Additional, non-prescribed treatments can be ordered a la carte.
Food at Sukhavati consists of carefully crafted vegetarian dishes such as eggplant curry and daal, often made with organic ingredients from the resort’s garden. Dedicated carnivores may find the savory fare difficult after a few days, but this is precisely the point. Breakfast is especially delicious, including freshly squeezed juice, fresh fruit, herbal tea and a choice of main dishes like dosas (Indian pancakes) with coconut milk. Mocktails are served every evening before dinner at the river deck, offering an opportunity to mingle with other guests. You can choose to take your meals at the communal river pavilion, on your private villa balcony or poolside overlooking the jungle.
Spa treatments, meals, daily follow-up health consultations, and unlimited fresh juice and health drinks brought to you on request by the attentive staff (we especially loved the almond milk with dates and cardamom) are included in the program, as are facials, foot massages, and optional lifestyle seminars. Complimentary morning and afternoon yoga sessions are also offered, as well as a group meditation before lunch. While this may sound like a packed schedule, plenty of time remains for relaxing by the river or pool. Guests are strongly encouraged to take advantage of all their included treatments and the daily group activities on offer, but can skip anything if they prefer.
As part of the personal development-focused Griffith Group, which offers Vedic meditation courses throughout Australia, Sukhavati periodically hosts “Success without Stress” meditation programs that teach the technique in 4 sessions led by a Vedic meditation expert. If your stay doesn’t coincide with a Success without Stress program, individual meditation training can be arranged at extra cost.
Sukhavati is located relatively close to Ubud, and the resort offers transportation for hire so guests can tour the town’s dreamy temples and nearby attractions such as the Tegalalang rice terraces. Bikes are freely available to explore neighboring villages that showcase authentic Balinese life, and every few days the staff leads bike rides to an untouched stretch of Canggu beach, with a visit to Sukhavati’s local water purification project along the way. However, guests are advised to eschew too much sightseeing or rigorous activity and prioritize being present at the estate, in order to fully absorb the healing properties of the food, yoga, meditation and treatments. Particularly for more intense panchakarma programs, you will likely prefer to use your downtime resting and enjoying the stillness of the lush jungle surroundings.
The estate houses 8 luxurious villas with marble floors decorated in traditional Balinese style, some of which have their own pools, walled gardens and outdoor showers. To get the full Sukhavati experience, it’s worth splurging on a private pool villa, which offers significantly more seclusion. The Chintanami and Amitabha villas face east and are set on Sukhavati’s highest tier, allowing guests to take in the sunrise and incredible views over the estate from a plush four poster bed.
The resort has a loyal following of repeat guests, who enthusiastically attest to the benefits of regular stays. Like any serious Ayurvedic cleanse, the Sukhavati program is at times physically uncomfortable, but the luxuriant tropical surroundings, five-star accommodation, and sound of temple bells and Buddhist chanting filtering over the treetops every morning and evening create the ideal setting to undergo detoxification. Plan on returning home completely blissed out and feeling much lighter than when you left.