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“Sorry my review is so long!”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Escape Haven Bali

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Escape Haven Bali
Certificate of Excellence
UK
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Sorry my review is so long!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 September 2011

I have just returned from my visit to Surf Haven and thought I would share some details of my trip (my apologies now for the long review!)- Surf Haven is not a cheap holiday option, so all feedback, I think, is useful! Overall I had a really great trip and I thoroughly enjoyed surf haven.

I was on the Co-Ed week of Surf Haven and stayed in Villa Issi which is the 'sister' villa to the 'Villa Jepun' where most of the Surf Haven retreats are held.

Firstly- a couple of details on this site and on Surf Haven website are not accurate, which I’ve detailed below.

The pictures mainly on this website are largely out of date. Surf Haven have now moved to a new villa called Villa Jepun. Villa Jepun is beautiful, and very nice, but some of the details of the villa are a little different to what you might expect if you were to look at trip adviser and Surf Haven website directly. You can look up Villa Jepun as it can be rented as a villa without being part of Surf Haven, if you want to see more pictures.

Yoga and Meditation
I really enjoyed the yoga sessions. The instructor was relaxed and informative and made the sessions enjoyable, especially for me as a beginner- I have since managed to find yoga classes back home to continue with yoga practice.
Surf Haven website advises there will be Yoga and Meditation offered daily- this is not the case. The meditation sessions are part of the yoga sessions, and there is not a yoga session every day. As someone who has been on meditation workgroups, I would say there is no real meditation in the yoga sessions. There is no yoga session on the last day. The first yoga session is only 1 hour, but the website advises “Your day at our surf spa retreat begins with a 90-minute yoga and meditation class, taught in our open-air yoga space poolside”. The website would make you believe that Yoga is practiced outside, or in a studio that looks Balinese in style (depending on which pictures you look at). This is not the case. The Yoga session is in a squash court at Villa Jepun (not quite as Bali feeling, but actually the room was adequate).

Massages and spa treatments
The website makes the massages look absolutely idyllic! Don’t be fooled by these pictures! The 2 hour spa treatment is wonderful, and this spa treatment is at Bodyworks (a spa centre about a 5 minute drive away)- however the massages at the villa are nothing like what you see on the web! The massages are on a massage bed in the gym area of the villa, with the gym equipment moved to the side. Also, you may have your massages at the same time as someone else, so there are 2 of you in the room.
Some people also felt uncomfortable as the masseuse’s were male (maybe not always the case).

Surfing and the beach
I thoroughly enjoyed the surfing and it was absolutely the highlight of my trip.
There are surfing sessions for 5 of the days that you are at Surf Haven and the instructors from “Double D” surf school are brilliant. They will get you standing on the board and they will teach you how to surf and the basics of surfing. Surf Haven have also employed ‘Carli’ who is from Australia who is a brilliant and a very motivational and enthusiastic instructor. It is great to be able to ask Carli questions and get an ‘English’ response, because sometimes with the Double D instructors questions and answers can be lost in translation!
On the last 2 days you have to be at breakfast at 6.30 to get to the surf early. Although this in theory makes sense, the surf wasn’t even at its best. The surf instructors said the better surf would be about 10am, however, this likely didn’t fit into Surf Haven’s schedule of events. When a few of us gave Surf Haven feedback about the timing the subject was disregarded as quickly as the subject was opened. A shame.
To get to the beach there are 2 options- walk for about 20 minutes or take a car for about 20 minutes (the traffic is not good!). I loved the walk there and back, but it is a shame that for those who had to take a car they were spending 40 minutes a day getting to and from the beach. The beach is about actually only about a 10 minute walk away, if you want to go to the beach, which is good (surf school is about another 10 minutes along the beach).

Food and drink
The food was superb, and there will be more food on offer than you can eat! The website states you will get daily fruit baskets- this is not the case. You do get some fruit and snacks in the afternoon, which is nice, but no fruit baskets.

Dinner is way too early! Dinner is generally about 6 or 6.30, which after a full day of activities and massages, yoga, surfing and everything else, is too early and leaves no real time for yourself. Most people thought it would be better to have dinner about 7.30 giving you a little more free time later in the afternoon (especially as you’re given snacks late afternoon).

The Villas
The Villa’s are not in the heart of Seminyak, which is nice, in my opinion, as it means they feel more relaxed and restful. Some of the villas and hotels nearer the beach are probably swamped at night by loud music and bars, so it was blissful not to worry about noise issues at night. Because the villa’s are not right in the heart of Seminyak to get around you may find it useful to get a taxi, or if you feel comfortable hire a bike to get around.

The staff at the Villas are exceptional and will cater for your every whim- you will feel spoilt rotten. Janine and Dan will also try to make sure everything you want is catered for and if you need anything let them know. I was ill for a day and ‘Sari’, at Villa Issi was so helpful and considerate. Unfortunately there was not the same concern from Surf Haven organisers, but…… I am old enough to look after myself!

Alcohol and drinks are expensive- you can get soda’s, if you want them for under half the price in Seminyak itself. For me it was a great week to drink plenty of water, coconut milk, and the lovely juices prepared.

General Feedback
Prior to your departure you will be asked to complete a preference sheet by Surf Haven- in this sheet they will ask you questions about your food and drink preferences- this preference sheet makes it feel as if you are going to get a really tailored service, however, you don’t. The food that is served is what is served, and it caters for everyone. The only reason I can see that they send the preference sheet is to ascertain if you have any allergies or food/drink intolerances , and to ask which spa treatments you want. To be fair they did take into account one food issue I had, which I did appreciate, but this could have been handled without having to complete a preference sheet.

On the web it says there will be scented candles and fresh flowers- I didn’t see any scented candles, but I did get a little flower on my pillow most evenings which was sweet!

I found being at Villa Issi that it was difficult to integrate into the group at Villa Jepun. Surf Haven organise some of the activities by groups staying at the 2 villas- although I can see the logic behind this, it can make the 2 groups feel less integrated. This, of course, may ideally suit some people.

Overall I think the concept of Surf Haven is brilliant- the retreat, the yoga, the surfing and the idea of meeting some great new people, all sounds perfect, and Surf Haven do strive to deliver a great holiday. Overall I had a really great time, met some lovely people, discovered yoga and surfing, and really relaxed and unwound. I do think the website needs to be updated and made more accurate, and I do think that the people running Surf Haven need to be more open to feedback that is being given. When I asked if there was a feedback sheet, there was a look of genuine surprise that I wanted to give some feedback. During the week I heard several people trying to give some feedback and the response was fairly non-committal and a bit like “but we’re doing everything perfectly”. There is an excel spreadsheet put up for the week so you can see what is happening and when, and where you need to be and how long for. There is fairly limited flexibility in the timings of events and the structure of the week, which makes some sense, but seeing an excel spreadsheet detailing your week holiday is a bit frightening initially, especially when you’re on holiday, trying to get away from schedules and routines and diaries and formalities! However, I do appreciate that trying to organise a group with yoga, surfing, massages, and everything else, there does need to be some routine and schedule.

Unfortunately due to illness I wasn’t able to go on the cultural tour day, so I can’t make comment on this day.

Would I recommend Surf Haven? Yes, I would. However, I would say that Surf Haven isn’t as spiritual and ‘real’ as I had anticipated. I think Janine and Dan are genuinely nice people, they will go out of their way to help you, if they can, but ultimately they are running a business and unfortunately it does feel as if you are on a treadmill of organisation and supporting a wonderful lifestyle choice they have made. For those of us going on holiday we are lucky to have a glimpse of that lifestyle for the week!

If I were to give you one tip – make sure you have a few days either side of your Surf Haven trip for your ‘holiday’- There is so much going on when you are Surf Haven, you will need more time to explore the shops, see a little bit of Bali, relax on the beach, or around a pool, and if you try to do all of this in your week at Surf Haven you may feel that you have to make compromises on activities or what you want to do.

  • Stayed September 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
25 Thank JoopsUk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SurfHavenBali, Owner at Escape Haven Bali, responded to this review, 5 October 2011
Thank you for providing such a detailed review. Sorry for my long response! We encourage feedback as its such a valuable way to learn and grow, and we've developed our program based upon this, seeking ways to continuously improve what we offer, from every retreat. Some of these improvements have been things - like having yoga inside vs outside where its humid and the ground is less stable, and instead of a fruit basket, having cut fruit available on demand. We also send feedback forms after each retreat to gain even deeper insight into any learning’s we can build into subsequent retreats. We are sorry if you felt like feedback was not taken on board through the retreat, our aim is to be as open and flexible as possible whilst still maintaining the needs of the group and the optimal timing of activities, like surfing, ensuring the best quality experience for everyone.

I hear and agree with some of your points on group integration across both villas in co ed retreats. With these co ed retreat weeks they are a lot bigger than our women only weeks. We have run 5 of these and whilst they have gone well, they were very good (as you have rated us) vs excellent, as we are consistently rated for our guests on our women only retreats. It’s due to this that we made the decision not any more Co ed retreats, your was the last one - and concentrate now on what we excel at, our women only retreat weeks where the groups are small and thus the experience is more tailored, at a one on one level.

As a consequence, Villa Issi, where you stayed, will no longer be used. We will continue to use our beautiful main villa Jepun which has a separate spa treatment room unlike Issi where you stayed. Villa Jepun is privately used solely for Surf Haven retreats for the 10 months that we are open each year.

In terms of Yoga, we have a fully air conditioned stand alone, large yoga studio which is set in our garden, next to our pool. Sometimes we run yoga outside but again as you were on the co ed week where the group size was 16 people vs 10 in our women only, this wasn’t possible. It was originally built as a squash court, yes, but we have never used it for this purpose, solely yoga. You have given us some good ideas for addressing some easy cosmetic changes to make it feel more Bali zen. The physical space itself is ideal for yoga with plenty of room, soft but stable flooring, air conditioning and great natural light.

The schedule can look quite daunting can’t it! We try to create options to cater to all needs – those that want relaxation through to those who want more activity and want a more active holiday. As we mention in the welcome speech, to avoid FOMO (fear of missing out), we encourage guests to partake in how much or how little they feel and self guide what that balance is. The way we build this itinerary is firstly with the surf times. These are set with our surf school based upon the best time to surf. On your week that was early in the morning on the last two days. These were the best surfs of the weeks with great waves and no wind. We realise some days it would be nicer to have it a bit later however the surf would not be as good as the beginners break works best on mid to high tide and as safety and surf quality is our key focus, this is how the surf school set the times.

In terms of yoga sessions, due to the schedule which is built around tide times, instead of yoga on the last day, and to avoid guests feeling rushed by doing too much activity on the last day, we had 2 yoga sessions on 2 of the mid-week days - in the morning and also in the afternoon which was more than the 6 daily yoga sessions advertised. Based upon group demand we adapt classes to suit - sometimes with greater emphasis on meditation sometimes more focus is placed on active sessions. With smaller groups, like our womens only retreats, there is more feedback on sessions/group needs. We have had more demand for stand alone meditation sessions so from this week we launched a few stand alone guided meditation sessions.

I am really pleased you would recommend us and gave us a very good rating, thank you. I hope you join us at one of our women only retreats in the future.

Kind regards,
Janine (Jen)
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
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English first
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 August 2011

I attended Surf Haven with my sister as a chance to spend some quality time together whilst also seeking a chance to have someone else make decisions for me and allow me to get some much need R & R. The week more than exceeded my expectations and you can see where every penny goes; from the amazing food to the beautiful villa and amazing people that Janine has found to help her make Surf Haven what it is (Cat, Big Gusty and all the Surf Instructors just to name a few). You can be there just to have fun or for the more spirital side of things; you take from it what you wish. Perhaps what I didn't expect to take from the week was a set of new friends from such a diverse set of backgrounds who were all an inspiring buch of women.....and the opportunity to see a side of Bali I never knew existed. I would not hesitate to recommend this to any of my girlfriends to do at least once in their life! Thanks Jen and i (hope) to be back someday....

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family
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Helpful?
6 Thank Jennifer M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
19 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 August 2011

I booked to do surf haven as a solo and was welcomed in and met a great bunch of girls. Everything is great at this retreat from food, to staff to activities. Amanda the yoga teacher was beautiful, Mel our retreat leader was great, Jen the owner is inspirational and the boys at Double D surfing were awesome!

The accommodation is fantastic and very relaxing and all the staff at the villa are lovely and helpful. The food they make was sensational. Everything about this retreat is amazing!

Nothing more I could say, than just go and do it!!! It will be one of the best holidays you have!!!

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank atko81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 July 2011

I went on the Surf Haven Bali retreat in April 2011 and I can't stop talking about it. I had the most amazing time and came back feeling so rejuvenated and relaxed having met such great people AND now being able to surf and catch my own waves!

The villa we stayed in was absolutely stunning. It was beautifully designed, comfortable and very clean. The food was sensational, I left wishing that I could cook for myself like that forever. Lovely freshly cooked organic meals every day. The staff were so friendly, and knowledgable and would do anything to help.

The Surf Instructors at Double D were very professional yet made the daunting task of surfing in a week extremely fun. I loved the morning yoga sessions too - such a great start to the day. I had planned 3 days after the retreat to visit more of Bali but ended up continuing the yoga and the surfing in Seminyak for 3 days before I flew home.. I couldn't get enough!

This is a great trip for girls travelling on their own as well. I travelled with a friend but we were the only friends on the trip, everyone else was travelling solo. The days are quite jam-packed with activities however you dont have to do everything and can always opt out of something and just chill at the villa.

I also really enjoyed staying in Seminyak. My previous experience of Bali was seeing Kuta and I wasnt impressed, but Seminyak is a lot nicer, with beautiful restaurants, bars and boutique shops.

I would highly recommend Surf Haven Bali to anyone wanting to have a break and recharge and rejuvenate - and learn to surf!

  • Stayed April 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank lyndallp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
26 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 July 2011

From the moment we arrived we knew we made the right choice about joining Surf Haven's surf and yoga retreat. We were picked up at the airport and taken to the lovely villa located in Seminyak. We were warmly greeted by the founder, Janine Hall. We were treated with welcome drinks and delicious rice paper spring rolls filled with vegetables on our arrival (yum!). Janine sat with us as we snacked and showed genuine care in getting to get to know a little more about us. I thought that was a really nice touch. After some chat we were shown to our room. It was spectacular- better than we had imagined. I don't want to spoil the surprises for future travelers to Surf Haven, but I will mention she is incredibly thoughtful and each day there was a little something new waiting for us. My friend and I shared a double room which had loads of closet and drawer space- so don't be afraid to overpack! The bathroom is really cool and the shower is "open air". I saw the other rooms in the villa and some were even better than ours, so believe me, you won't be disappointed. The villa itself is quite cozy. There is a common room where all the guests can hang out and chat. It opens up to the pool area and the rooms are situated along the side. It's really cute. Now let's discuss the food. Wow. I am a big eater and quality of food is very important to me. I was really satisied with what we were served. Her menu leans toward a more gluten free, vegetarian/wellness type of cuisine. Ordinarliy this would turn me off (bring me a steak and a hearty pasta with extra cheese, that's more my style) but it was really good. Meat wasn't excluded. There were evenings where we had bbq'd fish and I think there was chicken in one of the salads. You were never left hungry after meals, that's for sure and they are happy to accomdate any dietary issues. It also helps that there is a 24 hour butler so if you wake up and have a hankering for something to eat or drink, he'll get something sorted for you! There is wine and beer available but it is an extra cost. It's a bit pricey for the quality- but that's not really their fault. There are enormous taxes on alcohol in Indonesia so buying great wines would come at a huge cost passed on to the guests. That said, we managed to drink A LOT of that wine on a few evenings! I would recommend buying 2 bottles at duty free on the way into the country- they will happily keep it cold for you. Which brings me to the point of service at Surf Haven. Again, amazing. Attentive. Smiling. Not in your way, but there when you need them. It was perfect- they were perfect and I was very happy to tip them at the end of my stay, it was well deserved. I've rambled on and haven't mentioned anything about the yoga or surfing!? Well, it's great. The yoga is on premise and the instructor, while he talks a lot, which I don't mind because it keeps my mind off the pain of bending myself into a pretzel, others might find it bothersome but I am sure you'll be satisfied with the qualtiy. The surfing lessons are with a company called Double D- and they are great. Dedic is the guy who started it and he and his staff really know how to make you feel comfortable-even if you've never stepped foot on a surf board. There are also options for stand up paddle (SUPbali.com) which I highly recommend. The instructor Pete is super patient and really really good at not letting you get frustrated but keeping on you to improve. I used him again after my stay with Surf Haven as well as Dedic at Double D so I am serious when I say they are good. I could go on, but I'll stop here. I end with, yes I enjoyed it- a lot. So much so that I am considering going back in November or December! If you're on the fence about choosing this retreat, get off your butt and sign up- you won't be sorry and the friends you'll make while there makes it even more worth it!

Room Tip: If you can swing the extra cost- get the room upstairs with its own plunge pool.
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  • Stayed July 2011, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank Audley17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 July 2011

Simply excellent! Great retreat accommodation, fantastic food (but I did miss chocolate), 24/7 exceptional service, professional and knowledgeable surf and yoga instructors, beautiful and welcoming hostesses. Loved it!

  • Stayed July 2011, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank ezavadskaya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Melbourne
Level Contributor
14 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 July 2011

What a great week with fab friends, food, yoga, surf, g&t's, and a bit of dancing to meatloaf!!
The villa was beautiful, and the staff were fantastic. A great week away, would love to do it again.

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank JEM071
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Escape Haven Bali

Property: Escape Haven Bali
Address: Jl. Saritemuku | Gang Sandat, Seminyak 2000, Indonesia
Region: Indonesia > Bali > Seminyak
Amenities:
Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 412 Speciality Lodging in Seminyak
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££££
Number of rooms: 7
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Bali's leading Luxury women's active spa retreat. Offering week long programs across surf, fitness and yoga. Included in the rate is surfing lessons, daily yoga, delicious healthy food, spa treatments and a cultural tour. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Surf Haven Bali Hotel Seminyak
Escape Haven Bali Seminyak

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