Try the Esalen massage at this gorgeous spa that offers healthy meals, yoga and other treatments.
Like the wardrobe that leads to the magical realm of Narnia, the unassuming building at the end of the lane doesn’t even begin to hint at the wonders that lie behind it.
The Quiet Stretch of Buddha Street
The night before our appointment, Duke and I found ourselves wandering around Ubud. It was still new to us, each street opening up like a flower, revealing its own personality. We had just crossed Jalal Dewisita, strolling down Jalal Goutama, which I nicknamed Buddha Street. Suddenly we were filled with a sense of calm. The restaurants that were open didn’t blast music. Conversation was subdued, respectful. Everyone seemed to have come to an agreement that this stretch of the street would offer a quiet oasis.
I turned to Duke and said, “I feel like this is where Taksu will be.” Sure enough, about five steps farther, we saw the sign for Taksu off to the right. As my dad, who tends to get words adorably wrong, has said, “ESPN runs in the family.”
Taksu Spa: A Hidden Oasis in Ubud
Once you step beyond that unassuming façade at Taksu Spa, you enter another world. The grounds are situated in a small valley, which a river literally runs through. The rains were so intense recently, the spa had to raise the bridge that spans the ravine.
Paths wind through zen gardens, ending in a small copse with a Buddha statue. Go off in another direction and you’ll pass a building that houses one of the two yoga schools or the Hindu shrine for the staff to worship at.
Other trails lead to a hydroponic garden growing basil, lettuce, mint. Then you’ll come to the chill out zone and café, meandering past water features and an affordable all-you-can-eat salad bar in front of the open kitchen, where the smiling chef waves amidst his culinary creation.
Taksu is one of those foreign words that has no direct translation. It acts as a linguistic suitcase, packing in a lot of meaning into those five letters. One way of defining it is as the essence of the spirit, explains Jero, the spa’s marketing advisor, who took us on a tour of the complex. It’s often a trait performers search for: a divine inspiration channeled into the ability to captivate an audience.
That idea of wellness pervades everything at Taksu, from massage to yoga to healthy food options. In fact, they plan to open a wellness center as well, to help people live a wholesome lifestyle, learning what foods to eat and good behaviors to follow.
Our First Esalen Massage
Jero led us across the bridge, under a curtain of banyan branches, to a group of rooms at the far end of the grounds. Duke and I were shown into a room and told to change into those black mesh panties that fit as flatteringly as a shower cap.
Wally and Duke are two super sweet travel bloggers "obsessed with other cultures, religion, folklore, architecture, handicrafts and food" as they put it themselves. It was a delight to have you both with us today, @notsoinnocents! Come and see us again very soon! .. . . . . #taksuspa #exploreubud #infoubud #ubud #ubudbali #ubudcafe #ubudfood #ubudhood #ubudlife #ubudrestaurant #ubudtrip #ubudvape #bali🌴 #baliadvisor #balibible #baliindonesia #baliisland #balilife #balilivin #balitrip #balivibes #bestinbali #thebalibible #thebaliguideline #thebaliguru #whatsnewbali #wheretoeatinbali #deliciousdishes #hungryinbali #foodventurer
We let the masseuses know we were ready and lay side by side. And then came a massage unlike any other we’ve experienced. It was as if a Balinese dancer (or, more appropriately, a four-armed Hindu goddess) was moving her arms in all directions at once.
Most massages focus on one area at a time, starting with the right shoulder, then on to the left shoulder, followed by the lower back, then moving down to the legs… But during this massage, the masseuse would simultaneously sweep up my leg while kneading my back. She’d work on one of my shoulders while somehow massaging my arms at the same time. The massage felt holistic, especially compared to past treatments, and you never knew what was coming.
What was this magical massage technique? I wanted to know. It’s called Esalen, and those long, sweeping strokes, the stretching, the acupressure, even an exchange of energy that sounds reminiscent of reiki — it’s all part of a school of practice created in the 1960s in Big Sur, California.
Afterward, as Duke and I enjoyed smoothies and a light lunch of chilled soup and spicy honeyed shrimp, we felt utterly recharged, ready to explore the bustling town of Ubud and its surrounding jungle.
You’d never guess that all this lies at the end of a quiet street in Ubud. Part of the appeal of Taksu is that magic of discovery, though there are plans to renovate the spa’s façade, to give a better hint at the gorgeousness just beyond. –Wally
Jalan Goutama Selatan
Ubud, Kabupaten, Gianyar