Taksu Spa: A Wellness Wonderland in Ubud

Try the Esalen massage at this gorgeous spa that offers healthy meals, yoga and other treatments.

 Wally relaxes on the bridge at Taksu, after his amazing Esalen massage

Wally relaxes on the bridge at Taksu, after his amazing Esalen massage

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.

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.
 The buildings at Taksu are nestled in lush greenery

The buildings at Taksu are nestled in lush greenery

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.”

 There’s a very zen feel to the spa

There’s a very zen feel to the spa

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.

 Statues of the Buddha are tucked into various nooks on the spa grounds

Statues of the Buddha are tucked into various nooks on the spa grounds

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.

 These poles are part of the hydroponic garden, growing herbs and veggies

These poles are part of the hydroponic garden, growing herbs and veggies

 Enjoy a quiet meal or snack at the café

Enjoy a quiet meal or snack at the café

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.

 Namaste

Namaste

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.

 This cool waterfall feature is the centerpiece of Taksu, and helps create the relaxing atmosphere

This cool waterfall feature is the centerpiece of Taksu, and helps create the relaxing atmosphere

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.

 We had our massages in a building at the far end of the bridge

We had our massages in a building at the far end of the bridge

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.

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.

 Post-massage smoothie, juice and amuse-bouche

Post-massage smoothie, juice and amuse-bouche

 The shrimp was spicy and sweet — and delicous

The shrimp was spicy and sweet — and delicous

 Duke and Wally became obsessed with cold soups in Ubud — they’re refreshing and can be found on many menus in town

Duke and Wally became obsessed with cold soups in Ubud — they’re refreshing and can be found on many menus in town

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

 Wally, with that post-massage glow

Wally, with that post-massage glow

 A refreshed and reinvigorated Duke

A refreshed and reinvigorated Duke

Taksu Spa
Jalan Goutama Selatan
Ubud, Kabupaten, Gianyar
Bali 80571
Indonesia