08 August 2010

A Spice Rub at Rei Spa & a Ketupat Dinner Surprise

at Rei Wellness Spa
Bali being one of the spa capitals of Asia was a dream trip for such a big spa addict like me! Having said that, all of our spa treatments for this trip were already booked even before we left for Bali. And I wasn't about to let Day 1 end without a spa visit!

One of the traditional Balinese spa rituals I have always wanted to try is the Balinese Boreh - a traditional home remedy for tired & sore muscles for farmers' that had worked on their fields all day. What it is is basically a mixture of hot spices & herbs they pick out from their own gardens & fields that they grind & pound into a paste which they then rub all over their bodies to create a sort of heat pack. It is said to relieve muscle aches & increase blood circulation.

In AsiaSpa's special Bali edition, I had read that Rei Wellness Spa in the Kuta area was one of the best places to get a Boreh. They supposedly make their spice rubs only when you get there so you can be assured of its freshness and that they don't use commercial readymade Boreh pastes. The thing was, there was hardly any reviews online (I found mostly blog posts in Japanese!) and for $115+ for their 3-hour 15-min Boreh ritual, I was a bit hesitant to book.

The deal clincher though was how helpful they were with all my email inquiries, and that they were willing to extend their hours just for me! We were coming from Uluwatu & weren't sure if we could get back to the Kuta area by 8pm (which was usually their last call) but when I emailed them my concern, they immediately offered to extend their hours to wait for me & even offered to have their driver drop me off back to Puri Damai afterwards. I was sold!

So after a long, exhausting day (a 3-hour flight from KL to Bali, running after the little boy in the pool in the afternoon, and a couple of hours stuck in traffic in the car), I was more than ready for my Boreh ritual!

Rei Spa's canang offering and
burning incense cones at the lobby
The thing with Rei is that it's not easily accessible. I was surprised to be driving through a narrow road in the middle of rice fields to get to Rei (in the dark!!). But as soon as I stepped into its reception, the smell of burning incense instantly relaxed me and got me excited for the 3-hour long Traditional Bliss ritual I had booked. I was met by the lovely Tanti, the spa manager, and she explained to me that Rei is actually made up of just 4 spa villas surrounding the reception courtyard so it was very private. I didn't bump into anyone else the whole time I was there and felt like I had the whole place to myself! She also explained how most of their guests were Japanese tourists booked thru travel agents, which explains why I was only able to find Japanese blog posts about it. A little Japanese secret spa! She then introduced me to my therapist for the evening who brought me a cold towel and a small glass of refreshing hibiscus juice, before leading the way to my own spa villa for the next few hours.

a glass of refreshing hibiscus juice
Rei Spa's reception area
Upon entering the gate of the spa villa, I was asked to take off my sandals to let the stones & pebbles around the villa to massage the soles of my feet. Interesting & indeed very stimulating. I was asked not to shower yet since the treatment begins with a body wash anyway so I willingly obeyed & just changed into my robe and began the 3-hour long ritual with a foot wash. And not just a regular foot wash. First, my feet were soaked in warm water with sea salt and antiseptic betel leaves; then rubbed with slices of lime & ginger until my feet were squeaky clean! and then lovingly wrapped in fresh clean towels while the therapist does a short massage on the legs & feet before finally drying it off.

fresh towels, sea salt, betel leaves,
slices of ginger & lime for my foot wash
I was then asked to lie face down on the massage bed while my excellent therapist for the evening began the body wash, followed by the application of the Boreh paste. The fragrant spices (I smelled cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, clove, nutmeg & fennel!) immediately put me into a state of bliss. After a while, I started to feel the heat from the spices penetrating my skin and warming the muscles and after a few more minutes, the heat started getting more intense but also a lot more relaxing. Then, the rub was gently sloughed off before fresh aloe vera gel was slathered all over my body to cool it back down. After an hour of this, I was instructed to shower off the scrub & aloe vera before another 90 minutes of massage. Of course, I willingly obeyed and walked jelly-kneed to the bathroom.

fresh aloe vera gel & the Balinese spices for my Boreh scrub / mask
Showering in the spa villa's semi-outdoor shower was also an experience in itself. I mean how often do you get to shower under the stars and with a bit of a view out the empty rice fields, while listening to crickets & frog song just outside?

the inviting bathtub
And then another hour & a half of bliss begins with a mind-melting full body massage using a mix of Green Tea & Lavender oils. I was beyond consciousness by this point and was sound asleep throughout the entire massage.

And as if all that wasn't enough, after the massage, I walked to the bathroom to find a tub filled with bubbles and leaves and citrus fruits for my fruit bath and I lay in there soaking for a few more minutes of bliss.

slices of fruits & kaffir lime leaves & bubbles in the tub!

ready for my fruit bath

The whole ritual ended with a plate of fresh fruits & a glass of fresh fruit juice to get my sugar levels back up. I was just ready to head to bed and crash by this time so they asked their kind driver to take me back to Puri Damai as soon as I was finished with my fruits. I was back at Puri Damai in less than 20 minutes!

a bowl of fresh fruits post-massage

and a glass of fresh fruit juice!
But my day wasn't over yet. I had missed dinner since we were in a hurry to get to the spa after getting stuck in traffic coming from Uluwatu; so on the way back to Kuta, we just bought take-out from McDonalds for the Little Boy & decided to just look for a place to eat at when I got back from the spa. When I got to the apartment though, I was surprised to find that it was dark & empty so I started to worry. But when I went back out & checked the kitchen, the Mister & the Little Boy jumped out of the counter to surprise me with a small feast of Spicy Seafood Soup, Chicken Sate Lilit, and a fresh Coconut from Ketupat. As tired and ready to crash as I was, I couldn't say no to that!

our mini feast from Ketupat!


  1. Fab review ! Im sold & going to book this treatment for myself when in Bali ! WOW!!!!Marianne

  2. You should! It's an awesome experience, trust me! :)

    Thanks for dropping by, Marianne! :)