Risty Nurraisa (The Jakarta Post)
Nusa Dua, Bali ●
Thu, July 14, 2022
From forest exploration to a full moon ceremony, Conrad Bali takes guests on a ride with their senses while paying attention to the sustainability of local communities.
The sun had barely risen on June 15 when The Jakarta Post, along with a few selected media outlets, gathered at the lobby of Conrad Bali in Nusa Dua, Bali, and hopped on four-wheel-drive jeeps. Breakfast, consisting of a homemade energy bar and pastries, was ready in boxes. A cooler box filled with mineral water and orange juice was also available.
The group took a two and a half hour drive from south of Bali for foraging activity in Bedugul, North Bali. The agenda was one part of Conrad Bali’s Signature Sense Odyssey, a new program with selections of holistic, local-oriented activities to enrich guests’ experiences through the five senses – sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
“[We made this program so that] people understand [that] this is Bali,” general manager of Conrad Bali, Kevin Girard, stated during a media presentation on June 14 at Spice.
The program, according to Girard, also “supports local communities who have designed the experience” as the brand believes that travel should beneficially impact local people. This value has been passed down by the brand’s founder, Barron Hilton – Conrad Bali is part of the Hilton Worldwide.
“This brand was founded 40 years ago by Barron Hilton with the belief that travel deepens our understanding of the world, culture, and of ourselves,” Hilton’s vice president luxury for Asia Pacific, Nils-Arne Schroeder, added.
“Barron had a vision that the next luxury travel could be modern, design-led and push boundaries. [He] believes that hospitality can make positive impacts on communities around the world.”
During a media stay at Conrad Bali from June 13 to June 16, the Post joined a series of adventures that connected the participants with local nature, communities and one’s self.
Into the forest
Along the way up to Bedugul, the jeeps took the media past magnificent views of Bali, including the Jatiluwih rice paddies, a UNESCO heritage site. The group made a short stop to breathe in the fresh air before continuing their journey to reach Bedugul.
It was around 9 a.m. when the group arrived at the edge of Lake Beratan in Bedugul. A local guide named Ramidin (known as Ram) and Audria Evelinn, founder of Little Spoon Farm, were waiting.
Little Spoon Farm is a non-profit organization that aims to improve “the connections between farmers, nature and consumers”, according to their website.
Ram and Audria would guide Conrad Bali’s Forest Bathing & Speakeasy Foraging activity through the Rasamala forest.
A little plot twist, the forest is located on the other side of the lake. Participants needed to paddle a canoe to reach the forest. Thus, the adventure began.
After about 45 minutes of canoeing across Lake Beratan, passing Bali’s sacred Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, the group arrived at the destination. Ram immediately introduced the surrounding nature, while guiding the group to the mouth of the Rasamala forest.
“If you want to touch [any plants], please ask me first [to ensure safety]. Some plants may be harmful,” he said while welcoming the group into his childhood “playground” – hence, he had a rich knowledge about every part of the forest.
Ram showed the group a lot of things – the fresh aroma of cinnamon leaves, the sound of whistler birds, the tangy taste of begonia and the danger of lateng, a harmful plant that can “make your whole body itchy”, Ram said.
Ram also demonstrated how to collect water from a root. “This is how you survive in the forest,” he said while attaching a leaf that he repurposed as a spoon to a root. He then massaged the root until a few drops of water came out. “It’s really fresh.”
The foraging was made memorable with a brief meditation session by the river, guided by Audria. The tour ended by the waterfalls, where Indonesian lunch was served in eco-friendly bamboo tubes serving as lunch boxes, all prepared by “local women from around the area”, stated Audria.
A portion of proceeds from the Forest Bathing & Speakeasy Foraging activity goes to support local rehabilitation and preservation programs for Lake Beratan and Rasamala Forest.
The forest guide: Ramidini, known as Ram, demonstrates how to, as he says, “survive in the forest” by obtaining water from a root during the Forest Bathing & Speakeasy Foraging in the Rasamala forest on June 15. (Courtesy of Conrad Bali) (Courtesy of Conrad Bali/Courtesy of Conrad Bali)
Under the full moon
One of the odysseys, the Purnama Celebration, highlights Balinese rituals. This activity is available only during purnama (full moon) – the date varies according to the moon phases in the Balinese lunar calendar.
It starts with making canangsari, a Balinese offering that symbolizes gratitude to God, at the alfresco Water Garden, surrounded by a lotus pond. Joining the workshop on June 14, the Post and other participants wore kain endek, traditional Balinese fabrics.
The 30-minute workshop was followed by the purnama ritual at the hotel’s Sari Sedana Temple, where participants gathered for guided Balinese prayers. The ceremony closed with a sprinkling of holy water by a local priest.
The Purnama Celebration includes a three-course dinner menu at Eight Degrees South restaurant. The night continued with melukat, an authentic Balinese cleansing ritual at the beach, where guests were encouraged to let go of negative things and pray for good things to come.
Full moon ceremony: A number of participants join the Purnama Celebration for guided prayers at Sari Sedana Temple in Conrad Bali, on June 14. (Courtesy of Conrad Bali) (Courtesy of Conrad Bali/Courtesy of Conrad Bali)
The odyssey program also includes The Art of Sound Healing at the Infinity Chapel.
Guided by healer Agustian Supriatna from Ubud, the healing treatment is an ancient meditative practice with sound vibrations and frequencies as the medium.
Agustian utilizes eclectic musical instruments such as suling (Sundanese bamboo flute), ngoni (a west African harp) and Tibetan singing bowls to help guests relax and eventually find their natural healing system and balance their seven chakras.
Olfactory Experience, conducted by L’Atelier Parfums et Créations, invites guests to explore the scents and history of Indonesian spices and flowers. In this perfume workshop, guests can make their personalized perfume blend and bring it home.
At Scenography Cooking Class, guests can visit a local organic farm and learn how to prepare authentic, delicious traditional dishes from the hotel’s Balinese chef.
Sound session: The setting of sound healing treatment at the Infinity Chapel. (JP/Risty Nurraisa) (JP/Risty Nurraisa)
With 368 guest rooms including Conrad Pool Villas and Conrad Suites, the hotel pays attention to Bali’s environmental and social sustainability. Among the many efforts is a collaboration with Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB) and Sungai Watch, non-profit organizations that focus on maintaining the environment.
“[BBPB] has developed an organization called Mountain Mamas north of Tabanan,” shared Girard. “They’ve created a space for women in a village to repurpose torn linen [which the hotel can’t use] and turn it into reusable bags. We donate the linen and so do other [establishments].”
“The proceeds go back to the women’s bank accounts. So, the money goes straight to them.”
While with Sungai Watch, Conrad Bali works “to clean up the mangrove area [in Denpasar]”, remarked Girard.
“Every guest makes an impact on the community. If you travel around the world, you make an impact either by experiencing something or giving back to the community,” Schroeder concluded.
Visit the Conrad Bali website for more information.