What sparked your idea for The Palm Tree House?
After running Escape Haven for a decade, I really wanted to branch out into something new and different. The Palm Tree House takes its inspiration from our award-winning retreats at Escape Haven, with a new focus on freedom, flexibility and small groups. I wanted to be able to offer retreats where guests could have the opportunity to create their week as they desired. With so much experience witnessing the transformative nature of retreats, I also wanted to be able to reach out and extend this experience to more people, hence making The Palm Tree House a real value option with a lower price point for those happy with less inclusions. I wanted The Palm Tree House to be relaxed and carefree; with no set dates, guests can check in and out any time, which opens up a lot of possibility for those who can only join us for a short stay, or those who want to dive into a longer period of retreat. After so much feedback from our female guests over the years, I also wanted to be able to welcome men and couples on retreat! So one of our Palm Tree House villas is co-ed, which is really exciting. Overall, I really saw a gap in the market- while Bali is full of yoga retreats, The Palm Tree House offers everything you need for a perfect Bali retreat, but with plenty of freedom to really make it your own.
What made you choose to stay in the area of Canggu for the new sister retreat?
Canggu has everything we adore about Bali. It is a perfect balance of hip and funky, and mellow and traditional. It is a place where you can enjoy world-class yoga studios, restaurants and art galleries, alongside working rice fields, local markets and ceremonial temples. Of course, Canggu is known for its excellent beaches and surf breaks which is key for our surf retreats. Over the past few years as Canggu has become more well known and firmly placed on the map, it has continued to change and develop, but in really exciting and affirming ways. It isn’t by any means an extension of Kuta or Legian down south. It very much has its own vibe and attitude, and it attracts a diverse array of people; from yoga students, sun-kissed surfers and hipsters on custom bikes, to families, honeymooners and solo travellers. Above all, Canggu has a really relaxed vibe, and like The Palm Tree House, it really balances carefree barefoot living with a touch of style and luxury. A typical day in Canggu could be rising at dawn for a surf, enjoying a beautiful vibrant smoothie bowl for breakfast, wandering the local boutique shops, enjoying a rejuvenating massage, sharing lunch with a new friend, practicing yoga as the day starts to cool, taking a dip in the pool and then catching the sunset up at the beach with a juice or cocktail in hand. These are the things we love about Canggu, and The Palm Tree House reflects all these wonderful elements that we want our guests to enjoy also.
What feature do you love the most about The Palm Tree House?
I really love how different each of the villas are and how guests can really choose not only the retreat package that suits them, but also choose the style of villa and room that works best for their stay. We have four beautiful villas that host a maximum of 4 to 7 guests at any one time and each one has its own unique features and attractions. One of the villas is really close to the beach and all the ‘action’ of Canggu, which may appeal to a those keen on a really beachy/active/social retreat. While another option is a beautiful huge colonial-style villa that is really spacious, really tranquil and set right in the rice fields which will appeal more to people looking for a quiet, rejuvenative retreat. After working with Escape Haven for the last decade, I’m excited about how flexible and customizable The Palm Tree House is. It’s fresh and fun and it honestly feels as though it is alive with a vibrant energy of its own- we’re just riding along with it!
What are the main differences between Escape Haven and its new little sister?!
Escape Haven is very much about full service, full inclusions and luxury. We have a team of 40 staff and guests have a pretty detailed daily schedule that they have customized in an initial consultation. With The Palm Tree House, we wanted to offer a beautiful Bali retreat experience at a real value price point. The Palm Tree House is truly boutique; with a maximum of 7 guests at any one time, it really appeals to people looking for a little extra privacy and an intimate experience. It is perfect for guests wanting to travel solo and have their independence, but with other like-minded guests and friendly staff around. One of the key defining points of The Palm Tree House is its flexible nature. There are no set dates which allows guests the option to check in any time. With less package inclusions, there is a lot of time to do what you love and we have so many ways to help you do that! Guests can take some time out and enjoy a quiet meditation in the rooftop shala with the sound and aroma of the ocean. They can relax in the infinity pool overlooking the lush jungle while sipping on a cold fresh coconut. They can grab a bicycle and explore all of the wonderful parts of Canggu- the shops, beaches, cafes and markets. The great Balinese team on hand are there to assist guests who may want to opt for an extra spa treatment, a tarot reading, or a trip into Seminyak. Everything on the schedule is optional so there is plenty of freedom to roam. Of course, with retreats being a lot more affordable than an Escape Haven Bali retreat, there is less focus on the full luxury trimmings and full service, yet all of the villas are still beautiful, spacious and attentively styled and make you feel at home.
What was the greatest lesson you learned from Escape Haven that has helped you develop The Palm Tree House?
With Escape Haven, I did so much on my own, and it was a steep learning curve in those early days – it was truly rewarding and it was all part of the experience of setting up your own business. I have learned over the years though that getting help, and more so, getting wonderful, professionals and experts in the field that share the same values and vision, means you can create so much more and is much more fun to share the ride too! After running Escape Haven for over a decade now, we have met so many wonderful people and have a really close-knit community that we can turn to for advice and recommendations. So with The Palm Tree House, while both Trent and I have been incredibly hands-on, we have also had an amazing team that have brought our vision to life. This was very important juggling two babies! Two of our most luxe villas we had to renovate entirely in short time frames and we couldn’t have done this without excellent builders and incredible interior designers, as well as great creative teams, photographers and so forth. Having people you trust who understand your vision and mission is key. Enlisting the help of expert teams with The Palm Tree House not only made the whole process far more seamless, but also resulted in something we have so much faith and pride in and made it alot of fun too!
Do you expect there will be much cross-over between guests at the two different retreats?
Yes! Already we have had many of our gorgeous Escape Haven alumnae stay or make a booking for this year. We have also had Escape Haven guests join us for a week, and then move over to The Palm Tree House for another week! We have an incredible return rate at Escape Haven and we also know that our previous guests are excited to try our new ‘little sister’ and also recommend The Palm Tree House to other family and friends who may not have been able to make their way to Escape Haven. While we see both brands as standing exclusively on their own, we also predict there will be cross over between the two in both directions. We also offer our previous alumnae guests special deals, rates and promotions between the two retreats so they can have the chance to experience both.
With the birth of your second daughter only a few months ago, has it been challenging launching the new business with the demands of a young family too?
I think again, this comes back to having a really reliable and steadfast team. Of course, there have been many late nights, early mornings and lots of logistical planning goes into balancing a successful business and a young family! Being able to step away from being so physically involved in the business and operating more behind the scenes has enabled me to keep working right through my pregnancy and onwards. My team have been incredibly supportive, as has my husband of course, and our family, friends and community. We feel so lucky to have so much support. Being a mum has also made me reevaluate what is most important and I cherish all this time I have to spend with the people I adore. It has also made me realise how important self care for mum’s is too. This has sparked a few new ideas for speciality retreat weeks at The Palm Tree House this year- so stay tuned mum’s – we have something very special in our sights for you.
What makes The Palm Tree House different from other yoga retreats in Bali?
When you search ‘Yoga retreats in Bali,’ you will be inundated with options. The Palm Tree House is really unique in so many ways and most of all, it allows guests to really customize their stay so that can get exactly what they want out of their Bali retreat. We have four special packages- surf, yoga, fitness and Ayurveda healing to choose from on top of the normal base package. On top of these package inclusions, there are lots of add-on options that guests can select ranging from tarot readings to horse riding and everything in between! We do a lot of the activities in-house, meaning we have our great team, of chefs, spa therapists and yoga teachers come direct to the villas so guests can watch the cook prepare their breakfast, enjoy yoga or fitness sessions in the rooftop shala or in the lovely grassy areas outdoors, and have massages in the air-conditioned comfort of their rooms. On top of that, we have also partnered with Canguu’s best yoga studios and brand new gym to offer guests the chance to practice and train with some of the islands leading professionals. While activities such as meal times, yoga/surf and fitness sessions are set at certain times, everything else remains flexible- guests are not locked in to full day schedules. We know that some guests wish to come on their Bali retreat and see and do and experience everything they can! While other times, people are excited just to relax by the pool, unwind with a few extra massages, enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day and have a beautiful, safe, welcoming base to really indulge and restore within. There is no one looking over your shoulder here or waking you up at dawn! Guests are independant and in control of their stay- I honestly don’t know any other ‘DIY’ style retreat in Bali that offers this special balance of freedom and support.
You have worked hard to split your time between Bali and New Zealand- do you find it challenging to step away at times?!
It can always feel hard to step away, I’m sure every business owner feels the same! But we have spent a long time and put in a lot of work to get to this point today that allows us more freedom to step away from the physical location of the business. My husband Trent and I are always contactable though and always working from wherever that may be- either onsite in Bali with the team, or from our beautiful boat in New Zealand! The joys of modern technology and the huge leaps in communications allow us to always stay connected and reachable and thank heavens for watsapp! We are so lucky to have such talented and reliable people working with us who have been with us for many years now. We have a lot of trust in their ability to run the show while we are behind the scenes, and we love that it also empowers people to step up in their own roles and grow in new ways. One of our staff members Manik has been with us since early days and the way she has grown and evolved blows us away- we couldn’t do what we do without her, and the rest of the team too. In another vein though, I also know how important it really is to step away- we love experiencing what is going on in the wellness and travel world and we gain great insight and ideas as we travel. And even with our small children, we still prioritise this. Its when Im away that I often get my best ideas too. So I see it as a win win for everyone – myself, my family, my team and the guests!
You have been running retreats in Bali now for over a decade- What is one of the biggest changes you have seen in what guests are looking for when they come on a Bali retreat?
I think it’s this idea of a really customized stay. Changes in technology have made us so self-sufficient- we can really do anything with the click of a button these days! Along with this, it has made us as travellers become much more involved in creating our adventures. While the idea of pre-packaged tours and trips used to be very popular, what we find now is that guests want to have an active role in planning and designing their retreat. That was one of the reasons why we made The Palm Tree House so flexible in its nature and also created more packages and options at Escape Haven. We are really providing the key essential elements and then allowing guests to play and create on their own terms. I would say the other real change is the concept of transformative travel. Again, while a decade ago, an ideal holiday for many people was hotel with a great pool and bar, these days, we see guests really focus on experiences- it’s not about seeing a temple and taking a selfie there, it’s about being part of the culture and connecting with the people in a more meaningful way so you are ‘in’ the experience rather than observing it. The whole retreat movement is a result of this- of people wanting not just to get away on a vacation, but to return a different person as who they were when they left- to be more connected to themselves, to have found that spark for life again, to have had insights and ‘ah-ha’ moments. Bali is incredible in this way as it is almost impossible to to have a life-changing experience in one way or another! At The Palm Tree House, we also love that it is a solely Balinese team onsite that the guests enjoy their time with. There are also 2 option full day excursions every week where guests can get out and explore the island with one of our experienced local guides. These tropical adventures are always a guest fave.
In a similar vein- what remains constant in what guests are looking for?
Service and quality are always paramount. We go to great lengths to make sure that our guests feel safe, supported and satisfied on every level. We meet each and every guest at the airport and transfer them directly to the retreat. We have a dedicated and professional team of house keepers, cooks, drivers, security and hosts that ensure the villas, the meals, the transport and the whole experience meets our customers expectations and needs. We know that small things like fresh flowers, ice cold tea, fluffy towels and decent pillows make a retreat that much more delightful. We also know that many people who come on retreat are seeking some much needed ‘me-time’ and they don’t want to have to sweat the small stuff (or the big stuff!) Our Bali team at The Palm Tree House speak excellent english and are truly passionate about service with a smile! While The Palm Tree House is our value retreat brand, we still offer guests custom-made bathroom products, free-flowing coffee, tea, water and iced tea, there are books, DVD’s, and magazines (and net flix!), as well as good quality bicycles and yoga mats to use. Delicious chef-prepared breakfasts, several lunches and one dinner are included, as well as three hours of spa treatments. We never scrimp on quality and service, and we know that is why Escape Haven has been so awarded and recognised globally over the last decade.
Finally, what is your greatest hope or goal in launching The Palm Tree House?
My greatest goal is for more people to be able to experience the magic of Bali and the transformative nature of a retreat. As modern society gets busier and we become more disconnected from ourselves and what is truly important, a retreat experience gives us that time to check back in, to reconnect and to move forward on our journey with more clarity and courage. Of course, a retreat is fun! It’s a great chance to experience a new place, to meet new people, eat new food and bask in the joy and positive results that a week of yoga, surfing, fitness or Ayurveda offers. Time after time I see people come on retreat with really determined goals, and they end up totally shifting direction or gaining benefits they had never even contemplated. The power of a retreat is something that continues to amaze and delight me. It is my hope that more people around the world can gift themselves a retreat in Bali that will impact their lives in a positive, rewarding and memorable way. When we are happy, healthy and in tune with our mission, we impact the world in a positive way and have more to give to those around us. It’s a ripple effect. And it all starts with that one fresh cold coconut here at The Palm Tree House.
Visit www.thepalmtreehouse.com for more information and to book your boutique Bali retreat.
Escape Haven Bali Retreat, supporting women on year making wellness experiences.
We invite you to come and experience for yourself our award winning women’s surf retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and shrug off all the roles that you wear and all the balls you juggle in your busy life, we’d love to pamper you. From transformational yoga and meditation classes, to exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness in our tropical gardens to restorative Bali healing retreat and pampering sessions, how much or little you do is all up to you.