It took five years to find the right site – a tropical jungle on a mountainside near Ubud, Bali – but Zoe Watson says her newest Bliss Sanctuary for Women was worth the wait.
The newly built, five-bedroom villa joins two other villas in Seminyak and Canggu as women-only retreats catering specifically to solo female travellers – no children, no couples – while eschewing the standard wellness retreat concept of itineraries, group activities and sharing rooms with strangers.
"Eight years ago, when we opened our first villa in Seminyak, not a lot of women were doing solo travel," says Watson, who owns all three retreats. "Now, it's one of the largest growing segments in the travel industry.
"But travel on your own is about pushing the boundaries and getting out there: what we've put together is quite different, it's more a self-love experience, and the villas allow lone female travellers to feel safe and 100 per cent supported."
The rooms curl around a tiered pool, with a firepit and yoga shala looking into the rainforest: for full forest immersion, take a bath on the balcony, or book the Treetops valley view room, a glass cube that juts into the greenery.
The Bliss Sanctuary concept taps not only into the solo female traveller trend, but is also on-point for the growth in wellness travel. All the rooms are sole occupancy save one, which allows two women to share: traditionally, it's mothers and daughters, sisters or two good friends, catching up after years apart. Stays operate on an all-inclusive basis, which means unlimited food, drinks, yoga, massages and spa treatments, with a villa hostess and personal driver to co-ordinate each person's day. The one nod to the communality of the villa is when all guests gather for an evening meal drawn from its wellness, vegan and smoothie menus, which sit alongside Indonesian and all-day breakfast offerings.
"Historically, men are quite good at taking time out for themselves with football or fishing trips and golfing days, but I think it's something we women have never really had," says Watson.
Ubud Bliss Sanctuary for Women costs from $3500 for seven days, all-inclusive, single occupancy, with last-minute discounts available online. See blisssanctuaryforwomen.com