Lahra and Chicco Tatriele left their careers in communications to found Fivelements, one of the most renowned wellness retreats in the world, with over 30 international awards including 2017 finalist in the World Spa & Wellness Awards. This wellness duo share their secrets with Compare Retreats, including how to enjoy the benefits of a retreat once you return home.
Tell us the inspiration behind Fivelements wellness resorts. Lahra: The inspiration was really the combined vision and dreams of Chicco and I. We met in Bali and we had both been travelling there for many years, and he had a dream to build an eco-resort. Through our years of travel on our own and our experience with healers, the culture and nature of Bali, it inspired us to do something that would reflect what we felt was the best of Balinese culture to a wellness hospitality format.
What is it about the culture and tradition of Bali in particular that made it the perfect fit for a wellness facility? Lahra: It has this extraordinary nature that is almost emotional when you look at it and spend time in it. It’s already very transformative just being in nature. With what’s grown on the island in terms of plant-based resources and medicine and food – some of the world’s best nutrition – and then combine that with the indigenous healers, it’s really a perfect combination.
A lot of people describe Fivelements retreats as an eco-wellness experience. What does this mean to you? Chicco: One of our initial dreams was to integrate the building and the design into the location and into nature, so the way we have approached the design and development aspects with the architects and the design team was to use certain materials. There was an ongoing attention on where we were, and we really studied the place. When you come to Fivelements Bali, one thing you feel is that you are part of the experience and you are part of the location. And then, of course, there’s the attention to the use of water, waste management, and all of the components that are integral to how Fivelements has been planned, built and in the ongoing operations.
How are the retreat programmes influenced by their location? Lahra: We have signature retreats that are customised and we have built them ourselves. They are available 365 days a year. We do have some master programmes but we really felt this could hang on a lot of the cultural principles and extraordinary people and plants that are part of what makes Bali a very special place to continue visiting. We launched a new genre of wellness destinations that would bridge the traditions and philosophy of ancient cultures but also leapfrog forward in innovative forms and concepts. It’s about helping people to access culture.
Who is ideally suited to a retreat experience at Fivelements? Lahra: You have to ask – why do people travel? The reason is personal growth, or seeking experiences that will enlighten or widen their perspectives. We took all of that into consideration to develop a very comprehensive destination that also has very strong services in wellness, from the retreat programmes to the plant-based nutrition and gastronomy. We work with farms that are within two hours away.
What makes Fivelements unique? Chico: We took this handcrafted, handmade approach because the people who come to us have stayed everywhere. What they’re looking for and why they choose us (sometimes they don’t realise it until after) is a much more profound experience. They take home not only useful tools through the experts that we hire to work with our guests, but also something thought-provoking and shifting and catalytic.
How do you find your centre of wellness while at home? Lahra: Sometimes that can be challenging, and that’s part of the ongoing research that we’re doing and what makes it even better. Like everybody, for us, life gets busy. Probably one of the biggest things that we do is we practice communication.
What are some of the things that you do to unwind from stressful situations? Lahra: We love what we do, but of course, it’s still work for us, so we need to find our other outlets – travel is one of the best things that is immediately effective for us both. We can be in Rome or Tokyo or we can be in the Himalayas – both equally stimulating but in different ways.
Keeping that sense of wellbeing post-retreat can be challenging. What advice do you have to sustain the benefits of a wellness experience? Lahra: We help people with practical tools for meditation or practising certain exercises they need for their condition. I would say meditation and the eating of plant-based cuisine are the most important tools we’re trying to give people, in addition to spending time caring for the self. When people pick a retreat, it might look more like a holiday but they’re actually investing in themselves and it’s a big decision of self-care.