Bali is back, with plenty of new and upgraded luxe resorts to satisfy your every indulgence.
When musician Laurie Anderson said, “Paradise is exactly like where you are right now ... only much, much better,” she clearly was not in Bali. The Indonesian island has long been a great vacation destination, but now, thanks to several new resorts and renovations, it’s much, much better.
The people of Bali are warm, welcoming (and stunning to look at). And wherever you stay on the magical island, rest assured, paradise will be exactly where you are.
Perched on the cliffs of southern Bali, the ultra-hip Bulgari Resort (doubles from $750; tel. 800-628-5427) has unrivalled views of the Indian Ocean and the distant horizon. The hillside villas, all with exquisite ocean views, are set along cobblestone paths that call to mind the winding lanes of Tuscany. Inside, the decor is pure Milan with a predominantly black palette that guests will find either sleek or bleak. Monkeys frolic throughout the resort providing a welcome touch of whimsy—and mischief—at breakfast, one frisky fellow escaped with my grapes. The resort has a fantastic incline elevator that brings guests down the cliff to a private beach with a small pavilion where grilled fish is served. The spa pavilion is set in an antique Javanese (from the Indonesian island of Java) house with intricately carved walls. Spa treatments feature ESPA products.
Located down the road from the Bulgari, the Alila Villas Uluwatu (rates from $180; tel. +65-6736-2555) is scheduled to open in December 2008. The resort, perched on limestone cliffs high above the ocean, was constructed using ecologically sensitive design principals. The rooftops of the modernist villas will blend into their surroundings thanks to roofs made of volcanic stone and grass. Alila is known for its spectacular swimming pools including the new infinity pool.
Both the Ritz-Carlton Bali (doubles from $275; tel. 800-542-8680) and the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay (see below) overlook the bobbing fishing boats of Jimbaran Bay located on the island’s southwestern coast, just 15 minutes (and across) from the airport. The recently opened Spa on the Rocks at the Ritz-Carlton is set in two antique villas sitting atop the rocky outposts over the Indian Ocean. It offers the Diamond Miracle treatment which includes a sensual bath filled with 500 fresh-picked roses and a Crème de la Mer facial. The resort’s villas display elegant minimalism—the new three-bedroom Ayana Villa is an Indonesian fantasy decorated with Balinese furnishings and artwork. The Ritz has nine separate wedding venues, which incorporate glass art created by Japanese designer, Seiki Torige. (The resort is a popular spot for destination weddings and can accommodate “surprise weddings” unless you feel inspired to elope or renew your vows.)
The Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay (doubles from $630, tel. 800-819-5053) was the first of the traditional villa resorts on the island, and it’s still outstanding. The spa’s new Exploration of the Senses treatment for couples starts with a dark chocolate and hazelnut body exfoliation and ends with a romantic rose-studded bath (and a decadent chocolate muffin). The resort also has weekly dinner events. At Beds on the Beach, couples can lounge on a canopied bed surrounded by twinkling candles as waves lap across the sand. A lavish five-course dinner is served, accompanied by soft jazz. The resort offers cooking classes. The one I attended had both men and women whose significant others had sent them.
Twenty minutes north of the airport on Bali’s “sunset side” is the new beach-side Anantara Seminyak, (doubles from $270; tel. +62-361-737-773) which is ideal for couples who like shopping and nightlife. The large contemporary suites have floor to ceiling windows and balconies outfitted with terrazzo tubs and daybeds. All of the rooms overlook the beach. On the roof, the trendy bar, Sunset on Six, is generating lots of buzz as the place to watch the sun melt into the sea.
Near the cultural center of Ubud in the Balinese highlands, the Four Seasons Sayan (doubles from $460; tel. 800-819-5053) is a contemporary, architectural masterpiece set amidst terraced rice paddies. After crossing a teak and steel bridge suspended 65 feet over treetops and a river gorge, you reach the three-story main building topped with a massive elliptical lotus pond. The buildings’ elegant rooms and villas are decorated with Balinese art and antiques. The spa specializes in Ayurvedic treatments in which your body structure is used to determine the appropriate treatments and oils.
A 10-minute drive from Sayan is COMO Hotels’ Shambhala Estate (doubles from $275 including breakfast; tel. +62-361-978-888; firstname.lastname@example.org), which took over the former Estate at Begawan Giri and turned it into a wellness retreat. Guests stay in one of five exquisitely designed wooden residences complete with private pools, terraces and lounges. The resort’s most romantic room is the COMO Shambhala Suite at Tirta Ening, which has a private Japanese water garden with an oversized tub and waterfall. Guests can enjoy spa cuisine at candlelight or Indonesian specialties in an antique Javanese building overlooking rice paddies and dense foliage. The resort’s complimentary classes and stellar wellness programs include Ayurvedic, Get Fit and Rejuvenation, which ensure that you’ll return home looking and feeling great.
For those willing to veer slightly off the beaten path (and the island of Bali), Lombok is a 30-minute flight away. The sleepy island is often compared to Bali 15 years ago. (It’s also less humid making for much better hair days.) The Oberoi Lombok, (doubles from $290; tel. 800-562-3764) has garden suites and villas overlooking a lush green lawn studded with palm trees and the occasional iguana. Premium villas have porches overlooking the ocean. At night, the candle-lit terraced infinity pool appears to melt into the ocean.
Lovers of organic produce should flock to the Firefly Supper Series (www.bigtreebali.com; tel. +62-361-742-4416) that American expats Ben and Blair Ripple offer on Saturdays between May and October at the Big Tree Farm. Dinner, held in a thatched pavilion lit by hundreds of bamboo torches, features produce from the Ripples’ organic farm, located in the highlands on the verdant slopes of Bali’s sacred Mount Ayung. The Ripples sell their sea salt on long black peppers to such vaunted chefs as Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) and Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).
Themes: Luxury Travel