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So what luxury stays do you like in Bali?
I wasn't interested in the lists put out by companies. I wasn't interested in the predictable … what "should be" in a list of 10 luxury stays in Bali. I was interested in where you stay when you are looking for something special. What you like. What you think is good.
For some time, I have been asking the question of the trusted WA people that I know and meet. So, there's no marketing science behind it, but this list has formed. It isn't definitive (these aren't the only luxury stays in Bali, of course), it isn't even presented as "the best" - just what is liked and recommended.
St Regis Bali Resort
From blue lagoons to the beach at Nusa Dua, St Regis rates highly. Two features often mentioned are the Remede Spa (the menu blends exotic therapies, Balinese philosophies and quality spa products) and the food. Kayuputi restaurant serves Asian fare with the beach as its backdrop. Then there's Boneka International Restaurant, Gourmand Deli and King Cole Bar. The resort is spacious and has 123 suites and villas, each luxuriously appointed (right down to big marble bathrooms). It offers a butler service.
Nine bales offer a place to while away the hours or there's a stroll in the bougainvillea-lined streets of Nusa Dua, punctuated, as they are, with boutiques and restaurants. Amanusa means "peaceful isle", and it sums up the place. The owners say it was designed with an artist's eye, celebrating space and Bali's natural beauty. True. It's a place to unwind, with attention paid to the details that define luxury and quality. A golf course separates the resort from the Indian Ocean.
• amanresorts.com/amanusa/ home.aspx
Bulgari Hotel Resort
On the southern Bukit peninsula, Bulgari Resort is set 150m above the Indian Ocean. Enclosed within walls of white bukit stone, and near the village of Pecatu and Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple, Bulgari Resort has the air of a medieval fortress town. Its villas each have their own garden, pool and outdoor living room. While there's great privacy in the villas, the social areas are glam.
Ayana Resort and Spa
It might have 368 guestrooms (from 209 resort rooms to 10 resort suites, 71 club rooms and suites, and 78 villas) but Ayana still manages to keep a sense of intimacy. On the limestone cliffs of Jimbaran, overlooking the Indian Ocean on the south-west coast, Ayana is set on 77ha and truly mixes modern comforts with traditional design.
The carvings, sculptures, paintings and artefacts set the scene.
Wood, water, stone and rattan define Alila Uluwatu, on the Bukit peninsula, almost as much as its location. It is high on cliffs looking out over the ocean, with bridges and walkways joining pavilions to pools. There are elegant social areas. Cliffside pool units are of open-plan design - the flat lava rock roofs and bamboo ceilings let the sea breeze though. One-bedroom pool villas have private pools and cabanas, and strong Balinese design accents. The huge three-bedroom villas cover 2000-3000sqm.
Four Seasons at Sayan
Just outside Ubud, this Four Seasons seriously ticks the boxes. Elegant villas and the jungle overlooking the Ayung River. There are 18 suites, 42 private villas, and a sense of luxury and nature in harmony. The two-level swimming pool follows the river's bends and has a wooden deck with lounges. Brilliant views. Indoors, the same harmony is represented by teak furniture and hand-loomed fabrics.
On the edge of Ubud, in the village of Kedewatan, and on an escarpment above a gorge of the Ayung River, the resort is built to a traditional Balinese village design. Think coconut wood, teak and thatched roofs with bamboo frames. The 30 suites each have walled gardens, and pebbled walkways link them. There are views of the Ayung River Gorge and rice paddies, and the suites have wall-sized sliding glass doors on three sides. Pool suites have private plunge pools.
Como Shambala Estate
Como Shambhala Estate, near Ubud, offers a package holiday in quite a different sense, for its creed is "proactive holistic wellness" and to do this, the expert staff combine ancient healing techniques with modern science. Clean cuisine, spa therapies, yoga, activities are all packed into wellness retreats and, indeed, the word "shambhala" is used in old Buddhist texts to refer to a sacred place of bliss. The plan is to explore body, mind and spirit, and Como owner Christina Ong designed the place as a result of her personal pursuit of a meaningful spa experience.
This luxury highlands resort was remodelled last year and has 25 luxurious villas with private pools. It overlooks tropical forests and the Petanu River gorge. While the architecture is pure Bali, inside the villas there are quality European fittings, with marble floors, luxury furnishings, sumptuous beds, fine thread-count sheets -and satellite television.
The Legian Bali
It's the classic luxury stay, and it comes up in conversation time after time. On the edge of Seminyak Beach, with a great stretch of sand adjacent and nudging shops and nightlife, 68 guest rooms and suites edge the Indian Ocean. It's a mix of modern architecture, coconut palms and colourful sunsets. The suites face the ocean and display the skill of Indonesian designer Jaya Ibrahim with natural fibre furniture, and artefacts from across the archipelago. From studio suites to specialty suites, all have balconies with unobstructed sunset views.
• ghmhotels.com/en/ the-legian-bali/home/#home