There are very few places in the world that embody so much beauty, culture and spirituality all at once; There are very few places that are able to quench your wanderlust in just one week. Bali was an exploration of the senses, completely disconnecting us from the world we left behind.
We arrived to Bali through a direct 10-hour Qatar Airways flight from Doha. Having slept the entire flight, we arrived fresh at 6pm, ready to explore what was to be our home for the next 7 days.Our first stop was Ubud, a mountainous, jungle-like region, about an hour and a half from Denpassar Airport. Our driver, Coco, was quick to point out that this road used to take 3-4 hours before the new highway was built. We felt relieved to hear about this new highway, as we were anxious to arrive to our destination.
We arrived at the Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Sayan at around 8pm and we were greeted by what we now know is exceptional Balinese hospitality. You are always greeted with a smile and a prayer gesture in Bali. Locals are quick to ask you how you are and where you’re from. “Thank you Sir, for coming to Bali, we are very happy you are here.” Believe me, we are happier to be here.
We were escorted to our private villa by golf cart. By now it was dark so we couldn’t see much, but we could feel how secluded we were from the silence around us. This is the escape we were hoping for. The villa was everything we expected and more: a 150sqm space with the bed overlooking the private pool, surrounded by the jungle. The only sounds you could hear were that of the resident wild animals and the champagne glasses. We had reached our destination.
Tranquility, culture and scenery are the best way to describe this mountain town. Although tourists are a very common sight, locals are quick to point out that Ubud is not Seminyak and Kuta, this is a village where the residents are still the locals and have not sold their soul to tourism. This is somehow true as most of the staff we met at the hotels or restaurants were proud to mention that they were born in Ubud and live a few minutes away. While tourism is a major source of income, driving around you can’t help but notice the endless rice fields, which are the pride of this region. We rented out bicycles and spent the first day exploring first hand the rice fields and surrounding villages; if you’re lucky you may even run into a local wedding or celebration, an unforgettable sight.
Ubud is known to be the artistic haven of Bali. Every local you meet is an artist somehow or another. The streets are filled with shop after shop of art, sculpture and jewelry, leaving you wondering how much extra luggage the airline will allow on the plane.
Remaining in Ubud, our next stop was the Viceroy Hotel & Resort, home to one of the most beautiful infinity pools I have ever laid eyes on. While similar to the Four Seasons in terms of offering, the Viceroy is a little more laid back and is highly recommended for visitors that want to experience both tranquility and the occasional late night drinks in a serene environment. The Cascade restaurant at the Viceroy is recognized as one of Bali’s best and the bartender can make a killer cocktail. The Ping-Pong, made of fresh passion fruit, lychee and vodka is a must-try.
Our private pool at the Viceroy was slightly larger than the one at the Four Seasons but what stood out was the incredible view each villa enjoyed here; the resort is built on a downhill, meaning every villa enjoyed the same view.
The infinity pool at the Viceroy Bali
To the Ocean
We had intentionally started our trip in the mountains, as we wanted to enjoy the second leg of it at sea. We were really looking forward to our next destination, the Bulgari Spa and Resort in Uluwatu, South Bali.
The drive down was about and hour and a half, but felt like 15 minutes as we drove down through the beautiful Balinese scenery.
Uluwatu is a cliff side village at the southern tip of Bali, known for being a surfer’s paradise with painting-like sunsets. What we didn’t know though was we were about to enter the most beautiful resort we had ever set foot in.
Our butler, Picu, was at the entrance ready to greet us as we arrived to the Bulgari. The Buglari is everything you would imagine it to be; Italian luxury meets Indonesian architecture and hospitality. Our villa was something out of a design book, dark wood contrasting with the blue sky and greenery. Again, we had the villa with the pool, but this pool was different. Its infinity design meant it would end on the sea and eventually the sky making it hard to step out of. A passion fruit tree hung over it as exotic colorful birds nested above. If there were a heaven on earth, this would be the closest place to it.
Picu was only a phone call away and literally just 3 minutes away anytime we needed him. Boasting 3 restaurants, we decided to try the cliff-side Italian on the first day. Picu dropped us off to the elevator, which escorted us down to our table waiting for us. Our table, just one of two, stood above the most marvelous sea view I have ever laid eyes on; a sapphire blue sky that fades into the navy blue seas only to be interrupted by monkeys. Monkeys? Little did we know that this cliff was actually home to a tribe of monkeys. As soon as the nuts were laid on the table, a monkey jumped onto the railing of our table to distract us. As we stood up in shock, his friend, hiding behind us, grabbed the bag like a pro and they both made away before we could realize what happened. After all, this was there home and we were invading it. But besides the evening’s ‘entertainment’, our meal was a pleasant fusion of Italian and Indonesian made fresh in the open kitchen next to our table.
While the Bulgari enjoys a sandy beach, it is not advised to approach the ocean due to its high tide, which is potentially deadly.
Other than enjoying the views, Uluwatu does not offer much else to. So we were advised to head over to the Rock Bar in Gimbaran, only 15 minutes away.
We were told to be there in time for it’s world renowned sunset. Be advised to make it a bit earlier as there is about a 30 minute wait to enter due to capacity.The Rock Bar is exactly what the name suggest, a bar built on a rock, several actually. The view is majestic as it is surrounded by the never ending Indian Ocean and the chill out sounds of the DJ set on top of a neighboring rock, a sight to see. But one comes here for the cocktails, the Passion fruit martini, the Lychee Martini, try them all, you won’t regret it.
Whilst it was heartbreaking leaving the Bulgari, we were excited to head down to Bali’s party town for our last days. We chose the W Retreat in Seminyak to end this vacation, as we wanted to see a different side of this island paradise. Seminyak was about a 40-minute drive from Uluwata and we had to drive through the city of Kuta to get there. This was, at our dismay, our first sign that we were getting back to civilization.
The W is all you would expect from a W hotel, but with an island twist. You are greeted by shots on the reception, loud music and 20-something’s showing off their hottest bodies. It was a welcome change after 6 days of seclusion. The first thing we did was explore Seminyak, which is essentially one street filled with shops and restaurants. However, not the type you would expect in a small tourist town; the restaurants are beautifully designed, the shops boast latest fashions and art galleries leave you in envy. We had lunch at the Corner Café, where I unexpectedly had one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. Beef in a toasted bun, dripping in jalapeno and light Balinese sauce. You will be happily surprised by the quality of food you will enjoy in Bali, whether local or international dishes.
But one cannot visit Seminyak without visiting KuDeTa. This world famous beach club that some say put Seminyak on the map. A mix between St Tropez and Bali, KuDeTa offers great music, great drinks and an exceptional atmosphere. We spent a day here enjoying oysters, fresh lobster and an endless amount of Margaritas. But this place really gets busy around 6pm, as visitors pack inside to enjoy the sunset…and what a view it is. The sun sets on a never-ending shoreline as surfers ride waves and swimmers play hide and seek with the tide. An abundance of kites fill the skies, as the sun becomes a tiny dot as far as your eyes can see. If there is one thing you will never forget from your trip to Bali is how the sun sets on the ocean. There’s nothing quite like it.
As our trip came to an end, you look back to this heaven on earth and envy the locals for not having to leave.
And it all makes sense now. How can the locals not be this friendly when they have the luck of living in such a laid back paradise, far from the news, the economy and all the stress this world has to offer?
Thank you Bali, till we meet again.
AlRifai is available at most major airports in the Middle East. Why don’t you take us with you on your next adventure?
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
Address: Sayan, Ubud, Bali 80571
Phone: +62 (361) 977577
Address: Jln. Lanyahan, Br. Nagi, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 971777
Bulgari Hotels & Resorts Bali
Address: Jalan Goa Lempeh, Banjar Dinas Kangin Uluwatu, Uluwatu, Bali 80364, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 8471000
W Retreat & Spa Bali – Seminyak
Address: Jalan Petitenget, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Phone:+62 361 4738106