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A timeless retreat
Publication Date : 28-01-2013
Ready for an indulgent tropical escapade?
The island of Bali never fails to enchant visitors. From the sands that edge its shores to jungle-clad volcanoes, from exotic temples to a host of artistic delights, here is an island many consider paradise on earth. In 1936, English traveller Geoffrey Gorer had this to say, “I left unwillingly, convinced that I had seen the nearest approach to utopia that I am ever likely to see.”
Visitors will be spoilt for choice when choosing accommodation on the island, as there is a type to suit every pocket. If you are an ocean person and want to stay away from boisterous crowds, staying at the Jimbaran Bay area comes highly recommended. Its pristine beaches and talcum powder sands are fringed with swathes of tropical trees that provide ample shade for the sun-shy.
We checked into the Jimbaran Puri Bali, comprising villas and cottages resembling a typical Balinese village. Taxi drivers might get a little confused over the name as there is also a hotel named Puri Jimbaran Hotel, Bali. Tell them the place you want to go is near the Intercontinental Bali and they will find the secluded hotel.
The first thing that catches the eye upon entering the resort is the horizon-edged emerald pool. The water is so still it looks surreal. Cleverly designed so that the water is level with the concrete surface, I thought the waitress was walking on water as she carried a tray of drinks!
Walking through the resort is akin to walking in a perfectly manicured garden dotted with lotus ponds and stone-carved statues. One only hears birds chirping and the gushing of water. Like most Balinese resorts, there is a temple on the grounds where all employees offer their prayers before starting the day.
The beauty of the hotel lies in its tranquillity – it’s small yet you don’t bump into many guests except at breakfast. But if you stroll along the beach, you get to discover a different, contrasting world. We caught a local martial arts class in session there on a Sunday. Walk further and you’ll see a little market where most locals congregate to shop, talk and eat. Apparently, one of the best barbecues on the island is served here and come dinner time, the stalls are swarming with locals and tourists wanting to sample the freshest catch of the day.
If you’re not adventurous with stall food, then head back to the resort and dine at the Nelayan Restaurant or Tunjung Café. One night, we had dinner at the former, where Italian executive chef Michele Greggio’s menu blends Western techniques with Indonesian spices. A gentle breeze was blowing, a sprinkling of stars glimmered above, and the ambience was romantic but the fare was only average and a tad disappointing.
Our days would always begin at the Tunjung Café with a spectacular buffet breakfast and a la carte menu. Choose from exotic fruits, delicate pastries, fresh juices and mouth-watering cheeses and cured meats. The delightful waiters are ever ready to serve with a smile.
But the winds ... ah, the winds can be so strong it is hard to keep your cutlery in place! My pancake and glasses almost went flying one morning so we choose to sit indoors for the remainder of our stay.
At night the café transforms into an intimate venue lit by candlelight but we preferred to lounge in our villa. And what a lovely villa it was with every possible comfort inside while outside, we had our own private pool behind a walled courtyard.
Great attention has been paid to detail. Indoor and outdoor slippers awaited us. Cool marble floors and teak furnishings grace the spacious living area adorned with traditional Balinese art.
The bedroom, with netting surrounding the bed, looked so comfortable, we wanted to jump in immediately.
Showers can be a long, steamy affair. One can soak and daydream in the opulent black-stone tub, bathe under the outdoor spout shower or opt for the powerful indoor rain shower. Need more fragrant salts in your bath? No problem, your personal butler is just a call away.
In the afternoons, I’d be found sprawled on the thatched day-bed overlooking the azure pool while my companion would be reclined on the sofa indoors, glued to the entertainment on television. Or I’d be on a deck chair, reading while tanning. It was so easy to lose track of time here.
Any Balinese vacation is incomplete without a spa treatment, so to the Beach Spa on the open-air terraces we went. It proved to be a pleasant experience, but a word of advice: it’s best to have your massages before sunset as the therapists tend to get tired after working on guests the whole day. Also, mosquitoes and pesky little insects keep you company in the dim light.
The hotel also offers a range of activities, from meditation and yoga classes to Balinese dance lessons, massage lessons and perfume-making workshops. The only setback: participation comes at a price and reservation is required a day in advance.