FROM THE TREEHOUSE TO THE CLIFFTOPS: A BALINESE ODESSEY

It had been six years since I last ventured to the famous and at times, infamous Indonesian island of Bali but far from the negative stereotypes this part of the world often conjures up the next 8 days would be a wonderful and unforgettable journey.

Nestled high up in the tropical rainforests of Ubud approximately 90 minutes’ drive from Bali’s International Airport and 10 km’s from Ubud town centre was our first stop the magnificent Como Shambhala Estate. A sense of calmness and serenity immediately descends as you pull into the property, a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the busy Denpasar streets left behind some hours ago. The estate is set on 9 hectares of beautifully manicured land and offers striking views across the rainforest coated hills, valleys and gully’s, lush greenery as far as the eye can see with the tranquil sound of the Ayung River flowing down below.

This writer was fortunate enough to stay in a beautiful suite in the Wanakasa residence at the far end of the property with the river flowing only 100m below. Situated on the bottom level the bedroom in particular juts out into the rainforest creating the feeling of being in a treehouse which was truly amazing. Following the suggestion of my butler I slept with the curtains open (completely private based on the room’s position) allowing you to wake up ‘in the rainforest’ with the sound of the wildlife and the sun shimmering through the trees, this was an unforgettable experience.

The food was simply outstanding with a wide range of traditional and western dishes offered however the most remarkable part was how every meal was so light yet you always left the table completely satisfied. The staff are extremely welcoming, friendly and efficient as you’d expect from a property of this stature. Yoga, meditation, cycling, trekking (with a beautiful breakfast or lunch served half way) and a host of other activities are offered in keeping with the estate’s wellness mantra. Out of all the hotels I’ve been lucky enough to stay in Como Shambhala is without question one of the finest, simply outstanding.

Next stop on our adventure was the boutique property of Uma by Como, Ubud. The first thing that strikes you as you arrive is the very intimate nature of the resort; it has an air of relaxed exclusivity about it. The grounds once again are impeccably manicured and lush and the beautifully designed pool area was a particular favourite of this writer. The Uma Pool Suite that I was lucky enough to stay in had a private plunge pool with views across the valley and the décor is suitably styled to create that airy, light and welcoming feel. Although on a fairly busy road close to Ubud town centre it is extremely peaceful once in the grounds of the resort, a welcome place to relax after sampling the hustle & bustle of the Ubud markets and local culture.

Changing pace we headed for the coast and the lively Seminyak area. Our home for the next few nights would be the stunning Alila Seminyak. Perfectly located on the beach front overlooking the ocean the resort is close to Seminyak’s many shops, bars, restaurants and cafes allowing for the perfect mix of retail therapy and relaxation. Offering a range of beautifully finished pool areas from ‘adults only’ to ‘kids welcome’ as well as a relaxed beach club for sunset cocktails and live music this property really has something for everyone which is its true appeal. The resorts restaurant serves up beautiful local and international dishes accompanied by a truly remarkably wine list.

Being a fairly new resort the rooms are extremely modern and impeccably finished. This writer was lucky enough to spend a few nights in an Alila Ocean Suite offering stunning views from the private balcony. These suites are extremely large (72sqm) with the lounge area able to be turned into a very generous sized sofa bed for a child or 3rd adult where necessary.

The final stop on this Bali odyssey would take us to the Uluwatu area famous for its surf beaches and towering limestone cliffs. Our last ‘home away from home’ would be the truly remarkably Alila Villas Uluwatu. You really don’t know where to look when you arrive, from every angle the views are simply incredible and the finishing is of the highest order. The landscaping once again is impeccable. The property offers 1, 2 & 3 bedroom villas all with private pools. The food once again was outstanding and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier and more helpful. Alila Villas Uluwatu is probably most famous for its wedding terrace jutting out from the side of the cliff and offering truly awe inspiring views of the ocean especially at sunset. We we’re lucky enough to have sunset cocktails & canapes here, simply amazing. Located around 30 minutes from the Airport this property is the perfect place to start or finish your Bali adventure. There are lots more I could say about this property but I feel my words don’t really do it justice so here are some pictures which I believe certainly do the talking for me…


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