Fantasy Island Places to Stay in Bali
Bali: A Guide to Our Favorite Indonesian Island
Written By: Erik Hale
If everything you know about Bali came from a Julia Roberts movie, you might be missing out on some of the best reasons to venture to this island paradise. In my opinion, if you are trying to find yourself, you could skip India and Italy and spend your entire holiday in Bali eating, praying and loving. This is not an all-inclusive guide. This is a big island. We are just hoping that our experience tempts you into making your own adventure.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Bali, a tropical island in Indonesia between Java and Lombok, is populated by nearly four million people. There are several ways to travel to Bali, through Australia, China, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Bali is 16 hours ahead of PST, and the typical flight— or combination of flights—generally takes about one full day. Temperatures are mostly warm every day, with highs in the 80s and 90s all year long. The exchange rate is favorable, and you can exchange money (always at different rates so be careful) on most any street corner. You can easily get away with board shorts, T-shirts, bikinis and flip flops for almost any occasion. If you speak Balinese, Indonesian, Chinese or English, you can communicate—as most locals are at least trilingual. Unlike Indonesia as a whole, which is primarily Muslim, about 85 percent of Balinese are Hindu. There are thousands of temples (pura) on the island of all sizes that are beautiful to visit and so plentiful you feel you see them in every direction you look. Renting a car is probably not necessary. You can get almost anywhere you need to be in a cab for a few bucks, or just hire a driver for the day. The main mode of transport is the bevy of scooters that zoom past you on sidewalks, shoulders and medians. Rent one of these at your own risk.
From the minute you arrive here, you realize that you are at a world class resort. There are multiples of staff, but you do not feel overwhelmed by them. You can see the Balinese culture in the ethnic uniforms, and the perpetual bowing, but it comes across completely genuine. It is in these details that you begin to understand the dichotomy that is The Mulia, Mulia Resort and Villas. This mega resort boasts eight phenomenal restaurants, acres of white beaches, and glorious Instagram worthy framing at your every turn. The twist is that the resort is in Bali. It is so decadent that even with available private car service, you could be easily tempted to never explore a square inch outside of this property, and have an amazing vacation as well as a social media account that is the envy of all of your co-workers. The rooms are modern in decoration, aesthetically as well as technologically, down to multi-functional toilets. Our view was 180 degrees of Indian Ocean from our luxurious patio furniture or from the tub through floor-to-ceiling windows. During our trip, we ate from their wonderful buffet for hours at a time, sipped drinks poolside from coconuts under majestic statues, ingested gold and caviar, and were massaged into oblivion. This resort sets a standard in luxury that very few resorts in the world could meet.
Set on the beach, rooms are spread over acres of natural, tropical gardens with tall eucalyptus and blossoming frangipani trees. You are greeted with a lei and a refreshing fruit-infused drink, as well as a cool cloth to wipe your neck. Don’t miss the afternoon tea as it is quite impressive—a large spread with cookies, cakes and a variety of teas. Relax in the shade of a frangipani, and watch the ocean while you listen to the relaxing sounds of the xylophone. We suggest taking all of this beauty in with a specially packed picnic lunch on the grass next to the pool.
Just far enough from the main strip to be surrounded by rice fields, but close enough to safely walk downtown at night, the Komaneka at Bisma (one of two Komaneka properties in Ubud) is placed perfectly for you and a guest to experience the jungle without being lost in it. The staff is welcoming (even performing a traditional dance during our stay) from the moment you check in until you begrudgingly leave. Our room was spacious and comfortable, but the human touches of rose petals left on the bed, nightly love poems left bedside, and gifts during checkout made this resort truly feel like a second home we couldn’t wait to return to.
ROOM FOR ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
We exited our taxi and were immediately greeted by a man in a long, traditional robe standing outside a walled compound. When you book your stay online, you often find that the property owners are actually professional trick photographers that somehow make their shoddy 200-square-foot apartments look like Irish country manors. As we stood outside the ten- foot gate of the Bali Ethnic Villa, I was prepared for something similar. There was no way this property could be as beautiful as it was online. Our host bowed, welcomed us, and opened the gate for us to enter. We stopped just inside the gate, which gave me the opportunity to ask which cottage was ours. His English wasn’t perfect, but it was obvious by his smirk that he had heard this misconception before. “Well, all of this is yours, ” he said confidently. Was I on Fantasy Island? We were standing at the entrance to two acres of manicured gardens, koi ponds, Javanese huts, and a pool bigger than at any resort I have stayed in my life. “It’s all ours?” I wondered aloud. It was all ours. It took an hour to take the tour. There were three houses (four private bedrooms), each with private baths and outdoor showers and tubs. There was an open-air living room, pool room, kitchen and dining room, and movie room all individually housed. There were six staff members on call to your every wish. We sent them out for fast food and bintangs, they made ice tea and brought us ice water. They made breakfast every morning, and picked up your dirty socks and sent them to the laundry before they even hit the floor. You wish that everyone you knew could be there with you. You will need proof you were here. Nobody will believe you.
BRINGING THE FAMILY OR TRYING TO MAKE ONE
Staying in a villa will give your family the Bali feel but can often come at a much higher price tag. The Villas Bali, comprised of 50 private villas located in the heart of Seminyak, is a great option for honeymooners and families. They offer one, two and three bedroom villas all with private yards, beautiful pools, and full villa amenities at a fraction of the cost you might expect to pay for a stand-alone villa, and with services you might find at a resort. Each villa has satellite TV, sound systems, a refrigerator, and a daily maid (and mosquito fogging) service. They also offer private chefs to make breakfast, bartenders to make drinks for your team, and a full suckling pig BBQ in your backyard. The location is ideal for shopping and dining. Your villa is a five-minute walk from the center of Seminyak.