For a brief moment, while floating in my plunge pool staring at the Ayung River, I think about netball practice, band rehearsals, NAPLAN results and everything I return to next week. It’s a fleeting moment however, forgotten in a millisecond as the next batch of rafters catches my attention upstream.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are pretty good at luxury. It’s not just the service, the location, the size of the suites, the food and wine, the day spas, the beach clubs or the plunge pools. It’s all of the above.
We were lucky enough recently to stay at two amazing Four Seasons resorts in Bali – each very different, and each quite simply will knock your socks off.
The Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay is possibly one of the best places on Earth to watch the sun go down – whether that’s from the hugely popular Sundara beach club, sipping a glass of something French and sparkling or from the privacy of your own plunge pool.
The Balinese style suites are beautiful. Each laid out in a series of villages, with a butler in charge of each village (the chief). Indoors, a king-size bedroom leads onto an indoor/outdoor bathroom larger than most apartments I’ve lived in.
Outdoors there is a living area and dining room and a plunge pool overlooking the gorgeous Jimbaran Bay.
We choose the Sundara Beach Club on our first night here for an evening of culinary delights accompanied by setting sun and mellow DJ. Since Kudeta became such a massive hit in Bali several years back, it seems everyone now wants to open a bigger and better beach club.
And this one is fantastic. Open for lunch, dinner and or drinks, it looks out over Jimbaran Bay, with only an infinity pool separating you from the beach itself.
We start with oysters and move onto a selection of charcuterie and a delicious on with a melt-in-your-mouth cut of New Zealand lamb, accompanied by a rather lovely South American red.
The next day, which we spend mainly on (and under the water) (more about that later), we arrive back to our gorgeous hotel in time for a 3-hour spa treatment before dinner.
The Biorhythm-Restoring Waters treatment starts with foot wash before we’re laid side by side and scrubbed all over with a mix of Himalayan and local sea salts before being painted with marine algae and left to marinate for half an hour.
Then it’s off to the steam room before plunging into the outdoors bath, full to the brim with rose petals and frangipani. Once we’re sufficiently clean, it’s back to the massage table for a 60-minute kundalini crystal healing back massage and an ayurvedic marma face massage.
The next morning, after an indulgent breakfast overlooking Jimbaran Bay, we’re transferred to the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.
Located in a seemingly hidden valley in Ubud, the resort overlooks the Ayung River, and in fact, our suite practically overhangs it. To our right, lush rainforest and to our left, brilliant green rice paddies.
Our first evening here we’re treated to traditional Balinese spa treatment: the Muladhara. The Muladhara is the root chakra, located at the base of the spine, anchoring you to the earth and apparently it’s important for frequent flyers to have this chakra well balanced, to calm the body and mind creating inner peace.
It’s Balinese tradition to cleanse the body of negativity twice a month to bring good health – a tradition that makes complete sense to me – out with cynicism, in with positive thoughts, I say!
After our feet are washed, we go through a smoking ceremony (if you really want more detail about this you’ll have to ask me in comments!), before having a deep and incredibly relaxing massage using locally grown ginger, cinnamon and a blend of patchouli, vetiver and jatamansi oils.
I don’t know what vetiver or jatamansi are but it all smelled pretty good, and it’s possible I slept through some of this but I certainly awoke/emerged feeling refreshed and invigorated.
Just in time for a 14-course Balinese Feast. The name Rijstafel dates far back into the Dutch colonial era, which spanned 350 years ending in 1945.
Literally translated as “rice table”, it is an elaborate procession of meats, seafood and vegetables accompanied by a selection of sambals and ‘acars’ or pickles, designed to satisfy the rather larger appetites of the Dutch planters. It really is more an event than dinner.
The following day we’re taken on a tour through the local village, before being served an Indonesian style breakfast in a ‘bale’ overlooking the rice paddies.
I learn quite a bit about how village life works as we explore a series of family compounds. Each compound houses three to four families, with a shared kitchen, shared garden and livestock, as well as a family temple.
Breakfast is a chicken flavoured rice porridge, banana fritters and fresh fruit – not something I would have ordered for breakfast so I’m excited about the new taste sensation – the porridge is delicious.
Having had our daily exercise, the rest of the day is spent lounging by our plunge pool, interrupted occasionally by the white water rafters shrieking their way down river before another delightful dinner on the Ayung Terrace.
Another uplifting start to the day greets us on our last morning here; a session of Laughing Yoga, worth experiencing if only to witness Simon’s discomfort at being told how to laugh.
It’s a first for both of us and I imagine for a lot of people, a great release from the stresses of corporate and family life. And it leaves me feeling energized and happy all day, ready for the next adventure.
So there’s got to be something in that.
Where to stay:
Located in Jimbaran Bay on Bali’s southern coast, the resort sits on the hillside overlooking the beach, a village oasis that seems far from the hustle and bustle and yet central enough to most of Bali’s atractions.
Hidden away in a lush valley overlooking the Ayung River, the Sayan has been recognized as one of the world’s best resorts on the Conde Naste Traveler Gold List 2014 and Platinum Circle 2014.