The Island of the Gods: Bali

Bali was everyone’s favorite stop on our Asian tour.  From the hotels to the culture and the people, I am already trying to find a space in my schedule to return in the not so distant future.

We started our time with two nights in Ubud at the beautiful Four Seasons Sayan, which coincidentally was just rated the #1 Hotel in the World by Travel and Leisure.  This property of less than 60 villas was truly spectacular and located a bit over an hour north of Denpasar Airport.  Our Garden Villa was entered on the second floor which had a sitting area and small pond with lily pads.  Walking town the stairs there was a small fountain in the entry way and the front doors opened to our expansive patio and private pool.  The garden views were lush and made for a very private feel to the villa as you wouldn’t expect any guests to be strolling in the gardens behind our villa.

The room was very spacious and well appointed with a huge bathroom and closet and both an indoor and outdoor shower.  Everything about the room immersed us immediately into the Balinese culture.

I could go on and on– the breakfast was delicious (the fruit bar was incredible!), the Balinese dancers in the lobby were wonderful as was the traditional Balinese dinner held afterward.  We had the most wonderful time at the pool with its infinity edge overflowing into the Ayung River.  The scenery in Ubud is simply magnificent and with the river running through the heart of the city, it was so peaceful and serene.  Lastly. I have to mention the cutest kids clubhouse in the world (pictured below) was a colorful treehouse where the kids have movie night and other activities (complimentary from 9AM-5PM Daily).

While in Ubud, we went to the Mason Elephant Lodge and Safari Park where we used Flytographer to take some family photos.  Feeding the elephants was so much fun and it was such a great place to take photos where everyone was having a blast.  Bayu and Ebony, Flytographer’s photographer’s in Ubud were wonderful to work with and captured some precious memories for our family.

When it was time to leave Ubud, the Remote Lands team picked us up at our hotel and we did a short tour between check out and check in to our new hotel on the beach.  On our tour, we visited the Sacred Monkey Forest, the Ubud Market, a Wood Carver’s shop, and a Lewak Coffee Factory.  My favorite stop was definitely the Monkey forest, but I loved the stop at the Wood Carver’s shop where we purchased a beautiful Ganesh elephant.  Our awesome guide also helped us negotiate a great price, so I would highly recommend taking a (knowledgeable) local with you when shopping!

The next four nights were spent at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, which is on the South Western coast of the island of Bali and only about 20 minutes from the Denpasar airport. Similar to the Sayan property, Jimbaran Bay is an all villa property with a very strong sense of place, immersing the guests in the Balinese culture.  Around 120 villas in total, this property is quite a bit larger than it’s counterpart in Ubud.  The room had similar features- a private pool, large terrace, and large bedroom and oversize bathroom with both indoor and outdoor showers.  We had a wonderful view of the Ocean in our Jimbaran Bay Villa, but because of the views it wasn’t quite as secluded as our Sayan Villa (although it was still quite private).

For the common areas, I loved the Sundara restaurant (order the Califlower Tabbouli and thank me later!) and Sundara Beach Club.  It never felt crowded while we were there and my daughter really enjoyed the kids club which was open with much more extended hours (9am-9pm daily– hooray for date night!).

Two of the evenings we ventured off property for dinner.  The first evening we chose a local favorite- Bumbu Bali which was one of my favorite restaurants on the trip.  This outdoor venue featured Balinese dancing and authentic local cuisine.  Bumbu Bali was approximately a 20 minute drive from our resort close to the Nusa Dua area, where we dined on the other evening at the St. Regis Bali.  The St. Regis is a gorgeous resort with spectacular rooms and lots of restaurant choices.  This was our tour guide’s favorite resort and I can see why– the spa, the beach and location, and as I mentioned the rooms were all amazing.  The price of this resort, however, compared to the Four Seasons is quite a lot higher and I preferred the more  Balinese decor at our resort.  Also, for families, the kids club at St. Regis is not complimentary and is not open in the evenings.

Overall, Nusa Dua beach is much prettier than Jimbaran Bay, which is something to weigh in consideration when choosing the right hotel for your family.  It would be a hard choice for me between loving the rooms and amenities of the Four Seasons and preferring the location and beach of Nusa Dua.

In my opinion, no matter where you stay and what you do, Bali should be on your list!