24 Hour-Room Service: Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali
Saturday 13 October 2007
The Malaysian luxury hotel group YTL has developed a strategy for taking over slightly tired properties and revamping them. Tembok Bali, its first location outside Malaysia, opened this summer and focuses more than any of its other properties on the group's renowned spa offering.
The low-key but bijou atmosphere is apparent from the moment you enter the resort via a narrow tree-lined drive. While registration takes place, your feet are washed and massaged in an airy pavilion; at this point you can decide the "discovery path" of spa treatments you wish to take during your stay. On the way to the room you pass the candles, petals and intricate woodwork that are to be found throughout the intimate retreat.
Relaxation and well-being is all: from yoga at dawn to the continual offers of fresh juices and cooled towels as you sun yourself by the pool, to the daily lessons in Balinese crafts and the soft chimes of the gamelan-player that accompany dinner overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Treatments in the spa range from Mesipat (a natural facial) to Penganten Melukat, a two-hour session involving massage, body scrub, hot wrap and flower bath that couples traditionally enjoy three days before their wedding.
Tembok Bali is not near any of the island's well-known sights; the point is not to roam but to de-stress with no distractions (which is why there are no televisions in the rooms, mobile phone use is discouraged, and guests must be at least 16). It would be a pity to go to Bali and not to sample its ancient Hindu culture. But for a high-powered couple in severe need of regaining equilibrium this would be the perfect start to a longer break.
Everything, in any case, is here. The restaurant offers meaty European fare, but far better are the local dishes and produce fresh from the sea. Spicy red snapper fillets, sliced king prawns and seared blue-fin tuna are all delicious; on no account miss the sublime fish satay, prepared Balinese-style with the flesh minced and mixed with a heady sauce before grilling. After a day's treatments and then dinner surrounded by candles, who would miss the pumping beats of the Kuta beach nightclubs? You'll be glad they're too far away to disturb the peace.
Spa Village Resort Tembok Bali, Tejakula, North-east Bali, Indonesia (00 603 2783 1000; www.spavillage.com/tembokbali). On the island's northern coast, and at the foot of its highest mountain, Gunung Agung. Tembok Bali's only neighbours are small fishing settlements and the odd roadside shop. The accommodation curves in a crescent around the bounds of the small resort, in which nothing is more than two minutes' walk away. It's an undeveloped part of Bali, which means it's extremely peaceful.
Time from international airport: Denpasar is two-and-a-half hours in complimentary transport provided by the hotel.
The 27 Kamar rooms, located either up steps or down by lily-covered ponds, are decked out in YTL's trademark dark wood panelling, relieved by lighter wood carvings. Each room has a balcony facing the central garden area which overlooks the sea; the only sound to be heard is of the waves crashing against the shore. The two suites have separate living rooms. A pair of villas each have their own front door leading on to a small garden with plunge pool, sun-bathing deck and separate access down to the seafront. All the decor aims to be low-key, with natural finishes and influenced by local traditions.
Freebies: YTL-branded toiletries in the bathroom; tea and freshly ground Balinese coffee in the rooms. Indonesia's English-language paper, The Jakarta Post, is free on demand.
Keeping in touch: Direct-dial phones in the rooms, free Wi-Fi in the lobby.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Kamar rooms start at US$484 (£242), including all meals, tea and coffee, and one spa treatment per person, per day.
I'm not paying that: Perched on a 40m-high cliff-face in Nusa Dua, at the southern-most tip of the island, Nikko Bali Resort and Spa (00 62 361 773 377; www.nikkobali.com) offers an internet rate of $120 (£60) per night, room only.
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