Five ways to enjoy Bali
With its renowned surf, serene temples and wild interior, the Indonesian island offers tranquillity and adventure
Tuesday 22 July 2014
This lush Indonesian island has never been hotter. Qatar Airways (0844 846 8380; qatarairways.com) is launching a direct Dreamliner route from Doha with one-stop connections from Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh in October and there are more luxury hotels opening up than you can shake a cocktail at.
In the past year alone, some of the big brands spreading out their beach towels include Chedi Sakala (00 62 361 775 216; ghmhotels.com) on the south-eastern coast and the Regent Bali in Sanur (00 62 361 301 1888; regenthotels.com), while Alila (alilahotels.com) is set to open its fifth Balinese hotel later this year in Seminyak. And watch out for The Stairs (thestairsbali.com), the sleek Philippe Starck-designed villa hotel (set to open in 2015).
More adventurous travellers can bed down under (chic) canvas in the island’s rugged interior. Last year, Sandat Glamping (00 62 821 4408 1998; glampingsandat.com) opened with five tented lodges and three safari-style suites (from US$190/£111 B&B). Another newcomer to the luxury-camping scene is Sang Giri (00 62 361 917 0603; sanggiri.com) in the mountains of Jatiluwih.
In the remoter reaches there are volcanoes to climb, rainforests to trek, and dirt to be churned up, while the coast is pounded with legendary surf. Responsible Travel (01273 823 700; respon sibletravel.com) has a seven-day mountain-biking trip taking in the Batur crater, along with verdant rice terraces, from £730 per person excluding flights.
Strike a pose
Bali has been on the sun-salutation circuit for decades. However, from 12-14 September, Tara Stiles will be sweeping in from New York with her own brand of yoga retreat for stressed-out professionals and wiped-out jet-setters at the W Retreat and Spa (00 62 361 473 8106; wretreatbali.com) in Seminyak. The two-night package costs from US$675 (£396) per night including cocktails and meals (designed by Tara), yoga sessions and spa treatments.
The Conrad Bali (00 62 361 778 788; conradbali.com), set in 17 acres of tropical gardens on the southern coast, has just launched a seven-day juicing detox programme. After a consultation with a nutritionist, each guest is given a customised regime with juices, yoga sessions and spa treatments. The seven-day retreat package costs £1,300 on a B&B basis including juices and treatments but excluding flights.
Bali Seafari divers In at the deep end
Dive Worldwide’s (0845 130 6980; diveworldwide.com) new seven-night Bali Seafari takes you to the island’s best dive sites by catamaran – then to a hotel each night in Sanur, Amed and Nusa Lembongan. By day you explore sunken wrecks and swim with manta rays, and by night you can check out the island’s highlights before bedding down in comfort. The next trip departs on 13 September and costs from £2,045 per person including return flights from London, transfers, seven nights’ accommodation, most meals, dives, local excursions and transfers.
Food for thought
Follow in the footsteps of Rick Stein and take a half-day cookery course at Alila Manggis on the island’s quiet east coast (00 62 3634 1011; alilahotels.com). In the organic kitchen garden in the foothills of Mount Agung you’ll be given boots and a rice hat to collect the seasonal ingredients with the gardeners before cooking lunch in the Balinese pavilion where the British cook filmed part of his Far Eastern Odyssey series; US$75 (£44) per person. Venture up to the hills of Ubud to eat at one of Rick’s favourites: Ibu Oka, a legendary café serving only roast suckling pig. A renowned literary festival takes place amid the verdant rice terraces in Ubud from 1-5 October (ubudwritersfestival.com). Doubles at Alila Manggis from US$170 (£100) room only, $226 (£132) at Alila Ubud.
The ‘wow’ factor
In terms of style, Bali is not all intricate woodcarving. The Luna2 studiotel, which opened last year, is retro-futuristic with just 14 rooms and a mini 16-seater cinema in the resort of Seminyak. It’s in the Mr and Mrs Smith portfolio (0330 100 3180; mrandmrssmith.com) with doubles from £319 per night room only, including afternoon canapés.
Lovebirds can tie the knot (in fact, it’s a Balinese blessing) in Banyan Tree Ungasan’s (00 62 361 300 7000; banyantree.com) striking new Dove Chapel on the quiet south-central coast. Designed by Sardjono Sani, the white pyramid-like structure has the “wow” factor – and features 300 ornamental doves. Wedding packages start from US$2,950 (£1,728), doubles from £304.
Off the beaten track
Rickshaw Travel (01273 322 399; rickshawtravel.co.uk) has a new two-night trip to the unspoilt eastern coast of Bali and the tranquil town of Seraya. Guests stay in a traditional bungalow owned by a Dutch couple who have set up a charity to fund local girls’ education. It costs from £135 per person, including full-board accommodation and a guided tour of the area with the hosts.
In the remote West Bali National Park, the Menjangan (themenjangan.com) has a small collection of beach villas and forest lodge rooms that start at US$151 (£88), B&B.
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