Stellar Travel’s Denise Larson recently made a whirlwind trip to Bali, visiting sixteen 5-star hotels! She also visited many of the cultural sites and temples along the way. Here are a few of the highlights from her trip and some of her favorite Bali resorts.
Bali Indonesia is the exotic flower of the east. The culture and landscapes are as diverse as the population.
A fun surprise for families is the flight from Taiwan to Bali that features a jet painted with the Sanrio characters (Hello Kitty and her friends) and a designated Hello Kitty airport lounge and retail store in the Taipei Airport.
From the stunning vistas of Uluwatu and the lush jungles of Ubud to the South beach vibe of Seminyak, there is something for everyone in this tropical playground.
With VIP arrival service, I was met at the exit of the plane at Denpasar Airport and whisked past the customs and immigration lines to a comfortable, air-conditioned lounge, where I was served a cold beverage, a cold/moist towel, and was able to relax for 15 minutes, while my representatives took care of all of the necessary entrance paperwork on my behalf.
My first stop was the new Six Senses in Uluwatu. This serene and beautiful resort just takes your breath away. They specialize in holistic spa services using Balinese essential oils, salts and other organic local products, along with a menu of many types of yoga and other fitness classes. A 1 hour massage started my trip off right! The view from your ocean facing suite with private plunge pool makes it hard to ever leave this resort!
The sightseeing highlight in Uluwatu was the Uluwatu Temple, a Hindu temple perched cliff side overlooking the ocean and is one of 6 key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars. The Balinese Hindus believe that the three divine powers of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva become one here. Open to the public, visitors don a colorful sarong and sash as a sign of respect when entering the temple grounds. The temple grounds are also home to 1000s of monkeys whose antics confound and astound visitors on a daily basis.
My next stay was at the Viceroy, Ubud. This was one of my favorite resorts with the singular attention to detail that only a local, family-run resort can provide. Besides the wonderous view overlooking the lush valley from my private plunge pool suite, they also have one the most amazing restaurants. Apéritif Restaurant & Bar looks like a throwback to colonial times but with a modern flare. The stark black and white décor interspersed with objects d’art makes for interesting surroundings. The chef is going for his first Michelin star and gives tours for guests of his state-of-the-art, immaculate kitchen. They also serve amazing dragon fruit smoothies each morning before breakfast.
Between Ubud and Seminyak, we stopped to do the Tjampuhan Ridge Walk. This route takes you between 2 river valleys in the rural countryside among verdant rice paddies. There are also numerous art studios along this path.
Then we visited Tanah Lot Temple. One of the most scenic landmarks in Bali. It is an ancient Hindu shrine perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is adjacent to Beraban Village and Cultural Park which offers many restaurants and shops and is a not-miss spot to visit on your Bali vacation.
Our next location was Seminyak. For those who have been to Lahaina in Maui or South Beach in Miami, this is like a mixture of the 2 places. With luxury beachside resorts, lively nightclubs and great shopping!
I stayed at Alila Semanyak. It has several beachfront pools including their beautiful adults only pool. Designed by award winning architect Gaurang Khemka, Alila Seminyak is an environmental, energy and resource-efficient resort that strives to blend into the natural environment.
While in Seminyak, I also enjoyed the W Retreat. This is a luxury beachfront resort and also has a huge multi-level free-form pool area with pool and beach cabanas that are complimentary for guest use. Their oceanfront bar is THE place to be at sunset. This resort has 60 garden view rooms, 65 ocean view rooms, 4 oceanfront suites and 1 villa that can be configured from 1 to 3 bedrooms.