Destination Guide


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Courtesy of Amankila

“Life, religion and art all converge in Bali. They have no word in their language for ‘artist’ or ‘art.’ Everyone is an artist,” Anais Nin once wrote about Bali. Rich with cultural traditions—music, dance, craftsmen, art, temples—it is no surprise a vibrant community of artists and designers have also taken up residence here. Add gorgeous mountain landscapes, crystal clear waterfalls and lakes and and world-class resorts with a focus on wellness and you are truly in another world here. Eat, pray, love, repeat.


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Exterior - Sunset Cabana at Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia

Alila Villas Uluwatu

Alila’s Villa Uluwatu outpost seems as if it was planned by a fleet of cutting-edge architects, who happened to also know plenty about creature comforts. Designed by Singaporean-based WOHA architects, each villa has its own plunge pool and peaceful outdoor lounge areas with plenty of privacy. Palatial bathrooms come with huge showers and stone tubs, and bedrooms exude Zen calm with Balinese touches. Using only local, recycled and sustainable materials like bamboo and lava rock, the resort has also become a model for eco-luxury in the region. The designated butlers—completely discreet but helpful—are a highlight of the property, and can plan everything from daily excursions to babysitting when parents head to the spa or a yoga class.

The backdrop for endless photo-ops, the central part of the resort sits on the cliffs more than 300 feet above the Bukit Penisula. There is an epic infinity pool and a wood-slatted bar that juts out above the ocean (the prime spot for sunset cocktails). Of the two restaurants, Warung, the Indonesian-focused eatery is the more low-key spot. Cire, with its open kitchen, has a more Western slant and serves a fabulous breakfast.

Although the resort is a bit of a drive to many sites, its distance also adds to the feeling of being completely off the grid. There is still, however, lots to do—this part of the Balinese Coast is famous for its surfing breaks, the Uluwatu Temple remains one of the island’s most beautiful religious landmarks (but crowded with tourists) and the coastline is home to beaches and clubs.

infinity pool with a thatched roof day bed at sunset

COMO Shambhala Estate

COMO Shambhala Estate's guesthouses are situated in one of five themed residence clusters named Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Forest.

large pool lined with loungers and a pagoda style lounge building

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

The entrance to Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property on the outskirts of Ubud, is forgettable: after driving for nearly two hours north from Denpasar, Bali’s capital, the car suddenly turns left and navigates down a narrow alleyway flanked on both sides by high stone walls. After driving through a checkpoint and down a steep hill, you arrive at a courtyard shaded by towering trees and are greeted by a slew of gracious staff members and given a traditional Balinese bracelet that is believed to offer protection. Look up and you’ll see why the stunning property was placed here, on the edge of a cliff that leads down to the Ayung River and facing another cliff on the rushing water’s other side.

Mandapa boasts 35 suites and 25 pool villas, the latter being the far superior rooms and absolutely worth the additional rate. Villas differ only in their number of bedrooms (between one and three) and with their views. All have Balinese gardens, private pools, separate living rooms and very spacious bedrooms and bathrooms. The Mandapa Three-Bedroom Pool Villa also boasts a steam room and sauna as well as a nearly 2,000-square-foot pool. Décor feels both contemporary as well as traditionally Balinese, with sleek lines, sexy dim lighting, hand-woven textiles and vibrantly colored murals depicting rainforest scenes. While the best rooms are river-fronting as they provide great views and an open sense of space, guests should be aware that the river is typically busy with whitewater rafting excursions, and excited shouting can be heard from the passengers.

The cuisine on property is excellent all around, from the breakfast, which can (and should) be taken in-villa beside the private pool, to the picnic lunches provided around the property and on excursions and dinners at Kubu, the property’s signature riverside restaurant that features highly refined continental offerings like Jerusalem artichoke with black radish and kaffir lime jus. Couples should request to dine in one of the romantic private cocoons.

The spa, with eight treatment rooms (half of which are outfitted for couples), also faces the river and there is a yoga studio, lap pool, gym and sauna. There is an impressive kids club with a two-story slide, animals, Indonesian shadow puppets, instruments and masks.

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