Well the bags were packed (all 26 kg) and l was off to my first trip to Bali. After my hassle free flight to Bali, l was greeted by a MyBali representative with a sign saying ‘Mr Andrew’, the name l was called for the entire trip. The car was waiting, a fresh cold towel and a bottle of water were on the seat and l was on the way to AYANA Resort and Spa Bali.
After darting through traffic and losing count after 2000 scooters we passed, 20 minutes later l arrived at AYANA Resort and Spa Bali (formerly the Ritz Carlton). Located at Jimbaran Bay, the resort is perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean. The stunning resort spans a massive 77 hectares and comprises of 368 guest rooms and 78 free standing villas, all with private pools. Luckily my partner and l had a villa for five days of pure rest and relaxation.
Of all our travels across the world, l can certainly say that this resort would be in the top three. Our Villa was simply amazing and big enough for probably 8 people. Boasting a private pool, spa and super comfy four poster bed, this was our base for the first half of our holiday. Oh, did l mention the 24 hour butler on call for your everything you could possibly want (even a selection of DVD’s we requested at 10pm) and every time you want to leave your Villa, just simply call and a golf buggy will pick you up pronto. During our stay we were even given a mobile phone with just one number stored – the butler. Now that is service.
You can have pretty much anything delivered to your Villa, however one must explore outside this luxury pad a few times. Aside from all the private pools in the villas, the resort also boasts stunning salt water Ocean Beach Pool, children’s pool with waterslides and another four freshwater pools – the perfect place to drink those cocktails. Worried about your Bintang getting warm? No problem, your beer is served in a hollow coconut filled with ice and your Bintang right in the middle.
The restaurants at AYANA are also sure not to disappoint and this they certainly deliver. Padi is the resorts Thai restaurant and the cuisine is certainly delicious. The also have some Indian dishes available as well (highly recommend the butter chicken). Sami Sami make mouth watering wood fire pizzas and for fresh seafood and lobster (you select it fresh yourself), Kisik Seafood grill and bar located beachside on a sandy floor and is also a meal and experience to remember. Definitely the highlight was the amazing Rock Bar. The open-top bar is perched 14 metres above the ocean on a rocky outcrop at the base of the resort's towering cliffs. How do you get down the cliff? By an inclinator that traverses down the cliff-face. A visit to The Rock Bar is simply a must even if you are not staying in the resort. The sunset is breathtaking (and the cocktails).
Time for the day spa. The Thalasso Spa Complex has treatment rooms, therapy villas, reflexology centre, beauty salon and the world’s largest Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pool. What is that you ask? The Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pool is massive! It takes approximately 2 hours to circumnavigate around the pool. You stop at each station in the pool for approximately 2-3 minutes and it shoots jets of water into your body (some quiet hard). The water is warm, so add that to the heat in Bali and you certainly break a sweat. The results are felt in the coming days and l highly recommend that you experience this unique facility.
Next stop was Seminyak. Our choice of accommodation (available at www.mybali.com.au ) was Anantara. Although quiet different to AYANA, this resort was right on the beach and in the heart of Seminyak. Although not as expansive as a Villa, the ocean suites are still plush, spacious and definitely 5 star. Your balcony comes complete with stunning views of the ocean, a day bed and your own outdoor spa.
Breakfast on the pool deck at The Paon overlooking the ocean is a fantastic way to start the day. The resort has Anantara Suites, Pool Access Suites and Ocean Suites, and of course the Penthouse, which is 420 sqm of pure rooftop luxury, compete with a private infinity edge pool, spas and much more.
Definitely a must is a visit to the SOS (Sunset on Seminyak) at Anantara. This funky bar (complete with a see through catwalk suspended above the bar) has unparalled views of the Seminyak coast. It is extremely popular, so get there at least an hour before sunset to snaffle a day bed. The cocktail list is impressive and l highly recommend the tapas menu. The warm tandoori chicken wrap is delicious.
Time to hit the streets. We decided to explore Seminyak shops and dining first and we were certainly not disappointed. As expected the shopping is great, especially clothing and of course DVDs. Some top restaurants to visit in Seminyak include Chandi, Trattoria, Café Bali and Sarong. The food is all extremely cheap in comparison to Australia, but if you like your wine be prepared to pay at least $45 a bottle for a very average wine. Also be sure to visit the famous Ku De Ta right on the beach at Seminyak.
A half day trip to Kuta was certainly not my cup of tea. Popular with surfers and families and their children, Kuta is the original Bali hotspot. After hours of shopping and seeing enough people wearing Bintang singlets and their hair braided, it was time to call the driver and get back to the more exclusive Seminyak area (call me a snob, but each to their own).
A day trip to Ubud is simply a must. The artistic centre of Bali, has some stunning craft and arts shops as well as some fantastic authentic restaurants. A visit to the Monkey Forest is also a must, but be warned they are not shy, and a few screams from ladies (ok maybe me) when they tag on your clothes and go for your pockets. (We believe that is where our digital camera went missing – damn those monkeys!)
Although it may have been my first trip, it certainly won’t be the last. Aside from breaking a massage table (permanently scared me for life and will never have one again), the trip was pain free and extremely memorable. Plans are already underway for another visit this year, this time with the addition of some family and friends.
MyBali is a comprehensive travel company that has luxury packages to Bali at extremely reasonable prices. Their packages include flights, airport transfers, accommodation and they can organise anything your heart desires in Bali. They also offer an express arrival and departure service at the airport and even boast their own VIP premier lounge.
For more information on Bali, be sure to visit www.mybali.com.au or call 1300 33 22 54
By Andrew Meadowcroft