Donna Sue Robson is a freelance writer and essayist specialising in the arts, Latin dance; & natural & alternative therapies for people and pets. Check out her own energy-healing consultancy and boutique natural products at www.jamienatural.com
Published October 29th 2016
Accommodation in Bali's mountainous north
Set against the mountains of Bedugul, Rekreasi is a launching pad for trekking tours and excursions which you can book from any number of tourist-service and booking agent centres in the main street.
Warung Rekreasi Bedugul (Rekreasi) is a well- resourced accommodation reserve in the heart of Bedugul, North Bali. It is conveniently located opposite the fruit and vegetable on the main street, and about a 10-minute walk to the internationally acclaimed Bali Botanic Gardens. Bedugul's main street is lined with 'early-open' food stalls and single-item sellers (who are not pushy) and warungs that specialise in Balinese delicacies and Islamic cooking styles. There are two village mosques nearby as well as the lake for which the town is known. Bedugul and Rekreasi go hand-in-hand as a true mountain retreat holiday and experience.
Rekreasi has extensive, lush grounds that require an afternoon's walk to fully appreciate. Whether you come for a retreat, family holiday or work conference, all your needs can be met: however, you are in the mountains and while you are here, it pays to get out-and-about: explore the town on-foot and make the most of the fresh, healthy mountain air.
Rekreasi feels like it was once a retreat for royalty or esteemed guests, as indeed, Singaraja was the old capital of Bali and was once home to the island's royal family. Rekreasi's gardens continue to be maintained with great love and reverence.
If you are staying in Lovina Beach, you can get to Bedugul and Rekreasi by catching the once-a-day morning shuttle bus or by hiring a private taxi. If you have small children, my tip is that you go by taxi because as you drive through mountains, it is easier to stop a private taxi should you need to pull-over or ask to slow-down for bouts car sickness. The taxi fare costs around $30 per trip and the shuttle bus is $11 per person. The two-hour trip is normally broken with a drink stop, at which point you can absorb the tranquillity of the lake from a high vantage point. If you want to travel by shuttle bus and are coming from another part of Bali, you may have to get to Lovina or Singaraja first, stay over-night and then go by shuttle bus from either northern hub early the next morning.
The gardens and grounds at Rekreasi are 'jaw-dropping' impressive. For starters, there are several water gardens and meditation inlets close to the elevated restaurant, most of which feature sacred figures such as: Quan Yin ('the female Buddha'); Sita from the Indian Ramayana myth; Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god who removes blocks and obstacles; and of course, Buddha. This conference of spiritual icons illustrates a chronological record of North Bali's spiritual pedigree, and affirms Balinese tolerance and embrace of spiritual traditions and teachings throughout the world. The stone carvings are the work of local masons and artists and nurtured within native botanical settings, they create a relaxed vibe and peaceful energy which makes Rekreasi perfect for spiritual retreats, conferences and artistic life.
Rekreasi has several accommodation options from bamboo bungalows to group-share units. Rekreasi also has floor-space that is ideal for school groups and younger people.
If you are looking for conference site in Bali, Rekreasi has many advantages. The centre has a variety of conference spaces and centres such as: Hall Segi 8 ('big room') or the Panggung ('big field and stage') both of which can be hired for $350 per day; as well as conference spaces or facilities like the Tenda Pleton ('marquee hire') for $100 per night, sound-system hire for $80 per day and a BBQ- facility hire which is $30 for one night. In addition, there are numerous small spaces, (outdoor, indoor and under-cover) that small groups can use if staying at the park. Conference spaces are plain-dressed and wooden. You need to talk to Rekreasi staff if you have any other specific requirements. The spaces that merit a day-hire or time-booked fee are also available to groups staying off-site.
Rekreasi has an in-harvest coffee plantation and an impressive orchid collection. Keep wandering the grounds and you find vegetables and farming gardens, meditation areas, children's playgrounds and a football and recreation reserve.
Rekreasi has a variety of accommodation choices and packages. There are three styles of bungalows: both the wood and the bamboo double-storeys cost $65 per night for two people. These bungalows showcase mountain views and being private, are ideal for couples. The bedrooms are on the upper deck and are only accessible by an extremely steep outdoor, wooden staircase which (especially if they have become slippery with morning mountain mist) are not ideal for those whose health, confidence or co-ordination is compromised. There is also a larger 'family bungalow', which has two upstairs' double bedrooms. This unit can accommodate three couples or small family units (extra on-floor bedding costs an extra $10 per mattress). This unit is delightfully styled with modern Balinese art and décor, but again, with a super steep stairwell, it is not recommended for children or older people. Rekreasi's bungalow-style accommodation has far superior bathrooms than the double-room units described below.
Rekreasi has a 'village-meeting' style of restaurant that has an a la carte menu and an extensive choice of drinks. I had my usual fruit and banana pancake for breakfast and was introduced to the fabulous fresh ginger-lemon tea that warms the body shocked by cold, mountain air.
The cheaper style of accommodation units are double rooms within a nest of four rooms that share verandas and an inside lounge area. This is ideal for friends, families and couples who may want privacy, but whom are also part of a small group and want to be in close proximately to one another. The shared lounge and other shaded areas are impeccably cleaned and refined with modern Balinese design flair. At $30 per room, per night, this is a cost-effective, small-group option. They present no safety issues as all of these units are ground level.
If you don't mind roughing it, you can camp in the designated camp area ($30 per night). Often, student groups hire the Banguana Tingkat or wooden-floored, dorm-style 'group quarters' facility that costs $450 per night and can accommodate in excess of 15 people.
It takes a good half day to wander around the gardens and soak-up the magic. Here, every space has a story to tell. Then, there is Bedugul herself to explore.
All accommodation bungalows and rooms have double beds. Women or those dependent on mod-con grooming facilities, need to know that mirrors, (in all but the family bungalow) are absent from bedrooms and bathrooms. However, there is no problem asking for a portable or you may be able to pick-up a hand-held mirror from the market opposite.
Recreational activities are part of this holiday menu. There is a Flying Fox run which costs $7.50 for children and $12.50 for adults and group-bonding paint-balling events can be organised. Other on-site facilities include a football field or games area, a performance area for artistic groups and conferences and children's playgrounds. Children and families can visit the farm animals; gardeners can enjoy the organic garden and lovers of nature can check-out Rekreasi's coffee plantation, bamboo forest and vibrant orchid garden. An ideal spiritual retreat, pretty well any outside area that summons you can be used for private or small-group meditation, yoga, private picnics or quiet contemplation time.
If you want space- then this is your place. Gardens, water features and camping areas make it an ideal location for spiritual retreat and study.
Rekreasi has a large, open-plan restaurant which serves a la carte meals all day from 8am. Breakfast is part of the accommodation package. The restaurant's open-fire provides night-time cosiness and here, many a visitor will challenge you to game of snooker or other 'pool-inspired games with local rules'! Groups can organise set menus for special events or group convenience: choose from the Western Menu with prices for lunch ranging from $5.50- $7.50 per person and several $11.50 dinner-options; or set-buffet Indonesian feasts that range from $10-$20 per person.
You can also buy fresh food at the local market across the road and enjoy it on your private balcony, shared lounge-room or in Rekreasi's picnic surrounds. Don't shy away from the whole warung experience if you really want to immerse in local culture. Local warungs are known for their old-age hand-me-down recipes, use of fresh, local spices and are masters of their unique specialities.
Rekreasi is a complete holiday, accommodation and conference experience. For that reason, you must book ahead. It is also recommended that larger groups or conference groups book at least one-month ahead.
There are locally-carved stone statues that celebrate the sacred and highlight mythological heroes from the Hindu-epic, Ramayana.