Mention the word "Bali" and this Indonesian island paradise conjures up images of friendly people, local ceremonies, natural abundance and a world-class dining and entertainment scene for millions of visitors from Asia, Australia and Europe. In my search for the best ways to experience the alluring beaches, trendy dining, attentive pampering and unique culture in Bali, I discovered the simple luxury of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay.
Reception and lobby of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
This unassuming beachfront property had artfully married elements of the island's traditional lifestyle with premier standards of personal comforts into an enchanting getaway for couples and families. Apart from its oceanfront location with direct access to the beach, here are the best reasons to discover Bali and yourself at the Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay.
Breakfast overlooking the Bay
View of Jimbaran Bay from Taman Wantilan restaurant
A great start to any getaway in Bali is to wake up to breakfast overlooking a picturesque bay. Each new day in the Resort provided panoramic views to the curve of Jimbaran Bay with the backdrop of water-lily ponds and tropical gardens of the Taman Wantilan restaurant.
The relaxed and open setting was ideal to accompany my gourmet choices of ricotta hot cakes, croque monsieur, Japanese miso, Korean kimchi and local cuisine like Mie Jakarta and Bubur Ayam at the Taman Wantilan restaurant.
Importantly for coffee aficionados like me, the coffee was not the watered down or burnt versions in many Bali hotels but freshly brewed and my lattes were the right balance of frothed milk and espresso.
Opened in early February 2013, Sundara is not just Bali's hottest new beachfront restaurant and bar but a clubhouse for guests looking to chill out throughout their stay at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay. By day, the venue offers sun-splashed daybeds by an infinity edge pool, mere steps above the surf, where attentive poolside staff provide cold towels and complimentary iced drinks to keep the heat at bay.
As evening approaches, the venue becomes a candlelit and romantic backdrop for glorious sunsets and quality cocktails at Jimbaran Bay. By night Sundara becomes a social meeting place which promises a relaxed and friendly attitude with sophisticated polish and an emphasis on service.
Helmed by Executive Chef Greg Bunt, dinner features a menu of carefully prepared contemporary European cuisine using top quality local and international ingredients with old and new world wines. His Salt Bush Lamb Rack uses lamb from South Australia that graze on salt bush pastures that is simply treated to highlight its amazing smell, texture and taste. To design the perfect grazing appetizer for a beachside environment, his Charcuterie Sampler sources Pamplona chorizo, San Daniel ham and 32-month matured Parmesan to accompany his terrines and parfait.
Pampering at the Spa
Ingredients for the Spa's Biorhythm Restoring Waters
While the property is not a spa or health resort, the concept of holistic healing is integrated into daily guest activities like yoga as well as the spa treatments. Drawing inspiration from its location, the Spa applies the healing and cleansing powers of water and blend elements from traditional recipes with modern-day beauty rituals to deliver a suite of massages, body scrubs and facials.
One such signature treatment available in single and couple treatment rooms focuses on restoring the body's natural biorhythm and deeply relaxing the nervous system. Known as the "Biorhythm Restoring Waters at The Spa", it uses high levels of minerals in the scrub and mud wrap, which, as they become warm, emit large amounts of negative ions, charging and restoring the body's bio-magnetic energy field. A kundalini crystal healing back massage helps to balance and relax the nervous system.
The Resort's spa headed by Helen Norman was an excellent product both from an industry insider and consumer viewpoint. It offered spaces for quiet relaxation prior to and after treatments, functional and comfortable treatment rooms and skilled therapists who were able to communicate and deliver the treatments effectively. Couples can also heighten their romantic getaway in Bali with a side-by-side ritual in the Resort's open-air bale at the edge of Jimbaran Bay.
The Resort's emphasis on the healing properties of water is evident throughout its landscaping. It is beautifully dotted with pools that are ideal for quiet dipping, couple time and frolicking with the kids. The main infinity pool that blends with the waters of the Jimbaran Bay is surrounded by lounge chairs and umbrella with easy access to refreshments from the adjoining Pool Terrace Café.
A waterfall cascades down from the Infinity Pool into a shallow soaking pool for children to enjoy with hot and cold plunge pools close by. Guests also have access to the infinity pool in Sundara which offers a wide vista of Jimbaran Bay.
Best of all, there are always personal comforts such as ice cream, fresh fruits, cold bottled water, cold towels and sunscreen close by, compliments of the Resort. If you want to retreat to a tranquil ambiance, there's the private pool in your villa.
Designed as a traditional Balinese village, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay has its own temple grounds. In addition to being a place of worship for staff, it is also the venue for traditional Balinese dance performances by the Gong Sanggar Putri Ayu music and dance group.
Another interesting experience involves traditional costumes. The Ganesha Gallery offers guests the opportunity to take photographs in traditional Balinese male and female clothing around the property.
Cooking school in Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
For a taste of Balinese culture, the Resort's onsite cooking school provides a delicious programme led by Chief Instructor Kris. He takes guests on a tour to Kedonganan fish market and return to a private kitchen where they can learn about the exotic and aromatic flavors of Balinese and Indonesian cuisine, and cook up their own local meal.
Enjoy the Genuine Service
Having spent more than 50 percent of my recent 10 years living in some 200 hotels worldwide, I must say that the level of personal service and attention to details was appreciably remarkable and genuine at this property. Within minutes of checking in, resort staff members greeted me by my name; there was always a refreshingly cold wet towel and bottle of water wherever and whenever I need one; the daily fruit basket was replenished; loose clothing was neatly folded away; any error was quickly rectified; and warm smiles all around. It was like having an entourage of butlers looking after me every day. I've been told the same by other guests. While General Manager Jan-Peer Lehfeldt deserves his share of the kudos, full credit goes to each and every staff member who looked after me, including the drivers, front office, F&B, housekeeping and pool attendants. Terima Kasih!
With so much time spent traveling, I have developed definite favourites for leisure stays around the world. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is certainly one of them. A trip to the resort feels akin to returning home. Except in this case, home is a traditional villa in Bali.
Owners, HPL Group based in Singapore have done a fantastic job in creating a true Balinese retreat in every detail of design and décor. This enclave stretching across 35 acres of oceanfront is woven with lush tropical gardens, tranquil pools, Balinese temples and luxuriously appointed villas.
In addition to the personalised and pampering service of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, I return to the comforts of home with an outdoor lounge and dining area, personal courtyard and garden, sun terrace, private pool, bathrooms fitted with a romantic free-standing tub, separate shower and an outdoor garden shower and rooms appointed with authentic Indonesian furniture, fabrics and artifacts.