By Olivia Klein
For spectacular nature, from jungle to beaches, and a honeymoon that will stand out in your memories forever. This is a trip that combines the best of both adventure and luxury.
Couples who want to feast on satay and sambal, rebalance their chakras at the spa, and flit from stunning temples to the serenity of their own private villa. Indonesia is an endlessly fascinating country, and Bali one of its most culturally unique islands.
Set the scene:
There are two Bali Four Seasons hotels to choose from, featuring strikingly different landscapes, and plenty of honeymooners choose to visit both. Each location houses dozens of villas, spacious and comfortable enough for couples to happily stay put for the whole holiday. Start at Jimbaran bay, close to the airport after an undoubtedly long flight, and a world of serenity overlooking a sea of impossibly varied shades of blue. The 35-acre grounds have the large and rambling feel of a village, sloping down to the beach, and guests need a map to guide them to the several different restaurants, pool, spa, beach water sports—and the on-site Hindu temple.
From there, hop on a private raft to transfer to Sayan along the river (your bags will follow separately in a car!), and alight on a hotel that feels both majestic and tucked away. Walk over a footbridge overlooking jungle valleys, and towards a dramatic infinity-edge lotus pond, suspended above the trees. It’s the kind of entrance #instagramready hashtags were made for. Once you walk downstairs to the main reception building, the designs are grand without being ostentatious. This hotel is built to showcase the incredible setting, focused on looking out towards the jungle, and creating a sense of being immersed in nature.
Far too many luxury hotels are exquisitely designed, and utterly impractical—made to be looked at, rather than resided in. The Four Seasons puts them to shame, with enormous rooms that are clearly created with a great deal of thought for both beauty and comfort. Villas at both locations feature private terraces with an infinity plunge pool (not large enough for laps, but perfect to look out over the beach or river), spacious bedrooms, and a truly huge bathroom featuring a walk-in wardrobe, huge shower and bathtub, and sometimes outdoor shower too. The privacy and luxury make you feel as though you have a home in Bali.
Every detail has been carefully considered. Forget your moisturiser? Several drawers of beauty products are available. Want to lie outside without getting too hot? There are loungers in both the sun and shade, with ceiling fans to keep cool. Snack on a plate of complimentary fruit, featuring mini bananas and more unusual offerings, like mangosteen and snake fruit.
Make sure to request a villa with a view, so you can fully appreciate Bali’s scenery while here. And if you’re looking for something truly extravagant, the Jimbaray Hotel offers a huge Imperial villa, with a state-of-the-art kitchen, two sitting rooms, a gym, and more than enough space to host a destination wedding.
Food and drink:
Indonesian cuisine—featuring lemongrass, peanuts, and chilli—is surely one of the best worldwide, and the only downside of these menus is you will be left with a lifelong craving for foods that are far too hard to find internationally. Lunch and dinner always start with prawn crackers served with a spicy sambal sauce, which the Four Seasons makes with fewer chillies than usual to appeal to Western palates, and is exceptionally delicious. Don’t even try to avoid filling up before the meal has started, the sambal is worth it.
At Jimbaran Bay, guests inevitably spend the first day wandering from bakery to juice bar in a haze of indecision over the breakfast options. It’s impossible to choose from the fresh crepes and omelettes, chia-seed smoothies, and asian offerings including a laksa soup bar, complete with several different sizes of noodles. At dinner, make sure you’re hungry for the seafront barbecue restaurant Sundara, which serves platters of grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables, all with depth of flavour underlined by smokiness.
The Four Seasons have been in Bali for more than twenty-five years, long before the first digital nomad arrived to log on remotely. Both the Sayan hotel, designed by architect John Heah, and Jimbaray Bay, were created with a strong sense of appreciation for the local culture, incorporating acknowledgements of both farming and religious traditions.
Both hotels have a kids club, and while there are water sports at Jimbaran Bay, the Sayan hotel offers several family-friendly activities, including biking through the rice fields and a cooking class, where kids can get stuck in making Indonesian food.
Bali is all about wellness, and the Four Seasons has fully embraced this ethos. The Jimbaran Bay spa is lined with lilypad ponds and, as well as an array of traditional massages and facials, couples can also book their own private area with an ice bath, volcanic mud, and sunbeds. The Sayan spa, meanwhile, includes sacred naps among its incredible array of treatments, where you drift off in silk hammocks to the sound of nature and the Buddha’s life story. A wellness mentor and former Buddhist nun is on hand to provide meditative wisdom and life talks.
The bulk of hotels’ footprint is in their creation, when hills are razed and flattened to make space for their buildings. The Sayan hotel instead worked around the land, with steps leading down to villas nestled in the river banks, and all the rugged unevenness of natural scenery preserved throughout. The hotel also grows many of its vegetables and herbs on site. Jimbaran Bay, meanwhile, has a zero-waste cocktail bar and classes, showing how to use every single part of Bali’s ingredients to make delicious drinks.
Bali is the only Hindu-majority island in Indonesia, and is brimming with temples. There are spectacular sites near both Sayan, nestled among rice fields, and Jimbaran Bay, on the edge of cliffs overlooking the sea. There are also boutiques and cafes overflowing with acai bowls near both hotels.
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