Finding Peace in Bali

Amanda Linnell gets a taste of luxury at two special Alila properties in Seminyak and Uluwatu, Bali

Alila Villas Uluwatu. Picture / Supplied

Our driver is weaving through the hectic traffic of Bali. Scooters come from all directions; trucks swerve between lanes and we swing between them all. As he drives he talks non-stop, describing life in this island paradise to us. “No drama, good karma. This is how we live our lives,” he says and explains why the locals are all so kind and friendly.

This, we agree, will be the motto for our holiday.

The roads start to narrow and we come to a grinding halt, then slowly inch our way past a mishmash of shops, roadside stalls, factory buildings, road works, and potholed pavements ... Bali may be bliss — but not because of its roads.

We are heading to Alila Villas Uluwatu and as we get closer to our destination the chaos of the streets subsides, and the sidewalks turn to green lush bush.

The van swings left through a gate and down a long driveway, taking us deeper into the green oasis, which envelops us in a soothing calmness. Leaving our vehicle, the first thing we notice is the quiet, quickly followed by the breath-taking view across the infinity pool and out across the Indian Ocean.

Alila Villas Uluwatu. Picture / Supplied

High on a cliff edge, the property sprawls across 14.4ha. There are 65 luxurious villas each designed for privacy, which are spacious with every detail considered. Sustainability is paramount at all Alila resorts.

Flat rooftops are planted on to ensure the buildings sit comfortably in the surrounding environment, flat lava rocks are used for building, wood material is recycled, bamboo ceilings encourage the sea air to circulate with ease.

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Balinese touchpoints add to the exotic design and the furnishings reflect the soothing colours of nature.

We strip off our travelling clothes and plunge into the pool, set in the courtyard of our private villa which is surrounded by frangipani trees. The cool water washes off the stresses of the day. Within minutes we are stretched out in our cabana in relaxation mode — drinks, snacks, books. There’s no need to move; everything we want for the afternoon is right here.

The Warung restaurant and a cabana at Alila Villas Uluwatu. Pictures / Supplied

We opt for dinner the first night at the hotel restaurant, Warung. Tables are scattered outside on the grass, making the most of the balmy evening and candlelight.

Course after course of beautiful Indonesian inspired dishes are served up, while a group of musicians wander the tables serenading guests and taking requests — from Bob Marley to Abba; our table is serenaded with Oasis’ Wonderwall.

We meander back to the sound of soothing water running through landscaped gardens. It’s so quiet at the villa we turn in early. Beside the bed is bottle of lavender spray for my pillow and a bookmark which tells the love story behind the batik print on our pillows. Cool white sheets caress our sunburnt shoulders as we drift off to sleep.

Alila Villas Uluwatu. Picture / Supplied

Rising early the next day, a plunge in the pool wakes us up before we brew a fresh coffee and walk down to the outdoor yoga studio, cantilevered from the edge of the cliff. This becomes our morning routine.

Yoga instructor Shanti is elegant and encouraging. This morning there are just the two of us in the class, and as the sun warms our bodies we stretch just that little bit further and release the last remnants of stress.

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Before heading to breakfast, we decide to walk the 600-plus steps down to the beach and the roaring surf, 100 metres below. The water is crystal clear but too rough to swim in; further up the coast is a top surfing spot. The only other person we see is a local collecting crabs from the rock pools. We sit on the rocks and meditate on the wild blue yonder, before starting the climb back up.

Knowing a refreshing swim — and breakfast — are waiting at the top is the ultimate incentive. It’s 8am and already 26C, but this kind of morning in this kind of paradise fills you with vitality.

Temples at Alila Seminyak. Picture / Supplied

Breakfast has never tasted so good. We sit on the balcony of the Cire restaurant and, as we tuck into fresh fruit, vegetable juice, fresh pastries, and more wonderful fresh coffee, we ponder our moves for the rest of the day, though the cabana back at the villa is beckoning.

A visit to the boutique is a must, where I can’t resist a pair of locally handmade earrings and leather sandals, while an appointment at the spa is the only other commitment of the day. A two-hour Balinese Beauty ritual takes the relaxation experience to a whole new level.

The spa’s clever design ensures a sense of privacy and a oneness with the environment thanks to its flowing water, green foliage and scent of frangipani. The masseuse uses Balinese lulur, an ancient recipe used in massage which is believed to have a powerful healing remedy. This is followed by a skin softening mask and a mini facial.

The spectacular view from the hotel at Alila Seminyak. Picture / Supplied

Dinner this night is in the exclusive Quila restaurant — where there is only a handful of tables. Here executive chef Marc Lores Panades draws on his Spanish heritage and creates a degustation dinner full of theatre — from molecular wonders to dishes served on dry ice — it is a feast for the senses, as entertaining as it is delicious.

After a few days in this peaceful haven, we decide it’s time to get back into the action of Bali. We head to the Alila Seminyak — the group’s newest hotel set on the beach, in the heart of this buzzing suburb (next door is the Potato Head Beach Club).

From the soaring living walls of the reception area, to the expansive views of the beach, lush gardens and its modern architecture, everything about this resort is designed to create a sense of space.

At its heart is a traditional shrine which has sat in the same spot for more than 100 years. As people drink cocktails at the pool bar and sunbathe on the loungers, it’s a wonderful reminder of old Bali, holding its own in this world of burgeoning tourism.

The lobby at Alila Seminyak. Picture / Supplied

The Alila Seminyak offers yoga every morning and by now we are starting to feel more supple and stronger after our daily sessions. There’s a state-of-the-art gymnasium open 24 hours, a spa, a boutique and the perfectly appointed, newly opened SeaSalt restaurant on the water’s edge. Here we are treated to a feast of seafood and tasty dishes.

Daily activities for guests range from cooking to art classes; the concierge will organise day trips, there are sunset cocktails and live music on offer, divine healing on the beach, and all the boutiques of Seminyak just a few minutes’ walk away.

Or, there is another sunlounger and refreshing pool where you can choose to spend your day doing as little as possible. Which is exactly what we do — again.

• To find out more about the Alila luxury hotels, visit Alilahotels.com

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