Wednesday, December 22, 2010

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO: Bali, part 1, Four Seasons Resorts





ART, TEMPLES, RAINFOREST & BEACHES
Bali is the perfect destination for more than a beach experience. With rice terraces and volcanos, the island is seductively tropical, enhanced by its ancient and fascinating culture. Bali’s peaceful inhabitants are almost all Hindus of a special Balinese variety. Spirituality runs seamlessly into everyday life – and temples and shrines create magic everywhere. So does art…

The highly cultivated people are masters of dance and Balinese theatre, painting, batik, silverwork, woodwork and stone work to the degree that the island is like a gigantic art gallery – and crafts and inspired Balinese fashion are for sale everywhere. So a holiday in Bali can also be an extraordinary shopping experience.

After a week on Bali visiting our hand-picked hotels, we suggest you stay at more than one of our very special hotels to enhance the overall Bali experience. And to savour Balinese style and superb luxury in different settings.


FOUR SEASONS SAYAN



For those interested in culture and the lush beauty of the hills, Ubud is a must. Up here is a very special atmosphere with the music of the sacred Ayung river, the exuberant green of jungle and rice terraces, and the tinkle of temple bells on festive days. It is also the scene of many tropical adventure activities, and features several art galleries

Arriving to Four Seasons Sayan is dramatic, almost extraterrestrial! You cross a long bridge leading to a lily pond that rests on top of the main building housing the front desk(s), bar, restaurant and suites (lead-in category).

The situation on the sacred River Ayung, amongst the rice fields, is really atmospheric, creating a real sense of calm. On Bali they say that the rice fields give off a gas that makes you serene and happy.

The villa accommodations, each with its own plunge pool, are dotted around the hillside and river (buggy transport around the resort). Decor is traditional, featuring custom made furnishings from Bali and Java and specially selected art. There are 60 accommodations in total, many suitable options for families (and of course the usual Four Seasons amenities for children – baby sitting, special activities etc.).

The two-level main pool follows the serpentine shape of the river below, and is a great place to relax in between experiencing the local culture of Ubud and the surrounding villages and the array of outdoor activities (on site walking trails, cycling, white water rafting).

There are dining options at Ayung Terrace and it’s wine cellar (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner), in-villa dining and the Riverside Café (until 6pm).

A complimentary shuttle operates to Ubud from morning until early even (outside if these times, a resort car can transport guests for an additional charge).

All the comforts, facilities and services one expects from Four Seasons. This is a great choice for families and couples alike.

HOW TO GET THERE
90 minutes by car from Bali International Airport.


FOUR SEASONS JIMBARAN

A very warm Balinese welcome meets you at Four Seasons Jimbaran. The front desk/concierge captures the spirit in an open air Balinese pavilion, and from there you are taken by buggy to your villa.

The villas are traditional décor, with enclosed bedroom and bathroom, outdoor living room with ceiling fan, fridge, dining table, small plunge pool and sun beds on your terrace. The outdoor living area is very pleasant to relax in even if the rains arrive! Butler service for in-villa dining and breakfast is perfectly executed. Many attractions can be visited from the property.






Deluxe one bedroom villa ocean view villa, Four Seasons Jimbaran

PJ’s bar / restaurant on the beach is a great place to unwind. A DJ plays mellow music each evening, fantastic for enjoying cocktails. The more casual Taman Wantilan restaurant, although normally Italian cuisine, has nightly themes. We experienced the Balinese buffet and night market (typical island goods – batik, jewellery on sale).

Approximately 5 minutes buggy ride from the main resort are the Private Residence rentals (2, 3 or 4 bedroom options). These exclusive properties are very spacious offering total privacy. Large gardens / pool. Julia Roberts and family stayed here during filming of the recent movie Eat, Pray, Love! Absolutely recommended for clients looking for a villa, but with the benefits of the hotel amenities close by and exceptional service.

The spa was closed during our visit, but treatments can be taken in villa whilst this is ongoing.

The resort lies on a long curved beach. The water can be rough at high tide, but it is a very pleasant place to walk, offering some small restaurants serving seafood. Or you can lie by the pool, which appears to be right on that beautiful beach thanks to its infinity edge.

We liked the property very much - typical Four Seasons luxury but paying homage to Bali and its uniqueness.

HOW TO GET THERE
Four Seasons Jimbaran is located approx 25 minutes from Bali International Airport. You can actually see some aircraft from the accommodations, but noise was not an issue during our stay.


VIP ARRIVAL
Select-style arrival on Bali is luxury from the first moment, as we have the very best of partners on the ground. We were met at Passport control and assisted with luggage and Tourist Visa. In the main arrival hall, Driver and Butler were waiting. Hot towels and cold water awaited us in a luxury vehicle, to refresh after a long flight. En-route, the Butler provided an introduction to the island, and briefed us on our special schedule. Also a detailed information pack is presented with very useful tips and guidelines for Bali (not just standard, but really valid insider info!).

The same Butler and Driver are normally assigned for duration, if you are taking day trips - highly recommended. Afternoon luxury tented High Teas overlooking rice fields, private beach days on remote islands, ancient temples and tea with a prince in his palace are just some of the many possibilities!

The Butler anticipates all your needs, and makes suggestions for places he feels will suit you. We can warmly recommend our butler I Nyoman Senada who was a perfect host and really informative.

Art everywhere. Our butler introduced us to sights like Kerta Gosa Royal Courts of Justice.



Art everywhere. Image below from Kerta Gosa Royal Courts of Justice



CLIMATE
The climate is tropical, and temperature does not vary much staying around 28 – 30 degrees centigrade throughout the year. The rainy seasons November - April can bring thunder storms and increased humidity often reaching 95% but days can still be sunny and pleasant. The dry season brings cool breezes at night, and allows for sunny less humid days.

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