With our Wedding Anniversary and Valentine’s Day in the same week, Rick and I decide to lavish ourselves in a bit of luxury…heck, sumptuous even, at a facility renowned as the pinnacle of uber-pampering – Bali’s Four Seasons Resort and Spa. We further enhance our experience to encapsulate the best of both Bali worlds, and divide our week between Four Seasons Sayan– deep in lush jungle terrain, and Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay nestled beside the Indian Ocean.
Our mouths drop at the sight of our Sayan Villa; a private pool jutting from the embankment, lush gardens edging the outside comfy sofas and dining table, and inside the villa another deluxe lounging space, a canopied bed, a huge soaker tub, a shower, plus a rustic outdoor spout for a cooling spray amid leafy surrounds – in total over 2152 sq ft of spaciousness that has Rick commenting, “Hey, we almost need walky-talkies.” We can not even begin to imagine the Royal Villa where Julia Roberts puttered around in between her jaunts into Ubud to sit in the magical aura of medicine man Ketut Liyer and work on the filming of “Eat, Pray, Love”.
Of course a dip in our tepid pool water under an azure sky is an apropos beginning and end to each day, and oft in between. We enter another realm – in that our usual “regular” accommodation is a place to crash after a day of sight-seeing – while this is the opposite – it is difficult to pull ourselves out of our little slice of paradise. Well, except to be drawn to a larger slice in the many walkways sided by jungle terrain, mini-rice paddies, and to sit and ponder life with a cool brew at the Riverside Café while keeping an eye out for river rafters being jostled along the Ayung River below.
The most taxing decision of the day is what will be our dinner delight. One superb choice is Sate Lilit Bali with selection of Satays. Seafood skewered on sticks of sugar cane, chicken on lemon grass sticks, and beef on bamboo, with dips of peanut and tomato sambal (chilli-based) sauces. This appetizer is followed by Pepes Ikan – melt-in-your-mouth red snapper grilled in turmeric leaves, with a sensational blend of wok-fried seasoned vegetables.
Another frontal-lobe workout is to narrow down what spa bliss to choose from Sayan’s renowned serene inner focus treatments, incorporating chakra, Balinese Ayurvedic practices, yoga and meditation. I finally go with “Tiger Grass Cooler” that promises to hydrate and tone my outer skin, as well as rebalance my internal constitution. My masseuse Ita scrubs my skin with organic “kola” (tiger grass) and walnut body polish till my skin tingles, followed by a warm oil massage of long strokes which soothes me core-deep. Ita then spreads a skin-toning yet rich moisturizing potion which my bod absorbs like a sponge. It was on to my bath scented with frangipani flowers, before a final moisturizing kukai nut body lotion rub. I drift out of the spa as light as a feather feeling calm, cool and rejuvenated.
Mid-week it is time to move on to our next Shangri-la. We feel like celebrities stepping up into the Four Seasons transport coach, with an extra back-cushion and a chilled bottle of mineral water in case of a bit of thirst, and our chauffeur inquiring if there was anywhere we wanted to stop along the way – after all, the next resort is 1 ½ hours away.
Our Four Season Jimbaran Bay Photo Gallery
Our Jimbaran Four Seasons is slightly different in its over 2,000 sq ft design, but every bit as good at addressing all our creature-comforts. When our attendant leaves (who we only have to press #1 on the phone to call back for any whim), Rick and I look at each other and grin, not needing words to concur that a dip in our private pool with an ocean view is first on our agenda, after which we are drawn out of our private cocoon in order to explore the larger cocoon of Jimbaran Resort.
Following the meandering paths through verdant foliage; we check out the half-dozen restaurants, the elaborate spa, gym, and small art gallery. Ending up at the Pool Terrace Café, we can not resist a quick dip in the sizable infinity pool that appears to flow into the faultless blue of the Indian Ocean. From the pool we plunk onto chaise lounges and sip cappuccinos which I can’t ever remember tasting so good, while Rick voices my thought, “Ahh, life does not get any better”.
We are delighted that of the many activities offered by the resort, a group from the nearby Jimbaran Village will perform classical dances in front of the resort temple to the beat of “gong” music (a traditional collection of musical instruments nearly all percussion). We are enthralled by a dance of welcome by three tiny girls, a Balinese warrior waving a dagger, and a temple ceremony entrances us with displays of intricate hand, feet and beguiling eye movements.
Our Anniversary day starts with a dip in our villa pool (of course) followed by decadent nut pancakes with pineapple commode, fresh mango juice, and several cups of full-bodied locally grown coffee. It’s our designated beach day, which involves a short stroll to the resort’s Coconut Grove Beach. Between dips in the deep blue sea we head for the umbrella lounges and sip, munch, read and people watch the day away.
A romantic dinner arrives at our villa with precision at 6:30 p.m. on trays hoisted by young servers, who adorn the table with candles, batik place mats, linen napkins, and silverware…then lift covers with a flourish off steaming hot delicacies before disappearing, leaving us encased in tantalizing odours while we toast our special occasion with ice-cold Bintang (beer being our choice beverage with the warmth of the evening). We savour the mahi-mahi medallions brazed to perfection, and the sautéed mushroom, cheery tomatoes and asparagus that we coax from underneath the ample fish portions, with dips of garlic butter, zesty mustard and horseradish. A separate dish of oh-so-good potato gratin with parmesan, and a basket of bread sticks, sourdough buns, and addictive freshly deep-fried peanut crackers are soon history. We sit back content in the after-math of this exquisite feast and exceptional day.
Bidding farewell to this bit of utopia, we pat ourselves on the back for thinking up this outstanding Anniversary/Valentines week, as our chauffeur transports us to the airport where it’s back to Jakarta and the Fave Hotel where we enjoy our hood and do a bit of pre-planning for our flight to the Philippines, the final country on this journey.
Our time in Indonesia will long be remembered for Jakarta’s high octane yet laid-back dichotomy, the remarkable culture of rice-terraced Bali and our fabulous fantastical resort retreats…each experience made even more wonderful by the welcoming smiles of the Indonesian people everywhere.