Jungle villas, quiet retreats and Jumeirah luxury
While Bali has been closed to tourists for 18 months due to the pandemic, a lot has changed on the popular Indonesian island.
And international travelers heading straight for its golden shores aren’t the only newcomers.
From Jumeirah’s first property in Southeast Asia, to a lavish hotel nestled in the dense jungle of Ubud, to an upscale resort offering serenity amid all the action of Seminyak, we discover three of best new accommodation options open since Covid19.
Westin Resort & Spa Ubud, Bali
It was almost as if the jungle reached our room. When I opened the curtains each morning at the Westin Resort & Spa Ubud, Bali, I encountered a towering wall of dense rainforest. As my family and I swam in the huge infinity pool, overlooking this same natural splendor, we half expected one of Ubud’s famous long-tailed macaques to swing from a coconut tree and dive straight into the water next to us.
Although a large resort, the Westin is embedded in the wilderness that draws so many tourists to this hilly city. This spectacular jungle can be seen from its chic lobby bar, Tabia and Tall Trees restaurants, and from many of its 120 rooms, suites, and villas.
Westin’s entry-level Deluxe Rooms are a good size, at 49 square meters, with Garden View versions starting at Dh540 ($147) a night and Pool View Rooms starting at from 615 Dhs ($167). The 65 square meter Garden View Balcony Suite starts at Dh670 ($182), while the 103 square meter Grand Garden View Suite is Dh785 ($123) and the huge Villa with a view of the resort of 244 square meters is at 1,270 Dh (345 $).
All room rates include buffet breakfast at Tabia, which offers an extensive range of Western and Indonesian cooked dishes, fruits, fresh juices and a tempting array of baked goods. We also had a memorable dinner at Tabia, with tender seafood, delicious pasta and delicious desserts.
I knocked off some of those calories by following my son as he ran around the kids club, one of the biggest and best equipped I’ve ever seen. Although I never used the high-tech fitness center or its impressive Heavenly Spa by Westin, which offers numerous wellness and massage packages, I came away as relaxed and happy as a macaque frolicking in the surrounding forest.
Jumeirah Bali, Uluwatu
As the sun set over the ocean beneath our feet, two dozen candles took over, illuminating the table and the gourmet dinner prepared for my wife and I inside our villa in Jumeirah Bali, Uluwatu. It was not only a wonderfully romantic experience, it was one of the most exquisite meals of my life – king crab followed by foie gras, duck breast and sea bass.
It’s taken even higher by the opulent setting of our 210 square meter Sunset Villa, with a private pool, from Dh2,350 ($640) per night. From the stunning hand-carved wood furnishings in the living room, bedroom, and huge bathroom, to the two 75-inch televisions, and the outdoor pagoda next to our private pool, every aspect of our accommodation was awe-inspiring.
This sprawling villa complex, which opened in April, is perfect for couples. It is also tailor-made for families thanks to its private sandy beach, its shared swimming pools facing the ocean and its giant children’s club.
Overlooking the beach is the all-day dining Segaran Restaurant, where we enjoyed a cooked-to-order breakfast and an Indonesian dinner of beef rendang and chicken satay. We were also treated to a three-course floating lunch at our villa, a mesmerizing Bayu Suci session with a Balinese martial artist, and a sound healing treatment at the sumptuous Talise Spa.
It should come as no surprise that Jumeirah Bali is a remarkable resort. This is, after all, the revered Emirati brand’s first foray into the Southeast Asian market, so it was always going to be a hit.
Avani Seminyak Bali Resort
As my son and I swam in our one bedroom villa’s private pool, all I could hear was its splashing and the sound of a gentle wind rustling through the nearby bushes. Yet just 400 meters away is one of Seminyak’s main streets, arguably Bali’s busiest shopping and nightlife area, teeming with cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques and market stalls.
This sense of peace is what sets Avani Seminyak Bali Resort apart from many other properties in this bustling area, which is a 30-minute drive north of Ngurah Rai International Airport on the island’s west coast. On my two previous stays in Seminyak, I found his energy a bit draining, as the noise from car and human traffic seeped into my hotel rooms.
But because Avani is tucked away down an alley, all of its 21 apartments and 16 private pool villas are at least 200 meters from the road. When we arrived at Avani, which opened in June 2021, my toddler son was immediately won over by its large, shaded pool and the kids club stocked with toys and play equipment.
On the way to our villa, we passed a small but functional gym and Avani’s Groove open-air restaurant and bar, which serves Indonesian specialties such as gado gado salad, as well as hearty Western dishes. such as pasta and burgers. For breakfast, we ate nasi goreng fried rice topped with eggs, accompanied by fruit platters and fresh juices, served in our villa’s spacious living room and kitchen.
The unique layout of Avani’s 150 square meter pool villas utilizes the tropical plant-lined garden and swimming pool to separate the bedroom and bathroom on one side from the living room and fully equipped kitchen on the other. At just 460 Dh ($125) per night including breakfast, these huge villas are excellent value for money. The same goes for Avani’s apartment suites, which cost Dh250 ($68) a night with breakfast.
Updated: August 13, 2022, 1:36 p.m.