Wira was a Nelson Mandela clone and an expert surfer. His friendliness and welcome were redolent of the Four Seasons charm; his simplicity and humility – typically Balinese. He was my chauffeur from the airport to the Four Seasons ocean front property in Bali, Jimbaran Bay.
During the drive to the hotel, you are serenaded with lush greenery and sculptures from the two famous Indian epics – the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Interestingly, Bali is a Hindu island in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim country. It is recognised the world over for being a place of spiritual rejuvenation. Check in to the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, Bali.
A quest to revitalise mind, body and soul by being cradled by both nature and nurture finds meaning at both of the Four Seasons Resorts in Bali.
Jimbaran Bay is on the ocean. Reminiscent of a spiral hill settlement – it is built upwards from the shores of the Bay. There’s not a lot in the immediate area but the boutiques and bars of Seminyak are an easy 30-minute taxi ride away. The second Four Seasons Hotel is at Sayan in Ubud, in the midst of a tropical forest.
A blue ocean breeze surrounding a chic, sprawling open space that presides over endless sea is what is presented in the lobby. Picture postcard pretty does not come close to describe this welcome. A Balinese welcome of being anointed by holy water bedecked with a floating frangipani, a cold towel and an iced herbal drink of ginger, lemon and honey, awaits you. Soothing notes of the Gamelan (the traditional Indonesian musical instrument) waft into the air and meld with the turquoise sea breeze. The Gamelan master even gave me an impromptu lessen on it. Top tip: When in Bali I definitely recommend a tryst with the Gamelan!
Via a buggy tour of the vast 15 hectare property, you can explore pretty little alcoves spread strategically (for privacy) around the property for star light kissed, romantic dinners, the hotel’s different eateries spread on three gradient layers of the property; and the hotel temple – the entire property made to echo a traditional (and luxury) Balinese village.
The property is an assortment of 147 villas and villa suites, each feeling like a sliver of paradise scooped onto the shore of the Indian Ocean. Each villa has its own private pool and miniature garden, with birds of paradise, frangipani and orchids alongside anthuriums and the startlingly beautiful pink hibiscus, forming part of the well manicured gardens. The interiors bright white and cream, romantic netted beds and glass doors to the private pools, indoor and outdoor showers and stand alone bathtubs. Start the days with mornings of soft white skies, chirping birds and the sound of the surf with the tide gradually coming in. Bedtimes have the natural lullaby of the Indian Ocean and chirruping cicadas.
Breakfast is a feast of Indonesian, pan Asian and western delicacies. Complement your regular fancies with fresh coconut water or smoothies (a favourite being the mango and papaya), and the bouquets of exotic tropical fruits – dragon fruit; pineapple; mangosteen; pink pitayas; spiked durian and hedge-hock cased rambutans, to name a few.
To eat? Sundara, the Pan Asian restaurant comes alive with live music and lit fires at night. On Sundays, it serves an all day ocean view brunch where you can eat all you can on the ‘tapas menu’. The café serves lighter food to the foreground of the infinity pool which yawns into the sea. The Tamar Wantilan restaurant, is a perfect spot to savour the lift of the evening ocean air and for star gazing.
On the Manager’s recommendation, I enrolled for a mixology class. Large windows of the bar area opened onto a canvas of clear sky. Against the shift of colours from daylight into crespuscular light, I was initiated into the science and skill of juggling, mixing, shaking, straining and pouring and I went on to create an array of cocktails and mocktails. Once complete, their line-up of colours of mango, lychee, cranberry and lime was such that their hues were also strewn across the setting sun backdrop.
Daytimes are either about mindfulness or water sports. Choose water sports for variety? Pick from kayaking and surfing are available within the property premises. The hotel buggy drives you to the beach area called the Coconut Grove, where it all begins. If you are not in a sporty mood just being among the waves or lounging by them is extremely therapeutic – all the while pampered with cold drinks, sun cream, fresh towels – it’s all well taken care of so you can sit back and just be.
Kayaking on the Bay was among the highlights of my stay – being in the midst of teal and taking in the world from that blissful vantage point. My kayaking instructor was full of playful mirth and entertained me with lively stories of Balinese living and tales of coaching celebrities, the most recent being the footballer Zinadane Zidane.
There are an enormous range of thoughtful complimentary and paid-for activities to choose from, including morning meditation overlooking the ocean, half a dozen different yoga classes (try the fantastic nighttime fire yoga), Balinese dance performances from mythology and tales of glory, and fascinating temple tours. Aqua-based action can be found at the Sundara beach club – water-biking, Stand Up Paddleboards, body boards, surf school.
Whatever you choose to do, don’t miss the Spa Village – one of the finest spas on the island. From Balinese massages, pearl and jasmine scrubs to rose-scented ila facials, a range of holistic offerings, three-hour long chakra-opening rituals, emotional healing and psychic readings.
On my last night, sitting in the lounger of the Tamar Wantilan restaurant, I watched the stars, in their hundreds, out to play. And I joined them too. An infinite experience of nature, of Bali – at the Jimbaran Bay Four Seasons.