Bliss in Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Bali - Helen_Field/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by Helen_Field/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Viceroy Bali comprises 25 airy villas, and each open-plan villa has a private plunge pool overlooking the palm-blanketed Valley of the Kings.
Viceroy Bali comprises 25 airy villas, and each open-plan villa has a private plunge pool overlooking the palm-blanketed Valley of the Kings.

With its lush landscape, ancient temples and warm people, Bali is honeymooners’ dream. We say the long-haul trip warrants a minimum 10-day stay, giving couples a chance to mix up their lodgings for a full island experience.

Resort-hopping can be exhausting but doesn’t have to be here: Combining stays at sister resorts Rimba and Ayana, which occupy the same 90-hectare property in Jimbaran, makes the transfer time nil when it’s time to move. Bonus: A tram takes guests between the two all day long.

Rimba’s design is all about natural materials, with marble surfaces, mosaic tile in glittering gold and black, clean-lined furnishings and contemporary art. Spacious Premium View Suites and Jimbaran Bay Suites on upper levels look out over the resort’s gardens and pools (Premium View Suites offer glimpses of the Indian Ocean), but couples will love ground-floor Pool Access Suites, with direct access to semi-private swimming pools.

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Rimba and Ayana guests have their pick of 15 restaurants, bars, and cafés. At Rimba, which opened in 2013, it’s hard to beat TO’GE’s international breakfast buffet, with fresh juices, smoothies and coconut water served straight from the shell. Dim Sum is divine at Ah Yat Abalone Seafood Restaurant. Chef Yeung Koon Yat opened his restaurant’s 25th Asia location (its first in Bali) at Rimba thanks in part to its proximity to Jimbaran’s fish market. Prominently displayed tanks containing live lobsters and shellfish signal that food here is as fresh as it gets. Rimba’s dining concierge ([email protected]; 011-62-361-846-8468) can ensure a prime spot for sunset watching and champagne toasting at Unique, Rimba’s rooftop bar and restaurant, or arrange a romantic dinner in a secluded spot.

AYANA’s one-bedroom Ocean View Pool Villas were re-launched in January following a complete renovation.
AYANA’s one-bedroom Ocean View Pool Villas were re-launched in January following a complete renovation.

For bookings at Rimba’s serene rooftop spa, e-mail at [email protected], or call 011-62-361-702-222. Recent brides won’t want to miss the Lulur treatment, a turmeric powder scrub once part of Javanese princesses’ pre-wedding rituals. Better Yet: Book a couple’s treatment at Spa on the Rocks, a pair of spa villas atop boulders by the Indian Ocean. It has a separate treatment menu and accommodates just four couples per day, so put in the request when booking rooms.

With two resorts’ amenities to choose from, there’s little need to leave. But for off-site exploring, like a visit to Jimbaran’s fish market, a casual fish dinner on Jimbaran Beach, or a tour of the town’s temples, contact Guest Activities Manager Ni Ketut Somosari ([email protected]; 011-62-361-702-222).

At neighboring Ayana, architecture and design take a turn toward the traditional. The resort, which opened in 1996 as a Ritz-Carlton and was rebranded in 2009, offers plush Club-Level Rooms and Suites, but for utmost romance, plus private plunge pools, outdoor showers, designated butlers and a laundry list of perks around the property, it’s all about the villas.

Ayana’s 79 Cliff and Ocean Villas are located in two sections of the resort. Here are some things to consider: One-bedroom Cliff Villas are tucked away in what feels like a resort within the resort — just an arm’s reach from the breezy villa lobby (separate from the resort’s main lobby), the two-tier River Pool, and Dava Restaurant, Ayana’s fine-dining spot. Ocean Front Cliff Pool Villas offer unobstructed views of the Indian Ocean; Ocean View Cliff Pool Villas open to garden views, with the ocean visible farther beyond. On the other side of the resort, one-bedroom Ocean Front Pool Villas and Ocean View Pool Villas were re-launched in January following a complete renovation. Note: While still wonderfully private, these villas are located closer to the resort’s central hub, which means that a trip to the spa, dinner at Dava, and a dip in the River Pool will require buzzing the butler for a golf cart ride. Want the crème de la crème? Opt for the Ayana Villa. It offers three bedrooms, a private driveway, a terraced water feature, clifftop ocean views, and a spa treatment room. Contact Reservations Manager Yanthi Purnama Dewi ([email protected] or [email protected]; 011-62-361-702-222) for villa bookings.

Dining options are plentiful at Ayana, but highlights from our stay include a gorgeous seafood spread at Kisik with stunning sunset views; Indian and Indonesian fare complete with cultural music and dance at Padi; and an elegant international degustation dinner at Dava. For something more private, Eka Indrayoni ([email protected]; 011-62-361-702-222), the villas’ personal assistant, can arrange a romantic “floating brunch” in your villa’s plunge pool, a picnic lunch on breathtaking Kubu Beach, or a private cooking class featuring regional dishes like gado gado and nasi goreng.

Rimba Jimbaran’s rooftop bar and restaurant, Unique, is a prime spot for sunset watching and champagne toasting.
 
Rimba Jimbaran’s rooftop bar and restaurant, Unique, is a prime spot for sunset watching and champagne toasting.

Eka can also assist with booking sunrise yoga sessions, plus treatments at Ayana’s Thermes Marins Spa and Spa on the Rocks. Don’t miss the spa’s dazzling Aquatonic seawater therapy pool, one of the most blissful thalassotherapy experiences we’ve had.

Come sunset, take your spa glow, your sunglasses, and your camera to Rock Bar and watch the sun set from pre-reserved seats. With its jaw-dropping views and DJ-spun music, Rock Bar draws patrons from near and far, but resort guests get priority access. Hint: Visible near the horizon from Rock Bar is a long pier, the end of which serves as a supremely romantic spot for a candle-lit dinner à deux. Ask Eka to help make it happen, but with plenty of notice — only one couple can dine there each night.

Roughly an hour-long drive north takes lovebirds to Ubud, Bali’s cultural and artistic center. It’s home to the Viceroy Bali, a family-owned-and-run hideaway, comprising 25 airy villas. Each open-plan villa has a private plunge pool overlooking the palm-blanketed Valley of the Kings. Our Deluxe Terrace Villa was a fabulous honeymoon base, but Vice Regal Villas I and II and a palatial Viceroy Villa offer the most living space and privacy. Contact Reservations Manager Jero ([email protected]; 011-62-361-971-777), Director of Sales & Marketing Amanda Syrowatka ([email protected]; 011-62 -361-971-777), or General Manager Anthony Syrowatka ([email protected]; 011-62 -361-971-777) with booking requests.

The intimate Viceroy, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is easy to navigate. Guests can linger over a meal of Asian-inspired French fare at CasCades while enjoying views of the Petanu River Gorge below. The mango trifle made for a refreshing breakfast, and we ordered the garden salad and fish and chips for lunch multiple times. Chef Nic’s stellar degustation dinner is an experience to be savored. Alert Anthony, Jero or Amanda of your honeymoon booking and they’ll ensure a special dinner table setting complete with candlelight and plenty of rose petals — set up on the hotel’s poolside lawn, if you like.

Our Advice: Begin or end a Viceroy stay (or why not bookend it?) with a two-hour couple’s treatment at gorgeous Lembah Spa. Jero can assist in tailoring treatments to couples’ specific needs. Soothed by the Balinese breeze, we nearly dozed off during our Intraceuticals Facial.

There’s a lot to see and do in Ubud, so ask Jero to help with rides in and back, plus guides. Honeymooners will relish trekking up the Tegalalang Rice Terraces, strolling through the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, shopping for carved wood furniture, batik fabrics, and art along Monkey Forest Road and Dewi Sita Road, and stopping for coffee, lunch and people watching at one of Ubud’s adorable cafés.

Planning Tip: Our March visit coincided with Nyepi, Bali’s Hindu new year celebration. It’s a cultural experience not to be missed, but visitors should know that travel, electricity, entertainment and cooking are prohibited on the island for an entire day. Hotels and resorts operate with reduced staff and guests are required to stay onsite. The upside? A whole day to nap, read, and do as honeymooners do in their comfy confines on this incredible island.

Getting There

We flew Qatar Airways’ plush business class from Dulles to Doha, whiling away our 10-hour layover in the airline’s Al Mourjan Business Lounge at Hamad International Airport before catching our connecting flight to Denpasar, Bali. In the air, business-class passengers are treated to cuisine by four celebrity chefs — including Nobu Matsuhisa — hundreds of movie, TV, and music options (including current Oscar noms), complimentary noise-canceling headphones, life-flat beds with mattress pads, and all-around white-glove service. At Hamad International Airport, passengers can refuel with buffet and à la carte options in the Al Mourjan Business Lounge’s restaurants, then have a hot shower and change in a private, spa-like space. For more privacy still, passengers can check in to The Airport Hotel inside the passenger terminal, which adjoins a chic fitness center, spa and swimming pool. As of press time, Qatar Airways was scheduled to boost its frequency of flights from Doha to Denpasar, beginning July 16, to twice daily, for a total 14 flights per week — perfect timing to experience Bali’s most ideal season.