An insider’s guide to Bali luxury – where to rest, eat and shop

From sumptuous resorts and spas to world-class eating and retail, Bali has something for everyone – and an expat based on the island guides us to the best luxury offerings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 July, 2016, 1:10pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2016, 4:49pm

A short plane ride from Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, Bali is one of Asia’s most popular holiday destinations. And for good reason. Brimming with beautiful beaches, lush jungles, ancient culture, high-end resorts, luxurious spas and world-class shopping, it ticks all the boxes for discerning travellers.

INDULGE

The spa at Como Shambahala Estate

Set among the steep jungle ravines and lush rice paddies of Ubud’s central foothills, Como Shambhala Estate is a picturesque wellness resort with all the luxury trimmings. Revolving around a “Retreat for Change” theme, its three, five and seven-day well-being programmes encompass everything from soothing spa therapies, deluxe beauty treatments and oriental medicine remedies, all designed to rebalance mind, body and spirit. Ideal for the stressed-out urbanite, packages include “cleanse”, “stress management” and “rejuvenation” options, complimented by state-of-the-art fitness facilities and a holistic outdoor activity schedule including qigong, rice field biking, aqua therapy and jungle gym circuit training. The property’s in-house Ayurvedic doctor and resident dietitian are always on hand, as is a 24-hour personal assistant to cater to your every whim. comohotels.com/comoshambhalaestate/

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The spa at Fivelements Puri Ahimsa

Nestled in tropical forest alongside the banks of the Ubud’s sacred Ayung River, Fivelements is a multi-award winning eco-wellness retreat with a strong focus on integrated wellness. Marrying traditional healing rituals with innovative well-being concepts and Balinese-inspired therapies, this avant-garde transformation sanctuary encourages guests to heal from the inside out, with the support of a team of “wellness liaisons”, expert therapists and local “Balians” (traditional Balinese healers). Offering personalised rejuvenation programmes, signature detox retreats and holistic healing journeys, Fivelements’ multifaceted approach to well-being covers everything from reflexology to sacred arts ceremonies and Balinese purification rituals. Other holistic wellness offerings include Watsu (water shiatsu), prana healing, many types of massage and Aikido classes, along with a comprehensive range of modern beauty and bodywork rituals. fivelements.org

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Karma Spa at Karma Kandara

Perched on a cliff overlooking Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, Karma Kandara is one of the island’s most stunning hideaways. Based on the philosophy that “pleasure should always be a part of your cure”, Karma Spa offers bespoke R&R experiences including curative massages, transformative facials, detoxifying body scrubs, nourishing body wraps and restorative top-to-toe beauty rituals. Designed to replenish and uplift, the spa also offers a range of unique men’s therapies, as well as kids’ and teens’ spa treatments. Inspiring fitness and yoga sessions (including SUP yoga) are also on offer, along with a playful range of hedonistic treatments such as the spa’s “Pinot & Pedicure” and “Martini & Manicure” offerings. On the flip side, an array of holistic therapies such as reiki, cranial sacral healing and traditional Chinese medicine remedies are also on the menu. Standout facilities include the spa’s infrared detox sauna, Himalayan salt pool and seaside spa tent. karmagroup.com

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CONSUME

Mama San Kitchen Bar & Lounge

Created by legendary chef Will Meyrick, Mama San (yes, the same people behind the one in Hong Kong) serves up a mix of classic Asian dishes with a contemporary twist. The restaurant’s Pan Asian menu features a wide range of curries and braises, stir fries and “crispy things” such as crispy confit pork hock on the bone, Chinese-style roasted pork belly and saltbush lamb ribs, along with tasty Asian bites including beef and bamboo dumplings, Thai fish cakes and Vietnamese grilled minced pork belly wrapped in betel leaves. Located in the heart of trendy Seminyak, this upmarket eatery is as sophisticated as the food is delicious. It’s split over two floors and bedecked in East meets West furnishings (the decor mixes chesterfield sofas with Asian-inspired wall murals), making it a chic place to sip on a coconut mojito or Limoncello martini when the sun goes down. Bookings are recommended, especially in high season. mamasanbali.com

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Locavore

Serving sustainably sourced haute cuisine in a modest dining setting, Locavore is one of Bali’s most original culinary stars. Curated by a team of local and international chefs, the restaurant’s innovative tasting menu is crafted around local, seasonal ingredients and blends European and Indonesian flavours in the form of unique seafood, meat and vegetable dishes such as locally line-caught barramundi topped with sautéed Chinese broccoli and frothed lemongrass beurre blanc. Following the global “paddock-to-plate” trend, Locavore serves two types of set degustation menus – “Locavore” and “Herbivore” – of five to seven bite-sized dishes, with the option of a beverage pairing. All meals begin with a mouth-watering amuse-bouche dish and conclude with creative dessert snacks. Meals are accompanied by an imaginative drinks list including the signature “Snakebite” – an infusion of vanilla and “galunggung” (local wild raspberry), shaken with home-made elder blossom liqueur, vanilla-infused vodka, vanilla syrup and lime juice, topped with seasonal local berries. Bookings are essential, as the restaurant is usually booked out three weeks in advance. locavore.co.id

Merah Putih

Dishing up time-honoured Indonesian favourites with a fine-dining touch, Merah Putih is a fresh face on Seminyak’s dining scene. Categorised under two sections – traditional and modern – and divided into small and large plates, regional dishes incorporate aromatic spices and flavours from across the archipelago and are presented “family style” (in the middle of the table) to encourage sharing. Standout dishes include the Padang beef shin “bak pao”; the Balinese suckling pig served with long bean “kalasan” and crispy skin; and the Sulawesi prawn, squid and snapper curry. Yummy cocktails, including specialties such as the signature ginger flower martini, are a perfect compliment to the restaurant’s delectable gastronomic offerings. merahputihbali.com

SNOOZE

Alila Seminyak

Recently opened, Alila Seminyak is the ultimate expression of contemporary chic. Boasting 240 luxurious rooms that look out onto the Indian Ocean, this conveniently located beachside resort is Seminyak’s newest and trendiest kid on the block. Designed by Gaurang Khemka from award-winning Singapore architectural firm URBNarc, the resort’s distinctive modern architecture is distinguished by green spaces and roofs, wall-hugging plants and landscaped terraces that have all been built in accordance to strict “Earth Check” environmental guidelines using recycled materials and solar energy. Flaunting five infinity pools, a cutting-edge gym, sprawling indoor/outdoor restaurant and beach bar, a sleek event centre and a spa oasis offering a wide range of Asian-inspired therapies, this hedonistic haven is a true tropical refuge. alilahotels.com/seminyak

Bambu Indah

Translating to “beautiful bamboo”, Bambu Indah is the boutique brainchild of legendary designer John Hardy. Comprising 11 antique Javanese teak homes, this eye-pleasing eco-friendly lifestyle retreat hides in Ubud’s Baung village and is one of the island’s quaintest resorts. Embracing sustainable design at every turn, Bambu Indah’s accommodation is complemented by environmentally thoughtful touches such as a chemical-free swimming pond and locally harvested produce that is plucked from the resort’s own garden (which is fertilised with compost made from organic waste). Characterised by bamboo structures on stilts, each soul-soothing space looks out onto the verdant views of the jungle beyond. bambuindah.com

Bisma Eight

Encompassing 38 spacious “Garden”, “Canopy” and “Forest” suites, Bisma Eight is Ubud’s newest luxury boutique hotel. Adopting a modern aesthetic that blends seamlessly into its surroundings, this chic yet homely resort is surrounded by vibrant “greenscaped” gardens alongside a stunning infinity swimming pool. Memorable touches such as Japanese onsen soaking tubs, treehouse-style balconies and rooftop herb gardens add to the property’s unique aesthetic flair; while its contemporary dining spaces and in-room massage services enhance its luxurious style. bisma-eight.com

RETAIL THERAPY

Horn Emporium

Stocking an eclectic mix of on-trend men’s and women’s clothing, emerging-designer jewellery, stylish sunglasses, funky homewares and one-off art pieces, Horn Emporium is a one-stop fashionista shop. Located in oh-so-trendy Canggu, this cool little store feels like it belongs somewhere urban, and is a refreshingly upmarket change from the surrounding streetwear and surf shops. facebook.com/HornEmporium

Souq

Brimming with tasteful homewares, men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, jewellery, bags, summer sandals, sunglasses and furniture, Souq is an all-encompassing lifestyle store in downtown Seminyak. With multiple brands under the one roof, its extensive assortment of chic merchandise is complemented by an elegant store fit-out and a cute indoor cafe so you can sip on a juice or latte as you shop. souqstore.co

Bali Boat Shed

Ideally positioned in the heart of Seminyak’s most popular shopping strip, Bali Boat Shed is a quirky multi-brand boutique. Catering to fashion-lovers, its wide range of threads and accessories include colourful resort wear, swimwear, lounge wear, streetwear, sunglasses and even a small collection of lingerie. Stocking more than 40 independent local and international designer labels, alongside its in-house “Bali Boat Shed” brand, its diverse collection of island-inspired wares appeals to tourists, locals and expats alike. baliboatshed.com

SPECIAL MENTIONS

INDULGE

Away Spa at W Retreat & Spa: wretreatbali.com/awayspa

The spa at Mulia Resort: themulia.com/bali-spa/

Spa Alila at Alila Soori: alilahotels.com/soori

CONSUME

Bambu: facebook.com/bamburestaurantbali

Shanghai Baby: shanghaibaby.asia

Barbacoa: barbacoabali.com

SNOOZE

Uma by Como: comohotels.com/umaubud/

L Hotel Seminyak: thelhotels.com

The Bale: thebale.com/

RETAIL THERAPY

Biasa: biasagroup.com

Lulu Yasmine: luluyasmine.com

Uma & Leopold: umaandleopold.com