The latest Chedi hotel is on Tanjung Benoa, a slim peninsula on Bali's southernmost coast stretching towards Serangan (Turtle) Island and Nusa Dua. Once a fishing village - and still offering protection to the remaining mangroves of Benoa Harbour - these days, Tanjung Benoa's main road is flanked by hotels.
The beach here is popular with tourists and locals, who come to either relax on the busy beach or try their hand at jetskiing, parasailing or banana boat riding. This area is just outside the manufactured calm of gated Nusa Dua, but if you head to the northern tip of the peninsula and have a look around, you'll find a friendly village vibe.
The 261-rooms at the Chedi are mostly built apartment-style in a five-storey building, with rooms reached by open-to-the-sea-breeze corridors.
My room looks onto a meandering deep-blue pool dotted with alang-alang roofed swim-up bars. The ground floor rooms have swim-up access themselves and are probably worth springing the extra for. From my balcony, the sound of the various waterfalls is soothing.
Verandas have simple furniture, but lack privacy with no greenery (yet, perhaps).
Rooms have that distinctly stylish, slightly masculine GHM/Chedi look, with warm peripheral touches - think lots of tasteful marbles, softened with textured carpets and materials in hushed, subdued tones. The feel is more urban than beach, but it's refined and spacious, with a complete kitchenette. We liked the single sliding door between the shower and toilet.
The Nespresso-style coffee machine has me confused, but a call to housekeeping brings a quick remedy; a request to borrow a Mac powerbook cable can't be met, but that was always going to be a tough ask. The complementary afternoon chocolates helped ease the pain.
Dinner at Sakala Bali, the fine French restaurant fronting a second pool by the beach, is excellent. A starter of beetroot salad with asparagus, goat cheese, watercress, pine nuts, and truffle and red wine vinaigrette is world class, as is the main of duck paired with fois gras and spring vegetables. Chocolates and marshmallows offered in lieu of dessert is another welcome touch.
For a special occasion, a nine-course degustation menu - featuring foie gras, wagyu beef and other high-end ingredients - fits the bill.
The tapas by the pool menu is tempting, while breakfast at The Restaurant is an excellent spread.
Sunloungers on the beach are available and, because this is a working beach, it's more interesting than sanitised Nusa Dua. From Tanjung Benoa you look out on fishing boats plying the waters, mingling with pleasure craft and banana boats.
The hotel can arrange a glass-bottom boat tour to nearby Turtle Island to view a conservation post.
The property was in its soft-opening phase on my visit, which meant a few kinks were being worked out - but the staff's professionalism stands out and the general grace and sophistication should be enhanced as the gardens mature.
The Chedi Sakala
Jalan Pratama 95, Tanjung Benoa, Nusa Dua, Bali 80363, Indonesia
- Tanjung Benoa takes around 30 minutes to reach from Bali's Ngurah Rai International airport, away from the Kuta area.
- Rates start from US$180 (excludes tax and service charge) for a Chedi Suite
- Bali has a wet season from roughly October/November to March/April, but it's usually characterised by short downfalls, so don't completely discount it as a time to come.
While you're there
- Tanjung Benoa is home to a branch of the excellent massage outfit Jari Menari, or Dancing Fingers. Let one of their all-male masseuses work their magic on you - try the Tibetan singing bowl massage. (Jalan Pratama 88X Tanjung Benoa; jarimenarinusadua.com)
- For a local cuisine adventure, check out nearby Pak Dobiel's babi guling, rated as one of the best places on the island to try Balinese suckling pig. Taxi drivers should know it. (Jalan Srikandi 9, Nusa Dua)