The lush island of Bali lingers in our imaginations from Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love and the movie starring Julia Roberts. As much as Bali is known for its sandy beaches, and luscious green landscapes, it is also known for its romantic and rejuvenating resorts.
A Personal Paradise for Honeymoon, Anniversary or Celebration
The moment you enter the open-air Four Seasons lobby with sweeping views of the Indian Ocean you’ll know you’ve found a perfect hideaway for a honeymoon, to celebrate an anniversary, play with your kids, or Zen-out in your private villa. From the get-go the staff is all smiles and grace, eager to pamper you with discrete service. They pile your luggage into one of the “buggies”, aka, golf carts and whisk you around the 34-acre property, through tropical gardens dotted with crimson bougainvillea, fragrant frangipani trees and tropical flowers.
On the way to our villa, my daughter and I passed three pools, yoga pavilions, an art workshop, a traditional Balinese temple.
Each spacious villa has an individual entrance, a private walled courtyard with a thatch-roofed pavilion for dining or sunbathing, a sun terrace, an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a large indoor tub and a lavish courtyard with an outdoor shower.
My daughter and I were here for just two nights and from the moment we entered our villa we didn’t want to leave. The traditional architecture, thatched roofs, terraced hills, verdant gardens, temples and cheerful staff made us feel we are in Bali, not just in another deluxe resort.
Nine residences with two or three bedrooms, plunge pools, private butler and 24-hour concierge service make for the perfect destination for a wedding or family reunion.
An Authentic Bali Blessing
The resort is designed as four traditional Balinese villages, each with it’s own shrines and temple adorned with the daily good luck offerings.
One day my daughter and I dressed in long skirted sarongs – lent to us at the front desk – and received a sacred ritual blessing from the resident priest in a large outdoor temple nested into the fragrant gardens.
The Spa and Trapeze Yoga
I have to admit I’m a spa junkie and have written about spa indulgences around the world from Thailand to Texas. I can be a tough critic. I opted for the spa’s signature 120-minute Ocean Embrace treatment that takes place on the beach in a discrete thatched-roof palapa at water’s edge. The The sound of the crashing waves and bird song enhanced the sublime massage to dissolve my jet lag and rebalance my yin and yang energy.
Although a range of yoga classes is available, from Hatha, Surya Namaskar, and Yin, we opted for a morning “anti-gravity” class in the open-air, seaside pavilion. Using a stretchy hammock as a soft trapeze, we were suspended in mid-air, sometimes upside down. Defying gravity, we stretched and strengthened our joints, shoulders, spines, and muscles in poses similar to Pilates and traditional yoga. If you ever dreamed of being a trapeze artist, this will give you a taste of what it’s like.
Beach and Beyond
The Coconut Grove beach area offers guests lounge chairs, open-air gazebos – tempting for afternoon naps and a plethora of water sports. If you’re feeling energetic, borrow a water bike for a ride across the waves, or exercise with a stand-up paddleboard, ocean kayak, a surfboard or a Hobie catamaran. The resort’s coaches offer surf and stand-up paddleboard lessons on the beach.
If you wish to enhance your culinary skills, join a cooking class. Some classes begin with a morning tour of the local fish market before the hands-on opportunity to learn local cooking techniques. The original recipes are from the Four Seasons chefs who hail from diverse regions across Indonesia.
Preserving Bali’s Cultural Heritage
The Balinese express their artistic heritage through everything they do. Children learn traditional dances at elementary school. Boys learn to play gamelan instruments on weekends. Women weave fine silk or cotton and prepare daily offerings for temples and household shrines. Men create intricate woodcarvings and paintings. Despite global tourism, this artistic expression is still a strong part of modern Balinese life.
The Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay supports and encourages these traditions. They built the on-site Ganesha Cultural Center for local artists to exhibit their work to an international audience. Guests can stop by and meet them as they demonstrate their skills. Or go a step further and take a lesson in woodcarving, painting, dancing, weaving or how to make offerings for ceremonies.
Open Air Dining
Why limit yourself to one dining experience when you can sample several? One evening we dined on delicate oysters from Lombok and Asian tapas on the terrace of the oceanfront Sundara Restaurant. For a different taste extravaganza, we sampled dishes at the Culinary Academy. Many guests opt for The Taman Wantilan restaurant that combines the simple pleasures of Western food with ocean views in two thatched-roofed traditional Balinese pavilions. Or dine under a blanket of stars by flickering candlelight in the privacy of your villa or in one of the secluded oceanfront gazebos.
Sail into the Sunset
On our last evening, we walked to the beach and climbed aboard a small outrigger. Two sailors pushed us through the waves, jumped aboard and navigated the boat into calm waters to sail toward the setting sun. On board we were served champagne, caviar canapés and decadent desserts as we cruised past sheer cliffs and watched the orange sun slip into the sea.