Indonesia Off the Beaten Path

Indonesia. Perfect when seeking something out of the norm. Something that stirs the senses.

Sure, there’s the expected luxury one would find at the Ritz Carlton as in Mandapa Reserve or the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, but those two icons of luxury also provide unique experiences not found elsewhere which makes them both the right choice in Bali.

The Ritz Mandapa for starters is in Ubud, along the Ayung River offering much to see and do including great river rafting. And for total R & R, retreat to the spa for the loveliest setting beside the water I have seen. It made tears well up in my eyes. How on earth was the design of this space thought out?

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Understated perfection.

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Food is incredible. And how about organic rice terraces right on the property?

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The kids club is something to write home about. It doesn’t have all those TV or Electronic games to keep them hypnotized, but instead a natural setting to engage young travelers with nature; an animal farm right there to learn about and care for these beings. Plus, a yoga pavilion…just for kids. But don’t get this confused with a dedicated family resort. This is without question a place I would go for an adult getaway. Select the riverside villas which are NOT for kids and pair that with a wasabi martini and the result is grown up decadence!

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Now let’s talk about Four Seasons Jimbaran. It sparkles for a multitude of reasons. Service is second to none. Authentic hospitality. You know the kind? Not rehearsed but real as though you’re staying with your grandparents…like them, the Four Seasons wrote the book on how to spoil!

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It took my breath away to enter my villa (the number will forever be branded in my brain). It has the most breathtaking view of Jimbaran. And a private pool with cabana providing the utmost in exclusivity one could want. I also like that it’s in close proximity to the airport making it a smart choice for just coming off a long flight to get acclimated to the environment for a couple of nights or a great place to stay before saying goodbye to this wonderful island. Trust me, you will wish you booked a longer stay.

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The Island of Lombok

Truly off the path. A quick 40 min flight from Bali or a two hour-ish ferry across. No malls or chain stores. No typical touristy things. Very few people. What you’ll find are lovely Blue watered beaches, a Temple or two and from certain vantage points a clear National Geographic view of the active Mt Agung volcano. I had to keep rubbing my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming.

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Lombok has luxurious yet affordable places to stay; Tugu Lombok for its gracious service and an incredible collection of Balinese antiques on a stunning stretch of powdery sand with glasslike blue water. Then you have Sudamala on Senggigi beach.

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This place has a unit with its own private pool accessible straight from your bathroom. How cool is that?

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And for those discerning globetrotters who cannot do without all the luxuries possible, there’s the Oberoi where comfort is guaranteed.

And if we’re speaking of Lombok I must also mention the Gili islands which is a short boat ride away. The Gilis are even more out of the ordinary with great spots for snorkeling, a bit of nightlife on the sand or just unplugging. There’s Gili air for fabulous underwater scenery or Gili Trawangan which has no cars. Only bikes, horse carriages and “Ocean Swings”? Yes! Push me, please!

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Back to Bali.

No trip is truly complete without a stay in the mountains of Ubud, where as mentioned, Mandapa is and other amazing properties with the likes of Viceroy, Como Shambala and of course Amandari. This is the answer to why one would go to Bali – for a cultural and spiritual immersion into what this place is really about. It’s Ubud. I hear soft bells in the air and take in wafts of incense while sipping freshly steeped ginger tea and dining on exotic fruits for breakfast. This is where the jungle is. This is where the beautiful Balinese rice terraces are. Don’t miss the most impressive ones in Jatiluwih and Tegalalang.

This is where the colorful Balinese reside.

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This is Bali, Indonesia. I will return Bali.

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