People always ask me if I can ever really experience a place’s culture when I visit cities and countries just to stay in luxury hotels then write about them. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while now and my answer would probably be something like this…
I can’t say that I’ve ever slept on the floor of a village hut or backpacked for days to my next destination but after visiting a resort like The Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay I can say that I left having learnt about the local lifestyle and culture of beautiful Bali.
The rich culture of Bali is present in every aspect of the resort – in its architecture, art, cuisine and service. As soon as I checked in I was handed a cocktail and invited on an art tour with the resident Balinese expert. We strolled through the resort as he told me the stories behind the statues, carvings and artworks. Hearing these local tales helped me delve deeper into the significance and symbolism of Balinese culture than guide books and blogs ever could.
Even the layout of the accommodation is designed with local life in mind. The resort is inspired by a traditional Balinese fisherman’s village so the villas are nestled right on the ocean front with winding paths between them. It feels so authentic weaving your way between the houses and peering over the courtyard walls to see the beach becoming closer.
My Indonesian adventure only lasts ten days and it was perfect to start my journey in Jimbaran Bay as the stunning views of the Indian Ocean really immersed me in the natural beauty of Bali. Our villa was terraced down a hillside above the curved shoreline so we had a stunning panoramic view of the beach as soon as we woke up. Imagine waking up to this little piece of paradise each morning!
I was lucky enough to be checking in to a newly renovated Deluxe Villa which launches today! This was my first media exclusive (how exciting) and I must say – it didn’t disappoint. Like an authentic Balinese courtyard home our villa was hidden behind stone walls. It was exceptionally secluded (perfect for privacy and skinny dipping in the pool) and very spacious. As well as having a large living area we had our own plunge pool and sun terrace.The Four Seasons was the first resort to provide private pools in each villa and it’s a trend that has spread through most of Bali now.
The bathroom was equally as grand – it featured fluffy towels, Indonesian robes, two sinks and one of the biggest soaking tubs I’ve ever seen! Four Seasons certainly don’t do things by halves so when it comes to luxury they really outdid themselves here. The soft fabric of the robes, the sweet smelling soaps and pristine marble surfaces – it was like a bathroom I had only dreamt of from instagram or pintrest.
The highlight of the bathroom, however, had to be the outdoor shower. Although it was rainy season in Bali we were very lucky with the weather and had clear sky each day. After a long walk on the beach in sweltering heat there’s nothing better than coming back to the villa and having a cool shower outside to clean the sand from between your toes.
When we checked in we were spoilt for choice in terms of activities to sign up to. There were dance lessons, cooking classes, art tours and sports. I, of course, flicked straight to the spa menu and the yoga itinerary. The yoga was at the ocean front bale each morning and most of the classes were complimentary so yogis of any standard could roll up a matt and enjoy the class.
I decided I would start my first full day at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay with an 8am Yoga lesson. Learning about the Surya Namaskar sun salutation with the sound of the waves crashing against the rocky shoreline was so soothing and I’ve never felt my breathing so in sync with the flow of my yoga poses. I even managed to master my Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana (aka standing mermaid) pose.
After a morning of yoga it was lovely to retreat to our hideaway on the hillside of Jimbaran Bay for breakfast. Our favourite Balinese breakfast was the fresh fruit platter because it arrived served like a rainbow on a plate with green kiwi, yellow pineapple, orange papaya, pink watermelon and purple dragonfruit. We dipped our toes in the cool water of our pool as we enjoyed breakfast with a sea view!
It was this same spot on the shoreline that I had my yoga class that I visited for my massage the next afternoon. I was treated to the al fresco flow treatment which was a traditional Balinese massage set to the sound of the waves. This was followed by a floral facial which, I must admit, I almost feel asleep during as I was so feeling calm!
Although we had our own pool to relax in there was also a much larger pool in the resort where we could spend the day on a sun lounger. Someone was always nearby to offer some suncream, cold water or a new towel.
The water cascading from the stone wall, the white sun loungers and the floating frangipani flowers having fallen from the trees were a dream to photograph and it was difficult to resist the temptation to spend the whole afternoon instagramming my surroundings! Instead, I put my phone in the bottom of my beach bag and treated myself to a bit of a digital detox.
All of the blog posts about Bali I had read from fellow travellers and friends said that Sundara was the best spot for cocktails on the beach so I was delighted that it was part of our resort. As guests we could book sunbeds for the day and laze in the sun.
It’s amazing how quickly time can fly when you stroll along the sandy beach, order some cocktails and swim a few laps in the infinity pool.There was ocean kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and sailing available at the resort but we didn’t have a chance to try any of the water sports as we were too busy…well, relaxing by the pool! Easy life eh?
We ordered cocktails and sushi straight to our sunbed. We had the choice of Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese cuisine to try at Sundara but I thought sushi would make the perfect light lunch on a hot day so I ordered the Maki Maki.
At night Sundara becomes the social hub of the bay with people visiting to watch the sunset, order a cocktail or try the cuisine. If you’re not staying at the hotel and want to visit for dinner – be sure to a book a table and arrive in time to watch the sun go down. If you have a sweet tooth like me then I would recommend the Bloom of Sundara which was a heavenly mix of vodka, lemon and passion fruit.
If what you really want for your time in Bali is to be surrounded by locals and experiencing village life then maybe the Four Seasons isn’t for you but if you want a glimpse into the tales and traditions of Balinese culture from the comfort of a luxury villa then you won’t regret booking a stay.
After all..how many chances do you get to stay in a resort so spacious and private that you need a golf buggy to get you from the hotel lobby to your villa! You can book a stay or browse the rates at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay here.