LUXURY RESORTS: Alila Villas, Uluwatu, Bali
Style: White, bright, beautiful
Scene: Cliff top cool
Seen in the lobby: The sleek and chic
There is something magical about Made. That's the only explanation. How else does he know I'm going to need a coffee before I've even thought it, or that today I'd like to listen to Mozart when yesterday it was Lady Gaga? Or that a visit to a temple is bound to suit my mood tomorrow? Yes, our butler is clearly an accomplished mind-reader but this kind of thing is commonplace at Alila Villas Uluwatu.
I feel like Alice Through the Looking Glass. I've stepped out of the every day and into a parallel universe. Welcome to 'Uluwatu World', a strange and wonderful place where everything is beautiful, whims are met, senses indulged and relaxation is an absolute requirement.
It all started innocently enough...
Alila Villas' buildings and terraces are creamy in the moonlight when we arrive at one of the new three-bedroom Cliffside Villas, perched high above the Indian Ocean on a limestone cliff on Bali's Bukit Peninsula. Its late and we are tired but Made picks up our sleeping eleven-year-old son (no mean feat this kid is sports-obsessed muscle) and spirits him away as if he were light as a sarong, to sleep somewhere in the inner sanctum. Behind the heavy wooden door a series of pools and bridges and a corridor glowing with lights tempts us in too. We walk through archways, past carved doorways and a glittering glass dining pavilion, until we are drawn out into the garden and the warm air of a Balinese night. Waves sigh on the shore far below us, the stars do a perfect twinkling act and the scent of Tropical-Flowers-for-Tourists has clearly been sprayed on the breeze. And that's it - we've been sucked through the vortex into Uluwatu World.
The next morning I get more of a chance to look at our surroundings. This is quite simply one of the most beautiful resorts
* I've stayed in. Of course I'm not the first person to notice this place has style, its infinity pool runneth over with design awards too numerous to mention. Alila has successfully combined luxury and sustainability and along the way it's blown some of the more traditional Balinese design out of the water; forget temple-inspired thatch and heavily carved volcano stone, here all is as cool and white as linen.
As I wander down to breakfast, staff in long cool robes flit along the corridors and under archways which frame them like portraits against the blue sky. They're all beautiful too, dammit. What is this place?
It is not the wow factor (although that too) but the Whoa factor that helps make this resort something special; project architects Woha Designs, Singapore run by Wong Mum Sum and Australian Richard Hassell are known for their innovative and sustainable designs, which obviously married well with green ethos of
Alia Resorts. Bukit's dramatic savannah landscape is the inspiration.
The Time/Space continuum works differently here in the vortex. Sometimes hours seem to go by and apparently I've done nothing more than swim a desultory length of our private pool and then hang at its infinity edge staring down at the little birds darting in and out of the jungle that curls down the cliff-side. Dragonflies hover over the abyss and far below the waves are ripples on a chiffon scarf.
I've stepped out of the every day and into a parallel universe. Welcome to Uluwatu World, a strange and wonderful place where everything is beautiful
Away to my right slats of recycled wood and bamboo create an extraordinary cabana. It's as if a prehistoric bird had come and made its nest right on the edge of the cliff, perched in here we can see for kilometres down the coast. The birds have been busy all over the resort; the most magnificent eyrie of all is the Sunset Cabana which hangs over the cliff at the side of the resort's main pool. As the name suggests it is the perfect place for an evening cocktail as the sky turns the same colour as your watermelon daiquiri.
Our butler is ever solicitous of his charges. If we need him he appears in a telepathic instant like a genie in a puff of smoke, if we want to be alone by the pool he silently dematerialises. Spa treatments, dinner reservations, excursions, movie DVDs, lost contact lens (me), philistine request for tomato sauce with everything (my son), possible golfing venues (my husband) are all dealt with by the miraculous Made.
One day we decide to take a walk to the
local village. "But what will you do if it rains" says Made looking dubiously at the sky.
"I'll take an umbrella".
"But who will carry it?"
A dilemma I confess.
Days pass in a haze of good food and indulgence (did I mention the villa has its own private spa treatment room?). The Warung restaurant serves spicy Balinese at its best. At CIRE chef Stefan Szijta serves Western delights; marinate mackerel, seared king prawns... and the chocolate pudding is imprinted forever on our memory banks.
One evening we head to the famous Temple of Uluwatu to watch a traditional Kecak fire dance. However the temple monkeys don't seem to realise we're travellers in Perfect Land. Tired of its usual bootie of cameras and handbags one of them yanks at my shoe and nearly manages to run off with it. I see its partner in crime hanging off a statue of Siwa happily chewing on someone else's Havaiana flip-flop.
Clearly even in Uluwatu World monkeys dance to their own beat.
Alila Villas Uluwatu, Jl Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak, Desa Pecatu 80364 Bali, Indonesia
A Cliffside Villa view
|Most Indulgent Moment:
The cliffside's in-villa spa room, early morning in the tranquil yoga pavilion
GM Sean Brennan has built himself a house that is as stylish as his resort, clearly this is design central
|The Little Things:
Staff know your every need before you do, it's scary
Individual programmes are created for kids, but for sheer indulgence make this mummy and daddy time
Understated elegance, cool & cotton
|Dent in the platinum:
|Luxury Resorts Link: www.alilahotels.com
Hilary Doling 1/6/11
*Watch out for our new EBook : The Luxury Travel Bible's Guide to The World's Most Beautiful coming soon...
- LUXURY RESORTS: Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Resort, South Pacific
- LUXURY RESORTS Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, Caribbean
- LUXURY LODGES andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
- Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort & Spa,
- LUXURY RETREAT: Aro Ha, New Zealand
- LUXURY RESORTS: MarBella Corfu, Greece
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Oberoi Lombok, Indonesia
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Oberoi Bali
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi, Maldives
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Palace at One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai
- THE MOUNTAIN RETREAT: Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
- LUXURY RESORTS: Quamby Estate, Tasmania, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Bay of Fires Lodge, Tasmania, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Sheraton Noosa Resort & Spa, Queensland, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Rancho Valencia, San Diego, USA
- LUXURY RESORTS: Point Yamu by COMO, Phuket, Thailand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Laucala Island Resort, Fiji
- LUXURY RESORTS: Hayman Island, Queensland
- LUXURY RESORTS: Evian Resort, Lake Geneva, France
- LUXURY RESORTS: Alpenresort Schwarz, Mieming, Austria
- LUXURY RESORTS: Discovery Shores Boracay
- LUXURY RESORTS: Mukul, Rivas, Nicaragua
- LUXURY RESORTS: Maison Noosa, Noosa Heads, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa, Noosa, Queensland
- LUXURY RESORTS: Spicers Tamarind Retreat, Maleny, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Casa Las Filippinas de Acuzar, Bagat, The Philippines
- LUXURY RESORTS: Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort, SINGAPORE
- LUXURY RESORTS: Palmer Coolum Resort, QLD, Australia
- LUXURY RESORT: Como Shambhala Estate, Bali
- LUXURY RESORTS: Uma Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Peppers Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland
- LUXURY RESORTS: Westin Siray Bay Resort and Spa, Phuket, Thailand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Donnafugata Golf Resort & Spa, Sicily
- LUXURY RESORTS: Whare Kea Lodge and Chalet, Wanaka, New Zealand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Mahogany Springs Lodge, Bwindi, Uganda
- LUXURY RESORTS: Semara Luxury Villa Resort Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Alila Villas, Uluwatu, Bali
- LUXURY RESORTS: Ten Bedroom Residence, Alila Villas Soori, Bali
- LUXURY RESORTS: InterContinental Bali, Bali
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Palace of the Lost City, South Africa
- LUXURY SAFARI: Lewa Downs, Kenya
- LUXURY RESORTS: Hotel Almenara, Sotogrande, Spain
- LUXURY RESORTS: Shangri-La Boracay Resort & Spa
- LUXURY RESORTS: Split Apple Retreat, Tasman, New Zealand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Matakauri Lodge, NR Queenstown, New Zealand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Kauri Cliffs, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Lupita Island, Tanzania
- LUXURY RESORTS: Lake Crackenback Resort, Crackenback, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Pangkor Laut Resort, Perak, MALAYSIA
- LUXURY RESORT: Cameron Highlands Resort, Cameron Highlands, MALAYSIA
- LUXURY RESORT: Tanjong Jara Resort, Kuala Terengganu, MALAYSIA
- LUXURY RESORTS: Aman in Indonesia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island
- LUXURY RESORTS: Amanfayun, Hangzhou, China
- LUXURY RESORTS: Shangri-la Resort & Chi Spa, Yanuca Island, FIJI
- LUXURY RESORTS: Le Meridien, Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Amanpulo, Pamalican Island, Philippines
- LUXURY RESORTS: Arajilla Retreat, NSW, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: Indigo Pearl, Phuket, Thailand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Londolozi, South Africa
- LUXURY RESORTS: Nam Hai, Dien Ban, Vietnam
- LUXURY RESORT: Earth Lodge, Sabi Sabi, South Africa
- LUXURY RESORTS: Bovey Castle, Dartmoor
- LUXURY RESORTS: Ulusaba, Sabi Sands, South Africa
- LUXURY RESORTS: Aldermar Royal Mare Thalasso Resort, Crete, Greece
- LUXURY RESORTS: Gaia Retreat & Spa, Australia
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Garland, LA
- LUXURY RESORTS: The Kildare Hotel at the K Club
- LUXURY RESORTS: Ashford Castle
- LUXURY RESORTS: Dromoland Castle
- LUXURY RESORTS: Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
- LUXURY RESORTS: Myconian Avaton Resort, Mykonos, Greece
- LUXURY RESORT: Bürgenstock Resort, Switzerland
- LUXURY RESORTS: Capella Singapore
- LUXURY RESORT: Almar Jesolo Resort & Spa, Jesolo, Italy
- LUXURY RESORTS: Baraza Resort & Spa, Zanzibar
- LUXURY RESORT: The Tongsai Bay, Ko Samui, Thailand
- LUXURY RESORTS: Six Senses Douro Valley
- LUXURY RESORT: Sahab Resort and Spa, Oman
- LUXURY RESORTS: Dunes by Al Nahda, Oman
- LUXURY RESORTS: Royal Malewane, South Africa
- LUXURY RESORTS: Soneva Fushi, Maldives