September 20, 2017
Bali is one of those rare places where the culture remains intact despite its popularity. The Balinese practise the daily rituals of the Dharma Hindu faith, which teaches the need to balance good and evil by way of offerings and ceremonies (aka parties). Take a page out of the locals’ book and engage in a little of both. The island is also the perfect spot to do business followed by pleasure, or bleisure as it’s known.
Participating in a ceremony or enjoying temple festivals is de rigueur. As long as you behave politely and dress appropriately by donning a sarong (this applies to men and women) you will be welcome. Get an invite from a friendly villa staff member or your hotel concierge.
The new John Hardy Kapal Bambu Showroom is an architectural feat made of sustainable bamboo and hand-carved limestone. Book at least a day in advance for a personal tour through the open-air workshop, where master craftsmen make the brand’s divine jewellery using precious gems, recycled silver and gold, followed by an all-organic lunch in the garden.
Gorgeous antiquey-chic Hotel Tugu (Jl Pantai Batu Bolong, tuguhotels.com) was once the only hotel in Canggu, but it has been encroached on by shops, restaurants, beach clubs and bars. You can escape the fray by heading to its new rooftop bar and restaurant, Ji Terrace by the Sea. Mingle with a sophisticated crowd while gazing at uninterrupted views over the Indian Ocean.
Seminyak is so last year, smart Petitenget is now the go-to spot for those in the know. Next to the famous Petitenget temple, Kiln (kilnbali.com) has a lovely shaded terrace and a menu of eastern Mediterranean food. This all-day hangout also attracts a glam evening crowd. Keep a peeper out for the Ulu Cliff Beach Club, which is due to open later this year.
For a discreet and exceptional dining experience, look no further than Bumbu (Jl Petitenget 198), which plates up modern Indonesian cuisine served by staff who never make you wait. Beware: there is no signage from the street and reservations are essential.
Sardine (Jl Petitenget 21, sardinebali.com) overlooks its own working rice paddy and focuses on seafood fresh from the fishing boats at 5am every day. A separate bar keeps the noise at bay so you can get down to business.
Locavore: Not to be missed, farm-to-tabler spotlighting pretty presentation and zesty kaleidoscopic flavours. Jl Dewi Sita No 10, Ubud, restaurantlocavore.com
Air Bali: Cut time and faff by seeing Bali’s rice fields, rugged coasts and remote beaches from above, by plane or chopper. airbali.com
Métis: Lavish Gallic courtyard boasting a giant bar and lounge, art and fashion gallery plus a vast 350-seat French-Med restaurant with sweeping views of rice fields. Jl Petitenget 6, metisbali.com
Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay: After a two-year renovation, this gorgeous hotel remains the global standard bearer for tropical luxury. Balinese vernacular architecture reigns with 147 pool villas cocooned within high walls like traditional Balinese dwellings. Jalan Kawasan Bukit, Jimbaran Bay, fourseasons.com/jimbaranbay
The Oberoi: The isle’s grand dame holds pole position on Seminyak beach and hasn’t lost its lustre with a repeat clientele that lets you know it’s a firm favourite. It has expansive gardens and spacious villas. Jl Kayu Aya, Seminyak, oberoihotels.com
Bali Bike: All-level cycling jaunts down the volcano or deep into the countryside and rural villages. balibike.com
The original version of this article appeared in the Australian Financial Review.
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