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Entries in romance (1)


Ultimate Romance on the Island of the Gods

- By Raquel Baldelomar

Before I woke, a breeze sprinkled frangipani blossoms onto the still surface of my villa's private plunge pool. I stepped onto the terrace just as the sun was rising in Bali and entered the serene water with a statue of a Hindu god watching over me.

I arrived in Bali curious about the island's spirituality and healing powers and I'm already becoming a believer. For me, this sensual island is love at first sight.

Our first stop on an exploration of Bali is the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, located on a cliff top along the island's southern coast. Here 147 thatched-roof villas exude romance. Bali is all about villas: the privacy, the lush gardens, and spur-of-the moment intimacy. If you can tear yourself away from the heavenly villas, there is also a long, white-sand beach and a spa offering authentic Balinese treatments.

A stay in a villa allows you to enjoy the pleasures of the outdoors privately. Our courtyard was complete with an outdoor sofa and dining room and after an indulgent 90-minute massage at the spa, returning to our outdoor shower overlooking the Indian Ocean was a transcendent experience.

At sunset, we ventured to Uluwatu Temple, one of the most spiritual places on the island. Perched 230 feet above the Indian Ocean, this temple is dedicated to the spirits of the sea. Here we learned our first lesson in local customs: knees must be covered to enter a temple. Ceremonial sarongs were given to anyone with exposed knees. We were here to see the Kecak Dance, a performance featuring fifteen men wearing only loincloths. These rituals make it is easy to see why Bali has a reputation for sensuality.

If the traditional dance at the temple doesn't send sparks flying, then a dinner at Beds on the Beach will certainly do the trick. Private beds with canopies serve as tables for a five-course dinner. Lanterns in the sand glow as the meal begins with a mini-tasting: lobster avocado maki and lemongrass prawn kebab. Flavors sizzled as much as the atmosphere, including a lobster papaya salad with pink champagne ginger sorbet. After the meal, there was no rush back to the villa as we lounged underneath the stars listening to the surf.

People in Bali believe strongly in balance, so to get the total Bali experience, we left the coast behind for the lush jungle interior where you can absorb the island's spirituality. A 45-minute drive connects the two Four Seasons properties in Bali.

We crossed a wooden bridge and a lily pond came into view. This pond sits on the roof of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, camouflaging it into the jungle. We were welcomed by Balinese staff dressed in traditional clothing with refreshing guava drinks and cool towels.

With 42 villas and 18 suites set among five temple shrines on the sacred Ayung River, this was the first boutique property developed by Four Seasons. Our riverfront villa, surrounded by lush jungle, couldn't have been more soothing.

Bali brings together a tradition of healing with the perfect environment for a spa. Ponds brimming with lilies and courtyards filled with bougainvillea are calming before a treatment even begins. Our couple's experience was called Chakra Dhara, a treatment that works to rebalance the body's chakras, or energy points, by strategically dripping herbal oil on the body. Two therapists massage the back, hands, and feet to complete the healing treatment. Afterwards, we soaked in a bath filled with fragrant frangipani petals while sipping champagne.

The interior of Bali is full of adventure. We hired a driver to bring us to the Elephant Safari Park to satisfy my curiosity about local wildlife. Before I knew it, I was holding a baby monkey and then sitting on the back of a native Sumatra elephant. Next, our driver Nyoman brought us to see Bali's famous active volcanoes. A private picnic lunch on the edge of a cliff overlooking Mount Batur added a romantic touch to our adventurous day. These moments reminded me why so many newlyweds choose Bali as their honeymoon destination.

We enjoyed dinner at Sarong Restaurant, where the scent of the food was intoxicating from the moment we walked in. This glamorous restaurant was founded on the idea of Asian street food, reinvented. I loved the northern Thai spicy tom yum soup with shredded chicken, bamboo, dill, and coriander. Chef Will Meyrick hasn't written a cookbook yet, but when he does I will be sure to buy a copy just for this recipe.

The next day, we set out on a bike tour through the exotic Balinese landscape. We got acquainted with our guide Bagi, before our four hour ride, over an organic breakfast atop of towering Mount Agung with stunning views -- a mighty volcano revered as the seat of the gods. During our ride, we explored several of the exotic temples and observed farmers wearing cone-shaped rice hats and water buffalo in the emerald fields harvesting rice. We learned about local traditions and that ninety percent of the population in Bali are Hindu, the world's third largest religion which is also practiced in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Mauritius.

Returning to the Four Seasons Sayan, shrouded in a mountain mist, I finished the day with ginger tea and honey before a restful sleep listening to the river flowing. From the moment I left the 'Island of the Gods' I have been longing to return. It is like a love that ended too soon. With a return trip, I am sure that love will be rekindled.


WHEN TO GO: The dry season is from April to September.

Americans are eligible for a visa on arrival for a stay of up to 30 days. These cost $25 per person and your passport must be valid for at least six months after arrival.


Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia.

Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.


Sarong - Drawing inspiration from the street food of Southeast Asia, Sarong is a local favorite.
Ku De Ta - This buzzing bar is the place to see and be seen for pre-dinner drinks in Seminyak.
Mozaic - French cuisine laced with Indonesian flavors.
Beds on the Beach It's all in the name.

Bali is a shoppers paradise -- Local art, handmade mosaic glass, and fine jewelry will all be mementos of your travels to Bali. For upscale shopping, check out the following shops in Seminyak:

Maru - Be tempted by jewels from Indonesia at this shop.
Paul Ropp - Unique clothing with an ethnic touch.
Quarzia - Handpainted silk separates in this shop are works of art.

Raquel Baldelomar has been a contributing writer for Luxury Travel Magazine since 2008. She provides readers with unique, insider information about destinations, hotels and travel experiences.