Villa on View.
Your weekly up-close view of those wow factor extras that make our villas outstanding. After all, attention to detail always makes a difference.
Arnalaya Beach House is a sophisticated yet supremely relaxed family friendly villa on the beachfront in Bali’s beautiful Canggu district, with a large team of staff on hand to ensure that every whim is gracefully met. An ocean-front bale offers alfresco seating, overlooking the Indian Ocean and a crystal clear 20-metre swimming pool.
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Call or email Karina +62 81 1380 7676
The villa aficionado
villa (n) – a large and luxurious residence
aficionado (n) – a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity, subject, or pastime.
In fact, I see it more as a job. And believe me, like all jobs it has its high and low lights. However, I’m a certain sort of traveller, the sort that doesn’t consider a hotel room (regardless of pool size 14 stories below, or is that up?) a holiday. Sure, hotel rooms have their place – fine for a business trip, great for a quick shop-a-thon, a clandestine affair if you must, but definitely not what constitutes a holiday.
A holiday in a villa, ah, quelle joie, now we’re talking!
Imagine multimillion dollar properties filled with every conceivable comfort, every luxury that suddenly becomes your (yes, your) very own home for the duration of your stay? The staff, the butlers and the private chef are there for just for you. Your own home, only infinitely better
For a week or more a year live like a star, a sheikh, royalty or a trust fund child, it’s escapism at its ultimate best, it’s also totally affordable and even legal.
Bali is my current taste destination du jour, so after typing in Bali luxury villa rentals Google did its thing, and I found a full to the brim with villas website; Elite Havens.
This is where the real work part begins as being a villa aficionado by trade, it is now my duty to trial their products. However, before I delve into the individual merits (and not) of certain villas that I’ve stayed in, I decided as a newcomer to blogging that I would follow some rules.
The rule of lists and points, 10 points in fact.
- Price. You may think at a glance renting a villa is miles more expensive than any 5-star luxury hotel, well think again (calculator if you must). A five-bedroom multi-million-dollar villa in the heart of uber trendy Seminyak, Bali, with all the bells and whistles, staff, chefs, drivers, private pool, gardens costs approximately $900 per night. So, that’s only $180 per room p.n. (gargantuan, individually styled room). Go figure?
- You’ll be met at the airport, not by some contractor but by one of their full-time drivers.
Nature lovers, serenity seekers, golfers and explorers of ‘the real’ Bali, will love Tabanan. In this Indonesian regency, founded in the 14th century and covering almost 850sqm of south-west Bali, stretching from the sparkling black sands and craggy cliffs of the coast, to the soaring heights of Bali’s tropical hinterland, there is much to explore. Balinese Hindu culture remains strong in this peaceful part of the island, where small villages are bound by customs and colourful religious rituals. Early mornings see fishermen heading out to sea in their colourful wooden jukung (fishing boats), while farmers in bamboo hats plough their rice fields. Tabanan is also the setting for some of Bali’s most beautiful temples, and home to a world-renowned golf course.
Tabanan is known as Bali’s rice bowl, and you don’t need to look far to find picturesque rice fields, whether sloping gently down to the sea or clinging to steep terraces as the land rises sharply toward the majestic volcanoes of central Bali. The famed rice fields of Jatiluwih are a protected UNESCO world heritage site located in Bali’s lush foothills. Sign up for a tour and explore this scenic region by bicycle, foot or land cruiser.
If you are seeking a soothing vista of emerald green, check into Kaba Kaba Estate which is gloriously located close to the coast, amidst a seemingly endless sea of rice fields. This palatial eight-bedroomed villa is a treasure trove of antiques and makes a truly luxurious hideaway.
Nearby, two other luxury Tabanan villas are close enough to visit Canggu and Seminyak for a meal or shopping spree, yet rural enough for that away-from-it-all experience: the delightfully peaceful six-bedroomed Maya Retreat is set amidst enchanting gardens on the banks of the Penet river and makes a magical holiday base. While five-bedroomed Arsana Estate has sleek modern buildings sprawled over two beautiful hectares of terraced hillside and boasts a home theatre and games room.
One of Bali’s best-known and most-photographed attractions is Tanah Lot, a mystical sea temple that clings to a craggy island just metres from the shore. Sunsets here are magnificent, but often rather crowded. Staying in a nearby villa means you can wander down for an equally stunning sunrise and avoid the crowds. Just up the road from the temple, the Greg Norman designed Nirwana Bali Golf Course is considered the best 18-hole course in Indonesia.
Phuket has long attracted travellers seeking a tropical beach escape, but as Thailand’s largest island with a rich history, dining and marine scene, there’s much more to see and do beyond lazing on the sands. From vibrant nightlife to spectacular seascapes to beautifully restored Old Town streets, an island holiday on Phuket can unwind in some delightfully surprising ways.
But first, the beaches.
Kamala Beach, on the central west coast, is one of Phuket’s quintessential postcard-picture beaches, its soft sands and shallow waters are among the island’s best places for all ages to swim, surf and sunbathe. Hints of its fishing village past remain with traditional long-tail boats gliding across the calm bay, while a string of casual restaurants lining the sands offer seafood barbecues and breezy spots for watching the sun go down.
The smaller Surin Beach is another fine sunset spot, with its beach clubs and seafront restaurants serving up creative cocktails along with the sea views. Hemmed in by two lush headlands, Surin’s fine sands and swaying palm trees add a tropical idyll that invites you to linger, whether indulging in the beach club scene or not. Nearby Laem Singh is a small cove found between Kamala and Surin reached via a steep path, where silken sands and colourful snorkelling sites await.
With its position along an ancient Andaman Sea trading route, Phuket has attracted seafarers for centuries, though these days superyachts and cruise vessels are more likely to be spotted on the horizon than merchant ships. Whether you get there by private yacht charter, or by kayak for venturing deeper into its hidden caves and lagoons, no visit to Phuket is complete without exploring the magnificent Phang Nga Bay with its tall limestone karst islands.
The Similan Island archipelago west of Phuket is a protected marine wonderland for divers and snorkellers, while Racha and Coral Islands are an easy day-trip from Phuket, brimming with sea life for snorkelling and white-sand beaches for relaxing.
Phuket’s interior is looking more urban these days, but discovering its traditional rural side and jungly bits is simply a matter of straying off the island’s main roads. Walk a path through towering bamboo and giant leafy tropical plants of the protected Khao Phra Thaew National Park up to Bang Pae waterfall, or cool down in the stream.
New restaurants are constantly popping up on Bali, and January has been no different. Introducing the new kids on the block, MoVida and Akademi, brought to you by the brains behind the uber popular and successful Potato Head family.
With five Australian venues already earning respect, this is MoVida’s first overseas venture, but success must surely be on the cards for this combination of Spanish vibe and Bali beach club! Located at the base of the Katamama Hotel (due to open in March) in Seminyak’s popular Jalan Petitenget, MoVida is designed for holiday fun. Tasty food to share and an extensive cocktail menu, give a nod to MoVida Bali’s new island location, but the venue’s Spanish roots shine through.
Benefitting from local skills and materials, MoVida boasts the same architectural flair as Potato Head, with furnishings fittings and fabrics created by Balinese artisans and an impressive 15-metre polished green-stone bar. Complementing the delicious Spanish imports, local produce also features strongly on the menu, which has been carefully crafted by head chef Jimmy Parker.
Sit back and indulge in tapas with a twist. Try the Cangrejo (Lombok soft shell crab, with seaweed aioli and squid ink bun) or a dish from the Josper oven such as Pescado (whole baked halibut with a burnt butter sauce, hazelnuts and capers). And lets not forget the impressive bar, which showcases a great list of cocktails based on celebrated classics, at least four different types of sangria available by the glass, and a wide range of fine Spanish wines.
Whilst we are on the subject of beverages… another new venue within Katamama is the chic Akademi Bar, created by award-winning bartender and author Dre Masso. Here you can sample a selection of unique drinks, all made in celebration of Indonesia and the tropical offerings of Bali. As well as having one of the biggest collections of premium spirits on the island, the bar houses a vast range of infused locally produced arak (a distilled alcoholic drink) made from coconut, rice and cane. Many ingredients are grown on the hotel grounds, so you’ll be pushed to find fresher.
Akademi oozes style. Standing centre stage is the bar, illuminated by a vintage ’70s pendant light designed by Gaetano Sciolari. Guests drink from bespoke ceramic, wood and copper cocktail cups made by local artisans and listen to music (vinyl of course) played on a Klipsch hi-fidelity system.