In Bali, two Four Seasons resorts—one on the sea, the other in a jungly river valley—offer the best of both worlds, as well as the perfect backdrop for local fashion and jewelry designs.
Photographs by Andre Wiredja
Styled by Peter Zewet
When it first opened in 1994, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (Jl. Bukit Permai, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia; 62-361/701-010; villas from RMB 3,954) was a game-changer for the global hospitality scene. Set in 14 hectares of tropical gardens cascading down to the soft golden sands of Jimbaran Beach, and modeled after a traditional Balinese village, its design was a bold departure from luxury hotels of its time. Just as groundbreaking was the fact that each of the 147 thatched-roof guest villas had their own plunge pool.
Today, after an extensive revamp, the villas have been updated with netted king-size beds, streamlined teak settees and work spaces, and 21st-century gadgetry. Beyond the glass sliding doors of the bedroom lies a walled garden with a thatched poolside bale (open-air pavilion) and unobstructed views of Jimbaran Bay. Elsewhere on the grounds, guests can unwind with nine types of massage and botanical treatments in the holistic spa, or complimentary ice cream while lounging by the pools, one of which graces the stylish Sundara beach club and restaurant. And if you wish to take to the sea, non-motorized water sports such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding are included in your stay.
A two-hour drive away in the island’s central foothills, close to the bustling artistic center of Ubud, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Jl. Raya Sayan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia; 62-361/977-577; doubles from RMB 4,085) promises a dramatic arrival experience unlike any other. A teak and steel footbridge high above the jungled Ayung River gorge leads to the rooftop of an elliptical main pavilion crowned with a lotus pond; the fantastical design was courtesy of London-based architect John Heah, who took his cues from the early James Bond films. A staircase brings guests down to the lobby, and then a fine-dining venue that serves up sumptuous à la carte breakfasts each morning and innovative Indonesian fare by night.
Just 18 suites are housed in the main building, while 42 pool villas come ensconced in rain forest and terraced paddy fields. The resort blends in perfectly with its natural setting; a two-tiered infinity-edge pool follows the natural contours of the Ayung River’s edge. Don’t miss the chef’s table at Sokasi, an open-air bamboo pavilion where seven-course dinners include Balinese specialties such as suckling pig and duck, the latter slow-roasted in a clay pot oven.
This article originally appeared in the first print issue of DestinAsian China magazine (“Open Season”).