We recently returned from a week’s fact-finding / “espionage” / sourcing (i.e. the hospitality industry’s term for “shopping”) trip to Bali. Our first stop – Alila Villas Soori. We’ve been admiring the Alila-style for some time and I felt that it was highly important (!) for the sake of research and the resort to experience it first-hand. We were not disappointed. The resort is not particularly close to anything – the roads around are narrow and pot-holed – and once you’re there, you’re more or less just there. In fact, we didn’t leave the confines of the resort over the three days we stayed there – a good excuse to put those “sourcing” trips on hold and spend the time lazing about the pool and beach (when not running after our highly mobile toddler). A few things we loved and learned from Alila Soori – the importance of understated, smiling, seamless service, the glasses of icey cold water (with orange slices) which appeared every time we put our bottoms on a sun bed, the lovely sliced wood tables – found all over the resort, their generous use of candles and lanterns at night, the in-villa nespresso machine, the excellent local balinese dishes served at Cotta over-looking the sea, great big breakfasts and the complimentary freshly-made baby food. The villa prices are steep – but I can highly recommend looking at Jetsetter from time to time where we got an excellent deal.
From Soori we moved further east, closer to the more densely populated tourist town, Seminyak. At 3pm on our first afternoon there, irritable with hunger and searching for lunch amongst hundreds of restaurants, we found ourselves at the lovely Cafe Bali – where we were all instantly calmed – my husband by the array of French newspapers on offer, our baby by a large fruit salad and me by the lovely decor and good food.
Other Seminyak highlights included the great variety of beach / resort wear collections ideal for Batu Batu’s boutique (Beachgold and Sabia being two favourites with lots of very floaty simple cotton/viscose summer dresses and simple sandals which I hope to stock on Pulau Tengah). Jalan Gunung Tangkuban Perahu in Seminyak was also a gem for furniture – shop-after-shop-after-shop of reasonably-priced pieces – but you have to be patient and have time as the road runs for several kilometres and there are hundreds of shops to sift through. One shop we came across had a great selection of restored and re-vamped old teak pieces – a few items perfect for our spa pavillion and resort boutique. There were also some colourful, old keropok (indonesian prawn crackers) tins in various shops – cheap and great to use as lanterns.
On our penultimate day in Bali, we met-up with Balinese-Dutch Tony – someone had suggested him to me through the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum. He took us to his house/shop, Naga Mas, near Ubud – several houses and out-houses overflowing with his antique collection – anything from whole Javanese houses to beautiful looms-turned-coffee tables, carved doors, trunks, sideboards, bits of boat – you name it! He also took us to Tepi Sawah in Ubud for the best ribs and crispy duck I’ve ever eaten – do stop by if you fancy a meat-fix Balinese-style. But the best thing about Tony for Batu Batu is that he’s been in Bali for over 40 years and knows where to find quality items from parasols to batik, shell trinket boxes to stone carvings, lanterns to the do not disturb signs found at the Aman Resorts…
Finally, I thought it was worth mentioning our final stop on our final day – an excellent, laid-back, authentic beach-side Italian, Sticky Fingers on Echo Beach – where we ate very good freshly-made pesto with penne and dark chocolate cake whilst watching the surfers “ride the waves” in the distance (a nice change from the more trendy-chichi spots in Seminyak). And so with our stomachs full we headed at speed for the airport (as anyone who knows us well knows we are rarely on time) and just about made it on time to board our flight back home.
Next stop, next week – Yogyakarta, Java for more sourcing!