Seaside Luxury in Bali (Part 2)

This is the final instalment of my holiday in Bali series, where we first explored its Northern highlands before luxuriating in its Southern coast.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 1772

Alila Villas Soori

Banjar Dukuh, Desa Kelating,
Kerambitan, Tabanan,
Bali 82161 Indonesia
+62 361 894 6388
Website

Here’s our morning view… from a king-size bed overlooking our amazing villa’s private pool.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 1900 Villa entrance

It’s strange how, on this trip, we woke up pretty early every morning… before 7am! But that’s a good thing as no one else was awake at that time and we pretty much had the whole hotel to ourselves.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 1907 Mountain sunrise

We took a morning walk in the resort, and drank in views of the hazy mountain sunrise over the lush-green patchwork of paddy fields. Fatbee felt a little wistful about this, because we could’ve woken up to this view if we were given our pre-booked (but smaller) mountain view villa. He thought the only thing that management could’ve done better was inform us of the change of rooms before our arrival.

Alila Villas Soori Bali 4

And the magnificence about this resort never ends… it was only that morning that I’d discovered that Alila Villas Soori faces a beach made of soft, black volcanic sand.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 1923

Our morning beach walk was very peaceful, we had the whole beach to ourselves. And the black sand mesmerised me.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 1939

Breakfast at Cotta

Alila Villas Soori Bali 5 Kopi Luwak 100 Balinese tropical fruit with fresh lime and passion fruit
Bircher muesli with coconut water, dried fruits and toasted pumpkin seeds

Breakfast in the resort (complimentary) consisted of an extensive a la carte tasting menu of thoughtfully chosen small eats. I really enjoyed sampling the bircher muesli that’s soaked in coconut water.

It was also here that I finally got to try the much talked about kopi luwak (at an extra cost). It’s coffee sourced from the beans excreted from wild civet cats living in the coffee plantations (I hear they judiciously pick the ripest coffee fruits to eat, hence ensuring quality). All that said, that coffee was nothing special and tasted like normal plunger coffee.

Alila Villas Soori Bali 6Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 1955 Japanese style omelet with spring onions and tuna yakitori
Nasi uduk – Coconut rice with shredded chicken, spiced tempe, egg and sambal

I also finally got to try a good version of Indonesian nasi uduk, which is a lot like Malaysian nasi lemak (except nasi uduk features tempe). It was lovely… I could have this for breakfast everyday!

Uluwatu

Woo Bar Seminyak Bali 1793 Harvest time

We left our peaceful resort at 9am and once again braved Bali’s busy and narrow roads… this time it was nearly a 2 hour drive to our destination, which was Uluwatu in the Southernmost tip of Bali island.

Iiga Warung BBQ Ribs Jimbaran Bali 2009

Bali’s one place I probably can’t drive in. The narrow roads are twisty and scary, and the slow traffic drives me crazy. As a general rule of thumb, allow 1 hour to travel 20km. I’m so thankful that Fatbee had organised a driver (Kenny) for all of our driving expeditions.

Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1972

Karma Kandara

Jl. Villa Kandara Banjar Wijaya Kusuma
Ungasan, Bali 80361
+62 361 8482200
Website

I also found it quite jolting to see how the overall poverty around you contrasts so starkly to when you reach your destination. Just exit the car, walk down a nondescript entranceway… and suddenly you’re transported into another world.

Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1964Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1975Temple Lounge & Bar

That morning, I discovered that the resorts and hotels in Uluwatu are perched high against vertical drop cliffs. Fatbee took me to this place partly to entice me into coming back and explore more of this unique holiday island.

Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1990 di Mare Restaurant

And to tell the truth, I was already sold much earlier on in this trip.

Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1980

For a moment there… I felt like I was in the Greek Islands next to the Mediterranean Sea.

Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1976

This is an open secret, but for such luxurious settings and genuinely-friendly bespoke service, the price that you’re forking out in Bali is probably waaay cheaper here than in other parts of the world. And I hope they’ll keep it that way.

Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1991Karma Kandara Uluwatu Bali 1987The Sacral Chakra 160 | The Heart Chakra 160

And only in Bali, drinks hour before 12noon is completely fine… here’s to morning cocktails!

Iiga Warung BBQ Ribs Jimbaran Bali 1998Iiga Warung BBQ Ribs Bali 1

Iiga Warung

JI. Uluwatu II
Bali, Indonesia

We faced another long 2-hour drive back to our villa. Along the way, we stopped by a popular BBQ ribs spot for lunch. The weather was swelteringly HOT by this time of the day.

Iiga Warung BBQ Ribs Jimbaran Bali 2006Iiga Warung BBQ Ribs Jimbaran Bali 2005Nasi Goreng 65 Indonesian fried rice accompanied with pork ribs, prawn crackers and topped fried egg
Pork Ribs 105 Grill pork ribs slow braised in homemade barbeque sauce

Sadly, they’d sold out on the beef ribs, so we only got to try the pork ribs… which were delicious with chargrilled caramelisation. My only wish was that they’d served the BBQ sauce on the side as it was a bit too sweet for my liking.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2024

Back at the Villa

The rest of the afternoon was spent staying cool and luxuriating in our villa’s winning feature… the sublimely cerulean infinity pool!

Alila Villas Soori 1Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2019

While Fatbee had experienced luxury villas before and knew what to expect, I was utterly new to this. With my stay here, I was pretty much like a child in a candystore… I loved this villa and its pool sooo much!

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2017

And to be frank with you, I think most villas tend to have a smaller plunge pool… one that you’d normally not want to swim in all day long. But the size of our pool in this 3 bedroom residence (we were upgraded) and the setting it was in just made me want to revel in its waters all day.

Even though Fatbee wasn’t completely happy about being upgraded because we lost the mountain view (plus he liked the smaller villa’s cosiness), I was just too smitten with this pool to be a single bit unhappy.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2034

While Fatbee relaxed on the day bed, I attempted to do a bit of ‘work’… but that only lasted about 5 minutes before I was back in the pool. Hah!

Sunset at Alila Soori

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2040

As the weather cooled down a little towards the evening, we started strolling about the resort again.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2046Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2047

This is Alila Soori’s main pool, facing the sea… the burnished gold colours and reflections from the water were quite magnificent in the sunset.

Sunset Drinks at Ombak

Alila Villas Soori 2

Fatbee knew me well, and rather than facing another 1-2 hour drive into town for our food, our final evening was spent having drinks and dinner in the hotel itself. I’ve learnt that I’m the sort of person who enjoys slower-paced holidays.

Alila Villas Soori Ombak Bali 2058

And so for our final evening in Bali, we once again had drinks whilst watching the sunset from the quiet comfort of our hotel.

Alila Villas Soori Ombak Bali 2059

This was very different from our previous night at fashionable Woo Bar where it was bustly, full of people with thumping beats from a beach DJ. Here, it was just ourselves and maybe one or two other couples… smiling at the peaceful crash of the surf while the evening sea breeze sails past your face.

Alila Villas Soori Cotta Bali 2069

Dinner at Cotta

Once dusk settled in, we adjourned to the hotel restaurant (located right next to the sunset bar) for dinner.

Alila Villas Soori Cotta Bali 2068

Cotta serves up Indonesian food from 4 islands (Bali, Sumatra, Java & Sulawesi), but we decided to only focus on Balinese cuisine for our final dinner here.

Alila Villas Soori Cotta Bali 2076Alila Villas Soori Cotta Bali 2077Pakis Urutan 95 Crispy local Balinese pork sausage with fern tip salad, black beans fresh grated coconut and sambal seratabia
Lawar Gedang 80 Green papaya salad with minced chicken, enhanced with kaffir lime, local basil and chili

The flavours were good and somewhat different-yet-tasty. I also enjoyed how these Balinese dishes featured lots of veggies. The spiced sausages tasted gentle and comforting while the papaya salad tasted well rounded without any sourness from the papaya. It reminded me of a crunchy peppery salad made with wintermelon.

Alila Villas Soori Cotta Bali 2073 Grilled Balinese Seafood 295 Market catch, king prawn and diver scallops with seafood spice paste and served with morning glory and sambal matah

Fatbee thinks Bali serves great seafood, hence this grilled fruits-of-the-sea platter. It was once again a good offering, the fresh caught fish (mahi mahi) was particularly soft and lovely… and the flavours once again remained gentle, counterpointed with pungently spiced water convolvulus.

Alila Villas Soori Cotta Bali 2078 Wingko Babat 70 Javanesse glutinous rice cake, mango sorbet

And a Javanese dessert to share between us. Fatbee says it tastes exactly like how glutinous rice cake should be – chewy, sticky and dense. I liked how it wasn’t too-sweet and it was nicely counterpointed with fragrant slices of piquant mangoes.

Alila Library 1Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2045

After dinner, we took another walk along the beach before having a quiet moment in the cosy library. Once again, we had the whole library to ourselves… I suspect most of the other couples at this resort probably just stayed in their villas and had their meals there.

And here’s a prime example of the great service ethos at Alila Soori… a member of staff actually looked for us and found us in the library. He wanted to confirm our departure arrangements (with complimentary airport transfer) for the next morning. He also informed us that the night’s turndown service had been completed and the villa’s ready for our return.

Wow… you don’t even have to call or stop by the reception to confirm your departure arrangements, they’d actually come and find you!

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2099

When we returned to the villa, guess what I did? Yup… I plunged back into the pool, drifted on my back and watched the stars. Fatbee eventually joined me.

We discovered the evening staff had even replaced the beach towels that we used in the afternoon, and moved the poolside amenity kit (with sunblock, cooling gels, face mists, insect repellent) to the lit-up sheltered pavilion. Inside the villa, we found the lights turned on and our bed readied for sleep, and they’d moved the bottles of water and the bedroom slippers to near the bedside table.

It’s all these little details that really enchanted me. They even tweaked our minibar offerings according to our consumption… after day 1 they realised we mainly drank bottled water (and teh botol). On day 2, I discovered that our minibar was replenished with four extra bottles of spring water in it.

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2131

Departure

And so began our final morning…

Alila Villas Soori 3Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2117

One final walk along the beach…

Alila Villas Soori Tabanan Bali 2116

One final look at the horizon…

Alila Villas Soori 4 Tropical fruit salad with lemongrass, lime leaf
Nasi bakar ikan – woku spiced fish, rice & morning glory cooked in banana leaf
Crepes with orange and balinese red sugar

And here’s our last breakfast here before we packed up, had a last dip in the pool… and left.

Alila Villas Soori Ombak Bali 2065 Sunset over Tabanan beach – at Alila Soori

Postscript

This short trip was meant to be a ‘testing the waters’ vacation to see whether Fatbee and I would end up wanting to kill each other, ala Psycho knife-cutting-the-shower-curtain style. In the end, I’ll have to say that this luxurious holiday experience has left me with post-holiday blues really bad instead. Fatbee tells me that Bali can be experienced in many different ways. And his version of Bali… while pricey… I admit can be quite addictive!

And now that I’ve had my introduction to Bali, my next trip here will differ in that there’ll probably be less long drives, I may consider staying in busy busy Seminyak for a couple of days for its delightful food warungs and great restaurant scene, and then may end up relaxing for a couple of days at a more remote location. Even as I’m writing this, Fatbee’s already at his computer… researching and pricing up our next luxury holiday. But hold yer horses… this can only happen after we’ve paid this one off and saved up enough again!