Bvlgari Bali Resort – Olympian Splendour on the Island of the Gods
Dorothy Lamour in the 1952 film ‘Road to Bali’
Arriving at the Bvlgari Bali Resort is a genuinely theatrical experience that catapulted me back to my first exposure to Bali as a young boy. I am a little embarrassed to admit that this was the 1952 film ‘Road to Bali’ – with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby who both wind up on this exotic island and vie for the attentions of the glamorous Balinese princess played by Dorothy Lamour. It was particularly the Rogers and Hammerstein-like temple scenes with their sweeping staircases, huge stone gods, thundering volcanos, and vast cast of feathered extras that came to mind as I mounted the broad stone staircase to the arrival pavilion.
Quite involuntarily this thought kept recurring particularly when I then approached the fabulous restaurant – with its inspired lighting comprised of a floating flock of caged moons – and it’s breathtaking location on the edge of a sheer cliff. The familiar kitsch choir of angelic voices chanting otherworldly mantras to the beat of menacing drums, and punctuated with an occasional volcanic eruption, was to be the signature tune of my stay at the Bvlgari.
The Bvlgari Bali Resort which has been designed by Antonio Citterio – the second Bvlgari hotel after Milan – is located 150-metres above the Indian Ocean in Pecatu. For such a small island there are many unexpected contrasts; and anyone who is already familiar with Bali will be pleasantly surprised to discover this region which is unlike the rest of Bali. Here vegetation is sparse and the atmosphere is arid and dry rather like much of the Mediterranean. The cliffs are improbably high but there is still a charming golden sand beach far below accessible by a celestial lift.
The terraced resort is entirely comprised of thatched coral stone villas, set within their own small but ample gardens, all with equally magnificent views of the vast ocean. Together the villas have the feel of a rather exceptional Balinese village complete with a hilltop temple. The layout of the villas is particularly well designed with an emphasis on privacy but also on a rare species of comfort that I can only call superlative, as the bedrooms and bathrooms are luxuriously large and of equal size. Both rooms are surrounded by full length windows with views of lush vegetation beyond: no poky afterthought bathrooms with extractor fans here! The design is reassuringly familiar as it is distinctly Citterio with many of his signature pieces. Quite naturally for a tropical resort, the living area is open-air with its own plunge pool for refreshing dips.
The plunge pools, however charming will not long detain you from the main hotel infinity pool which is one of the most spectacular I have ever enjoyed. Set near the edge of the cliff with a natural rock surround and arched over by scented flowering trees, one can enjoy the olympian sweep of the view which is even more dramatic at sunset. As you gently splash about near the edge, vast sheets of water overflow to another smaller pool on a lower terrace to create a dramatic waterfall effect which is a wonder to behold.
The pool, bar and restaurant areas are a pleasant contrast with the rigid privacy of the villas, where it’s possible to engage in the pleasant activity of people watching. For an experience in extraterrestrial pampering the spa, at the heart of the resort, is built at the edge of the cliff approached through verdant walls of vines. Here you will find a yoga pavilion, bejewelled steam rooms, a finely carved antique Javan wooden kiosk, and a floating wooden bridge stretching over a pond with ocean views for mind-blowing relaxation – if that isn’t an oxymoron.
The gardens at the Bvlgari Bali Resort are quite spectacular and are dotted with the ubiquitous frangipani trees that seduce you with their heavenly scent. The terraces are delicately lit up with stone urns and fishing traps concealing lighting. Beautiful carpet-like criss-cross patterns are achieved with grass and stone underfoot, so that even a simple walk induces a calming mindfulness.
If the Road to Bali leads you to the Bvlgari Resort the result may not be comedy and Dorothy Lamour… but there will be theatre and there will be drama.
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