Bvilla + spa, Seminyak – June 2015

The experience starts way before our arrival. Cute little sign offs from the welcome emails to prepare us for our stay ‘b ready’. One might say they are a bit cheesy, but every email reminds me that i am one step closer to villa heaven so i really don’t mind.

The experience gets better when the included transfer van picks up our group and weaves through the back streets of Seminyak – close enough to get to all the essential services, but far enough not to hear all the hustle and bustle of the main drag. The hotel is secluded and private – exactly what you want from your villa. We were led down a frangipani lined footpath, simple concrete walls with villas hidden on each side.  The giant wooden door at the entrance to our villa swing open to display the most beautifully simple villa, with the lap pool taking centre position and begging you to pop in for a dip.  The beautiful frangipani trees sheds its flowers and leaves around and into the pool which must be a bitch for the cleaners, but as a guest it is quite a lovely sight.

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The three bedrooms  are massive with high ceilings, complete with a small dressing room and large open bathroom. The dark marble concrete bath is so long that even the tall man can sit comfortably (a world first). Fresh flowers give it a homely touch, in actual fact the home i would love to live in rather than my own pokey one back home. Elegant leather boxes with all the amenities you need, and large refillable bottles of products which makes perfect sense. I love me a tiny bottle of shampoo, but how much better is it to have a quality product in the quantity that you desire? And much less wasteful and better for the environment. Yes hotels of the world, this is a “do the right thing for the environment” action i can get behind rather than the reuse the towels to save a polar bear. HINT: i will ALWAYS take a fresh towel because i don’t have to do laundry.

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The shared living space is open and airy, the only downfall being the beautifully designed furniture is not that comfortable to laze around on. But when you are so busy swimming, eating and lying on the sun beds, it is not that much of a drama to go to bed at 8pm and watch tv there. Each room has its on TV, and is air conditioned and mosquito free, an added bonus in the Bali climate. After staying in hotel rooms i wasn’t aware of how bad the mosquitos were at night, so out came the industrial strength mosquito repellant and less time in the open communal areas of the villa.

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The service is of course amazing when you have your own personal butler to assist us on every whim. From welcome drinks to breakfast cooked for us in the villa? Check. Too lazy to go out for dinner, but a craving for vietnamese rice paper rolls? check. In room massages…..daily….check. One could get used to this. This one could get very used to this, so much so that it is a great disappointment to leave and get back to our normal non villa, non bali lifestyle. Until i can book my next holiday that is…..

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Stay here if you love
– your own butler.
– An oasis away from the action to just relaaaaaax
– value for money
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Rimba Jimbaran Bali by Ayana – June 2015

Arriving late in the night, bleary eyed and confused after a short (but long flight due to first overseas flight for our toddler). Said overtired toddler is camped on my hip and i get an overwhelming feeling of being ripped off by cab drivers and ATMs from the moment we touched down. The taxi ride is thankfully short and as we weave through the darkness of the Rimba/Ayana grounds we can smell the luxury. The staff open our taxi door and present us (including bub) with frangipani lei’s and a fruit cocktail, resetting our impression of Bali in an instant. Arriving at night robs us of the opportunity of viewing our surroundings, but as it was a significant drive from the property entry to the hotel we know that this is one amazing resort.

Sister of the famous Ayana, Rimba is much more modern and fresh compared to the more traditional and old school luxury of Ayana. Staying at either hotel means you can take the shuttle every 10 mins and cover the whole property including six pools, waterfront spa, cocktails bars and a range of restaurants covering every cuisine. The property is massive and worth exploring – 90 hectares in total, running all the way down to Jimbaran Bay. The lush gardens and manicured lawns are a testament to the large contingent of gardening staff busy at work every day behind the scenes. High up in the mountains, Rimba is split over many levels, providing ample vantage points to take in the scenery or the people watching. And boy is that amusing – the amount of selfie sticks reached critical level on this holiday.

Taking the shuttle down to Ayana, it is all about old school luxury. Beautiful sandstone stairs lead down to a huge outdoor dining space and outdoor pool. Overlooking the Indian ocean, it is incredibly peaceful to stare out and get lost in your thoughts – kind of wishing you were swimming in it, but then happy to have a full service bar at your fingertips. Staff bring around your drink orders and constantly offer free snacks which i cannot refuse.

The time to be at Ayana however is at sunset. Drives of tourists flock to the clifftop bar and the more impressive Rock bar. With a toddler it was never going to happen for us, but a quick peek past the big line of eager drinkers displays an amazing bar with arguably one of the best drinking views you could ask for. A pretty special treat, and one i would be keen to return and try…..rather than just wistfully stare at.

pools pools pools

pools pools pools

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But let’s get to my main priority on a summer holiday – the pool. Oh the pools. Six in total, we managed to try at least four and no matter where you were they were so oversized that it never felt crowded. Beautiful daybeds and mini rooms in the shade means that you can be secluded from all the “stresses” of holiday life. Pool chairs IN THE POOL were blowing my mind, meaning i never had to chose between tanning and swimming as i was basically doing both at the same time. My only gripe was that the waterslide was only for kids. And that our kid was not big enough to enjoy it solo. As i am a giant child i was gutted i couldn’t have a go, but live and learn.

And my other main holiday squeeze – overeating. The breakfast buffet was not cheap, but beyond amazing. Understandlng their guests meant that what was on offer could satisfy even the most fussiest traveller, with traditional Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and American style breakfast dishes all displayed for the eyes bigger than your stomach breakfast diner. There was even a PASTRY ROOM. that was the end of me, a room with a never-ending supply of tasty treats, cakes, muffins, Indonesian sweets that all needed to be sampled and led to what i feel could be self-inflicted diabetes.

GIMG_3600etting to the rooms – the rooms are a little disco, and a lot of luxury. The decor is modern and a bit blingy which while it doesn’t really suit the beach atmosphere, i actually loved it. The standard rooms have a giant circular spa tub and a complicated shower with a rain shower head, normal shower head and not a very straight forward way of turning it all on.

IMG_3605IMG_3602The bed is comically oversized – the biggest king size bed since we first stayed in Claska Tokyo (the famed two large double beds pushed together in perfect harmony). It may require a loud-speaker to talk to my partner, but the space is heavenly.

Our room had a great daybed and balcony – not much of a view as we were in one of the cheaper rooms, but i was happy with the greenery and the local friendly cows outside. IMG_3611

lobby

The lobby is a must see, sunset is best where they roll out a violinist to play out on the edge of the pool. No joke.

sunset in the lobby

sunset in the lobby

And lastly, a big shout out to the staff. So kind and considerate to us with a toddler in tow, but nowi really get why so many Aussies bring their families here. The kids are treated like royalty, everyone stops to say hello and ask their name. And getting a signed farewell card on our last day at breakfast was just too much.

Stay here if you like

– insane luxury
– express entry to the rock bar
– incredibly friendly and organised staff

Jet lag free holidays

This is potentially a dangerous type of article to pop up in my inbox on a Monday morning.
A further deep dive (pardon the pun, and horrible management speak) into the Ayana Resort and Spa feels like a very important priority right now.

The winner is….Qualia!

The Conde Nast Readers Choice Awards is out, and Qualia the luxurious resort on the Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef has taken out the top award with a perfect score of 100.

It is great to see an Australian resort being able to come out on top of an international travel list. Particularly as it is the punters who decide the winner.

I would love the opportunity to test out the place for myself, but like many Australian hotels the price point is just beyond anything my little credit card can afford. It is disappointing as I would love to travel more in Australia, but the pull of equally luxurious resorts in South East Asia  (at a quarter of the price) is always strong. Now where did i put that lotto ticket?

Not quite Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort – August 2012

My week of summer holidays in Croatia was sans hotel due to the family focused nature of our trip, however i still managed to slip in a little hotel dreaming in.

Searching for the best pizza on a day trip to the island of Hvar, a recommendation to try Villa Dinka, which is just next to the hotel was too good to ignore. The Amfora Hotel takes up an alarming large stretch of land and private beach, and is all inclusive and exclusive – pools, restaurants, beach club, bars, yoga classes, spas – you name it, this place has got it. The pool even has a waterslide ( cue jealousy. Yes, I am 5 years old).

As far as a luxury Croatian holiday experience goes, the Amfora certainly does not disappoint. It is big and glitzy, and delivers all you need in a massive resort. Hvar has become quite the luxury hotspot, attracting a myriad of international celebrities, most chilling on their super yachts Jay Z & Bey style. But i guess those without their own yachts have to stay somewhere, and the Amfora is not the worst you can do!

But i digress. For us, it was all about the Pizza. Villa Dinka is perched high up on the mountain overlooking the Amfora and out to the sparkling blue ocean. The Prsut pizza is my standard test pizza, and Villa Dinka delivers a tasty meal at incredibly cheap prices. The pizzas were around the 40 kuna mark (AU $10, GBP 4.50), and it was a struggle to finish it. As it was a particularly hot day, and we moved into a pizza coma fairly quickly after eating, a planned post lunch cocktail at the Amfora never materialised. I guess i will just have to come back to visit again.

 

Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort,

Hvar Island, Croatia

http://www.suncanihvar.com/amfora-hvar-grand-beach-resort.html