Before a treatment at Soori Spa, a sweet lime juice is presented plus three types of massage oils from which to choose. Something energising and minty, or aromatic rosemary, or calming lavender? My decision is immediate. Bring on that relaxing lavender, please, and make it snappy. I have survived a day of traffic trauma around Seminyak and have not yet adjusted to the serenity of Soori Bali, near the revered temple of Tanah Lot on the island’s west coast. I notice there is structural realignment on the spa menu but the therapist is far too demure to suggest that I could do with a dose.
With a kilometre-long black-sand beach in front, and a backdrop of rice fields, this is an oasis in the truest sense, appearing like a revelation at the end of straggling roads that pass workshops and small farms before reaching the heritage village of Kerambitan.
This 48-villa resort, formerly under the Alila brand, seems freshly plopped from outer space, an illusion strengthened by a feeling of buoyancy. The sinuous geometry of the architecture imbues the blocky grey and white buildings with a near-levitating lightness; filtered sunlight falls in diagonal stripes on polished concrete, recessed lighting creates shadow play, and gardens feature a profusion of frangipani, gardenias and palms.
The use of volcanic stone links the landscape and the interiors. Owner-operator and designer, Singaporebased Soo K. Chan of SCDA, a firm specialising in architecture, structural design and interiors, describes Soori Bali as being “moulded out of local materials”. He says his concept was to echo the ancient practice of subak water channels used by farmers; many of the resort buildings have been sited around existing irrigation routes and ceremonial passages for the villagers’ religious processions to beach temples.
The butler-attended villas all have private pools, with a row of seven angled towards the looming contours of Mount Batukaru, and in two categories facing west for lush pink and purple ocean sunsets. There are lounging areas, petite gardens and sliding glass panels that seamlessly link indoors and out. Slide straight from the sofa for a swim? Come on in. Bathrooms are gigantic expanses with deep two-person tubs and padded head-rests, plus battalions of branded toiletries and mountains of white towels. My onebedroom ocean pool villa is reached via stone steps and has a cool elevation; there are also two-bedroom options in this category, while seven family compoundstyle residences range from three to 10 bedrooms. But given the beach is not private, I wonder if the groundlevel beach pool villas, with direct ocean access, would be completely shielded from passers-by.
You know you are in a great resort when every detail has been considered, even down to the turn-down amenity, which is a furled flower nestled in a leafy cone, like a tropical party corsage. And when the mini-bar is actually a maxi-bar, stocked with Balinese-produced sea-salt chocolate, coffee pods with Indonesian blends, and TWG cotton-bagged teas from Singapore in flavours such as sencha and hibiscus. My butler, Indra, appears like a genie to attend to my meagre needs. He is so enthusiastic that I invent a few small requests, including a decadent lunch by my pool of nasi goreng ayam. I eat while dipping in the shallows, fork in one hand and book in the other, straw hat jammed in place. Structural realignment has been effortlessly achieved. Susan Kurosawa is The Australian’s travel editor.