The most of the coast

ROOM AT THE INN

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

FOR the best el­e­vated view of the sa­cred Hindu sea tem­ple of Tanah Lot, on Bali’s south­west coast, stand at the sev­enth hole on Pan Pa­cific Nir­wana Bali Re­sort’s golf course. The surf-pounded holy site, as im­prob­a­bly ma­jes­tic as a stage set, seems close enough to touch.

This 103ha prop­erty, with award-win­ning Greg Nor­man-de­signed 18-hole course (in­clud­ing three im­pos­si­ble-look­ing cliff-to-cliff tee shots), is sat­is­fy­ingly re­moved from the bus­tle of the main tourist precincts. Hun­ker down here and you get a sense of the Bali that ex­isted be­fore the spread of Seminyak’s vil­las, Kuta’s clubs and daft things such as fish-nib­bling pedi­cures, Bin­tang beer mas­sages and shop signs boast­ing ‘‘100 per cent gen­uine fakes’’.

A staff mem­ber tells me the re­sort em­ploys more than 900 gar­den­ers. The reach of the es­tate is a tremen­dous park­land of flow­er­ing bushes, palms and pan­danus, koi ponds, rice fields, scat­tered tem­ples adorned with of­fer­ings and amuse­ments such as three-tiered swim­ming pools and, yikes, a 54m wa­ter slide.

A $US10 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment com­pleted in De­cem­ber 2011 cov­ered the 278 bal­conied gue­strooms and suites set across sev­eral wings, lovely pool vil­las and eight restau­rants and bars, in­clud­ing TLC, a chic cafe and tapas bar over­look­ing the sev­enth hole (grab an espresso and a bean­bag on the lawn).

One of the best in­no­va­tions is a se­ries of 10 fam­ily rooms that fea­ture a cosy nook with bunk beds close to the par­ents’ sleep­ing area, pint-sized chairs and play ta­bles and Nin­tendo Wii video con­soles. The ex­pertly staffed Kids Club is set amid gar­dens and of­fers shal­low pool, ad­ven­ture play­ground and ac­tiv­i­ties that in­clude pot­tery, Ba­li­nese danc­ing, cook­ing classes and a weekly baby sea tur­tle re­lease pro­gram.

With­out chil­dren in tow, and ad­mit­ting to no in­ter­est in the roughs and haz­ards of golf, my stay is al­to­gether idle, spent haunting the ex­cel­lent Nir­wana Spa, which has 24 treat­ment salons, steam and sauna fa­cil­i­ties and yoga room. (The last ap­point­ment at Nir­wana Spa is at 9pm. Should there be a law­ful limit on how many mas­sages or ‘‘re­fresh­ing tomato body scrubs’’ a guest can have in one day? Just ask­ing.)

The most move­ment I muster is a rush for the nasi goreng on the break­fast buffet at the big and breezy Mer­ica all-day din­ing room and a sprint to the Sun­set Lounge for a ring­side perch to watch the red­den­ing sun sink over Tanah Lot (the­atri­cally en­hanced with a ly­chee or pear mar­tini in hand).

Cana­dian-born and Aus­tralian-trained ex­ec­u­tive chef Brad Froehlich joined the re­sort in Au­gust last year and his Pa­cific Rim de­gus­ta­tion menus could in­clude pome­gran­ate and pa­paya salad with ginger and chilli dress­ing; braised beef and truf­fle ravi­oli with porcini sauce; and peanut but­ter par­fait with vanilla meringue, sea­sonal trop­i­cal fruit and pome­gran­ate puree. Froehlich has brought new flair to the re­sort’s food-and-bev­er­age of­fer­ings, in­clud­ing more pro­duce har­vested on site and a re­vamp of the semi-al­fresco Pool Grill.

My room 340 is in the spa­cious Pa­cific Club cat­e­gory, with teak floors and silken fin­ishes, gar­den and pool views, but­ler ser­vice, un­lim­ited WiFi con­nec­tiv­ity, two free laun­dry items a day and 24-hour ac­cess to the Pa­cific Lounge (all-day snacks and ser­vices).

A clifftop bale (pav­il­ion) with a perky ter­ra­cotta coronet on its thatched roof, floaty white cur­tains, mat­tress and bol­sters is a mar­vel­lous day­time op­tion for ly­ing down. The hori­zon is broad and clear, lit­tle black but­ter­flies and red-beaked finches zip past on the breeze, and Tanah Lot sits like a stony galleon de­fy­ing the crash-boom of the surf.

A waiter ap­pears with some cool re­fresher tow­els and en­cour­ag­ing of­fers of fresh pineap­ple juice or a head-and-shoul­ders mas­sage. The free shut­tle bus for Kuta and Seminyak leaves in about 10 min­utes, but guess who won’t be on it.

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