Bali daze and nights

The joys of a fam­ily villa rental at Jim­baran Bay

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - TIM DOU­GLAS

It’s 9.04am, the sun is al­ready high in the sky over Bali’s sparkling Jim­baran Bay, and I am run­ning late. What’s more, I am hope­lessly, ut­terly lost. That in it­self, per­haps, is not en­tirely note­wor­thy — this writer has the in­ter­car­di­nal ca­pac­ity of a bro­ken com­pass — but there is some­thing gen­uinely re­mark­able about my cur­rent pickle. I am lost, for the first time in my life, in a house. Well, it’s a villa, to be pre­cise. And if we really want to ap­pease the gods of nomen­cla­ture, The Long­house at Jim­baran Bay is a man­sion. Labyrinthine, lux­u­ri­ous and large enough to have ren­dered me to­tally dis­com­bob­u­lated.

The ap­point­ment for which I am four — now five — min­utes over­due is an hour-long tra­di­tional Ba­li­nese mas­sage in The Long­house’s pri­vate spa room. The di­rec­tions care­fully given five min­utes ear­lier from our won­der­ful villa man­ager Ruddy have ev­i­dently floated in one ear and across the 25m-long infinity pool and out to the 180-de­gree panorama be­fore me. I imag­ine the masseuse, an­noyed, look­ing at her watch. Flus­tered, I dash past the cin­ema, the gym, the guest el­e­va­tor (there are three floors; make that four if we are to in­clude the garage, com­plete with res­i­dent car and driver) and along a grand Ro­man-in­spired 50m-long gran­ite thor­ough­fare. I all but give up, and then I spy it, nes­tled in a mod­est cor­ner of the build­ing. Ah, the spa room, a peace­ful in­door-out­door frangi­pani-scented re­treat, all soft mu­sic and warm, fil­tered light. I am al­most 10 min­utes late. The em­bar­rass­ment is over­whelm­ing. The masseuse smiles warmly, ges­tures for me to lie down. I check her arm. No sign of a watch.

The Long­house is one of a small en­clave of pala­tial vil­las and pri­vate homes that dot the arid hills high above Jim­baran Bay on Bali’s south­west coast. De­signed by well-known Ba­li­nese ar­chi­tect Popo Danes, the six-bed­room, 1200sq m build­ing is a grand ar­chi­tec­tural paean to trop­i­cal and Euro­pean de­sign, all Ro­man pil­lars and no­ble in­ter­nal stone floor­ing, com­bined with tra­di­tional Ba­li­nese alang alang-thatched roofs and lo­cally sourced and rel­e­vant ob­jets-d’art. The Long­house is, quite sim­ply, breath­tak­ing.

On the day my fam­ily of five ar­rives, we en­ter via the villa’s el­e­va­tor to the third floor, where a pha­lanx of ge­nial staff — chefs, maids, a villa man­ager and two but­lers — waits ex­pec­tantly out­side The Long­house’s restau­rant-grade kitchen and din­ing area. We are wel­comed with mile-wide smiles and vir­gin pina co­ladas, served in a fresh-cut pineap­ple. We sit, mo­men­tar­ily awestruck, only drink­ing in the view. The pina co­lada — and its in­evitable more po­tent brethren — will wait. The home’s grand in­door/out­door din­ing area faces on to the pool and stretches in glo­ri­ous panorama over the vil­lage be­low, across the idle fish­ing boats of Jim­baran and the isth­mus that sep­a­rates the Bukit Penin­sula from the rest of Bali and up to a fam­ily of an­cient vol­ca­noes that dwarfs all be­fore it.

The Long­house is a big state­ment, with broad views and grand ideals. But its true ap­peal does not trade on size; in fact, it’s the small de­tails that set it apart. Its six bed­rooms have each been named for — and have been ge­o­graph­i­cally po­si­tioned fac­ing — a dif­fer­ent re­gion of In­done­sia: Bali, Lom­bok, Sumba, Su­ma­tra, and East and West Java. Bali, the mas­ter suite, is about 30m long, and has an infinity pool, out­door shower and gar­den re­treat. It shares the same view as the din­ing area and is truly some­thing to be­hold. Our three-year-old daugh­ter’s pro­cliv­ity for sleep­walk­ing, how­ever, and the room’s prox­im­ity to both pools means we de­cide to sleep in the equally lux­u­ri­ous Lom­bok down­stairs; our two boys hun­ker hap­pily down in East and West Java re­spec­tively. The villa’s own­ers have taken great care to dec­o­rate each room with be­spoke fur­nish­ings from each cor­re­lat­ing re­gion of In­done­sia. Wood carv­ings stare out from the walls; wo­ven blan­kets match sym­bolic re­gional pat­terns on the walls; even bath­room tiles fea­ture sym­bols of re­gional cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance. The boys, how­ever, care for just one fur­nish­ing piece — the wide-screen tele­vi­sions in their rooms.

Later the next day, in an ethereal daze, I re­turn from an­other mas­sage to find the chil­dren busy weav­ing tra­di­tional bas­kets from lo­cal plant ma­te­rial with Hepe, hap­pily pro­nounced as “Happy”. They are trans­fixed, as she care­fully teaches them to make canang sari, the daily rit­ual of­fer­ings made to the Ba­li­nese Hindu gods. They

The Long­house at Jim­baran Bay, top left, and, clock­wise from top right, the Lom­bok suite, spa­cious en­suite and ter­race, and the villa’s liv­ing room

Infinity pool at The Long­house; chef Iora in the restau­rant-grade kitchen

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