The reopening of the luxurious Imperial and Royal Villas on Monday completes an extensive two-year renovation of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay estimated to have cost more than $20 million. Aside from new-look high-end suites, all 147 villas have been overhauled, almost half completely rebuilt to offer a new Premier category.
Management listened to regular guests when briefing Indonesian design guru Jaya Ibrahim, who sadly died before the project’s completion, on the layout of the one and two-bedroom Premier villas. Guests wanted more space to lounge in the sun, so in some villas the bale pavilion has been moved to the front of the garden to take in the sea views. The resort’s signature deep bath tubs have been retained but structural expansion includes a new living area, larger bedroom and bigger pool; the cool Asian look is pared back with carefully placed objetsd’art giving an elegant gallery vibe.
Yet the romantic feel of a traditional Balinese village has been retained, including the compound-style villa layout, moss-encrusted statues and lush landscaping of the late Made Wijaya (Michael White). When the 14ha resort opened oceanfront 23 years ago it was the first to feature a plunge pool in every villa and a pioneer of modern Bali style incorporating outdoor living, from bales to bathrooms, in a garden setting. This carefully implemented, long-term renovation brings the Four Seasons bang up to date but regular guests will be thrilled to learn the mood of one of Bali’s original garden paradises remains unaltered and magical.
DON’T MISS: A Pure TDA facial in the lovely day spa where the extensive menu marries mysticism with science. This hi-tech treatment begins with what feels like a good old scrub with a tiny cheese grater (actually finely ground sapphire crystals). Then a rose and sandalwood serum is propelled into the dermis using the TDA applicator blowing oxygen and purified water and sounding rather like a bellows. But the results are stunning. DINING IN: Executive chef Pasquo Bowman King oversees traditional and contemporary fare in romantic settings on the beach or overlooking the bay. With long ocean views, tinkling fountains and enveloping greenery, the open-air, high-set Taman Wantilan offers allday dining featuring the catch of the day from the local fish market; breakfast offers an extensive buffet with several cooking stations. The cool and clubby Sundara is the perfect spot for a cocktail by its lap pool. Try the blue swimmer crab and coconut salad mixed at the table. From June 1, Sundara will also be dishing up beachfront breakfasts.
DINING OUT: Jump a cab to Da Maria in Petitenget run by Australian restaurateur Maurice Terzini; there’s an Amalfi Coast comes to Bali vibe with great pasta and late night pizzas. Or try Will Meyrick’s Malaysianflavoured Tiger Palm in Seminyak; have the Nonya fish curry and outstanding roti canai.
ASK THE CONCIERGE: Take out a water bike for a pedal on the bay, book a sunset cruise or sign up for a yoga class in the new oceanfront bale.
CHECKING IN: Villas from $US680 ($917) plus taxes. More: fourseasons.com.
ALSO TRY: Goldeneye, Jamaica; Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand; Banyan Tree Lang Co, Vietnam.
CHRISTINE McCABE Santa Barbara’s new 121-room Hotel Californian opens this northern summer; the hotly anticipated debut features a stellar locale, steps from the ocean, interiors by celebrity designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard and a rooftop pool; the hotel’s 1925 facade has been incorporated into the new build • Advance book online at the swish new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, opening in November, before June 4 to go into the draw to win a golden ticket offering double passes to nine of the city’s hottest attractions including the NRL State of Origin, Russian National Ballet, a helicopter flight and New Year’s Eve accommodation in the hotel’s Prestige Suite • Iceland’s striking Ion Adventure Hotel has opened a city outpost in Reykjavik; currently in a soft opening phase, the Ion City Hotel features 18 guestrooms, some with saunas; book through Design Hotels for a 50 per cent discount this month for stays before June 15 • InterContinental’s stylish Indigo lifestyle brand has unveiled plans for a second hotel in Australia after announcing a 140-room new build for Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley last year; the 170-room Hotel Indigo Melbourne Docklands will open in 2019 with all rooms offering water views • Overlooking the Masai Mara, andBeyond’s signature Kenyan lodge Bateleur Camp will undergo a complete refurbishment of all tented suites later this year adding two new swimming pools, fitness centre, massage sala and coffee bar.