North­ern Ex­po­sure

Singapore Tatler Wedding - - FINALE -

Cou­ples seek­ing seclu­sion and the au­then­tic spirit of Bali ven­ture north­east to Spa Vil­lage Re­sort Tem­bok, Bali where age-old heal­ing awaits

ut of the chaotic Ngu­rah Rai In­ter­na­tional Air­port, I am whisked into a pri­vate car by a friendly driver, shielded from the crowd and af­ter­noon heat and wel­comed with a cold towel, re­fresh­ing salad and much-needed drink of wa­ter. It’s the kind of hos­pi­tal­ity that is so typ­i­cally Ba­li­nese and sets the tone for the rest of the jour­ney.

What sep­a­rates me from my des­ti­na­tion is a 2.5-hour drive, ev­ery minute of the course tak­ing me fur­ther away from the tourist-laden south, and in­deed all the cares of a har­ried life, and closer to a tran­quil par­adise that is per­haps what first put the Is­land of the Gods on the radar of hol­i­day­mak­ers. Step­ping into the open-con­cept lobby at Spa Vil­lage Re­sort Tem­bok, the flag­ship re­sort of YTL Ho­tels’ Spa Vil­lage brand that marks its 10th an­niver­sary in 2017, I am ush­ered into a plush chair where I par­take of an­other wel­come rit­ual: a sooth­ing foot bath and shoul­der mas­sage. I later learn that this rep­re­sents the start of the pu­rifi­ca­tion, re­newal and re­lax­ation to tran­spire dur­ing my stay.

There are 31 rooms at this in­ti­mate adults-only prop­erty fringed by vol­canic black sand beaches and sway­ing palms, set against a back­drop of ma­jes­tic peaks. It’s all about un­der­stated lux­ury, with just one shop, one restau­rant that serves pretty de­cent-tast­ing spa food, no loud bars or chil­dren’s wad­ing pools, no TV in the rooms and wi-fi ac­cess re­stricted to the lobby. The em­pha­sis here is on re­newal, re­lax­ation and self-dis­cov­ery through an ex­pe­ri­ence that hon­ours Bali’s deep-held tra­di­tions.

The spa menu fea­tures an ar­ray of Ba­li­nese-in­spired treat­ments. A must-try for new­ly­weds: the pen­gantin melukat, rem­i­nis­cent of a pu­rifi­ca­tion cer­e­mony for brides and grooms tra­di­tion­ally car­ried out in vil­lages here. It be­gins with a steam bath pre-treat­ment where the feet are cov­ered in min­eral-rich vol­canic black sand. A Ba­li­nese mas­sage is fol­lowed by a boreh body scrub to ren­der skin a lu­mi­nous glow be­fore it is slathered with mois­tur­is­ing milk. The fi­nale: a lux­u­ri­ous flo­ral bath.

To help you find bal­ance, there are a num­ber of other cou­ple spa ex­pe­ri­ences, pri­vate yoga, ocean-side mas­sage un­der the stars and even starlight-gazing med­i­ta­tion while float­ing in the pool (very lit­tle light pol­lu­tion in th­ese parts means you’ll see hun­dreds of stars on a clear night, and it won’t be hard to spot a shoot­ing star!), but don’t ig­nore other dis­cov­ery paths: cre­ativ­ity and vigour. For the cre­ative path, catch the Ba­li­nese dance per­for­mances as you im­bibe pre-din­ner drinks, or try your hand at lon­tar draw­ing (tra­di­tional palm leaf draw­ing) or weav­ing your own love birds; and for some­thing more ex­cit­ing, there are day trips to Les Wa­ter­fall, a sun­rise hike up the still ac­tive vol­cano Mount Batur, and a sun­rise cruise where you might spot dol­phins! This is the real Bali. It’s no won­der celebri­ties con­tinue to be lured here by the prom­ise of pri­vacy, a con­sid­ered pace and pure bliss.

As the staff bid farewell with a good luck hard-boiled egg in a wo­ven bas­ket and my car sets off for the air­port, I can’t help but yearn to re­turn to the seren­ity and gen­tle spir­i­tu­al­ity of the real Bali and feel thank­ful for ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what’s left of it. YTL Ho­tels’ new di­rect book­ing por­tal of­fers ex­cit­ing deals and pack­ages just for the Sin­ga­pore mar­ket, in­clud­ing com­pli­men­tary mas­sage and stay-more-book-less deals.

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