PARTY BY THE POOL

Dive into new beach clubs, lux­ury ho­tels and smok­ing hot food

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - BALI - JENNY HEWETT

De­spite some tem­po­rary setbacks to tourism in In­done­sia this year, the world is still go­ing gaga for Bali. And with its spir­ited cul­ture, jun­gle ho­tels, clifftop vil­las, world-class cui­sine and bar­relling waves, rightly so. In 2017, the In­done­sian is­land at­tracted 5.69 mil­lion vis­i­tors and has am­bi­tious plans for 2019, with a tar­get of eight mil­lion for­eign tourist ar­rivals, ac­cord­ing to Bali Tourism Board.

There’s a lot to get ex­cited about on our is­land neigh­bour, from new ho­tels and beach clubs to sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives and parts still largely undis­cov­ered (yes, they do ex­ist). Here’s what Bali will look like in the new year.

POOLS AND PAR­TIES

Seminyak and Uluwatu have long been the go-tos for all-day pool play, but new beach clubs in up­com­ing and un­ex­pected ar­eas are shift­ing the fo­cus. In Canggu, the team be­hind Mo­tel Mex­i­cola are crank­ing up the heat with Trop­i­cola (trop­i­cola.info), an in­ti­mate, ’80s-in­spired Mi­ami Vice-style beach club and diner pop­ping in pri­mary colours with pep­per­mint-scented bath­rooms and pool­side te­quila chug­ging. Nearby, in Ber­awa, Finns Beach Club FINNS BEACH CLUB (finns­beach­club.com/vip/) has rolled out its Finns VIP area in the old Se­mara Beach House, with all-white daybeds and a rooftop bar. Fur­ther south, Jim­baran has wel­comed Med­style Ibiza in Bali on Ke­lan Beach and, in the re­sort hub of Nusa Dua, the new Ba­li­nese-in­spired Ma­narai Beach House is keep­ing its cus­tomers cool with home­made al­co­holic pop­si­cles.

Mean­while, Bali-born en­fant ter­ri­ble Kai Suteja, the Aussie In­sta­gram­mer of @ur­mum­syadad, is woo­ing wild hearts with the launch of Gypsy Land (gypsy.land) mu­sic and art fes­ti­vals, a new Bali-based events com­pany with plenty of out-there par­ties in the pipe­line. Hav­ing re­cently trans­formed an aban­doned Seminyak kinder­garten into a haunted house, com­plete with themed rooms and un­der­ground US rap­pers flown in from the US, Gypsy Land is proof that Bali can boo­gie with the best.

STAY AND PLAY

With its themed lux­ury tents, sur­real decor and cop­per bath­tubs, the Bill Bens­ley-de­signed Capella Ubud (capel­la­ho­tels.com) was with­out a doubt Bali’s most talked-about ho­tel open­ing of 2018. But next year, that crown will be handed onto Seminyak’s Po­tato Head Ho­tel (ptthead.com), due to open in the sum­mer of 2019.

De­signed by renowned Dutch ar­chi­tec­ture firm OMA, the lux­ury beach­front stay will float on stilts over wa­ter and its 175 rooms show­case the brand’s re­cy­cling ethos, with in­te­ri­ors made from ocean and land­fill plas­tics.

Un­der the same um­brella, Kata­mama (kata­mama.com) will open its sec­ond lo­ca­tion, and the first lux­ury ho­tel, in sleepy Ta­banan, where its 15 beach­side cab­ins will op­er­ate off-grid.

Also slated for 2019 are two Nusa Dua stays, in­clud­ing the IHG’s BE­DUGUL Kimp­ton Ho­tel (ihg.com), an all-villa prop­erty and the brand’s first in South­east Asia, as well as the ShangriLa Re­sort & Spa (shangri-la.com).

En­trepreneurs are carv­ing out a niche in the pri­vate villa mar­ket, too, with the open­ing of a hand­ful of glam­orous new de­sign-led hol­i­day res­i­dences ooz­ing rock­star ap­peal. The team be­hind Ulu Cliff­house is ex­pand­ing its premium villa brand Man­dala, with two new ul­tra-luxe five- and six-bed­room hol­i­day ren­tals in Uluwatu and Ber­awa, re­spec­tively, and a third to open in Nusa Lem­bon­gan in Jan­uary 2019. Each has its own art col­lec­tion and a vet­ted list of well­ness, fit­ness and surf in­struc­tors on call.

In Seminyak, award-win­ning Syd­ney in­te­rior de­signer Alex Zabotto-Bent­ley has ap­plied his magic touch to Noku Beach House (nokubeach­house.com), a sixbed­room sanc­tu­ary with two pools, a ten­nis court and ex­otic green­ery.

EAT AND DRINK

Less is more on Bali’s hottest ta­bles for 2019, with wood-fired, smoked and sus­tain­able con­cepts dom­i­nat­ing food trends for the new year. The Sarong Group (sarong­bali.com) restau­ra­teur Will Meyrick and chef Tim Bartholomew will un­earth Na­tive in Canggu in late 2018, a mod­ern bistro show­cas­ing lo­cal pro­duce and an­cient cook­ing tech­niques, in­clud­ing sun-dry­ing and smok­ing.

Over at Po­tato Head Beach Club, a Miche­lin-trained chef is at the helm of new eatery Ijen (ptthead.com/bali/ ijen/), which has a 98 per cent nowaste phi­los­o­phy and serves sus­tain­able seafood cooked over an open fire. Bali-based Brett Hos­pi­tal­ity group has fol­lowed up the suc­cess of sus­tain­able grill Fish­bone Lo­cal (fish­bone­lo­cal.com) in Canggu with Ma­son (ma­son­bali.com) on the same street. The group’s pared-back ethos to cook­ing con­tin­ues in this el­e­gant space and court­yard, with Mediter­rean-in­spired share plates such as tara­masalata dip and slow­cooked lamb shoul­der.

SEE AND DO

Get a drone’s eye view of Ubud’s mag­i­cal ta­pes­try of rice fields, river and jun­gle with the is­land’s first hot air bal­loon ad­ven­ture at The Chedi Club Tanah Ga­jah Ubud (ghmho­tels.com/en/tanah-ga­jah/). Of­fered sea­son­ally be­tween June and Novem­ber, the teth­ered bal­loon soars 50m into the sky three times a day, in­clud­ing at dawn and af­ter sun­set. Rides last be­tween five and seven min­utes and cost from $212.

In­fin­ity Life­style Ad­ven­tures (in­fin­i­ty­moun­tain­bik­ing.com), in part­ner­ship with restau­ra­teur Will Meyrick, is now host­ing all-day Ubud street food tours with stops at lo­cal warungs, mar­kets and tem­ples.

SHOP AND DROP

Gail and Joe El­liott, the Aussie de­signer duo be­hind women’s cloth­ing la­bel Lit­tle Joe Woman by Gail El­liott (lit­tle­joe­woman.com), are open­ing their first store in Bali in early 2019. The bou­tique will join 19 luxe suites, a rooftop pool and brasseri­estyle restau­rant as the re­tail com­po­nent of beach­side Ber­awa ho­tel con­cept, The Brawa (the­brawa.com).

And Goldust Spa, fa­mous for its 24-carat gold fa­cials, is open­ing its sec­ond lo­ca­tion in Canggu next year.

CARE AND CON­SERVE

Some of Bali’s best known ho­tels are lead­ing a crack­down on In­sta­gram­driven over-tourism and the use of plas­tics. Ayana Bali (ayana.com/id) has banned phones, cam­eras and elec­tron­ics at its River Pool from 9am5pm to en­cour­age guests to be present and en­gage with each other. Desa Po­tato Head in Seminyak has banned sin­gle-use plas­tics.

LO­CAL AND LESS-TRAV­ELLED

Many trav­ellers are snub­bing the tourist hubs for Bali’s more au­then­tic and ru­ral ar­eas. Ac­cord­ing to Book­ing.com, the fastest grow­ing lo­ca­tions for book­ings in Bali in 2017 in­cluded Ta­banan and Be­dugul be­yond Canggu, and Sin­garaja in the north. Looks like 2019 will be the year of re­spon­si­ble travel in Bali. NOKU BEACH HOUSE

PIC­TURES: FINNS BALI, SUP­PLIED, IS­TOCK

Finns VIP rooftop bar is an all­white af­fair; find sanc­tu­ary at Noku Beach House; and Be­dugul is a fast-grow­ing favourite.

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