It was early winter and like many New Yorkers, I was reluctant to pull out my winter coat. But as the cold weather and dark days began to creep in, I made an escape, and boarded a plane to Bali. Ahhhh. The instant I arrived, I felt the warm energy of this mystical paradise. With the sun shining in my face and my Balinese driver waving excitedly to greet me, I knew this was exactly what I needed to soothe my almost winter woes.
As a first time visitor to Bali, I had heard wonderful things about this small Indonesian Island, but nothing could prepare me for the absolute bliss that is the Bulgari Resort Bali. Located on the southern tip of Bali in the less developed region of Uluwatu, the resort is perched on a cliff towering over the spectacularly beautiful Indian Ocean. No description could bring to life the view you experience as you descend nearly 500 feet by glass elevator to the beach. I had to remind myself several times that I was not dreaming and that this does, in fact, exist!
The view from the glass elevator was, without a doubt, my favorite, but there is no shortage of awe-inspiring vistas from any location within the walls of this architectural masterpiece. The cliff in which the resort was built was hand carved in a “staircase like” pattern to allow each of the 59 villas sweeping views of the ocean below and complete privacy.
This is an extraordinary place, indeed, built with care. Even before the construction of the resort began, the staff took part in a very special Balinese ceremony, blessing the foundation and offering their gratitude to the Gods and the earth to void any negative energy before altering the land. My butler Ronnie, who has been working for the resort since their doors opened in 2006, told me this story as he effortlessly maneuvered down the winding cobblestone paths that connect each level of the property. As he navigated these small corridors flanked by high stone walls, I felt as though I had been transported to an ancient secret village but with all the modern amenities you could possibly imagine! The amount of detail carved into their traditional Javanese style Spa is astounding and the pre-treatment tamarind and honey tea that they serve ranks extremely high on my “best-teas-I- have-ever-had” list. The Bulgari truly blends the best of Italian luxury and Balinese culture to create a highly unique experience, unlike any I have ever had.
After leaving my paradise on a cliff, I continued my journey to Ubud, located in the center of the country known for its remarkable art work, woodcarvings, cultural dances, jewelry, and all encompassing rice fields. There is this sense of heightened spirituality wherever you go in Bali but the positive energy that flowed from the heart of this Bohemian city was especially tangible. I will never forget my bike ride through Ubud’s local villages…
With Mount Batur, one of Bali’s active volcanoes, towering in the distance I strapped on my helmet and set off full speed ahead into some of Bali’s oldest and most fascinating villages. We passed endless coffee plantations, waved hello to locals, and stopped many many times to learn about life in the rice fields and soak up our picturesque surroundings. After winding around a corner, we came across two village women who had lived in this small town their entire lives. Our guide translated that one of the ladies was in her eighties and one in her nineties, but neither of them knew their actual ages. It was pretty remarkable to get a glimpse into their world as we made our way through the country side. My day ended with a visit to Elephant Safari Park where I fed a baby elephant sugar cubes. It was a sweet end to a perfect day.