Friday, November 30, 2012

Best in Bali Beach resorts

There are so many fabulous beach resorts in Bali, it's hard to choose just where to stay. I had the opportunity to visit a few of the top luxury resorts and each one had something special to offer.
I highly recommend splitting your time on the island between the central region of Ubud and spending some time at the beach.

The Amankila resort has a spectacular cliffside location on the south eastern coast of Bali. Individual thatched roofed villa suites dot the hillside and are connected by a series of stone stairways. Being in good physical condition would be a bonus here, although they do have buggies to take you up and down the hill if you so desire. Our suite was located at the very top of the hill, which afforded some beautiful sea views and it was very private. We did have to negotiate the long stairways to get down to the pool area and dining rooms, so I just made sure I had everything with me before I left the room! The main pool area has a series of three tiered-pools with many comfy sun beds and several covered bales, great for lounging. All the way at the base of the cliff is the beach club. There is another restaurant adjacent to a large swimming pool, and several more individual bales on the black sand beach. Many different watersports are offered, including standup paddle-boarding, boogie boards, kayaks, windsurfing and hobie cats. I had a great sail on the hobie one afternoon - the wind was strong and it was a blast flying across the waves!

Other than enjoying the fabulous meals at Amankila, I had one other indulgence during my stay. It was a signature spa treatment called  Cita Ening. It is described as a full body purification process to provide clarity of thought and a sense of well-being. Sounded good to me! I wasn't sure if I was going to a cooking class or having a spa treatment. The ingredients for the service called for rice, yogurt, ginger, honey, milk, cucumber and coconut cream.   The two and a half hour treatment started with a fresh lime and salt foot scrub (margarita anyone?), followed by a full body exfoliation with rice and ginger. The therapist then applied yogurt and honey to my chest, and a mixture of red ginger and cajeput to my stomach. I was wrapped with warm towels while slices of cucumber were placed over my eyes and face. Next came a soothing head and scalp massage with coconut hair cream.  If this wasn't enough, the finale was a relaxing massage. After it was all over, I floated back to my suite at the top of the hill, sense of well-being fully restored!

It was sad to leave Amankila, but the smile returned to my face upon arrival at the St. Regis Bali resort.  This beautiful property is located on a golden sand beach in Nusa Dua. The entrance opens to a very grand open-air lobby, with smaller seating areas placed around.  The St. Regis features butler service for all of its suites and villas. Our butler created a very special welcome for us, since we were celebrating a special occasion. The bathtub was filled with rose petals in the shape of a heart - a fun surprise! The suite itself was very spacious, including a sitting area with sofa and chairs, large walk-in closet, entrance foyer, marble bathroom and a private balcony. The resort is only a few years old, and the suites feature all of the latest technology: 42-inch screen tv, ipod docking station and wifi.

If you prefer more space than the 900-square foot entry level suite provides, you can opt for one of the villas on property. There are gorgeous one, two and three-bedroom villas, some of which are centered around a huge salt water lagoon swimming pool.

Dining at the St. Regis Bali can be from grabbing a bite at the casual Gourmand Deli to fine dining at the elegant and romantic, beachfront Kayuputi restaurant.  The breakfasts served at the Boneka restaurant are among the best I've ever had. There is an elaborate buffet with every western breakfast food you can think of, plus salads, sushi, soups AND ala carte items you can order off the menu. I personally recommend the lobster omelette. Why not, you're on vacation?!  While you're enjoying your breakfast, the servers come around with small bites of the chef's specialties for the day. These were tastings of Indonesian beef and noodles, fruit smoothies, etc. Needless to say, I had to taste it all, and I pretty much rolled out of the restaurant each morning. The best part is, when you book your stay at the St. Regis with us, this fabulous breakfast is included in your stay!

To reserve your Bali beach vacation, contact the Travel Specialists at Bee Kalt Travel

Tel: 248-288-9600 or Toll-free 1-800-284-5258
Find us on Facebook:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Being a Billionaire in Bali

It was a little disconcerting to receive the restaurant dinner bill with the tab totalling over 1,000,000. It wasn't quite as bad as I thought once I realized that the exchange rate was 9600 Indonesian rupiah to one U.S. dollar. You feel very rich when your pockets are full of 10,000 bills.

Bali is a relatively small island in the Indonesian archipelago, surrounded by the Java Sea and the Indian Ocean.

It attracts all kinds of travelers from backpackers and surfers to those looking for a more luxurious experience. I fell into the latter category (as I was celebrating my birthday) along with many honeymooners and retirees we met during our journey.

Bali is not just palm trees and beaches, but it has a lot to offer in the way of culture, arts, crafts and dance. There are beautiful rivers you can raft on, volcanoes you can climb, and terraced rice fields you can bike beside.

The first thing I learned upon landing in Bali is that the rules of the road are: there are no rules of the road. I'm sure there must be, but there are motorbikes everywhere. They weave in and out of the cars, fully loaded with packages, groceries or families of four. You can pass on the left, right or drive right down the center! I was very glad we had excellent drivers taking care of us during our stay.

First stop Ubud.
Ubud is centrally located and the perfect spot from which to explore the culture and history of the island. The majority of Balinese practice the Hindu religion while the rest of Indonesia is predominately Muslim. With our guide, Kichen, we were able to see the important Temples, temple ceremonies, beautiful scenery, view of volcanoes and we even crashed a wedding. Luckily, the Balinese people are very welcoming and were even invited to stay.

A highlight for me was a visit to the John Hardy workshop. If you've never heard of him, he creates a line of beautiful, handcrafted jewelry. You can visit the workshop, where they employ almost 700 workers, and see just how these intricate pieces are made. It is painstaking work and takes hours to create one silver bracelet or necklace. I've been a fan of John Hardy for a long time and I have a new appreciation for the bracelets I wear every day! If you'd like to visit and have a tour, please note that you do need an advance reservation.

Where to stay? We recommend:
This resort is comprised of 30 individual thatched-roof suites, designed like a traditional Balinese village. Stone walkways connect the suites to the rest of the resort. The service is impeccable and what you come to expect when staying at an Aman resort. For a really special stay, choose one of the suites with private pool, overlooking the river.

Four Seasons Resort at Sayan
Built into the hillside over the Ayung river, the resort offers duplex suites with beautiful views of the lush gardens or larger, private villas with one or two-bedrooms. The restaurant has a nice selection of local and continental cuisine. A fabulous spa, fitness center and outdoor yoga pavilion round out the amenities offered.

Ubud Hanging Gardens
This one is a little further afield, about a 30-minute drive to the town of Ubud, but it offers the most spectacular setting in a hillside jungle. Each of the spacious villa suites has its own private pool. The romantic atmosphere makes this resort perfect for a honeymoon or for celebrating a special anniversary.

Book your stay at any of these resorts with us and receive complimentary Virtuoso amenities such as: Upgrade upon arrival based on availability, Breakfast for two daily, Complimentary lunch, dinner or spa credits

For more information or to reserve your Bali vacation, contact the Travel Specialists at Bee Kalt Travel

Tel: 248-288-9600 or Toll-free 1-800-284-5258
Find us on Facebook: