Apr
25
2016
Blissed out in Bali, with Lifestyle Retreats


Oh, Bali. The island that has called me for so long.

Over a February summer night in the balmy hustle of inner city Sydney, with wine and laughter and storytelling, I told my friend Jaclyn that Bali was up next on my itinerary. It was instantaneous; her eyes softened and sparkled. It was some mix of nostalgia, and love, and connection - a gentle veil of knowing. She warned me that this island would be like nothing and everything I had experienced before. Intoxicating, charming, completely chaotic and calm; a beautiful juxtaposition, and utterly immersive. “Give it two days, and then the rest of the world will abruptly fall away,” she said.

And I so, completely get that now. Because… it just did.
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From the moment I stepped off the plane into the smoggy and humid March sky, Bali pushed me way off-centre, and it’s how I remained for the rest of the trip. Outside of anything familiar, in a strange and beautiful way, where heady incense and tropical fruits, pure sea spray and sharp, winding roads, lush rice fields and toothy smiles, a hot beating sun and ice cool cucumber juice, deafening motorbikes and delicate floral offerings, and gratitude, gratitude, gratitude, all coexist in an idiosyncratic mash; an exquisite symphony of precision. All at once.

Bali is an assault on the senses in every way, shape and form. And I was captivated. Every Bali experience must surely share one constant - it is indelibly written, it won’t ever leave you. Simply, you cannot leave this place the same as you arrived.

I had the great pleasure of sharing the journey with my beautiful Mum in tow. Someone on Instagram kindly wrote that travelling with a parent, as an adult, is a beautiful gift that would be with me forever, and I unequivocally agree. Before Bali, we had scaled the Eiffel tower and trekked between seaside villages of the Cinque Terre, navigated counter-intuitive European train systems, wandered backstreets and gazed at pastel skies on the French Riviera. And the memories collected on this latest adventure are ever the more so hilarious, frustrating and bonding, woven tightly into our story as mother and daughter. And Mum didn’t just keep me company, she cleverly snapped so many of the photos of me below. Move over Instagram husband - meet my Instagram Mother. Might I say, didn't she do amazing?!

We were incredibly grateful to visit Bali for the first time together, and adventure our way around the island for nine nights as guests of Lifestyle Retreats.

Together, we hopped, cocktail sipped and happily wandered our way around the island, experiencing five of Lifestyle Retreat’s six privately owned boutique hotels and idyllic retreats, every accommodation pitstop feeling ever the more so nurturing and welcoming: our Island home(s).

Let it be said - Lifestyle Retreats don’t do mediocre. Accommodation is luxurious, and the tiniest of details are considered. From the moment we were greeted at the arrivals hall of Ngurah Rai International Airport, to the moment our suitcases were checked back in for departure, we felt so beautifully looked after.

Our stay went something like this… 

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Checking in: The Amala

It was nearing midnight by the time our car turned off the main road of Seminyak and down the driveway of our first Balinese home-away-from-home. The first word that comes to mind when I caught of The Amala was tranquil. It’s adults only, so the atmosphere is calm and intimate; a beautiful alchemy of lush green and water everywhere. In our own private villa, we enjoyed a spa bath, plunge pool and private sauna - and we were lucky to experience Balinese massages in the divine wellness spa too. Thank you to Amelie, and your beautiful team for such a warm welcome and impeccable service. First impressions in a new country often set a precedent for an entire trip, and The Amala ensured our experience was unforgettable.

The Amala // Jl. Kunti I, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung
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IZE Seminyak

Next up, we checked in to IZE Seminyak. In contrast to the Amala, IZE is everything upbeat, modern and edgy. It’s in the heart of Seminyak, so stay here not to escape, but to get right amongst it. The architecture is beautiful and the view from the rooftop infinity pool is spectacular. Our stay here was loud and fun. From here, we shopped, and walked ,and jumped head first in the coffee scene by day, and bar scene by night. Our room was spacious and cool, and our backdoor opened right onto a lap pool.

IZE Seminyak // Jl. Kayu Aya, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung

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The Santai

Arriving at the Santai after two days in frenetic Seminyak was a welcome breath of fresh air - we had loved the chaos, but were more than ready to relax. The Santai feels much more neighbourhood-like and off the beaten path, with the property is set amongst rice fields, but it is still situated only a fifteen minute drive from the centre of Seminyak. Our villa was incredible, and our private pool was bigger than houses I’ve called home. Breakfasts were delivered to our villa daily, The Santai is definitely a place that you could check in to and never actually leave until checking out. Also, Edi at concierge, if you ever read this, you should know that you’re my favourite person in all of Bali. Thank you for being so friendly to us!

The Santai // Jalan Bumbak No.88A, Banjar Kelod Anyar, Kerobokan, Kuta Utara, Badung

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Wearing Keepsake the Label

The Balé

I try not to pick out favourites, but I have to say it. The Balé was my favourite of all the properties we experienced, and I did not want to leave (ever). Our private villa was secluded, luxurious, spacious and like something out of a dream. Everything about our stay here was simply wonderful. I enjoyed a morning up in the spa and we loved our tapas dinner at… Tapas (name, on point!)

The Balé // Jl. Raya Nusa Dua Selatan, Kuta Selatan, Kuta

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The Samata

The newest addition to the Lifestyle Retreats family - we had just one night here before flying out, and I’m really glad I got to experience this property because of its remote positioning and view of the rice fields fading into the sea beyond. ‘Samata’ is a Sanskrit word meaning the state of equilibrium between body, mind and soul, and is beautifully fitting with the philosophy of this property - a place where fitness and physical activities meets utter relaxation and calm. The location of the Samata makes it a convenient point of departure for venturing further afar, especially to Ubud, and the staff were beyond wonderful to us.

The Samata // Jl.Pucuk, No.67 , Sanur 80237, Tangtu, Denpasar Timur

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exploring, but first… COFFEE.

Sisterfields

My first Bali coffee, and I was impressed. It tastes like home (enter: Bonsoy and Instagrammable cups). Australian quality coffee comes with Australian priced coffee, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone, nor would it me.

Sisterfields // Jl. Kayu Cendana No.7, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung

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Revolver Espresso

Coffee here is in its own class. Don’t miss this place, it’s unparalleled and the best, for coffee and its mashup of aesthetics. Plus, you enter through a dreamiest of doors, so how could it not be. We have you in mind - all the time - through every process - every coffee - every meal - every smile - is the manifesto, and I absolutely felt that.

Revolver Espresso // Jl. Kayu Aya No 3 (Gang 51), Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung

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Sea Circus

“Not an actual circus. Also not on the sea. Kinda near the beach, and probably as entertaining as the circus” is the welcoming line on the website of this quirky establishment - and I was charmed before arriving. There’s all day breakfast, and a menu inspired by global wandering, and I was even offered flower petals for styling my Instagram photo (win!). Running away with the (sea) circus is an attractive concept, with coffee like this.

Sea Circus // Jalan Kayu Aya No. 22, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung

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Café Bali

Unassuming from the outside, enter this little cafe and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped inside the mismatched living room of an eccentric auntie. Cute.

Café Bali // Jl. Laksamana Basangkasa, Kerobokan Kelod, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung

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Livingstone Bakery

Made for the minimalists, this cafe meets concept store is all white painted bricks and industrial hanging lights and a lofty warehouse feel. Do wander upstairs to the Buro Concept Store above, where you’ll find a beautiful curation of designer clothing, accessories and homewares, many which are exclusive to Bali. The light here is dreamy, the coffee is speciality and freelancers, take note - it doubles as a co-working space. Say hi to Diego!

Livingstone Bakery // Buro Concept Store // Kerobokan Kelod, North Kuta, Badung

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Clear Café

A world away from the hustle of Seminyak coffee establishments, nestled in the depths of Ubud above is Clear Cafe. There is coffee here, but when you see the menu of fresh juices, elixirs, tonics, iced teas, water infusions, Kombucha and other amazing creations, you will probably miss the coffee list altogether. Escaping the heat of the afternoon, I picked the orange orbit juice and it completely revived me.

 Clear Café // Jalan Campuhan, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar

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After Five

Motel Mexicola

Saludos! The home of the best guacamole I’ve ever had. I don’t want to even attempt to describe this place - you just have to experience it for yourself.

Motel Mexicola // Jl. Kayujati No. 9X, Seminyak, Kabupaten Badung

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La Laguna

Driving into the entrance of my long-awaited bar bucket list Potato Head, our driver was promptly halted and ushered back out, due to its closure for a private function that night.

By happy accident, we happened upon La Laguna, also on the Seminyak beachfront, just a little further up the way. This place had me at the entrance pathway, which is dotted with gypsy caravans just made for nomad free spirit types (and their Instagram feeds).

A perfect spot to watch the sun down, with a margarita in hand, preferably.

La Laguna // Jl. Pura Kayu Putih, Banjar Dinas Tegal Gundul, Desa Tibubeneng, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung

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Locavore

When four different friends independently recommended this beautiful restaurant to me, I knew it had to be done. Food here is art, and dining is an experience. No, it’s even more than that - it’s a culinary journey. Ingredients are all locally sourced, and there is the option to eat from the Herbivore menu, or Locavore menu.

As owners Eelke, Adi & Ray put it, ‘We think of ourselves as the catalysts between local producers and discriminating diners. Our ingredient-driven menu celebrates the farmers, fisherman and artisans we've met along our journey. By developing lasting relationships with local producers, we ensure you the freshest of chemical-free seasonal produce and ethically fed meat animals. And by supporting local farmers and artisans, Locavore is an authentic member of its community.’

Locavore // Jalan Dewisita No. 10, Ubud

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Sundara at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay

Named after the Sanskrit word for “beautiful”, The only thing between the open-air terrace of this asian inspired restaurant and the panoramic Jimbaran Bay beachfront is a 57 metre infinity pool. It’s five-star flair meets way chilled out beach-club. There was live music and stone cauldrons ablaze with open flames, incredible tapas and a silver sunset and then thunderstorm rolling across the sky. One of my favourite nights in Bali.

Sundara // Jl. Bukit Permai, Jimbaran, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung

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Nampu at Grand Hyatt {Nusa Dua}

Boasting a 650 metre stretch of private beach (that is, Bali’s biggest beachfront) positions the Grand Hyatt in Nusa Dua as a rather iconic establishment - but the beach is just the beginning. Before dining, I was gratefully treated to an afternoon of indulgence at Kriya spa, which draws upon the traditional Balinese healing philosophies of Hindu, Jamu and Ayurveda.But back to the food. Set within a rustic Japanese Izakaya ‘country inn’ that feels like it’s been plucked straight from somewhere in rural Japan, Nampu restaurant delighted us with the freshest sushi, authentic Japanese fare and edamame for days.

Nampu Japanese Restaurant // Kawasan Wisata Nusa Dua BTDC, Nusa Dua

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Pasar Senggol - the Grand Hyatt’s signature Indonesian/Balinese restaurant, designed as a contemporary Balinese night market


Ayung Terrace, Four Seasons at Sayan

No Bali visit would be complete without an authentic Indonesian meal, and we did this in style, dining among the palm treetops on the crest of a gorge at Four Seasons at Sayan. Wandering around the property was like something out of a dream, and… Gado Gado? Need I say more.

Ayung Terrace Restaurant //  Jl. Raya Sayan, Ubud, Kec. Gianyar

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Adventures, always

It was incredible to experience the shifts in energy and vibe around the island - each area with its unique feel. From the magic calm of Jimbaran Bay on Bali's southwestern coast at dusk, to the palpable spirit of creativity flowing among Ubud Village, the fairytale back streets beyond the bustle of tourist-flooded Seminyak… Bali felt like one big, beautiful anomaly - a melting pot of everything ethereal, punctuated with loud buzz of motorcycles, tourist chatter and an underlying practice of deep gratitude and ritual.

There are so many places to see, but do not miss Pura Luhur Uluwatu (Pecatu, Kuta Sel., Kabupaten Badung) at sundown - a sea temple perched on top of a steep cliff above the vast waves of the Indian Ocean. The UNESCO World Heritage site Jatiluwih rice terraces (Jatiluwih Rice Terrace, Penebel) are way off the beaten track, but absolutely worth it, too.

Bali, you were everything I hoped you would be, and so very much more. I’ll be back.

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Kriya Spa - a place of unrivalled indulgence. ‘Kriya’ means ritual in Sanskrit.
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Disclaimer: we {gratefully} experienced Bali as guests of Lifestyle Retreats.

We were also kindly invited to dine with Four Seasons at Sundara (Jimbaran) and Ayung Terrace at Sayan (Ubud), and also experience dining and spa at Grand Hyatt, Nusa Dua. 

All opinions are always - authentically and completely - my own.


I wear my favourites from Keepsake The Label {gifted}, Spell Byron Bay and Feather & Noise {gifted}.

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As you were, lovely.
EKCo. x


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Gravatar for Amanda Coneyworth
Amanda Coneyworth April 28, 2016 at 8:37 pm

Your gorgeous photos left me speechless. You have captured the beauty and contrasts of Bali so perfectly! I always describe it as my second home and you have inspired me to explore new places. I can't wait to share this post with my family and friends so they will overcome their misconceptions of Bali and experience it for themselves! xxx

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Gravatar for Dreams Studio Bali
Dreams Studio Bali April 28, 2016 at 2:17 pm

:) Completely agree with your "completely chaotic and calm" description!
It was pleasure scrolling down through all photos,...Monkey with a bottle is hilarious, always make me laugh again & again:)


Wish you to come back soon to this beautiful island!
xoxo

http://www.dreamsstudiobali.com/blog-homepage/

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Gravatar for Mo Ray
Mo Ray April 26, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Goodness! There is so much in this post that makes me smile and dream happy dreams. I am glad to hear and see that both you and your mum had a memorable experience in Bali. One day, I too hope to visit the place that continuously brings people together and radiates refreshing perspectives.

M :)

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 27, 2016 at 8:29 am

Thank you so much for stopping by, M! I'm so glad that this inspires you to visit Bali. Much love x

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Meri April 26, 2016 at 8:08 am

Gorgeous Post Emma, thank you cannot wait to explore Bali with all its beauty, big hugs <3 Meri xx

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 27, 2016 at 8:30 am

Thanks lovely Meri! So excited for the adventure you have ahead. xo

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Katie April 25, 2016 at 7:45 pm

Gorgeous post, lady! I loved Bali when we went but somehow even more through your lens xo

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 27, 2016 at 8:30 am

Thanks, beautiful! xo

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Hannahq April 25, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Thank you so much for your wonderfully honest opinions and views! My husband and I are off to Bali in a few weeks and I am feeling so very inspired. Looking forward to trying a few of your recommendations xx

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Gravatar for Emma Kate Codrington
Emma Kate Codrington April 27, 2016 at 8:31 am

You're so welcome Hannah - I'm glad this post came at the right time! I'd love to hear about your experience if you do try out any of the above places x

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