An island to dream of... That's what attracted Jane Corser to Bali 25 years ago, as she then made Bali her island home and built the beautiful Villa Bella to help spread this Bali Love. Here is her story and insders guide to Bali of favourite Bali places to experience
Everyone asks us about the best things to do & where to go in Seminyak – our Insiders Guide to Bali – but it’s not that easy: Where do you start!? There’s so [so!] much to see, do, eat, drink, experience and love across Bali, so we’re bringing you the inside track to it all by sharing the address book favourites of some of Bali’s most interesting and creative locals & business people. Here, we share the story and recommendations of Jane Corser, who moved to Bali 25 years ago from Australia [via Greece & India, naturally!] and has created the heavenly haven of Villa Bella in Kerobokan [Seminyak’s neighbour].
You can see from the beautiful design and decor of Villa Bella, not to mention the fabulous stories Jane shares of Balinese culture and her incredible staff, that her Bali love affair still continues every day. It’s straight out of the pages of your favourite magazine, so get Insta-ready if you’re lucky enough to stay there. Villa managers Nyoman and Ketut who have been with Jane for the whole years, can arrange many own special touches such as full moon and other ceremonial blessings or healing sessions. Jane’s divine story isn’t common here in Bali, but her vision and personal touches certainly are. Enjoy!
How long have you been coming to Bali?
I first started coming to Bali as a little girl in the 70’s with my parents. After finishing high school I jumped on a plane and went to live in India for a while, on my way back home I stopped in Bali with a friend – and was so amazed – I stayed.. It was very hard to leave…
What first attracted you to Bali and keeps you loving Bali?
Bali then was a true paradise! The island had such a magnetic pull and you really felt the magic in the air. You met so many characters here, it was a mix of the most amazing group of eclectic people…The island was really untouched I remember the days when it was very un-cool to even have a car, it was all dirt roads. We were all pioneers in a sense – loving the island and figuring out ways to stay and make our lives here. We started businesses, we were having babies and then even international schools started being set up. It was a melting pot of great creative travellers and expats – and this still holds true today.
Bali has changed so much but you still feel this magic, this spirit of the island… I keep loving Bali for the memories that I hold and of course the beautiful Balinese people. I have a Balinese family, they have helped me run my villa for almost 25 years now and they have played a huge role in Bali becoming my home.
Why did you create your own villa in Bali and what’s special about it?
I built for my family knowing that I was going to stay here with my child – I really wanted to create my dream home. I wanted land with a lot of garden space and to have this great view – I just love watching the sunset over the rice fields. I had spent a fair bit of time in Greece, and loved the aesthetics and the feeling of the Mediterranean architecture: the way the light plays in the homes and the atmosphere it creates, I found this also in Bali. Essentially, it was the relationship between the interior and exterior spaces – all about the feeling of the house.
I wanted to build a home that was open to the nature and a home that you could move through fluidly. We didn’t have visitors for the first couple of years as the road was really bad to get here. Now I feel so lucky that I chose this village, it is still so beautiful and has remainded nicely as this untouched cul-de-sac in quiet a growing area. I find it hard to leave here in the mornings and it is always pleasure to get back at the end of the day.
What does Villa Bella offer that is unique to other villas in Seminyak?
We have a great location (Banjar Kuwum II) that still has the feel of a tranquil traditional village, yet we’re in such close proximity to all the desirable locations of Seminyak, Petitenget and Canggu. So, you’re really at the heart of everything but you’re staying in this beautiful unspoiled/untouched space.There’s an authenticity to the villa that is reminiscent of ‘old school’ Bali and I am really proud of this. Villa Bella itself, is an experience – from our amazing team of staff, its interiors and the special services we offer, such as the Balinese healer we recommend – It is truly a great villa for the Mind, Body & Soul.
Your advice in recommending Bali visitors to get the most out their Bali holiday:
Enjoy what ‘downtown’ Bali has to offer: cafes, dining, shopping, salons & spas, the works – but that’s the obvious… Get out discover the rest of the beautiful Island as well. The culture and history is truly mystical and there are parts of the island that are just breathtaking, eg the drive to Pemuteran (North-West coast) and to Tejakula (North-East coast) are two of the most stunning in the world. You can go out on an adventure and you will find ancient temples, waterfalls, volcanos and along the way, you will be going through these fascinating villages and meeting the lovely Balinese.
Favourite must-do Bali experiences across the island:
Full Moon temple blessing at Petitenget Temple;
White Water Rafting & lunch after at the wonderful Bambu Indah in Ubud;
A cleanse at Tempak Siring water temple (just outside of Ubud);
Sunrise climb Mt Agung;
Traditional Mandi Lulur (massage scrub and flower petal bath) at Nurs in Ubud – The first & original salon.
FAVOURITE BALI ADDRESSES:
Cafe Bali and Revolver (Jalan Oberoi) for breakfasts & coffee, Zuchini on Batu Belig for healthy options; KAFE in Ubud for cakes and coffee; Biku on Jalan Pettitenget in Seminyak; Cafe Avocado in Canggu, & Bali Buddah for healthy options & home delivery.
Casa Luna in Ubud has the best Coconut Ice Cream in the world! Bambu Indah is an amazing raw kitchen with stunning views, also in Ubud. Locally we love La Lucciola and Metis in Pettitenget, for beautiful fine dining.
Uluwatu, La Lucciola, Jimbaran Fish Markets, La Laguna (Canggu) and Villa Bella, of course.
Kids/family fun out:
Kalyan (Legian/Seminyak), Sabia and Johnny Studio – Jalan Petitenget, WIRAS (upstairs) in Kuta for fabrics bed sheets & vintage pieces, Metis Gallery for expensive treasures, Carga on Jalan Petitenget and Bungalow Living in Canggu for their interiors and gifts.
Health & wellness:
Motion Fitness (Petitenget) for fantastic classes with amazing trainers; Bodyworks in Petitenget for beauty treatments; Nurs in Ubud for traditional Mandi Lulur, and Alchemy Ubud for Mind Body & Soul; Yoga at Desa Seni and The Practice in Canggu.
For Local Bali experiences/eating:
Warung Melati on Jalan Double Six, Warung Murah in Petitenget, visiting a temple, going for a sunset walk on the beach when all the locals are unwinding after work and getting yourself a fresh coconut to enjoy. Mix it up with traditional beauty treatments at Nurs in Ubud.
Describe Your Bali in 5 words:
Photo credits: Villa Bella, The Vista, Anthony Dodds and Garance Dore.