One is in the centre of Bali’s hippest neighbourhood; the other a quiet retreat surrounded by mountains and sea. But despite the scenery, both of these villas make it tempting to spend your entire holiday in.
We just can’t stop going to Bali. Maybe it’s the Seminyak sunsets, or the café scene and beach clubs that still kick Singapore’s ass (there, we said it); the independent designers and boutiques, or the island lifestyle that’s infinitely more relaxed than ours. No surprises why we’re toying with the idea of making Bali our second home. And in that fantasy life, we’d be living in these two spectacular villas dreamt up by Elite Havens: The Layar in Seminyak and The Samadhana in quiet Ketewel.
We’d never stayed in a villa before.
It’s not like there was any particular aversion or obscure phobia; we just seemed to default to resorts.
Sure, we knew people – families, grouped couples, sometimes ungrouped couples – who stayed in villas, but it had never occurred to us that WE should stay in villas.
Now it has. And we may just struggle to go back.
The Layar is slap bang in the centre of Seminyak, a walk (or golf buggy ride) to all the restos, bars and boutiques that are the reason we’re all here (and especially the reason my wife is here). Sisterfields is a meander ’round the corner, and Grocer and Grind is across the road when Sisterfields is full.
Despite being so close to the buzz, it’s quiet… and spacious. Really, unnecessarily spacious, perhaps to underscore that you could almost not be in the centre of Seminyak. You could be forgiven for digging in and just blissing out in the villa for days, but then, of course, you’d miss out on eating at Merah Putih or pretending to meet each other in the pool of Potato Head Beach Club, chatting each other up and making out among the wasted 20-somethings.
Our four-bedder is large enough for a holiday with the crew (sans kids? Even better!) or a huge family get-together. It’s a modern and somewhat daring architectural vision, with the kind of indoor-outdoor floorplan (bedrooms, TV room and private spa, IN; kitchen, living, dining, OUT) that gets you wondering how many walls you can pull out at home.
Ah, and the pool; also very architectural, adjacent to this charming tree dropping red flowers into the water for someone else to scoop out.
The staff equip us with toys and inflatables (and even install a pool-fence for the kids). They also make epic breakfasts, a mean mee goreng, and can even bring over some wood-fired pizza from the adjoining resto. It’s mighty tempting just to sit by the pool for days in your little garden, watching flowers drop into the water while ordering in, and mooching about your indoor-outdoor future pad making mental notes on floor-to-ceiling light fittings and the joy of ultra-high couch-to-people ratios. Or you can graze your way through the in-villa spa menu. Did we mention there’s a room next to that pool just for that?
The Layar, Jalan Pangkung Sari No.10 X, Seminyak, Bali 80361, Indonesia
Directly East from Seminyak and then up the coast a bit, Ketewel is unheard of. Literally – by everyone I know in Bali.
I have no idea what the town is like, as I really don’t leave Villa Samadhana for three days. If The Layar is central and spacious, Villa Samadhana is remote-ish – and palatial.
Occupying enormous grounds that our four-year-old refers to as the “park”, this is not one villa, but rather an accumulation of bedroom suites and living and entertainment areas, indoor and outdoor, joined by stepping-stone paths or separated by ponds full of koi and arowana (monster fish).
It’s sumptuous and elegant, with a slightly charmingly-faded air that makes it all the more welcoming. It feels lived in and loved, instantly the kind of place you’ve always wanted for a cherished biannual family holiday spot or decadent retirement summer pad.
Each of the bedrooms has a unique feel, and the master is a stunning series of reading pavilion, entertainment room, bedroom, dressing room and, naturally, indoor-outdoor bathroom.
The pool is sublime (top image), even lovelier than its glimpse of the ocean. Next to it, the grandest poolhouse in existence has a sprawling billiard table, bar and outdoor TV den.
The staff (at least 10 of them) seem absolutely devoted to the place – and to making us devoted to the place. The two chefs are brilliant, serving up some of the best local food we’ve tasted. There’s also a driver – if you lose your mind and decide to venture out – and, more sensibly, order-in spa treatments.
The time passes in a slow-yet-quick blur of gourmandising, garden strolls, pool-lounging, reading-pavilioning, and, yes, billiards, all the while trying not to count down the days ’til we have to step back out into reality. Into a world without villas.
Villa Samadhana, Jl. Raya Rangkan, Ketewel, Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80361, Indonesia
For yet more jaw-dropping photos of the Layar and Samadhana, as well as info, rates, and other stunning villa options, visit elitehavens.com