Wild parties by the sea, jazzed up bars and fancy restaurants with a little bit of Eastern exoticism seem to define Bali these days. With a reputation that now seems more seedy than serene; this once tropical oasis appears to be losing its hold as one of the most coveted beach locales in the world.
As a child, I had visited Bali and had fallen in love with its warm hospitality, wide expanses of tranquil paddy fields, glorious local cuisine, stretches of fine sandy beaches and mystical Hinduism. It was a land filled with endless wonder and I simply refused to give up on it. When my in-laws, aunts and uncles decided to visit Asia for the very first time, I was determined to find and show them the Bali I remembered. So, began a journey of nostalgia in a land still filled with marvel.
The key to unlocking the secret of any great holiday is to stay away from the tourist traps. In the age of the internet where photographs and reviews are free for all, this is not hard. It just requires some research on independent websites and a wee bit of common sense.
Determined to uncover the charms that I know still exist in Bali, I embarked on a search for the ideal place to rest our weary heads. With a comfortable base from which to launch our Bali extravaganza the battle is half won!
I discovered that villas offered the best bang for your buck. Unlike hotels, villas offer flexibility with a personal touch. Instead of sharing the facilities with hoards of other tourists, you get the privacy of being able to swim at midnight should that catch your fancy.
Villas come equipped with full butler service, drivers and pools. Some even offer their own badminton courts and ping pong tables! Imagine a day of being driven from beach to beach by your driver, arriving back in the evening to a smiling staff, ordering a massage in the comfort of your villa to sooth out tired muscles with candlelit dinner and cocktails by your private pool to follow!
For our group of 14, I settled on the Villa Saba, a villa complex consisting of 5 villas (2 two-bed villas and 3 one-bed villas). Each had a private pool. To cater to a complexity of needs, we had to organise a variety of activities to keep everyone happy. In this, the Villa Saba scored full marks!