Bali has long been a favourite destination for travellers looking for an affordable, relaxing and easy holiday, but in recent years, Indonesia’s playground has been attracting a new wave of luxury hunters.
Stunning oceanside villas and isolated mountain getaways are a world away from the bustling nightlife of Kuta and the laid back surfing trips that have previously typified a Balinese adventure.
Today, you’ll see plenty of swanky luggage among the duffle bugs and surfboards on the baggage carousel at Denpasar’s Bali Ngurah Rai Airport as more and more discerning travellers arrive to sample the tropical decadence.
Here’s five examples of what’s driving the new Bali buzz.
Grand Cliff-Front Residence
The Grand Cliff-Front Residence Villas in Uluwatu are typically what you’d see on celebrity Instagram accounts.
To sample life like the rich and famous, accommodation at this five-star cliff-front residence on the Bukit Peninsula will set you back around USD 1600 per night.
What do you get for that? Apart from spectacular views from every window, the three-bedroom villa with guest wing includes a media room, marble bathrooms, massage room, infinity pool, Jacuzzi and plenty more luxury touches like butlers, a chauffeur and fresh flowers.
If you feel like entertaining in-house, there’s a chef on site and a 12-seat dining table to saddle up to or you can visit the resort’s DiMare gourmet restaurant or nearby Karma Beach Club.
There’s also a pristine white-sand beach accessible only to resort guests via cable tram that travels up and down the cliff face.
Tree Tops Villa
Ever heard of Nyanyi? This sleepy little village is well off the beaten track but home to some of Bali’s most secluded and stunning villas. Designed by Melbourne architect Darryl Johns, Tree Tops Villa immerses you in lush tropical gardens emerging from the lower decks.
One road leads in and out of this exclusive haven that overlooks a babbling river from the massage gazebo and infinity-edge pool. There are only five villas on site so it’s never crowded – only the resident butterfly populations compete for space.
Each villa boasts King-sized beds, private riverfront decks and traditional Balinese design.
Tree Tops is an eight-minute drive from Tanah Lot – the perfect spot to take in an epic sunset. And you can also enjoy nearby Nyanyi Beach which is one of Bali’s few remaining hidden surf spots.
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This eco-friendly villa is arguably the most desirable accommodation at the jungle retreat, Villa Awang Awang. Built with natural materials including local bamboo and stone, Villa Pererepan was purposely designed by ‘green architects’ to harmonise with its environment and have as little impact as possible.
Steps lead down from the main resort into a tropical valley filled with native wildlife. Forest vistas flow throughout the villa, from the infinity pool outside to the open-plan living room with bamboo-framed glass walls inside.
The king-sized bed features a natural latex mattress and bamboo linen purposely chosen due to their natural antimicrobial properties. The bathroom boasts a free-formed stone bath and rain shower. You may get the occasional visit from on one the local geckos that live in the surrounding forest.
There’s no on-site restaurant but Asian and Western meals made from locally-sourced ingredients are delivered to rooms by in-house staff.
Villa Laksmana Hideaway
The enclave of 11 luxury villas at Villa Laksmana Hideaway is right in the heart of the action at popular Seminyak.
You wouldn’t know you’re surrounded by restaurants, bars and shops though, this exclusive estate is also very private.
The individually designed and decorated villas range in size from one to seven bedrooms, and all with private pools and a chef.
The estate’s easy access to Petitenget Beach, the eat street of Jalan Laksmana and Tanah Lot (18km), means you can seamlessly mix your relaxed indulgence with sightseeing and entertainment.