Despite being well-trodden by tourist, Bali can still surprise the holiday-maker who takes the road less travelled. There are places deep in the pastoral heart of Bali, away from the camera-toting crowds of Kuta, Legian and ubud, that provide a spiritual respite and a deep communion with nature. Such places have an energy that artists and writers seek, to find inspiration for their work.
And it is this quality that has drawn many investors to build a “temple” at the site to tap into energies both environtmental and elemental, to provide a well appointed resting place where the city and work weary can recharge and rejuvenate call it sanctuary if you like.
Accessed via a series of narrow, winding roads often flanked on both sides by house or rice fields stretching as far as the eye can see the Anahata Villa and Spa Resort just north of Ubud is known to few locals and even fewer travelers. The 12 villas at the top of a gentle climb are furnished in five star comfort.
Built as a family retreat, each villa has three levels: at ground level, enter the living and dining rooms attached to a kitchen; downstairs are two bed rooms with ensuite bathrooms and a small living area with a patio, which opens out onto the private plunge pool and garden; the very spacious master bedroom is on the top level, complete with a kinky shower which features a glass wall- so you can watch while your partner takes a shower!
The modern Balinese villas all face the main pool and gardens, and the drop of the lanc beyond, so the view from the balcony is superb. Follow the pebble-paved stairway and it will take you down to the Petanu river. At the bottom is a natural pool the colour of jade, translucent and shimmering. There are many perfect places on earth, and this is one of them. It is always cool here in the protective green shade of te surrounding flora. Imagine meditating on the wooden deck folating on the water…in such serene spots we are a step closer to transcending the self and getting in touch with the soul, becoming one with nature.
Kundalini yoga lessons, focusing on breathing techniquers, are free during the weekends (Fridays-Sundays); on other days, there is a small fee for the one and a half hour class. The yoga exercise are calming and energizing, helping to increase focus and clear the mind.
Anahata has a full spa and massage menu, including a herbal backrub, rice scrub, slimming treatment, shiatsu, acupressure massage and one for honeymooners and couples using a specially blended oil said to have the aroma of love! The massage can be arranged in the privacy of your villa or outdoors in one of the gazebos. A vegetarian diet can also be arranged.
The possibilities while enjoying a stay here are numerous. The rice fields surrounding the resort are particularly tempting. It is extremely soothing just to sit in the middle off all that greenery. An entire morning can be whiled away with the friendly farmers to learn from them why there is no need to make haste; they never seem to be in any hurry.
Children have fun in the fields pretending to be scarecrows to shoo away the birds from pecking at the rice or running after the bebek – most of the bebek end up as crispy skinned duck, a Balinese specially. Join the Balinese children at kite flying, something that will surely make the spirit soar as well.
Another idea world be to spend the morning with a good book in one of the pavilions in the sprawling garden, reposing among the white cushions. White clad pavilions somehow speak of romance and the luxe life.
It is a great place to cure you of retail therapy nonsense you have fallen into in the city – in such great surroundings, walking barefoot gets you “earthed” again and shopping will be the furthest thing from your mind – anyway, you really don’t need yet another sarong or tacky beaded bag or wooden duck.
Explore the villages, go on a guided trek, or go biking and horse riding. Conceived as a family retreat, the resort is completely child friendly. For the enthusiastic cook, Ubud is only 15 minutes away, and you can visit the market or sign up for the Balinese cooking classes offered by several reaturants in town
Various packages are available, from Family, Spa or Yoga to those just for honeymooners and couple. A 2N/3D couples package for example, is about RM1500, inclusive of a spa treatment, Balinese dinner, daily breakfast, etc. Check the website for the latest prices.
The resort is located in Tampak Siring, a 10 minute drive from Ubud, and over an hour’s drive from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. The room package is inclusive of airport transfers, which saves you a lot of trouble figuring out how to get there. For self drive holidays, a good map is essential; always stop and check your directions with the locals (a rough guide is available on the website). Bear in mind that you may sometimes need to ask half a dozen people before you get pointed in the right direction, or before you find someone who knows that you are talking about – and that’s generally how it is when you navigate Bali by road. The Balinese are always helpful and are full of good intensions, but they don’t always have good knowledge of their own villages. Live grooves to a different beat here.