THE scene from more than a decade ago has not changed much, locals and tourists gather by the beachfront to catch the sunset sipping on cocktails and beers.
With the surfers and backpackers outnumbering the luxury tourists, the beachside shacks ruled the shoreline scene where it was more relaxed, drinks cost less and locals were regulars.
With Bali turning into one of Southeast Asia’s major destinations, tourists pour in great numbers at any time of the year. Today, the game has been upped and the coastline is prime property. Luxury has taken over the scene that even the shacks have become fancier to attract the tourists. The battle for patronage has gotten stiffer.
Sun worship has gotten rather dear, if you opt to be in one of these most sought after haunts along the Seminyak beach. These spots got me curious because it’s what I’ve been told to check out, so I did. Just like before, I used the beach as the access road to these popular joints—Potato Head, Ku De Ta and W Hotel’s Wet.
Spaced a distance from each other, it’s easy to locate these bars, just let the sound of the music lead you to them. Coming near each establishment, people are lining up by the entrances to enter.
The vibe of each place is pretty much the same. A house DJ spinning to a mixed crowd of international sun worshippers frolicking in the pool and on the daybeds by it, and on the open-air upper and lower sundecks that offers an unobstructed view of the Indian Ocean where the famed Balinese sun sets.
Potato Head “seem to lead” the pack along coastline. Why it came highly recommended among the day to night to wee hours party crowd was soon revealed to me in a case of “if you build it, they will come.”
The Beach Club’s architectural detailing is impressive. So Bali chic, the modern structure draws the eye to its most prominent detail inspired by Rome’s Colosseum—a towering elliptical facade of mismatch 18th century teak window shutters collected from across the Indonesian archipelago. It wraps the ocean-facing property to include two restaurants facing a wide lawn that leads to the infinity pool.
Packaged with a menu that promises good food prepared by a slew of chefs, creative cocktails masterminded by a mixologist, and priced “accordingly”, it attracts its target young and hip spenders and the curious tourists alike.
Ku De Ta, which opened in 2000, is said to have pioneered the “meeting place for the global village” concept in Bali with a blueprint that fused modern and minimalist with Balinese open air concept. The result, “an uninterrupted flow of energy” from the beach to the garden deck through the dining area to the entrance, is dubbed as timeless.
A decade and a half after, the tropical lifestyle destination is still on the list of best places to be making it a Balinese icon. Unchanged is its reputation as a good dining spot, attentive and gracious service, and the constant attractions of big name international performers.
WET is not a beach club but an amenity of the W Hotel. The huge irregular shaped swimming pool that mimics the Indonesian rice fields and the pool deck is for the exclusive use of the hotel guests. However, the popular and hip brand lures in walk-in patrons who wants to have a sip of a signature cocktail at sunset or have a souvenir shot by the logo on the beachfront (which I’m guilty of). After sundown, the crowd thins out to move to another spot.
If one comment I received held true, it is that geography defines the body type. While the surfing spots along the Canggu coastline gathers the lean, muscled bodies formed by the sport, the leisure-touristy Seminyak seaside pool clubs are the best places to spot the gym toned (and buffed) bodies.
With kilometers of coastline, Bali is host to a good number of beach clubs, restaurants and bars that puts “with a stunning view of the ocean and sunset” on top of its list and several are raved about.
At moonrise, the scene away from the ocean gets exciting.
Nighttime haunts in Bali are aplenty. The first time I visited, I scoured Bali’s nightscape, which had few bars and dance clubs. Today, it’s the opposite—on both accounts. The number of bars has increased and my need to see them decreased. With age comes a shift in priorities. However, I am not to be a killjoy in the company of good friends way younger than me, so I tagged along.
La Favela, along Jalan Kayu Aya or Oberoi Road, is very popular on this strip among locals and tourists. Muscled doormen guard the entrance making sure everyone who passes is above 18, which makes me believe this is more of a watering hole rather than a restobar.
The crowd is thick after dining hours inside this establishment with an al fresco area at the rear past the bar, maybe as thick as the cigarette smoke that can double as a fog machine but in an unhealthy kind of way. If you’re a nicotine junkie, then you’d feel at home here.
I like the interior of this place. It’s a mash up of vintage furniture and accessories that come together in a cohesive way, perhaps just like the music, an unpredictable line up of retro to current that seem to work for everyone (well, mostly) in the club.
My stay in Bali was short but sweet, and I barely scratched the surface of the culinary and bar scene. Well, that’s good enough reason to head back. Join me?
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