MANDALA OPENS IN UBUD

The most recent addition to the Ritz-Carlton “Reserve” brand of one-of-a-kind resorts, set in hand-picked destinations, opened last month (subs: Sept) in Ubud in Bali’s southern highlands. Set on a dreamy bend of the Ayung River where the velvet-green jungle meets emerald-green rice paddies, Mandapa is a village-style concept resort with 35 suites, 24 pool villas and four restaurants. Eat like a king with tailor-made menus or detox on riverfront yoga, juiceology and alternative healing therapies. There’s even a Green Camp with nature-based educational activities for kids. Mandapa Bali has suites from $762 including breakfast.

See ritzcarlton.com.

ALILA OPENS IN SEMINYAK

Renowned across Indonesia for its bold and boisterous architecture, Alila Hotels has opened their fifth property in Bali. Breathing into the Indian Ocean and backdropped by the writhing neon-lit metropolis of Seminyak, this 240 room pleasure-dome is interconnected by shimmering swimming pools that cascade from vertical gardens. A stay at Alila Seminyak is also about giving back. It’s the first resort in Indonesia to beat the rigorous EarthCheck operating standards, it connects its guests with important voluntourism projects, and it donates and collects funds for two neighbouring schools and The Anak-Anak Harapan Children’s Home. Alila Seminyak is offering a three-night opening special for $890 plus a small donation for the hotel’s education fund.

See alilahotels.com.

AMAN GETS COOKING IN EAST BALI

From the über-luxurious resort brand that makes five-star look a little ordinary, Aman’s new Balinese culinary journeys starting in 2016 will delve deep into the spiritual heart of island. Winding through lush green rice fields under the shadow of Mount Agung, tours will take a maximum of four guests to the steamy mangosteen orchards at Manggis, a free-range duck farm, the Black Sands Kusamba where Balinese have produced natural sea salt for hundreds of years, and a breezy coconut plantation near Jasri Beach for some organic chocolate tasting. Round off the day with a cooking class and late lunch at Aman’s Amankila Resort on Bali’s southeast coast where executive chef Vincent Batten teaches budding Balinese master chefs how to blend and prepare the spicy pastes that are the essence of Indonesian cookery. Amankila’s east Bali culinary tours, $320 per person. Cooking classes are $200 a person.

See aman.com

WINEMAKING. YES

Hidden between the villages of Seririt and Pemuteran on Bali’s barely visited north coast are the vineyards of Hatten Wines. Using specially designed overhead trellises that create cool microclimates, the company grows Alphonse Lavallée, a black table grape from France, to produce seven different wines. Hatten’s new observation tower and welcome centre has plush sofas and floor-to-ceiling glass walls where visitors can taste Balinese wine while admiring the vines. In 2016, Hatten is introducing VIP helicopter vineyard tours plus wine and gourmet weekenders that include a visit to a nearby pearl farm and overnight stay at Puri Ganesha Villa in the laid-back beach town of Pemuteran. “Anyone with an interest wines and winemaking will be interested in our vineyard and the way we think,” says Hutton spokeswoman Maryse LaRocque. Hatten wine Welcome Deck @ Observation Centre, Jalan Seririt-Gilimanuk, North Bali. Open Mon-Sat 10AM-4:30PM. See hattenwines.com.

TIGER LEAPS INTO BALI

Tigerair Australia is leaping into the international market with direct flights to Bali from Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth starting in March, with fare prices that are going to hurt existing airlines. “Bali is a year-round favourite destination visited by more than one million Australians last year. Now it will become even more accessible,” Tigerair Australia boss Rob Sharp says. What about their planes? Will they rattle and hum? How will they stack up to the opposition? Pretty similarly, in fact. Tiger will fly preloved Virgin Boeing 737-800 aircraft reconfigured with all-economy seating and five rows of seats with extra legroom at the front of each plane.

GO2 Tigerair flights to Bali start at $209 from Perth, $246 from Adelaide or $319 from Melbourne. 1300 174266, www.tigerair.com.au.

AN OLDIE BUT A GOODIE ...

With so much to see and do, it’s easy to get swept up in Bali. Before your holiday ends, take time out to see at least one sunset. For a Balinese sunset with everything on the side, sashay down to Ku De Ta (kudeta.net), the world-famous restaurant-cum-day club in Seminyak where swimsuit models, families with screaming kids and Balinese hawkers intertwine. On Jimbaran Bay, the Four Seasons’ Sundara (fourseasons.com) combines a Heminway-esque restaurant, open-air terrace bar and an infinity-edge pool lined with daybeds for sunsets with panache. Further down south at the cliff of Uluwatu, Impossible Beach is so named because of the difficulty in accessing this surf mecca that lies 100m below the rocky escarpment. Guests at Anantara Uluwatu (anantara.com) score instant access via the resort’s private lift. Score a beanbag on Anantara’s overwater sundeck or soak in a natural rock pool while the sun melts into the horizon and surfers make their slow pilgrimage back to shore.

Originally published as Why you need to go to Bali in 2016

 

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