As we drive through the palatial gardens of InterContinental Bali Resort, the sounds of birds eclipse the beeping horns of Bali’s capital, Denpasar.
This could well be paradise. The resort claims prime real estate along the white shores of Jimbaran Bay, a small alcove at the start of the Uluwatu Peninsula. Red hibiscus and frangipanis line the walkways that weave in and around the lush gardens, past rows of crisp, white sun lounges pointed out to sea. With current travel trends focusing on tree-houses and glamour-tents, it’s easy to forget the sheer indulgence of a classic resort: the ease and comfort of everything you need and want under one (Balinese-thatched) roof.
We’re met with wide smiles and a glass of champagne as we enter the Club Lounge for our private check-in, before being shown to our room. It becomes apparent that this will be a place you don’t need – or want – to leave as we pass the Uluwatu Spa, the gym and two of the three restaurants (Japanese, Indonesian and Italian).
In a private wing of the hotel, our Club InterContinental room has a separate pool (there are six in total), where we retreat from the heat. Before I even glance at a poolside cabana, a member of staff lays down a towel. Even with 417 rooms to administer, the service at the resort is exemplary: a glass is never empty; a need is always anticipated. We claim our spot, throwing down a stack of books before the first of many swims. We spend the day in and out of the pool with pages of my book rapidly consumed at a similar rate to fresh coconuts. I reassure myself that tomorrow I’ll “do” something, but not today.
As the sun recedes, Happy Hour begins. Club guests enjoy complimentary cocktails from 4:30pm to 7:30pm, and we wander barefoot to the Sunset Bar and Grill, aptly named for its uninterrupted views of the horizon. Here we soak up the last of the day’s light, fading to the sound of crashing waves before some traditional Indonesian fare (think satay, sambal and seafood) at Jimbaran Gardens, the hotel’s casual restaurant perched by the pool.
The next morning we walk along the beach towards The Villa Retreat – tucked away in the northern end of the resort – for our private yoga class.
The Villa Retreat is all about R&R: Romance and Relaxation. Specialising in pampering for couples, it has three self-contained villas – each decked out with its own treatment room, garden courtyard and swimming pool. Here – in an open-air pavilion – a friendly, flexible yogi in flowing white linen guides us through an hour-long Hatha class which, despite the ocean breeze, escalates quickly into hot yoga.
We reward our sun salutations and downward dogs with a languid breakfast in the Club Lounge, where a grand piano and mahogany bar are flanked by tables set with fine china and white orchids. In the company of hot coffee, poached eggs and the newspaper, we are perfectly content.
No Bali holiday, though, would be complete without a couples’ massage. We follow the wooden boardwalk back to the Villa Retreat, disappearing into a cool, dark room before re-emerging 90 minutes later shiny and transcendent: a true sign of relaxation.
As the sun sets on our final day in Bali, we bow out in style with dinner at Bella Cucina, the InterContinental’s fine dining Italian restaurant. I even wear shoes.
Open only for dinner, it’s a magical seaside setting with red lanterns dangling from frangipani trees – back-dropped by the starlit sky. The soft light and starched napkins evoke an elegance that is confirmed by the menu. It’s classic Italian interspersed with ingredients such as truffles, burrata cheese and foie gras, and matched by Italian wines and fine champagnes. This is the kind of restaurant you would drive a long distance to enjoy, so the fact our room is less than 150 metres away makes our tiramisu even sweeter.
We toast the weekend over a bottle of Barolo, acknowledging how refreshed we feel after just two days. Maybe it’s the massage oil, but we are definitely glowing.
It’s easy to let our fast-paced, organised lives seep into our holidays. But this trip has reminded me that the biggest luxury is giving yourself permission to have no fixed timetable.
Sometimes when you go half as fast, you experience twice as much. The InterContinental Bali Resort is the perfect place to do just this.
Private swimming pool