Bali Forever

By SuSan RedStone


This tiny Indonesian island offers multiple paths for physical and spiritual rejuvenation.

Matthew wakeM/aurora

Somewhere between watching the mist rise from a rainforest canopy and the mystical experience of hand-feeding elephants on a night safari, the magic of Bali hits you. With colorful Hindu rituals and rich botanical resources, the Balinese are tuned to the nuances of human spirituality and are genuinely warm spa hosts. Whether you’re seeking romance, lighthearted fun or a cultural escape from the modern world, here’s how to find it.

The infinity pool at Ubud Hanging Gardens 21


Jimbaran Puri Bali


The AYANA Resort and Spa and its Aquatonic Pool (right)

romantic escape
Located on the south coast, just 20 minutes from the international airport, Jimbaran Bay’s great beach scene makes it one of Bali’s most visited areas. Here on gently sloping sands, dogs trot with a purpose and fishermen tend their colorful jukungs (small wooden boats) under banyan trees. There are loads of resorts to choose from, but couples seeking extra privacy should look to Jimbaran Puri Bali, an Orient-Express Hotel tucked seductively away from the local chaos of markets and mopeds that are part of daily life here. The cottage suites are cool oases with king-size beds and private gardens. For a romantic trip, we say trade up for a deluxe pool villa, where your frangipani-filled garden holds a moss-covered Javanese slate plunge pool and daybed strewn with pastel batik pillows. Sensual outdoor showers invite intimacy, and the long crescent-shape beach is just steps away for sunbathing, swimming or long walks. The Beach Spa consists of just three

shaded beach-side couples bales plus an outdoor double whirlpool. But don’t be fooled: Authentic Balinese treatments, like the Coffee Scrub (30 minutes, $30), using local coffee and volcanic pumice from nearby Mount Agung, are exquisite and effective. The Four Hands Massage (60 minutes, $77) is synchronized so perfectly it recalls the lapping waves and balmy breezes moving in the same rhythm at the water’s edge just steps away. Cottage rooms from $425, deluxe villas from $750,

Girls’ trip
You’ll have plenty of room to spread out at the opulent AYANA Resort and Spa, also in Jimbaran Bay. The former Ritz-Carlton Bali, it was relaunched in April 2009 under the management of West Paces Hotel Group. Stay in one of 290 luxe hotel rooms — spacious and modern with marble bathrooms and balconies — or upgrade to a multibedroom pool villa with 24-hour butler service and a private pool with daybeds

for lounging. (Note: The resort is huge — 77 acres — so if you’re not in a villa, ask for accommodations close together.) Sunrise yoga, bike tours and cooking or perfume-making workshops are great ways to bond as a group. At the 40-treatment-room Thermes Marins Spa, the main attraction is the world’s largest Aquatonic seawater pool circuit (two hours, $56), complete with 12 hydromassage stations. Or opt for a massage, done with your choice of warmed seashells or lava rocks. When it comes time to hit the town, you’re 30 minutes from Kuta’s thronging beaches, loud bars and scantily clad surfers or Seminyak’s beach-side Ku De Ta restaurant for beautiful peoplewatching. However, AYANA’s open-air Rock Bar, which juts out impressively over the shimmering ocean, is fast becoming the area’s night-life fixture with live bands and DJs playing music reminiscent of Ibiza or Buddha Bar. Rooms from $219, two-bedroom villas from $1,096,

Cultural Quest
Travelers seeking to disconnect from Western life will find joy in the crowdfree surroundings of Ubud, Bali’s cultural hub. Ubud Hanging Gardens is a serene 38-room hotel just outside of town, where one- to three-bedroom villas, cantilevered into the rainforest, feature outdoor bathtubs and private infinity pools. A silent funicular helps guests navigate the resort, gliding from the spa at river level to the lobby on the mountaintop. Midway is the restaurant, where the miragelike view of Pura Desa Ubud temple is a reassuring reminder of the island’s centuries-old culture. At the Ayung Spa, treatment pavilions are open on one side, allowing you to embrace the sounds of the adjacent river (don’t be surprised if a monkey peeps in on your treatment). The treatment menu reads like a grocery list, incorporating ingredients like chocolate, ginger, rice and coconut. Try the Ultimate Chocolate Scrub (60 minutes, $95), where you soak in a bath of milk, honey and melted

Keeping with tradition at Ubud Hanging Gardens, a woman makes morning offerings to the spirits while another tries the coconut and rice scrub at the Ayung Spa (below).

chocolate after a skin polish with fresh harvested cocoa beans. But it’s not all about physical care: You can take classes in cooking and painting and enjoy solo meditation at a local temple. Or seek out a porch-front palm reading (15 minutes, $30) from Eat Pray Love’s medicine man, Ketut Liyer. We waited an hour and a half for our all-too-brief readings, but we’ll never forget his toothless smile. Villas from $450, 23

Matthew wakeM/aurora (2)

Tuscan Fusion
Life moves slowly in Tuscany, Italy, where sunlight bounces off golden stone, butterflies dance across acres of purple-topped rosemary bushes and the aroma of garlic simmered in olive oil perfumes the air, as it has for centuries. But some spas are looking outside the region for cues and infusing exotic touches to their repertoires. These two hotels have mastered the mix. Located atop a hill in the coastal Maremma region, the 12th-century castle hotel Castello di Vicarello was lovingly restored by winemakers Aurora and Carlo Baccheschi Berti. Ringed by olive groves and vineyards, the hotel’s primary appeal is classic Tuscany: Think seven stately guest rooms and organic produce grown on the grounds. The surprise comes in the quaint spa where ayurvedic treatments are performed by a therapist whom the owners met in Kerala, India; custom yoga classes are led by a yoga master from India. Our recipe for a perfect day: the Pancha Karma Massage (60 minutes, $172), followed by a cooking class taught by Aurora, author of the recently released cookbook, My Tuscan Kitchen (Rizzoli, 2011). Rooms from $546,

Castello di Vicarello

The 45-room Il Salviatino sits perched on a hill in Fiesole. Created by hotelier Marcello Pigozzo, this dazzlingly 15th-century villa spoils with crisp linen sheets, butler-style service and heart-stopping views of the Florence skyline below. In the villa’s garden, the contemporary Spa soothes with an unexpected Thai meets Tuscan theme. This haven of dark wood and meditative whites has Thai-imported therapists as well as offerings that utilize homemade local remedies, like honey and lavender. After a day spent exploring hill-town vineyards, try the apropos After Wine Tasting Retreat (120 minutes, $345) which features a detoxifying thermo caramel mud wrap. Rooms from $638, — Becca Hensley

Il Salviatino


opened in april 2010, the 350-room Hyatt Regency cuRacao golf ReSoRt, Spa and maRina has received rave reviews for its location: tucked into a sheltered cove with a sandy beach and sublime snorkeling — and every guest room looks out to sea. Inside the fourroom atabei Spa, local herbs like sweet lupine and wild mango from the garden of islander Dinah veeris form the core of treatments. we loved the Curacao Laraha Scrub (60 minutes, $120), which incorporates the bitter orange peels used in distilling the island’s namesake liqueur, and the Stemps Massage (60 minutes, $130; 90 minutes, $180), a traditional healing technique that uses hand-tied poultices soaked in warm oil and filled with lavender, chamomile, rose, yerba beuna and Curacao basil. think of them as hot stones with handles — a natural antidote for muscles tired out by playing in the Caribbean sun. Rooms from $279, — Michael Nassar

Double Dutch


IL SaLvIatIno: antonIo PIStILLo


Hungover? Here’s the Rub
I can’t say I am partial to rum, but vacationing in Jamaica and not drinking it is like going to Oktoberfest and not having a beer. Handed a planter’s punch upon check-in at Round Hill Hotel and Villas, one of Montego Bay’s most elegant resorts (Ralph Lauren is a shareholder and was there during my visit), I graciously sipped. It was good — and strong. I nursed it for an hour before switching to rum mixed with ginger beer. By dinnertime, I’d staggered back into my comfort zone, ordering a sauvignon blanc and several pinot noirs. At midnight, I knew the world would be fuzzy come dawn — which is exactly what I wanted. I’d signed up for the resort’s Signature Hangover Massage (50 minutes, $125) just to see if it works. Slipping on my dark sunglasses the next morning, I headed to the spa, located in an 18th-century great house, where I confessed my binge to my masseuse, Cassandra, and told her to rub the overindulgence out of my system. She slathered me with her secret weapon (oil infused with toxin-clearing Jamaican sweet basil) and then went to work with strong rhythmic strokes coupled with a bit of lymphatic drainage and some gentle stretching. After 50 minutes, I smelled like pesto and felt remarkably better — not 100 percent, but definitely good enough to survive a two-hour van ride to Ocho Rios, where, much to my delight, more rum punch awaited. Rooms from $305, — Donna Heiderstadt



Coveted reservation
After traveling 20-plus hours to Krabi, we were craving some serious pampering to cushion our landing. That’s just what we got at Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Opened in December 2009, it’s the first and only Reserve property in the world. A big step up from the typical Ritz-Carlton, Phulay Bay has a personality all its own. In the 54 opulent villas, traditional Thai murals grace 20-foot walls, and double-size king beds seem made for giants. Each also comes with an attentive butler who happily whisks you around the rolling grounds in a golf cart. Our first stop: the ESPA spa, with serene Thai touches like an outdoor vitality pool overlooking the lush jungle and 11 spacious treatment rooms in traditional pavilions. We tried the holistic energy balancing ritual (120 minutes, $225), using exfoliation, massage and volcanic stones. But even better was the Thai massage (80 minutes, $170), where we were provided soft, loose pajamas to wear before being stretched and massaged in the country that invented the technique. The spoiling doesn’t stop back at your villa: On request, your butler will graciously draw a candlelit bath in the private outdoor courtyard. Rooms from $575, — Erika Hueneke


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