Jimbaran Bay, Bali: Eat, Stay, Do

After five amazing days at the Viceroy, we were genuinely sad to leave this morning. It seems all the staff knew of our departure as they all thanked us for coming, wished us well and hoped to see us again. Overall, we would rate this one of the top hotel experiences of our lives. We will be back.

Traffic near Denpasar stretched what should have been an hour’s long transfer into a two-hour journey. But, met with a cool towel and welcome drink while taking in sweeping ocean views from the lobby of the Four Seasons, any stress melted away.

Here’s where we stayed, what we did and ate during our five days in Jimbaran Bay, a former fishing village that many are now predicting will be the next Bali “it” location.

Stay.
The Four Seasons is a 150 all villa property sitting on 35 acres at the far end of Jimbaran Bay. The compound took upwards of 2 years and 4,000 workers to construct – and it shows. It’s a massive resort and, to be honest, after the intimacy of the Viceroy, we had our doubts that it could provide the same level of service.

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We were completely wrong.

To start, after being brought to our villa (number 238) by “buggy” (or golf cart), we entered an immaculate courtyard and garden, complete with Balinese sculptures and a temple. In the outdoor living space, we had a dining room, a pair of chaise loungers and a plunge pool. Views through the garden were out to the ocean.

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Inside, a pillow topped bed, free standing tub and rain shower. Oh, and just in case, a private outdoor shower in the side garden. Yeah, this place would do.

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The hotel has a nice sized infinity pool by the lobby as well as a beach club called Coconut Grove, a short walk or buggy ride from the villa. The pool and club are served by attendants setting up your towels, bringing ice water, fresh fruit – even cleaning your sunglasses! Breakfast, an over the top affair of buffet and hot menu items, was served from a Balinese pagoda – complete with koi pond – overlooking the pool with traditional live music.

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But back to the service, which was phenomenal. The entire staff has walkie talkies in their ears. It’s a little strange at first until you realize they’re essentially one step ahead of what your needs are – delivering on what you want, or what you think you want, before you even ask.

The one potential downside of the hotel, its proximity to the airport, proved to be not much of a downside. Yes, there was a view off in the distance of planes occasionally taking off and landing, but there was rare audible disruption and the reality is that on a small island like Bali, planes are everywhere.

Do.
These five days were our opportunity to unplug, read and relax. We wanted to forget what day of the week it was and what time it was. This was almost too easy to do.

We spent our first and most of our second day at the resort, splitting time between our private villa pool, the hotel’s infinity pool and the beach club. In the afternoon of our second day, we took a taxi into Seminyak, a flashy little town that felt like South Beach. We checked out lots of boutique shops, massive pink Buddhas and did some serious people watching.

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Our third day, we were back on the beach. That night, we attempted to watch the sunset from the Rock Bar at the Ayana but got turned away because a wedding party had taken it over.

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The fourth day, we took a private snorkeling trip with Jet Set Marine. The drive to Tulamben on the East coast of Bali was a bit much (over 2 hours) but did give us an opportunity to check out some parts of the island that we had not yet seen. When we arrived, the ocean was rough and visibility was low, so we tried the nearby town of Amed, whose volcanic beach is black. Visibility was much better there and we scoped out blue starfish, long trumpet fish and neon angel fish. On our way home, we stopped at Bali Antique, a massive antiques stores, and found some great pieces that we sent by way of container ship back to Boston.

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Our last day, we considered taking a day trip to Finn’s Beach Club but ultimately decided to just hang out at the villa. Late that afternoon, we took a taxi to Uluwatu, the oldest temple in Bali situated precariously on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately, the crowds were a bit overwhelming and the monkeys, aggressive and overbearing.

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Having to do it over again, we probably would have not done the snorkeling day trip. Jimbaran Bay and the Four Seasons is about relaxing and the beach. That’s the extent of what you should accomplish there.

Eat.
Most of our meals were had at the Four Seasons and they were all excellent. The breakfast offered both a cold buffet and an a la carte off menu option. The daily juice specials, in particular the mango soursop, were killer. We had several lunches, like prawn BLTs and wagyu beef burgers, there were also quite good. Finally, dinners, including a surf & turf meal with a mountain of shrimp on a bed on the beach, as well as a spectacular beach buffet with every conceivable Indonesian dish to celebrate the country’s independence day were spectacular.

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We had not anticipated eating most of our meals at the hotel. That’s not usually our plan. We had made dinner reservations at restaurants in Seminyak but realized after our first day that the construction traffic made the trip not worth it. A taxi that should have been 15-20 minutes could take almost 2 hours. We did squeeze in one meal at Sardine, an excellent fish restaurant that was well worth it. We stopped for post dinner drinks at the W, including a bizarre cocktail called the “British Summer Garden Martini,” served on a turf plate with smoking watering can and mini tools. We made reservations but decided not to go to Sarong and Metis.

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We also had dinner one night at a place called Teba Mega Café, right on the beach in Jimbaran Bay. It was super casual seafood place where you pick out what you’d like – in our case, a red snapper, some jumbo prawns and calamari – and they simply grill your fish over a coconut husk fire. Dishes were served with rice and vegetable. It was the cheapest meal of our trip and probably the best.

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