When I married my husband in 2010, we agreed that travel would be one of our very top priorities over the first couple of years. With only two blank pages left in my passport since then, I’m proud — and totally thrilled — at how many incredible places we’ve seen. And in the process of travel, we’ve been privileged to stay in some of the most jaw-dropping hotels in the world. That said, it takes kind of a lot to blow our minds these days.
Tuesday night (after a fatiguing day of travel that began in Nha Trang, then Saigon, Kuala Lampur, and finally Denpasar in Bali followed by a 90-minute airport transfer), we were introduced to the Viceroy Bali — and I was promptly rendered speechless.
The open reception area is the first glimpse at the cluster of villas that unfolds above the Petanu River valley, with a soundtrack of flowing water and jungle creatures that seems piped from a soothing sound machine (but isn’t).
The staff greeted us with a cool welcome drink and ferried our luggage to our riverfront villa, number 10, by golf cart (or “buggy,” a quaint moniker that made me smile every time).
As the porter showed us the features of our villa, I admit I kind of stood agape, catching my husband’s glance with a “pinch-me” look. The space was as grand as any high-end Vegas suite (think tons of marble in the massive bathroom), but finished with incredible Balinese detailing. I kept admiring the shower hook: a metal hand with outstretched fingers to catch your robe, provided by the hotel.
Take for instance the spectacular outdoor living space, where a chess table and chaise lounges sat adjacent to an infinity pool, above which seemed to levitate a chic cabana (pictured above) decked with carvings so detailed as to include wings jutting out daintily from an angel (or, come to think of it, probably something more Hindu) on another plane. We spent indulgent time in and around that pool, hardly disturbed during our visit by any daytime rains although January is the rainiest month (and we heard floods were ravaging the Indonesian capital of Jakarta).
We took two treatments in the Lembah Spa, first a facial done in an open-air treatment room rendered heavenly by natural sounds and breezes.
On our last day, we also enjoyed a couple’s massage with impeccable attention to detail. The frangipani massage oil was absolutely divine, and a bowl of artfully arranged floating flowers sat on the floor beneath the tables near our faces for more fragrance and sensory pleasure. I’d also managed to sprain my right thumb on an incredible rafting trip on the wild Telaga Waja River rapids earlier in the day (well worth it), and the therapist was especially careful to avoid my injury.
We had several meals in the top-notch CasCades restaurant, including quality daily breakfasts and a very special candlelight dinner at a table surrounded by flower petals. My vegetarian needs were well met with smartly presented international dishes including broccoli soup, tempura zucchini flower, and chocolate brulee for dessert.
We especially enjoyed our time chatting with server Agung who knew much about Los Angeles after having spent years in and around it working on a cruise ship. He loved to joke about how we were surely Hollywood celebrities, and next time we come, he’d roll out a red carpet for us. (There’s indeed a private helipad if you are a proper celebrity or some such.)
In fact, the service overall was so exemplary that each time some one attended our needs — served our food, gave a massage, drove us somewhere — I felt compelled to hug them, although I knew the traditional hands in prayer position over the chest (Hindu salutation) should suffice.
You’ll be treated with the same attention and friendliness amid total luxury. Go — you must! Viceroy Bali: It’s paradise.
Viceroy Bali, Indonesia
Location: 4 out of a possible 4
Sleep quality: ZZZZ out of a possible ZZZZ
Service: **** out of a possible ****
Overall grade: A+