There’s no shortage of luxury accommodation in Uluwatu, Bali’s up-market resort haven, but Anantara stands head and shoulders – literally – above the rest.
Like many hotels in the region, Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is hidden from the uninspiring main road. But after taking an unassuming turn-off, driving down a meandering lane and through some heavily guarded gates, you arrive at the hotel’s imposing entrance. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a Bond villain’s lair.
Once you scale the polylithic sandstone steps to the open-plan reception, you can breathe a sigh of relief. A cooling breeze rolls off the Indian Ocean, providing respite from the stifling humidity. From here, the resort reveals itself in all its splendour, complete with the villas’ grass-lined rooftops and the well-appointed gardens.
Perched atop a cliff overlooking the ocean and nestled between the popular surf breaks of Bingin and Padang Padang, Anantara’s location is both a gift and a curse. The views are breathtaking – in every sense of the word. Building a resort on a cliff face must present a unique set of challenges, such as where to house certain amenities. The result is that guests are required to ascend and descend copious, lung-busting flights of stairs to access the pool or spa area, for instance. The pay-off is an alluring outlook or an area of tranquillity, however young families or older, less-mobile travellers may prefer accommodation on flatter terrain.
Secondly, there’s not a whole lot to do in Uluwatu. If you’re looking for a kick- back-and-chill, read-a-book-by-the-pool, resort-style holiday, then this is definitely the place to be. But if you want to have dinner in Seminyak, the island’s culinary hub, be prepared to sit in a taxi for more than an hour each way as you crawl along Bali’s notoriously slow roads.
Anantara has 74 rooms, ranging from salubrious Garden View suites to sublime Ocean Front Pool Villas. Each is a private oasis, concealed from neighbouring villas. The décor is contemporary Balinese with a touch of European finesse, blending wooden furniture with marble flooring and metallic finishes, replete with mod cons such as a Bose stereo system and Nespresso machine. The deluxe Ocean View Suite is big enough for a small family and contains a king-size bed that Goldilocks herself would be proud to sleep in: not too soft nor too firm, just delightful to sink into after a hard day’s relaxation.
But the hero of the room is the jacuzzi for two on the balcony, where you can soak while watching the surf set take off on uninterrupted waves. One tiny criticism is that outdoor furniture is minimal, which means you may need to seek refuge at the hotel’s infinity pool. Talk about First World problems.
There’s no shortage of amenities for maximum relaxation, from the sumptuous sundeck to the infinity pool, where you can recline on a cabana bed or lounger, while butlers cater to your every whim, providing complimentary fruit, water and mocktails. Or there’s the serene spa, where you can choose from a range of pampering treatments. The 60-minute Balinese Massage in the couple’s room is highly recommended.
But if getting out and about is more your thing, an elevator that operates during low tide will take you down to Impossible Beach, which is great for surfers and explorers alike. Golfers have three quality courses to choose from and excursions such as snorkelling, diving and river-rafting can be arranged at reception.
The 360 Restaurant, rather confusingly, provides a 180-degree outlook over the Indian Ocean. What it lacks in degrees, it makes up for with an extensive menu, showcasing local and international cuisine. Or there’s the intimate SONO Teppanyaki Japanese restaurant or Splash, situated on the deck by the infinity pool. Romantics may opt for Dining by Design, an intimate meal for two in a private location, complete with your own chef and butler service. The only thing you have to provide is small talk with your loved one.
The staff at Anantara Uluwatu is exceptional. Whether they’re tending the immaculate gardens or dropping off an ironing board to your room, the hospitality is first class, from pick-up at the airport to check-out.
Location: Jalan Pemutih – Labuan Sait, Uluwatu, Bali
Style: Contemporary Balinese
Perfect for: Weddings, couples, surfer dudes and dudettes
Number of rooms: 74 suites
SEE ALSO: First-Timer’s Guide to Bali