Close your eyes and imagine Shangri la. If you’re seeing a lush valley carpeted with rice paddies and dotted with coconut palms, creeper that falls like drapes over weather-hewn walls, and a river as wild as the valley is still, chances are you really are dreaming – or you’ve arrived at Mandapa, a Ritz Carlton Reserve in Ubud in Bali’s deeply spiritual highlands. Not relaxed yet? Then go ahead and check into one of the resort’s one-, two- or three-bedroom pool villas or a suite. Whatever you choose, one of the first people you’ll meet is your friendly butler. And one of the first things you’ll hear if you jag a luxury villa by the river are the delighted squeals of passing rafters as they navigate the rapids. Hey, it’s better than traffic.
From the majestic hilltop position of it’s main building, Mandapa spreads village-like through Ubud’s lush Ayung River Valley. It’s an hour by limo from from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, as well as the tourist centres of Seminyak, Kuta and Nusa Dua.
There are no rooms as such, just spacious suites with private terraces – entry level is 100 square metres – and opulent villas that, frankly, feel like your own little tropical estate (the smallest villa covers 430 square metres, the largest a whopping 2000). Each villa has, at the very minimum, a vast swimming pool, super-comfy king bed, marble bathroom, deep tub, whizz-bang electronically controlled WC and a detached, air-conditioned, poolside living room. The only thing you have to decide on is the view – garden, rice paddy or Ayung River. The best news? Whatever "room" style you choose, you’ll have a butler 24/7.
The food and drink
If you have a question to pop – or you simply want one of the most romantic dining experiences in Bali – book a riverside bamboo "cocoon" (pictured above) and settle in for a six- to eight-course Mediterranean-European dégustation. Sawah Terrace on the edge of the valley is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an eye to the wellness traveller but a heart that’s open to all lovers of tasty Asian food. Many ingredients are sourced right there from the resort’s organic herb and veggie garden.
For business travellers
Mandapa has three event venues catering for up to 40 guests. The resort can provide standard AV equipment, LCD projector and screen, whiteboards and complimentary wi-fi, along with team-building activities and catering.
For wellness travellers
Forget the standard recorded track of a rushing river, at this haven of stone and wood, nature is part of the package. The Mandapa spa has eight treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion, a 24-hour fitness centre and a range of therapies to deal with the downside of modern life, including sleep deprivation, tension and – how do we put this delicately? – living too well. From the dedicated wellness menu at Sawah Terrace to the mysticism of the Balinese healer, let’s just say you’ll leave more chilled than when you arrived. Significantly.
The fab factor
Private plunge pools are pretty much standard at Balinese villas these days. Thirty-square-metre swimming pools (pictured above) – the standard at Mandapa villas – are not. They are vast, they are inviting and they are spectacular.
Best for: Wellness
Number of rooms: 35 suites and 25 villas
Rates from: About $890 per night
Wi fi: Free for guests at 20 mbps
Address: Jl. Kedewatan, Banjar Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Ubud, 80571
Telephone: +62 361 4792777