Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort is one of the island’s Grande Dame retreats, with elegant, private suites and epic sunset vistas.
Bali has many different faces. During times of bounty, Kuta and Legian are popular with Australian and European budget travellers, while Canggu is awash with beautiful young things who wear the title “digital nomad” like an honorary doctorate, and Ubud continues to be a haven for modern day hippies.
And then there’s Uluwatu, an isolated little hideaway in Bali’s southeast that’s traditionally been popular with the surfing crowd, despite the presence of mega resorts and real estate developments on cliffs that tower over the region’s famed breaks.
Walking a balance between a luxury resort and an intimate hideaway is the Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort, one of a clutch of Anantara properties on the Island of the Gods. Perched atop the vertiginous cliffs of the Bukit Peninsula, approximately 30 minutes from the airport, this idyllic setting has had a cult-like following among travellers looking for a slice of serenity and as few Bintang singlets as possible ever since opening in 2012.
When I arrived late on a weekday afternoon the black marble-floored lobby was busy; the resort managed to maintain a 70% occupancy rate through the difficult pandemic, mainly thanks to generous pricing and a loyal follower base among affluent domestic travellers. The resort, designed by Budiman Hendro Purnomo of PT Duta Cermat Mandiri Architects to nestle into its natural setting, tumbles down a shallow hill before clinging to the clifftops above acclaimed Impossible Beach, home to some of the best breaks in Bali.
There’s little sense of a large scale hotel; the suites and villas set before the main building feature flat grassy roofs that give the impression of terraced gardens that end at a series of infinity pools.
Once I was checked in I was escorted down to my spacious Ocean Front Suite, which offers plenty of living space and uninterrupted sea views. There’s a large living area with an L-shaped couch, a king-sized bed, an expansive work space, and a broad patio with a deep set soak tub and a pair of sun loungers.
One of the most popular aspects of the Anantara is its diversity of the room categories encompassing its 74 suites and villas. Want an intimate space that you can disappear into for a well-earned respite? You’re covered? Want a pool for the kids and a little more space for those moments of Sound of Music-esque twirling? Try one of the villas, which range from one to three bedrooms, with either ocean or garden settings. Celebrating in style? There’s a pair of lofty, luxurious penthouses waiting for your arrival.
I could very easily barricade the door and spend my whole visit in my suite. The walk-in shower in the well-appointed bathroom has a door leaving straight to the terrace bathtub; the sundeck offers the ultimate in privacy so no tan lines and no offended neighbours, and with its west-facing position, expect some of the best sunset moments on the island.
Catching Some Rays
However, when I did emerge, I did what most guests do and made my way down steep paths to the series of sun-kissed clifftop free-flow infinity pools. Here, guests can find a sun lounge set on one of the split-level sun decks, order drinks or snacks at the adjacent Botol Biru Bar & Grill, home to great evening barbecues and live music, and find respite from the modern world. A note to the territorial traveller: You might want to get down there straight after breakfast as the few sun loungers do get snapped up quickly.
If you need to take your holistic journey one step further, the Balance Wellness by Anantara spa is hidden away beside the main resort building. Designed to reflect a Balinese farm house, this intimate enclave of wellness offers a host of signature treatments and rituals conducted by experienced therapists in luxurious spa suites.
In addition to massages and facials, the spa offers treatments with a more spiritual vibe (this is Bali after all), which range from Balinese Reiki, during which a Balinese priestess will clear the negative energy from your chakras; to a seven-stage chakras cleansing ritual conducted at the Tirta Sudamala Temple outside Ubud. You can also opt for single or multi-day wellness programmes that combine morning yoga and fresh juices, with detox cuisine, and reiki sessions. There’s also a yoga pavilion and a comprehensive fitness centre.
Out & About
If you’re feeling active, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. The resort offers complimentary transfers down to Padang Padang Beach, one of Bali’s most famous surf spots (you’ll obviously remember it from its cameo in Eat Pray Love), and if that surf line catches your inner Special Agent Johnny Utah, the Quicksilver Surf Academy is just down the road.
There are also opportunities for sailing and diving excursions and some great golfing, including at the nearby New Kuta course. And if you’ve always wanted to master the Gado Gado, the resort’s culinary team offers insightful cooking classes.
Speaking of food, the resort has three dining destinations that offer a great cross-section of culinary experiences. My favourite was the Botol Biru Grill & Bar, which does casual dining and awesome sunset vistas (there’s also a cool cocktail bar below with a pool table). Leisurely breakfasts and elegant evening dining take place at the lofty 360 Rooftop restaurant atop the resort’s main building, while the adjacent Sono Teppanyaki is an intimate and interactive open kitchen concept.
While the Anantara isn’t the most luxurious resort in Uluwatu, it does have a brilliant location for travellers looking to get off the grid for a few days. You’re isolated, and for some that’s nothing short of bliss, and reasonable room rates don’t hurt.
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