Be treated like one on Isle of the Gods
Jonathan Porter descends into a state of pure bliss in Bali
IMAGINE a resort that has been built to blend in with the environment, where the surrounding land has been treated with kindness instead of lust.
Then imagine you have a personal concierge for your stay in a three-bedroom villa, attentive hosts who will drop everything at a moment’s notice and arrive with all the makings of a barbecue at your own personal pool and take away the luncheon things and empty bottles.
Then add to your imaginings some of the most spectacular coastline on the Island of the Gods, Bali.
Are you done imagining? Then drop what you are doing and book a flight to Bali and a week or two at Karma Kandara resort.
But only go there if your idea of a holiday is to total reeelaxation with three Es with your life partner in complete opulent luxury with great food, cliffside jacuzzis, saunas and hot stone massages in a treatment room 500 feet above the Indian Ocean while diaphanous curtains waft in the tropical breeze.
You can read about my massage at the Karma Kandara Wellness spa here.
I’m tapping out this review by the plunge pool. It’s after sundown and the lights of my three bedroom villa shimmer on the pool’s gentle surface, onto which a petal has just fallen, chased down by a huge butterfly as it augers in. The night is very warm and the pool is too deep for me to stand on my feet in and keep my head above water. Time for a dip I think.
Ok I’m back. The master bedroom is upstairs but I’m yet to make it up there (I’m batching it). There is a full kitchen and laundry – these villas are mostly privately owned and the lucky landlords get a hefty return on their investments as well as the chance to stay in their holdings for a few weeks every year.
For the duration of my stay I have eschewed indoor bathing facilities, (including the upstairs spa) the whole time I’m here, preferring the outside shower. A few times a day I bathe in a warm tropical downfall surrounded by a canopy of – since botany is not my strong suit – I’m going to call “huge tropical colorful flowers’’, as the Lord intended.
The Karma at Mykonos has influenced the design of Karma Kandara, with its Mediterranean trellises, Grecian arches and meandering paths with a few jungle creepers thrown in, says general manager Raymond Saja, who has been here since construction began.
I’m no geology buff, but I’m pretty sure limestone is made from ancient sandy beaches compressed over time after crustal shifts force the beaches to higher ground, so it can be said that everywhere you walk in Karma Kandara you are treading on 500 million year old beaches thrust up to higher ground by crustal upheavals, and rather younger beaches when you go for a swim in the ocean.
The resort is very laid back: the attitude here is to unwind, not boogie hard. Karma Kandara is built on both sides of a spectacular ravine, at the bottom of which is a brook, which tumbles down the mountain into the ocean. Bridges link both sides of the resort and on the bridges are signs bearing the legend: “Don’t feed or tease the monkeys, they are grumpy and fat enough.’’
From every villa you can hear the distant surf pounding. The only other sound is the occasional rustle of palm fronds in the soft breezes and the greetings hotel workers give guests as they go quietly about their tasks.
For lunch I head down to Nammo’s Beach Club, which involves a one minute ride down the hillside in a contraption (there is a path if you’re feeling energetic, I prefer to conserve my vigor for higher pursuits).
The fare on offer is laid out on ice. I pause to check out the oysters, shrimp and scampi fresh from the ocean a few feet away and chat with Karma Kandara’s executive chef Steven Grande.
I ask him about the rewards of working here (it’s eight months since the Ohian arrived).
“Even in the evening it’s a view unlike anything in the world,’’ he tells me.
I opt for fried calamari fried capers, tuna carpaccio with green apple and a couple of scampi split and thrown on the barbecue with some local water spinach tossed in Balinese spices.
All the seafood is local and the organic meats are flown in from around the world. To say the seafood is fresh is a mighty understatement and it’s a song with a glass of Australian semillion sauvignon blanc.
Aside from Nimmos, there is also Di Mare Restaurant and Temple Lounge – an open air bar set on the rooftop of Di Mare Restaurant, with its tapas and North African feel.
I head up there to make some outrageous claims with some new friends after some Balinese spicy chicken and a few rum runner cocktails at Nimmo’s on the beach. Let me assure my new friends if they read this, I did not actually invent the question mark.
The next day I take luncheon at with Karma’s general manager Raymond Saja at Di Mare restaurant.
The New Yorker says the blending in approach has paid off for Karma.
“With a lot of other properties just come in and level the land and then build. We did the opposite,” he says.
“We built around everything that was already here. And built it into the contours of the land. The spa villas are a perfect example,’’ he said indicating the structure clinging to the hillside across the ravine
I’m supping on an ice cold gazpacho with Jimbaran Bay crab and crème fraiche. I dab my lips with snowy linen and ask about the rewards.
His hand sweeps over the expanse of the coastline and he says with a smile: “Reward? you can see it.’’
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