Perched 85-metres above Karma Kandara’s private beach and overlooking the Indian Ocean, I’m digging into a sumptuous breakfast at the resort’s Di Mare restaurant. I imagine that right here on the edge of Bali, I am one of a select few who rule this sun-brightened world unto themselves, wanting for nothing – except perhaps to never leave.
Yes, Karma Kandara does that to you … a private sanctuary where you feel as though you’ve stepped off our sometimes brutal blue-green planet into another world. Or maybe it’s a door into a more tranquil parallel world because the idyllic cliff side position seems to barely cling to this one – a tropical location of unmatched beauty staring out into an endless ocean.
Yet for all its beauty, when John Spence, chairman of the global luxury resort collection Karma Group, purchased the rather rugged tract of clifftop land at the southern-most tip of Bali’s Bukit Peninsula, people had their doubts. The location tumbles down in waves of verdant jungle to the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, ending abruptly in a flash of yellow white sand and reef-protected shoreline. Compared to the easy ideal found along the rest of Bali’s coast, it seemed the site would defeat any attempts to tame it.
However, the naysayers underestimated both the land and the man.
Karma Kandara’s secluded paradise
Fast forward a decade and the land, now tamed, undulates in manicured tropical gardens bursting with oranges, pinks, white and green, all swaying in a light ocean breeze. Behind me stretch 54 stunningly luxurious private pool villas, between one to four bedrooms in size. Each villa forms its own private tropical escape; charming limestone walkways and high walls separate each villa from the other.
The effect is one of exclusive seclusion – where water, wind, wood and stone combine harmoniously.
Retiring to our villa after an extended breakfast, we get down to some serious relaxation. Each villa features exquisite interiors and décor, while the larger villas are more than roomy enough to have friends and family along for a stay. There’s also no real need to leave your villa either. The 24/7 room service offers taste bud tingling pleasures like satay or ayam bumbu – spiced chicken in a delicate coconut sauce.
Part of the beauty of Indonesia is it’s still wonderfully inexpensive by global standards and the ultra-positive vibe of the resort entices you to live it up, so don’t balk at having that cocktail by the pool at 10am – it’s easy on the wallet and good for the soul.
After whiling the morning away between pool and sun-chairs, we opt to double down on blissing out. The resort’s spa and gym facilities are spacious and offer stunning views over the Indian Ocean. I choose the spa’s brand new lymphatic drainage massage – a steamy sauna followed by a seventy-five minute working on the muscles designed to soothe away those aches and pains. As the expert masseuse sets to work, I stare out over the blue tableau of sky and sea, eased into a deep state of relaxation.
Fresh food and cool tunes
It’s surprising how famished one can get just lazing about – my companion and I decide to eat lunch at the casually chic Karma Beach Club. To get there we’re treated to a short journey in the resort’s inclinator, which shuffles guests up and down from the escarpment between 8am and 10:30pm every day.
At sea level, Karma Beach Club offers guests all day casual dining, live music and their own private beach to play on. It’s a Mediterranean-style beach club with a relaxed Balinese look and feel. The menu is a mix of fresh seafood, Mediterranean staples like mezze and grilled meats, and bar favourites such as burgers and wood-fired pizzas.
With a local DJ spinning a few tunes we tuck into a grilled whole local snapper with fragrant rice while watching the sun’s rays reflect off the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. As the sun passes overhead and into late afternoon and dusk, the party really starts to kick off. Sun-kissed and burnt, beachcombers return from a day of seaside exploration dressed in their tropical best and share small plates and drink cocktails as the sun slowly sets for the day.
Local fruits of the sea
Away from the beach club, Karma Kandara’s Di Mare restaurant transforms itself at night into a soft yellow-lit island in a sea of moonlight, serving modern Mediterranean cuisine. As the name implies, seafood takes up substantial space on the menu – my companion tucks into a delicately spiced tuna tataki for entrée, while I opt for a beautifully boned and flash-fried quail. For mains, we can’t go past the locally caught lobster with Balinese spices. Served rustically and with minimal fanfare, the lobster is wonderfully cooked.
Skipping dessert, we retire to the cool interiors of the purpose-built wine bar, Veritas, to sample fine wines from around the world. We delve into some fragrant dry whites and balanced pinot noirs over a cheeseboard, chatting well into the night.
The rugged seclusion of Karma Kandara is what makes it such an enjoyable place to stay. The absence of modern Bali’s cacophonic traffic and barely constrained chaos of Kuta and Seminyak makes for a very different type of Balinese break.
Karma Kandara’s website – www.karmagroup.com