Escape / October 2017

Surprise Indulgence

By Denverino Dante


Alila - Surprise in the Sanskrit language - is a homegrown luxury hospitality brand that has successfully crafted its niche with innovative design and crafted luxury in various unique locations. It has 15 properties spread across Indonesia, China, India, the USA and Oman and will soon open in Cambodia. One property that arguably put the Alila brand “on the map” is Alila Uluwatu. Perched above a cliff on the southern tip of Bali, the 65 private villas overlook the Indian Ocean. The property is a favorite with international honeymooners, the venue for approximately 220 intimate weddings per year.

Settling into a one-bedroom villa, the first thing that comes to mind is the tip-top condition of the property, looking brand new despite eight years of service. The 291-sq-m property shares its space equally between indoor and outdoor areas. The view from the bed is the villa pool, and with it the majestic Indian Ocean. A simple yet helpful feature in every villa is a tablet programmed to the native language of each guest. It provides information on the property, a library of music that wirelessly connects to the villa’s sound bar, and is used to order in-room food and beverages. To add a more spacious feel to the villa, the window between the pool and the inside daybed can be slid open, removing the barrier between indoor and outdoors. After swimming, the bathroom can be directly accessed from the side of the pool, where a lineup of signature Alila “For Him” and “For Her” toiletries are provided.

Below the property’s cliff is a hidden beach without a soul in sight, accessed by 600-plus steps from Alila Uluwatu. You need to be fit to go down (and up again!). Be sure to take bottled water, beach clothes, sport shoes and sunglasses. The climb down takes about 20 minutes and allow 40 to go back up, providing for rests at a number of convenient spots. Once at the beach all the effort is repaid. After the trek down to the beach, we suggest an immediate visit to the Spa. Various treatments are available, and we can recommend the 90-minute Balinese massage which combines soft stretching in long strokes to relieve muscle pain.

Alila offers its guests the chance to explore and discover the richness of the surrounding area through various bespoke themed experiences dubbed “Journeys by Alila.” From beach-hopping with a local fishing boat to crafting Balinese arts with local artists, the experiences are curated with substance and comfort. We embarked on the “Journey to the Indigenous Bali Lifestyle” trip where we made our own Canang Sari (the Balinese daily offerings) led by a local Balinese. After afternoon tea in the property’s restaurant The Warung, we were dressed in sarong and headpiece and taken to the Uluwatu Temple led by a local guide with the Canang Sari offerings in hand.

The temple, a famous tourist destination, can be packed but since we were ready with our Canang Sari (and as part of the Alila Journey), we were allowed to enter the most sacred part of the temple where virtually no one else was present; just us and the local priest. The backdrop of this experience is simply breathtaking, with the Uluwatu cliff and sunset as witness to us presenting our offerings. The experience closed with the Kecak dance at Uluwatu Temple.

Returning to the resort, guests can indulge in a five-course dinner in Quilla, the property’s new five-table fine dining room. Presented by executive chef Marc Lorés Panadés, the menu changes daily serving mainly Mediterranean-inspired creations combining fresh seasonal local produce with modern cooking styles. One dish appeared to be “Beef” Carpacio, but in respect for a Hindu culture that does not eat beef, chef Marc had made faux beef out of cucumber cooked so that the texture and color resembled beef, with the crunchiness of the cucumber in tow.

After only a couple of nights at Alila Uluwatu, anyone will definitely want to come back. If being a visitor isn’t enough, there’s the opportunity to own a slice of paradise. Right next to the Alila Uluwatu property, the owners are currently developing the 56-villa Alila Villas Uluwatu - The Cliff, a residential property to be managed by a separate team.