A Wonderful Oasis in the Heart of Bali, Indonesia
Since Bali’s explosion in popularity as a travel destination – helped by its mention in bestselling book Eat, Pray, Love (which was then turned into a feature film starring Julia Roberts) and TripAdvisor naming it the world’s top destination to visit – luxury resorts have been springing up all over this wonderful island!
With so much choice, there’s a variety of factors that must be considered when deciding where to call home during your time in Bali. We were pretty set on basing ourself in Ubud given its central location to everywhere and our preference for somewhere more cultural than the commercial spots of Kuta and Seminyak. Once we were set on our location, we decided to stay at Mandapa – a Ritz Carlton Reserve. And what a phenomenal experience it was.
The Mandapa experience began the moment we were greeted at the airport by our driver who chauffeured us in a private car to the hotel. We were greeted with a warm and inviting smile, before embarking on a 90 mins drive through the island’s lush, colourful and scenic landscape.
Named after the entrance to a traditional Hindu temple, we were welcomed into the hotel’s grounds by two tall, traditional split gates and a welcoming by some of the hotel’s staff that felt like we had returned home from a long trip away. We were ushered into the lobby, which was a stunning introduction to their grounds given the jaw-dropping views you experience overlooking the entire compound (or more appropriately, their own “village”!) – the Mandapa’s rice terrace fields, villas, pools, suites and of course, the calming sounds of the River Ayung. Trust me, words and photos don’t do justice to just how beautiful the view is!
After our eyes had feasted on the extraordinary views, we were escorted by buggy down the hills to our Mandapa Suite Room in which check-in was conducted by our “butler” Diana. The concept of having a so-called “butler” is actually a great idea! Think of it as your personal concierge where you are connected to them via WhatsApp during your stay. Not only could we get all the questions we had answered by Diana in a timely manner but we were able to get reservations on the shuttle service into Ubud centre, private taxi back to the hotel from wherever we were in Ubud, reservations at restaurants and other ad-hoc queries. She even remembered it was our anniversary and so left a chocolate cake in our fridge after we came back from a full day of sightseeing on one of the days. A nice touch that helps make your stay that much more stress-free!
Quiet, private and comfortable luxury are the sort of words that sprung to mind as we explored our incredibly spacious room and the hotel’s stunningly beautiful grounds. Comprising of 35 suites and 25 private pool villas, the Mandapa has successfully blended traditional and more modern Balinese influences. Together with natural materials, it all comes together well with the hotel’s lush green surroundings. Renowned interior designer Jeffrey Wilkes is responsible for the Mandapa rooms, with each exhibiting beautiful artwork depicting Balinese heritage and a very natural feel through the soothing palettes of natural wood.
For the last couple of days during our stay, we also stayed in the one bedroom pool villa overlooking River Ayung, which allowed for a more private experience despite the water rafters passing by. Days were spent with early morning sightseeing trips around Bali (when the weather is cooler and the volume of tourists are relatively low) followed by lazy afternoons of sunbathing and relaxing swims under the fragrant smelling trees, warm sunshine and cicadas singing all around us. You can just imagine how hard it was for us to say ‘Goodbye’ at the end of our time here!
Best of Both Worlds
With an abundance of sights and activities around just Ubud alone (not to mention the rest of the island, which is a lot larger than many imagine when they first visit), it’s difficult to be bored while you’re at the Mandapa.
The hotel can organise activities and trips for you where you will be transported around Ubud – the spiritual heart of Bali – in their signature open top classic VW 181 convertible. Sights include the famous rice terrace fields (go early!), holy water temple, waterfalls, etc, as well as getting a glimpse into local Balinese life and traditions along the way.
And when staying within the hotel’s grounds, you can look forward to cosy afternoons under the sun reading the books you brought with you, working on that tan or cooling off with a swim in one of their pools. For the more adventurous, you can go water rafting down River Ayung or get involved with planting work on the hotel’s rice terrace fields.
However, if it’s something more relaxing for the mind and body you’re after, then the Mandapa offers daily complimentary yoga sessions next to their fitness centre as well as an effortlessly calming spa to enjoy. It’s easy to make an afternoon of your visit to the spa! From a rejuvenating massage in a room surrounded by sounds of nature to post-treatment relaxing in their jacuzzi overlooking the river and sweating it off in their steam/sauna rooms.
Ubud is well-known for its food and while you can experience some fantastic local cooking in the centre of Ubud, the Mandapa offers fantastic fine dining experiences in front of spectacular river views. Perfect if you’re coming as a couple!
It was an amazing experience dining at the Sawah Terrace in the early mornings at their breakfast buffett as well as catching the sunset views over dinner. We opted for Indonesian cuisine (can’t beat a good Nasi Goreng!) throughout though there is the option for more Western options at their highly regarded Kubu restaurant, where diners eat in private cocoon style settings.
As we waved ‘Goodbye’ to Bali from the plane, we reflected on how great a decision it was to base ourselves in Ubud during our time there as well as how magical our stay was at the Mandapa. The setting, the rooms, the tranquility and most of all, the ridiculously high levels of service throughout, made this stay a truly memorable one!
Jl. Raya Kedewatan No.Banjar, Kedewatan
Ubud, Kabupaten Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia