Frequent visitors to Bali may already be familiar with areas like Seminyak or Ubud, which are popular for all the right reasons — namely quality restaurants and bars, beautifully-preserved temples, and vibrant beaches. Yet, there are lesser-known precincts such as Jimbaran Bay, a quaint fishing town on Bali’s southwestern coast. Once a quiet backwater of Bali, Jimbaran Bay is now home to some of the hospitality industry’s most prestigious names.
We got to explore the area for the first time during our stay at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, one of the brand’s two properties on the Island of the Gods. One of the first few luxury resorts on the island, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay dates back to 1993. The 147-villa resort was dreamt up by Perth-based Grounds Kent Architects; and was inspired by a traditional Balinese village, featuring seven small villages each headed by a customary village chief. So revolutionary is the resort, that it was the first in Jimbaran Bay to have plunge pools in all of the villas. In 2017, the resort unveiled a complete overhaul of all 147 villas and public spaces such as the Healing Spa Village and dining establishments.
The resort’s location is hard to beat. Perched on the southwestern sunset coast of Bali, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay overlooks the wide curve of Jimbaran’s golden shores. The iconic seafood restaurants of the area are an easy 2-minute walk away, while Uluwatu’s stunning surf beaches and temples are 30 minutes by car.
For guests coming from the airport, Denpasar International Airport is just 20-minutes away, a blessing in Bali’s notoriously slow-moving traffic — especially after you’ve flown halfway across the world.
Our sanctuary during our stay is the newly refurbished one-bedroom premier ocean villa. The villa is a serene thatched-roof hideout that is a contemporary re-imagination of the traditional Balinese courtyard house. It comes with a separate bedroom and living area, minibar, walk-in wardrobe, indoor and outdoor showers, and poolside open-air bale and infinity plunge pool that overlooks the shimmering ocean.
Guests can enjoy butler service and a 24/7 buggy service from their villas, which can be very useful — especially when the resort is spread over 14 hectares of lush gardens. Otherwise, you can take a casual stroll and admire the resort’s 300 shrines, including one that dates back to the 15th century. The resort was built around the existing shrines and temples of Jimbaran Bay — including the Historical Temple, a 17th century marvel that has been carefully preserved.
Food & Beverage
Besides the exceptional service, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is internationally known for its culinary options; especially considering its location in a fishing town. It goes without saying that seafood is king here. The resort is home to three dining establishments — the sophisticated and chic Sundara Beach Club, authentic Taman Wantilan, and casual Pool Terrace Cafe.
Breakfast is served every morning at the buffet-style Taman Wantilan, which offers an extensive array of Asian and Western cuisine — from street-food style laksa to the seafood-on-ice and sashimi bar or naan and lamp chops prepared by Indian Specialty Chef Anil Naudiyal. Taman Wantilan is also an establishment to go to for dinner.
Alternatively, the famed Sundara attracts both in-house and outside guests. We enjoyed sipping on a cocktail while soaking up the sun during the day, and indulged in a candlelit, Asian-inspired dinner in the evening. The highlight here is Sundara’s unique customised dining experience, the first of its kind in Bali, where each dish is available in three different portions (small, medium, or large), depending on the mood or occasion.
As we wanted to try a wide range of dishes, we ordered tapas-style portions of the fried eggplant, BBQ pork belly, torched foie gras, and crab and coconut — with flavours and textures that complemented each other really well. Remember to make room for the restaurant’s signature dessert, the Samurai, made of valrhona ghana 68 per cent dark chocolate ganache and mousse, with fig and sansho pepper compote cinnamon konbu ice cream. The sinful dessert was dreamt up by the resort’s World Champion Chocolate Chef, Yusuke Aoki, and won an accolade at last year’s Valrhona C3.
The resort is a destination in itself, with daily activities such as various types of yoga, beach sports (like stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, and heli-surfing), and even a cooking academy for those looking to recreate the flavours of traditional Balinese cooking in their own kitchens.
We highly recommend the class at Jala Cooking Academy, spearheaded by chef Kristya Yudha, who shares his knowledge of authentic flavours and his mother’s recipes. The cooking class started early in the morning, where we were whisked away to the Jimbaran fish market, the biggest on the island, to shop for the freshest produce. We then headed for the cooking academy, where chef Kris taught us the methods of preparing a full Balinese meal, which included minced chicken in banana leaves (usually prepared for Nyepi), pepes ikan kakap (snapper wrapped in banana leaves), lawar kacang panjang (tossed long bean with spicy grated coconut) and sambal matah (spicy lemongrass shallot relish). Finally, we ended the class by preparing kue labu (sweet pumpkin treat), before sitting down and trying the dishes we prepared for lunch.
After which, pamper yourself at the resort’s award-winning Healing Village Spa, one of the finest spas on the island. We tried out the Suara Jimbaran (“sounds of Jimbaran”) treatment in an open-air bale overlooking the expansive sea. The 120-minute treatment begins with a sound bath featuring the deep soothing tones of Balinese gongs, said to clear, synchronise and recharge the mind, body and spirit. The sound bath is then followed by a glass stone massage with aloe, frankincense and geranium butter, as well as a hydrating wild basil and neroli face treatment. We left with glowing complexions, feeling fully relaxed after the treatment.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay brings the brand’s signature hospitality to Bali’s southwestern coast, where guests can immerse themselves in the island’s history and culture before retreating into the luxurious villas at the end of the day. Whether you’re there for a week or just staying one night before heading to Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan in Ubud, be sure to experience the wellness and culinary offerings of this stunning resort. We guarantee you’d want to come back for a longer stay the next time you’re in Bali.
(All images courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay)