After a pretty full on year we really needed some down time and living in Australia the Indonesian island of Bali came to mind. This was our first time to Bali and after receiving much counsel from friends and colleagues, conducting some comprehensive web research and after numerous visits to travel agents we decided to start the trip off at the Kelapa Retreat & Spa situated on Bali's unadulterated West Coast. This was a bit risky as throughout all of conversations even our most seasoned Bali travelled veterans had never more than driven through the West Coast of the island. Even so, the website's pledge of a true retreat was just too much to turn down.
We arrived at the Kelapa Retreat & Spa after a 12 hour journey which started off very early on a dark and rainy Melbourne morning. The transfer from Denpasar airport in itself is around 2.5 hours so if you want to hit the pool as quickly as you can after setting down on the tarmac you might want to think about somewhere closer. It's not that Kelapa is really far away it's more that the transport infrastructure is hideously poor. The road to Pekutatan, the village where Kelapa is located is on the way to the Java ferry that is incessantly transporting products and people back and forth from Bali's capital. It is a developing country after all. Kelapa arranged for their very courteous driver to collect us (which is an additional cost of US$50) in a comfortable and clean SUV and as it was our first time the drive went past relatively quickly as we absorbed the different culture, people, sounds and smells on the journey.
About an hour out of the destination we decided to treat ourselves to a massage when we arrived as the hours of sedentary confinement were starting to take effect. The driver called ahead and arranged this. So we pulled off the busy main road and 3 minutes later down a few dirt tracks we arrive at the retreat. From the second that I stepped out of the car my anxiety of a potentially risky internet decision evaporated in the serenity of the reception and the staff. You'll probably read in 90% of Bali reviews about the beautiful nature of the Balinese people. I did and thought 'oh well that's nice' but when you experience it first hand it really makes you think about service that you get in most Western cultures. Nothing ever feels like it's too much trouble in Bali. With the caveat that you are not making unrealistic requests of course.
Now we're all checked in and we make our way down the very balanced and aesthetic path down to our villa. Days later we found out that the whole retreat was conceived and constructed under the watch of it's German, Eco-Architect and owner Gordon. He is an absolute pleasure if you get a chance to meet him. Our massage tables have been set up on the deck of our well sized villa facing the Indian Ocean. WOW. Our villa was one of only ten in the retreat and each have a very private feel to them. This place is not for everyone but if you are looking for some enforced downtime without the distractions of shops and restaurants then you might want to investigate the Kelapa further.
We were one of 3 couples on in the retreat who each wanted to keep themselves to themselves. With the exception of a polite 'good morning' at breakfast there was no other interaction. If you are incredibly happy with your own company or that of your partner or travelling companion this is a good place to get to know yourself or each other again.
The rooms are all well appointed and with the feel of being luxurious without being self indulgent. Everything was there that we needed. Lots of lie-ins and lazing about on the loungers on the deck or by the pool. When you are in the communal spaces it still feels like a private resort. Of course we were one couple in 6 people so the experience might be different if the retreat was full but I doubt it would ever feel crowded.
I wouldn't personally take kids there or anyone under 16 really who required entertainment as there are no distractions from the peace and tranquillity of this undeveloped stretch of coast. If you are happy reading, taking walks on the beach and recharging then I would recommend some time at Kelapa.
We were just sorry that we didn't spend more time there but I can guarantee that we will be back next year, in low season.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Surrounded by a beautifully landscaped coconut garden, Kelapa Retreat is a truly peaceful hideaway. Each of its villas is surrounded by luscious vegetation featuring indigenous flora and fauna which guides you to an infinity pool and private beach, where you can truly recharge and admire the stunning scenery. With each villas the architect has sculptured spacious contemporary design. Open fronted with a comfortable day bed and open to the natural beauty surrounding the retreat. The reflective pond roofs of the villas are designed to appear like traditional Bali rice terraces that helps create an electric mix of European and Indonesian design. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Kelapa Retreat Bali Hotel Pekutatan
- Kelapa Retreat Bali Pekutatan