As we entered the ocean-side restaurant, any lingering fatigue from the day’s activities dissipated into dim lights and the cheerful buzz of idle chatter. Sundara, Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay’s flagship restaurant, had just received a modern Asian-inspired makeover and the results were clearly a success.
A gracious host greeted my husband and I warmly, as though we were regular guests who had entered the restaurant a hundred times before, and guided us through the relaxed yet stylish restaurant to our table. Comfortably seated side by side we faced a huge open window to the sea. The Indian ocean beyond was dark but the rhythmic crashing of waves and salty breeze on my skin announced its presence.
Two plates of perfectly cooked Balinese fish; endless conversation about the exciting changes a new baby would soon bring to our lives, and a to-die-for poached pear, vanilla ice cream, caramel and honeycomb sundae later, we didn’t want to leave.
We had not planned to stay at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay Bali but after such a lovely evening (or perhaps the influence a seductive sundae can have on a woman who is four months pregnant) we couldn’t imagine spending the last few days of our holiday anywhere else. The next afternoon, with a bit of luck on our side, we checked into a private villa at the resort.
There is Bali. And there is Bali at the Four Seasons. We enjoyed the first part of our Babymoon in Ubud and Sanur but it wasn’t until we walked through the gate to our hillside villa in Jimbaran Bay that we achieved the blissful state of relaxation one searches for in Bali. Veiled by lush tropical landscaping, our private villa seemed to blend quietly into the background so that all you could see was the sea.
To the left was an open yet intimate living space. To the right stood a small villa featuring a cozy bedroom and master bathroom. Its interior furniture was a bit dated but suited to the tropical setting. Ahead of us, an inviting plunge pool overlooking the Indian Ocean beckoned. For the first time since arriving in Bali, the pool was the perfect temperature. Blissful babymoon relaxation. Check.
The next day we woke to the ocean breeze and lingered over a lazy breakfast in our garden. By afternoon we were on our way to Seminyak, about 20 minutes from Jimbaran Bay. With its chic hotels, fashionable beach clubs and stylish restaurants, Seminyak is a hub of upmarket activity in an otherwise laid back atmosphere. We drove by a ridiculously long line up at the Potato Head Beach Club before managing to squeeze into a beach front lounge at Ku De Ta. From the shade of our big red umbrella amid the afternoon party scene, we sipped refreshing cocktails (or mocktails as the case may be), snacked on some light bites and watched a parade of beautiful people, young and young at heart, dance across the beach as the sun set. Had this been a different kind of holiday, Ku De Ta could have been one heck of a party.
After dark, as the music grew louder and the guests more tipsy, we made our way to nearby Métis for dinner. Imagine a sophisticated, French mediterranean restaurant complete with white table cloths, dark wood walls, moody lighting and an art gallery. Now imagine there are hardly any walls at all and the restaurant is situated in the middle of a rice paddy complete with lily pads and friendly lizards. Somehow it works.
I don’t remember now what we ate but I do remember how my husband’s eyes lit up like a kid in a candy store when he discovered there was an entire menu dedicated to foie gras. Ditto for me at dessert. The restaurant is worth a visit but for an even better experience you might consider paying the bill without looking at it.
The next morning, still full from the previous night’s culinary adventure, we couldn’t resist the allure of the ocean and spent most of the day by the beach. We soaked up the sun from a poolside daybed at Sundara Beach Club. Cooled off in the infinity pool. Walked along Jimbaran Beach. Swam in the ocean. And lounged under the afternoon shade of the coconut grove. By late afternoon I had achieved an impressive tan and was ready for sundowners at the Rock Bar.
Located nearby at Ayana Resort and Spa Bali, the Rock Bar has won an impressive collection of “best bar” accolades from publications around the world. When you realize the bar is built into the cliffs 45 feet above the ocean, it is not hard to see why. We arrived early, around 3:30pm, to beat the line up and scored a corner lounge seat on one of the upper levels. For the next few hours we sipped cocktails under the limited shade of a hand held Rock Bar Bali umbrella (don’t forget to wear sunscreen), admired the spectacular cliff-side views and honed our people watching skills until the sun dipped slowly into the horizon. As the sky turned dark, the roar of giant waves crashing against the cliffs competed with the DJ for our attention.
Eventually, we dragged ourselves from the lounge and headed back to the hotel for a bite to eat and a blissful sleep.
One doesn’t even have to leave the Four Seasons to have an amazing vacation and on our last day, we didn’t. The first item on our agenda; the Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy.
The day began early with a cheerful greeting from our private Chef, followed by a short trip to the local fish market and a tour of the Four Season’s herb garden to pick out fresh ingredients for the day’s menu. By 9:30am we were seated in a shiny professional kitchen, decked out in crisp white aprons and ready to prepare a five course Balinese lunch menu.
We chopped, stirred, tasted and chatted with our Chef who came alive with personality the moment he changed into his chef’s whites and picked up his knife. Full of good humour, culinary knowledge and helpful tips he walked us through the menu and selection of Balinese spices. Balinese chicken satay with peanut sauce. Pickled vegetables. Grilled red snapper in banana leaf. Spicy shallot and lemon grass “sambal”. And a Balinese pumpkin treat for dessert. I’m not sure we will successfully recreate such an ambitious menu on our own but on this day the results were DELICIOUS.
After a valiant effort to eat everything, we plodded back to our villa – hard earned Four Seasons Cooking Academy aprons and achievement certificates in hand – for a nap. We had to reserve some energy for our afternoon appointments at the spa.
I eagerly submitted myself to the hands of a talented masseuse for a relaxing maternity massage while my husband, somewhat reluctantly, decided to try the highly recommended Biorhythm treatment. His idea of a massage is one where the therapist inflicts as much pain as possible in the name of “therapeutic treatment”. The idea of an energy scrub, mud wrap and crystal healing massage was strange yet intriguing.
He needn’t have worried. When my massage finished, I was told my husband had left me a message to see him before I go back to our room. My first thought was that he had changed his mind about the treatment. I was wrong. When I entered the treatment room he was sitting in an outdoor bathtub full of flowers and mud, happy as a pig in shit. He finally returned to our villa ninety minutes later in a dreamy daze. “I have no idea what that was”, he said with a grin. “But it was by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Good job Four Seasons spa.
That evening we returned to our favourite place at the resort, Sundara, where we had already eaten a few times in as many days. We settled at a table outside with an unobstructed view of the pool, the beach and the sea. Slipping into “chill mode” we drank cocktails and milkshakes (for the baby) as the sun began its daily descent.
The restaurant quietly filled with people behind us as we watched the ocean tide recede ahead of us. Children splashed about in the surf. Teenagers played soccer on the sand. Couples held hands. Tourists took photos of the sky as it turned shades of pink, then yellow, then orange.
Day turned into night and we ordered simple plates of spaghetti with parsley, lemon and crab. The DJ turned up the music to our left and a fire was lit on our right. The idea of leaving still hadn’t occurred to us.
Afterwards, I remember the sweet scent of mango shisha (from a hookah that would make our friends in the Middle East jealous) and the softly lit glow of gangly trees reaching awkwardly towards the stars. Lanterns flickered along the shore in the distance as casual couples and families with children eventually gave way to stylish women in high heels and the chill sounds of the DJ Dispensary. Not wanting our last night in Bali to end, we ordered a sundae and stayed just a wee bit longer.
I have never been disappointed by a Four Season’s resort (Koh Samui is one of my favourites) and Jimbaran Bay Bali was no exception. Their attention to detail and dedication to customer service was evident from our first dinner at Sundara and continued through the length of our stay. Our impulsive decision to switch hotels proved to be a good one.
And to top off an already blissful vacation, while waiting for our connecting flight to Dubai, I felt our baby girl’s first little butterfly kicks in my tummy. A perfect conclusion to a memorable Babymoon in Bali. We will be back.
For more about the first half of our trip to Ubud and Sanur visit Babymoon Bliss in Bali – Part 1.