Luxury – with a lasting impact

There is a reason that luxury is at the top of many traveller’s lists when selecting a holiday destination.  Life is busy, stress is ever-increasing and most people have a short amount of time for that all-important decompression period that we just need for our sanity.

Luxury is more than pure opulence.  It is a mix of the tangible and intangible; in essence it is the package of sensory delights and experiences that leaves you with a lasting impact remaining as cherished memories for years to come.  That is how I can describe the impact that remains after a week at the two “Samaya” resorts in Bali.  Very different from each other, but both delivering a lasting impact that will never be forgotten.

Breezes Restaurant at night; The Samaya, Seminyak

 

The two resorts appeal to the luxury traveller in differently, yet in many ways the impact is similar – delivery of a serene experience ticking all the boxes one would expect from a world class 5-star resort.   They are, quite simply, the best of Bali.

 

Breezes Restaurant at night; from the beach

The Samaya, Seminyak is set on Seminyak beach, I mean right on the beach and the resort fits in perfectly with this environment.  Deference is paid to Balinese style and design cues, but make no mistake, this place is all about restrained, contemporary opulence and pure class.  It is stunning.

Luxurious Villa

The magic of this place is how quickly you can feel at home here.  You can literally feel the tension withdrawn from your shoulders soon after arriving, and that’s before you visit the spa (which, quite frankly is the best I’ve experienced on the island).

Sunset at The Samaya, Seminyak

The villas are magnificent, more like a small house in size.  They are opulent, spacious and luxurious.  The main resort pool is beautiful, but given that you have absolute privacy of your own pool within the white walls of your private villa, you’ll have trouble finding a good enough reason to swim with anyone else.  This place really is about romance rekindled.

 

Beautiful still nights, The Samaya, Seminyak

Seminyak beach was a surprise.  Coming from my home beaches in Australia, I have never been drawn to foreign beachside holidays, but enjoying breakfast a few feet from the sandy beach in the tropics was truly captivating.  No breakfast buffet here either, unlimited ‘a la carte’ from one of Bali’s top rated restaurants.  How I miss breakfast at The Samaya!

Breakfast, beach-side at Breezes restaurant, The Samaya, Ubud

They lobby entrance, The Samaya, Seminyak

The attention to detail here is palpable. Everyone knows your name, remembers the little nuances of how you like your coffee, your room set up etc.

Hindu family ceremony on Seminyak beach

The staff are simply amazing and there is nothing contrived about their genuine desire to give you a bespoke experience making your trip uniquely wonderful.

Fisherman on Seminyak beach

The Samaya, Seminyak is utterly serene by day and romantic by night.  Centrally located, it is such a wonderful retreat from your daily sojourns into whatever parts of Bali you choose to seek out.

reflections pool with floating candles at night, sun bed during the day

Leaving the Samaya, Seminyak I headed to the very different; Samaya, Ubud.  Like her sister resort, The Semaya, Ubud delicately fits within its unique environment.

The Semaya, Ubud on the Ayung River

On the bank of the mighty Ayung River lies the extraordinary luxury of The Samaya in the island’s spiritual capital.  19 luxury hillside villas with 130 staff attending to every desire.

harvested rice field in valley below the Samaya, Ubud

As I approached my villa for the first time, I was initially overcome with the pure intensity of colour.  Then I heard it.  The power of Bali’s largest river just beneath my private villa.  The sound, smell, colour and climate completely ran over me and the emotional impact of this place quickly took hold.  I found myself constantly asking the question, how did they build this?  The resort is embedded within a mountain side that is so steep, that a resort-buggy collects you for breakfast to save you from the inclined walk.  Dining here is, again, a unique experience - mornings overlooking mountains and rice terraces and afternoon tea and romantic evening dining against the river.

Mountain view from breakfast

View from afternoon tea, down on the Ayung River

I think the most enriching part of this luxurious escape was the true “eco” nature of the experience. For some reason, I felt inspired to discover when I arrived here.  Yes, this may be the ulimate place to dissappear with a good book, but the sensory delights and tangible spirituality of Ubud forced me to explore.  At the Samaya, they accommodate this beautifully.

verdant rice fields - on the trek from Samaya, Ubud

Eco-tourism in this instance is a chance for a cultural immersion to satisfy everyone’s “eat, pray, love” aspiration, while never straying too far from your blissful abode.

Mesmerizing Ayung River at night

Ubud affords the opportunity to move past the souvenir shop and cocktails by the pool, to guided trekking through verdant rice fields and small villages made so much more interesting when the guides are local and know everyone you meet by name.

Balinese baby in Ubud village

Generations older, in the same family home - a Balinese man over 100 years old. 

Walking through the villages around the resort with my guide, I got a feel for the centrality of Hinduism and family in Balinese life.  Passing by one house to see a new baby and multiple generations to the patriarch who was over 100 years old is, well, good for the soul.

sun beams through the smoke of the early morning markets

The Colours of the Ubud market

Cultural satisfaction comes from heading to the spice market at 7:00am with the Resort’s executive chef to handpick the finest exotic produce for a private cooking lesson later that morning.  The market trip is a must. Later in the day, tourist focused curios adorn the market square, but early in the morning it is awash with colour and atmosphere from the spices, produce and ingredients for daily Hindu offerings.

food prep for the Samaya, Ubud cooking class

Ayung River  

Ubud offers more of a natural Bali experience.  The people are beautiful and it is a photographer’s dream location.  When you are done with the more intense party experience of the bigger towns, The Samaya Ubud and the beautiful surrounds offer a much needed spiritual and emotional detox.

Balinese Men

Particularly memorable of this resort is the unusual efforts that the owners went to in preservation of the tradition and amenity of the local families that live in the area.  When the resort was built, the owners created a dedicated access for locals to maintain their well-worn path to the stunning river. At The Samaya, the respect for the historic local tradition and cultural sensitivity only adds to the experience, which remains, unforgettable.

kids playing in Ubud

flying kites

So, where to go, what to do?  That’s a good question with an easy answer – go to both.  If you must choose one place, and you are pursing modern opulence, complete convenience, contemporary chic; then choose The Samaya, Seminyak.  If you want to touch nature, experience a little eco while not compromising on the finest amenity, then choose The Samaya, Ubud.

In any event, the confluence of thoughtful design, amazing people and passionate attention to detail make both of these resorts truly luxurious locations and they will both leave you with a lasting impact, as they did me.

Entry to Samaya, Seminyak

Horses on Seminyak beach & a traditional Hindu offering.