Bali: Your Trip to Paradise

beach and Pura Batu Bolong temple Nusa Dua, Bali.jpg

Pura Batu Bolong Temple – Nusa Dua, Bali

When it’s time to think about a warm winter getaway, time to think Bali. The popular tour company, World Spree, is offering an 11-day Exotic Bali package for only $1,899 from New York or San Francisco ($200 more from Los Angeles) that includes round-trip air on China Airlines, taxes, fuel surcharges, fabulous hotels, daily breakfast, five other meals, all ground transportation, sightseeing tours and a professional English-speaking guide.  And $1,899 is probably less than you’d spend to go to the  same old Caribbean or Hawaii.

Why Bali?

borobudur-night

Borobudur by Night

Bali is a chance to experience a totally different culture, while also enjoying a sun-splashed beach vacation. The trip starts with five nights in Bali’s cultural capital, the picturesque hill town of Ubud, full of color and chaos, artists’ studios, handicrafts shops and garden restaurants. Here, you’ll stay in the stylish boutique resort Alaya Ubud, which is surrounded by emerald green rice paddies but within walking distance of downtown. Its elegant Balinese-style rooms are complemented by a spa, swimming pool and restaurant.

Bat cave (Goa Lawah), Bali, Indonesia.jpg

Bat Cave (Goa Lawah)

Balinese Hinduism, the predominant religion, shapes much of the island’s life and culture.  There are thousands of temples and shrines and colorful religious ceremonies can be seen regularly.  You’ll visit a temple fed by local springs and have the chance to take part in a traditional purification ceremony, and visit a Monkey Forest that’s home to three holy monkey temples. Just remember, they’re wild monkeys and not afraid of humans, so keep an eye out as they can get frisky! Other excursions include a famous coffee plantation,  the Mother Temple , lunch on the edge of a volcano caldera with a breathtaking view of Lake Batur, and a  special day in a village where you will be warmly welcomed by the locals.

Beach Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia.jpg

Beach Nusa Dua

Then comes the totally relaxing part of the vacation: four nights at  the luxurious Melia Bali Resort in Nusa Dua, famous for its glorious white sandy beaches lapped by warm shallow waters and surrounded by lush green foliage.  There are tons of possibilities here (a safari, ocean rafting, a catamaran cruise, shopping in Kuta, a traditional fire dance) or just soaking up the sun and enjoying the serenity of this exotic  beachfront resort that overlooks a reef-fringed lagoon , exhuberant tropical gardens and a swimming pool that winds through the grounds.

Beach chairs on perfect tropical white sand beach Bali.jpg

Beach chairs on a perfect tropical white sand beach… sigh

Two post-trip options are offered on the way home: a 4-day Stopover in cosmopolitan Singapore, with its exciting cuisine and great shopping ($599 per person) or a 3-day Stopover in Taiwan, which has wonderful Chinese food and a world-class museum ($220 per person). All prices quoted are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability.  There is no additional charge for credit cards. 

www.worldspree.com

 

Beautiful Bali: Monkey Mayhem and Filthy Gorgeousness

Last week, I ventured off to Bali for a little R&R and, accordingly, I must share a few photos with the highlights. It was a whirlwind trip (just a weekend in Bali, folks), but I managed to pack in both Jimbaran Bay and Ubud and monkeys, of course, lots of devilishly cute, but don’t mess with ’em monkeys. I look forward to spending more time in this fascinating Goddess filled land of rice and Ganesha!

Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali

Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali 

We arrived late in the evening to gracious staff who had us beat a gong three times to announce our entrance. Although it was pitch black, the grounds were more impressive than we could imagine. After making reservations the very day we were to arrive through one of my new favorite websites for Asia, Agoda, we booked garden rooms at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali for approximately $350 USD and, to our amazing surprise, they had overbooked those rooms so we were upgraded to villa rooms. And, when I say villa rooms, I mean, one bedroom villas, each with it’s own private pool and a separate sitting area with enough space for three people as the sofa was large enough to nap comfortably.

A quick photo of my private villa pool

A quick photo of my private villa pool

Needless to say, when we each awoke to see the villas in daylight, we were blown away. We were very close to staying at the Four Seasons or InterContinental, but Agoda showed that the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali had last minute availability (and a better price), so we were thrilled. We were also keen to stay somewhere that felt authentically Balinese and this did the trick. With offerings and statues scattered around the lush grounds, along with a massive common pool and beachfront dining, it was really a no brainer.

Complete with entertainment in the evenings…

Firedancers at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali

Fire Dancers at the Belmond Jimbaran Puri Bali

Next up, we took a quick (way too quick, but we were short on time) jaunt to Ubud, where we dined amid rice fields and visited the Ubud Market. I am still kicking myself for not having enough time to visit all the cool shops in Ubud, but my wallet is probably thanking me.

Dining in the rice field on satay and smoked fish

Dining in the rice field on satay and smoked fish

When we ordered Smoked Fish, I’ll admit, I thought it would be smoked like Whitefish or Salmon, but it was more like Steamed Fish. A tasty melange of garlic and subtle curry flavors rounded out this impressive looking snapper.

Balinese Smoked Fish

Balinese Smoked Fish with a salad of cooked bean sprouts and green beans, and a sugar cane covered fish cake on the side

But wait… I forgot to mention Monkey Forest in Ubud! How could I forget? This hanging forest meets monkey haven is an experience worth flying 20 hours to see. Monkeys and little monkey babies run wild and have no shame! You buy bananas at the entrance without realizing that once the monkeys see you they will jump on top of you and go, quite literally, bananas.

This little mom and her baby stole my heart (I was out of bananas).

Monkey Forest - Ubud, Bali

Monkey Forest – Ubud, Bali

We finished our day trip with a stop at Tanah Lot, a Hindu temple sitting on a rock formation on the coast, along the beach. It was quite interesting in that it felt as if we had stepped back in time (complete with a Holy Snake you could pay a small donation to touch). That said, it was quite crowded which hampered the allure a bit.

Tanah Lot Hindu Guardian

Tanah Lot Hindu Guardian

However, I did manage to capture one nice sunset, even if the actual temple view was obscured by too many tourists.

The sunset from Tanah Lot Temple

The sunset from Tanah Lot Temple

I finished the outing off with a massage at the hotel and a promise to always make the most of life’s brief moments. Even if it means a very rushed weekend trip to Bali after a crazy turbulent flight. In this case, my 60 minute moments equalled a very powerful Balinese massage where I was covered in the most delicious smelling orange bergamot oil.

The Belmond's beachfront outdoor spa

The Belmond’s beachfront outdoor spa

Because like life, and this storefront in Ubud, it’s filthy and it’s gorgeous and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

ubud stores

Layla Revis, Editor-in-Chief

Layla Revis, Editor-in-Chief

Passionate traveller, blogger, journalist, mother, and friend. Revis loves almost every type of food, but she won’t eat organs… or water chestnuts.

When she’s not flying to Asia for work as Senior Vice President – Global Digital Strategy Director at Leo Burnett, she can be found shamelessly watching trash television or reading Foucault. High/Low with rarely an ‘in between,’ her recent motto is:

“Live large… and love always.”

Retreating to Bali: The Floating Leaf Hotel

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

The Floating Leaf Hotel, Bali

This just in from Asia. The proprietors of a new Balinese property recently reached out to us about an interesting little hotel in Bali called The Bali Floating Leaf Hotel. Described as a “peaceful retreat in a lush oasis in which to nourish, recharge and heal your mind, body and spirit, holistically,” they’ve combined ancient Balinese wisdom with modern convenience and luxury to offer a safe place for relaxation, personal enrichment and wellness.  If you’re looking for a true retreat, they’ve got just the sort of amenities you need; an open air yoga center with views of the Indian Ocean and Mount Agung Volcano, Bali arts and culture, photography, surfing, and an onsite Balinese spa.

A Room at the Floating Leaf

A Room at the Floating Leaf

Guests can look forward to an ultimate relaxation pool complete with waterfalls, hidden meditation areas and more. The grounds also feature an organic permaculture garden (hurrah!), as well as a large kitchen where their private chef will prepare delectable healthy meals, juices, and snacks with locally grown organic nutrient-rich food. And to top it off, world-class surf is steps away!

The Yoga Studio!

The Yoga Studio!

Floating Leaf Eco-Resort is rooted in a deep commitment to Bali’s environment; it’s people, and sustainable tourism so their eco-tourism efforts are aimed at conserving precious natural resources and diverting waste from landfills. They also strive to involve the community in deciding exactly which philanthropic efforts will be of most help and interest to them. Other projects include building water purification facilities, playgrounds, greenhouses and subsidizing local farmers so they can grow nutrient rich foods using traditional and organic methods. As they say in Bali, “Bagus!”

Currently offering soft launch opening prices for individuals and retreats, prices are are as low as $150 a night and some retreats for approximately $1000 for a week-long package.

http://balifloatingleaf.com

Feel Like Getting Your Travel Yogi On?

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga in Aruba... what, what?

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga in Aruba… what, what?

Bali, Santorini, Tulum, Cabo, Maui, Vermont? Yes, everyone I know, including myself, is always looking for that perfect yoga retreat, preferably, if you’re me, on an island somewhere exotic where my hair is just full of curly life. Enter: The Travel Yogi, a specialist in international yoga retreats and yoga adventures, who promises to put you there… with yogis on stand up paddleboards! Seriously, that’s a retreat on April 6-13th on the island of Aruba. But wait… there’s more!

From March 16-23, Bali is host to yogis participating in a weeklong retreat while also taking in the international yoga and music festival: Bali Spirit Fest.  And the best Mediterranean views? Well, those are reserved for yogi guests joining the May 4-11th retreat in Santorini.

Badass Bali Yoga

Badass Bali Yoga

The Travel Yogi is a gem of a concept… expand boundaries through yoga and travel. Founded in 2010, the goal was the following: find balance and personal transformation through yoga practiced in naturally inspiring destinations. We can dig. Engaging truly gifted teachers who can expertly handle all levels of experience and ambition, they distinguish themselves from others in the same space, by discovering and organizing compelling locations that get yogis feeling adventurous in a way that typical yoga retreats may not.

Jennifer Hoddevik, The Travel Yogi founder and owner had this to say: “Warm and inviting island destinations are always popular retreats, because the rejuvenating properties of water and yoga go hand in hand.” We agree, Jennifer, oh do we ever.

So, for example,what’s on deck in Aruba? Seven nights in a boutique hotel with a beachfront yoga pavilion and spa.

This is what yoga in Santorini looks like, folks

This is what yoga in Santorini looks like, folks

Included in the $1,649 per person double rate are accommodation, two yoga classes a day with instructor Maria Santoferraro (Daily Downward Dog blogger), stand up paddleboard yoga class with Rachel Brathen, sunset catamaran sailing with snorkeling excursion and snacks, daily breakfast, two hotel lunches and dinners and two restaurant dinners in town, plus transfers to and from the airport.

A March 16-23 Bali retreat with LA-based teacher Gigi Yogini (yes, you read that right, Gigi Yogini),  is scheduled in Ubud, the arts and crafts center of Bali, to coincide with Bali Spirit Fest March 20-24. This retreat is unique in the overlapping of the international yoga and music festival and the amazing vibe this brings to the already vibrant town of Ubud.  The per person rate from $1,795 includes seven nights accommodation, all meals, yoga workshops, massage, a full day ticket to Bali Spirit Fest, airport transfers and more. Participants are encouraged to extend their stay to include the end of the festival.

The first of three scheduled Santorini retreats is May 4-11 with Angel Lucia. Similar programs are scheduled Sept. 14-21 with Dimitra Kotanides and Sept. 21-28 with Giselle Mari and Jennifer Prugh. The program, based at an ocean view luxe boutique property is from $1,995 per person double inclusive of accommodation, morning playful yoga flow, evening restorative yoga, welcome poolside fruit and wine, daily breakfast, four group dinners and airport transfers.

Hoddevik explains that destinations are scouted by The Travel Yogi team and are vetted for suitability to host yoga teachers and guests seeking yoga retreat holidays and vacation adventures with time out for yoga each day. Non-yoga practicing travel companions are welcome to join twice daily yoga sessions, or not. Prior proficiency in yoga is not required and, even for practicing yogis, the yoga is always optional. While the retreats are yoga focused, other destinations offer Yoga Adventures with the opportunity to practice yoga while engaged in other adventure travel activities.

A list of international and domestic destinations for 2013 include, but are not limited to: Aruba, Galapagos, El Salvador, Santorini, Maui, Cabo, Tulum, New Zealand and Vermont. Guests practice and play with some of the yoga world’s best known instructors: Annie Carpenter, Kathryn Budig, Giselle Mari, Jennifer Pastiloff and Ashley Turner, to name a few.

So sign thee up!

http://thetravelyogi.com

All photos (c) The Travel Yogi

Winter Specials… In Style

You should be able to tell by now that Design Hotels are our jam. What can we say? We like to travel in style. And, even if we’re looking for a steal, it’s the little touches of style that make us feel chic and in-the-know. So, while the gentle breezes of summer change to the bone-chilling winds of winter, this means getting yourself to the mountains faster than one can say Kitzbüheler Horn or flying south or east to warmer climes, Design Hotels™ has both fantastic properties to choose from as well as great deals to make the holidays sweeter. You can choose to extend your stay in the 3-for-2 nights or 7-for-5 nights deals; treat yourself to a complimentary upgrade or get value with discounted rates. Savor the holiday spirit in one of Europe’s grandest capitals with Hotel Sezz Paris, a renovated Art Nouveau building by celebrated French designer Christophe Pillet or enjoy winter’s bounty at The Cambrian with the best slopes just outside the door, a Finnish sauna and spa treatments for recuperation and authentic regional cuisine at the restaurant.

Luna2 Private Hotel - Bali

Luna2 Private Hotel – Bali

Skip over to the intimate five-room Luna2 Private Hotel in Bali to experience Asian hospitality at its best, and get that enviable winter tan. The easiest way is to blindfold yourself and pick a point on the map.

The four different options are:

–  3 for 2: one complimentary overnight stay (minimum length of stay three nights)
–  7 for 5: two complimentary overnight stays (minimum length of stay seven nights)
–  Upgrade: free upgrade to the next available room category (minimum length of stay two nights)
–  Value: save up to 14 percent off the best available rate (minimum length of stay two nights)
Design Hotels™ Winter Specials
October 29, 2012 – March 17, 2013

A Model Traveler Talks Bali & Conservation

Summer Crosley Photo by: Suzi Zoltin

This week, Summer Joy Crosley, a model based in Miami Beach, fill us in on some of her quick travel favorites.

Summer Crosley is not only a international model, she also happens to be a vocal Ocean Conservation Advocate.  We like her because she keeps conservation in mind when she jaunts around the world modeling and doing the local travel thing.

So what’s her favorite destination?

Bali, Indonesia.

Her favorite hotel in Bali? Surf Ulu

Her favorite Balinese restaurant: Mazaic

While she’s traveled to some of the top beach destinations in the world with her fiance to help raise awarness to help protect the oceans.  As there is an overwhelming amount of trash and pollution on the beaches and our world’s scared oceans are in danger, she helps the cause by selling candles and jewelry made out of sea urchin shells from Bali, with all proceeds from the sales going to Ocean Conservation.

You can check out her nifty products here: www.coralcandles.com

When not traveling for work or Ocean Conservation efforts Summer is busy riding her beach cruiser, visiting local farmers markets, hiking and just relaxing to a good movie. Her future trips include Fiji and New Zealand.

So get your gorgeous rump to Bali and keep an eye out for Summer. She’s one hot season!

Get Married in Bali, Baby!

A Swedish Couple Gets Married in Bali - Viceroy

That’s right… who wouldn’t want to get hitched in Bali? With the debut of the Royal Balinese Wedding Blessing Package at Viceroy Bali, couples can now experience a traditional regal wedding in a uniquely exclusive, exotic, and elegant setting – without paying a king’s ransom. While intimate and relaxed in style, the Viceroy Bali offers facilities, accommodation, and service fit for royalty, including a dedicated Guest Service Manager who is available to coordinate every detail of the wedding celebration. A must for any cute couple.


For those seeking an extraordinarily romantic ceremony and reception, the RoyalBalinese Wedding Blessing Package is sure to please. In addition to the priceless seclusion, surroundings, and service, the package includes: a choice of two exclusive wedding venues (the balé or the main garden); elegant Balinese or contemporary decorations; floral arrangements and fresh flower petal confetti; traditional Balinese wedding costumes; Balinese spiritual offering; wedding cake; wedding dinner worthy of royalty; wedding photographs on a CD-ROM plus bound in an album; a leader of the wedding ceremony and a traditional Balinese dance performance.

The best part? The cost! The package is $3,500 US, as described; should the bride and groom provide their own wedding attire, the cost for the Royal Viceroy Wedding Package is $3,000. The Viceroy Bali will also arrange for the legal formalization of the ceremony for a fee of $800.