“And we have a very private beach. You’ll never have to worry about paparazzi.” So states my butler, Yadi, solemnly while driving me in an electric buggy to my villa at the Bulgari Resort in UIuwatu, Bali.
Paparazzi are indeed a potential issue for a resort that’s rumored to have hosted the likes of everyone from Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni to Ronaldo and Irina Sheyk. The privileged guests at this resort are fundamentally the same clientele who are fans of Bulgari’s exquisite jewellery and accessory lines, making the foray into the realm of hospitality a seamless extension of the Italian brand’s theme of European glamour and sophisticated chic.
This is immediately evident in the meticulous selection of materials even before we enter the villa. The same mottled, ancient stones used for Bali’s plethora of temples in put to good use on the outside of traditionally thatched villas connected by snaking, cobblestoned paths, giving the seaside resort the feeling of a well-established Balinese village.
Stepping through lush greenery and thick wooden gates and onto an expansive private patio with a wonderful sea view and plunge pool, it is evident that our villa’s outdoor area is meant to be enjoyed as much as the indoors. There are three separate spaces here: lounge chairs for poolside relaxing; a teak dining table with adjacent coffee and tea preparation cabinet, and a sprawling sofa for curling up on with a book or boyfriend.
But it’s inside the villas is where the Bulgari brand really shines: glossy, dark hardwood floors and walls are punctuated by light, neutral soft furnishings. Pots of purple orchids add bursts of colour. Panoramic views across the Indian Ocean preclude the need for any wall art, and in the evening, the lighting here has been specifically designed to create a romantic atmosphere. Rustic ceramic cups and containers created by specifically for the resort add some artisanal charm, while state of the art technology – including a Bang & Olafsen radio, flat screen TV with digital movie selection and a fully automated Toto toilet – bring this villa firmly in the 21st century.
Bulgari creates luxurious resorts characterized by unique touches, including gifts for guests: a straw gift basket filled with sunhats, insect spray, a handmade fan and traditional kite is presented on the first day, but then the little presents keep coming: local crafts with cards explaining their significance and origins were left in our room each night.
Staff go above and beyond what you would expect, too. To illustrate: my husband had an accident with some red dye from a hat that leaked onto his white shirt; the ever-ready Yadi was quick to find a solution: an all natural scrub made of toothpaste and salt, which removed the massive stain in no time.
In the restaurants, too, there’s no request that will go unmet. At Il Restaurante, the young Italian chef didn’t blink an eye when I requested a fully vegan replacement for the usual degustation menu. While my Argentine husband declared the tender, smoked beef ‘the best he’s ever had’ I still believed I won out with chef Nicola’s spontaneous creations: roasted beetroot salad with oranges and toasted nuts; chickpea soup with truffle oil and a beautiful green primavera pesto risotto with edamame and teeny tiny pansies.
The fact that Bulgari is prepared to indulge its guests in just about anything their hearts desire can also lead to conflict, though: one bride’s delightful on-site fireworks display is another’s romantic honeymoon interruption; one guest’s relaxing post-breakfast cigar is another’s asthmatic nightmare. So for those who truly wish to escape the madding crowd, there’s a five bedroom mansion suite that’s essentially it’s own mini-hotel, complete with private gym and spa, expansive pools, and kitchen, allowing heads of state, CEOs, royalty and the mega-famous (and infamous, I was told in confidence) complete privacy.
For the rest of us, the resort is fairly isolated from Bali’s hotspots, but there’s plenty to do on site: there’s a well equipped gym, yoga classes, communal infinity pool, three restaurants and a bar (where you can frequently find local monkeys trying to nick a stray lime or two) and of course, a fabulous spa.
Boasting a spectacular carved wood façade taken from a Javanese palace, the spa here is a gently welcoming palace of pampering. I tried a hot stone massage for the first time, and was delighted to discover that these stones glide over tense spots like a knife through butter. So impressed was I with this place and its talented masseurs, I returned for a reflexology session the next day – a slightly painful experience at the time, but the benefits the next day were notable, as a tummy problem I had had for a few days was suddenly relieved.
We spent our last day at this incredible resort on the hotel’s private beach, accessed by ‘the inclinator’ lift. One of the longest of its kind, the views from this open sided elevator are jaw-dropping, and the ride is so smooth you’d swear you were floating. It’s a truly magical moment when the doors open to reveal a tranquil sapphire sea flanked by foliage and flowers. La Spiaggia beach bar beckons with cool cocktails and tasty snacks.
And of course, as promised: not a paparazzi in sight.
Bulgari Resort Bali
Jalan Goa Lempeh
Banjar Dinas Kangin
Uluwatu, Kabupaten Badung
Bali 80361, Indonesia