I was on my way by car from the eastern Balinese village of Manggis to the western village of Tabanan for my final days of adventure at the Le Meridien Nirwana, Golf and Spa Resort. I watched the villagers pass by the car window and contemplated my return home after weeks in paradise.
The people of Bali harbor secrets about how to live life – there was tranquility and peacefulness on this former Spice Island.
Airy lounge settee at Le Meridien.
Three hours later we reached the village of Tabanan; a major producer of rice for Bali. A few quick turns and we passed the security checkpoint and entered the expansive entry way of the Le Meridien, Nirwana. Immediately, I was transformed from the simple life of the typical Balinese village, to the high end luxury that the Le Meridien offers
The 120 Le Meridien properties around the world encompass both their European roots with a modern flair. A little fun fact about the Le Meridien group of hotels is that it was started in 1972 by Air France as a place for weary travelers to rest their head. Since 2005 Le Meridien became part of the Starwood Resorts Hotels, one of the leading hotel management groups in the world.
As we were escorted by the friendly bellman to our room, I grasped the size of he property. The air conditioned room felt great in the tropical heat as we cross the threshold. The standard rooms are comfortable, filled with well-built rich, brown furniture.
Tropical serenity in Bali.
When it was time to rest my head there were plenty of pillows to select from the bunches on the luxurious king-size bed, separated from the wooden couch and small dining table. The tile floors kept the room, and feet cool. The bathroom was the largest I had seen in Bali, with a separate marble showerand bath tub.
Guest rooms feature Balinese fabrics and woodcarvings, coffeemakers, minibars, cable TV, in-room movies, international direct-dial telephones, umbrellas, make-up mirrors.
The marble bath tub was immense, more length than width and was encased in wood. Wooden slat sliding doors rested above one side of the tub. Upon opening them, I had a view of the rest of our room and straight out to the blue Indonesian sky. A balcony on the west side of the room overlooked the lagoon-like pool. Is that a water slide, I see hidden amongst the palm trees? I was looking forward to getting my feet wet; this side of Bali is better suited for pool time rather than beach time.
The pool overlooks the Indian Ocean.
Hotel amenities include complimentary fruit baskets and flower arrangements, 24-hour room service, laundry/dry cleaning, concierge, beauty salon, business center, currency exchange, doctor-on-call, library, gift shop, florist, library, multilingual staff, and parking. Guests may also enjoy the fully-equipped gym, tennis and squash courts, cycling, and Balinese dance lessons.
The Le Meridien Nirwana is perched clifftop overlooking the sensuous Indian Ocean. Depending on the tide, the waves will crash upon the jagged cliffs. However, there are many safe, swimming, sunning, and surfing beaches located just minutes away from the Nirwana.
Le Meridien Nirwana is perched clifftop.
From the balcony the panoramic ocean view was everywhere, stretching to the limits of my perception. The Le Meridien face west, perfect for torrid blazing sunsets.
The Le Meridien Nirwana Golf and Spa Resort is located on Bali's spectacular South West Coast, a short 45 minutes from Bali's International Airport. It offers 278 spacious rooms, suites, and private villas; a full spa; superb children's club; expansive swimming pools with waterslides; excellent meeting and banquet facilities; and an incredibly warm Balinese welcome. Set within 103 hectares, the luxurious Le Meridien Nirwana Resort;'s spectacular setting is backed by volcanoes and peppered with rice terraces, coconut groves, lush tropical vegetation. Local attractions include Bali Bird Park, Waterbom Park, Elephant Safari, Monkey Forest, Taman Ayun Temple Complex, and Kintamani Volcanic Views.
The Le Meridien Nirwana is especially unique because it is close to the famous Hindu temples Tanah Lot; the amazing temple is on this mini island of sorts. After visiting the Uluwatu temple days earlier and many other smaller temples along the way, I was anxious to visit this Hindu temple because people travel from all over the island and even India to feel its healing properties and give thanks to their Gods.
On the walk to the temple my travel companion, Ben and I passed the greens, tee boxes, and fairways of the amazing Greg Norman designed, 18-hole Nirwana Golf Club, the only course on Bali (there are only four golf courses on the island) that is attached to a resort. It hosts a signature golf hole that just like Tanah Lot had many different views based on the tidal times. As you tee off from the box, if the tide is high, you have to ensure your golf ball makes it past the rushing oceanic waters below before landing on the green.
It was at Tanah Lot, that we watched an unforgettable tropical sunset. Hundreds of other people thought that this might be a good idea as well. Today was in fact, Saraswati Day, which is the Balinese Hindu holiday that offers prayers and thanks to the gods of education and knowledge. Since the tide was low, we crossed the sand bar to the entrance of the temple. The holiday brought out many devout followers and tourists to get a moment with the Hindu priest that was inside the temple. This made for a long line of people waiting for their blessing. We waited and watched for the sun to go down and the tide to start coming back in before heading back to our room where we ordered room service and a movie (very western accommodations!) and fell in to deep dreams.
The next morning we were presented with another great view of Tanah Lot since we were seated on an outdoor dining patio during the buffet-style breakfast at the Cendana Restaurant, In addition to the enticing fresh spread of exotic fruits, omelets and other western breakfast treats, we had our server squeeze fresh juice. Onsite drinks and dining are available at the Cendana Restaurant, the Pool Grill, the Sunset Lounge, the Nirwana Restaurant, and the Nautilus.
Le Meridien Nirwana has many dining venues.
We arranged for a driver to see what we could find on this side of the island. Ben wanted to surf so we checked out Canggu beach, famous for its breaks. I sat on the seawall overlooking Canggu, reading my book, enjoying the morning sun and the sweet Balinese coffee from one of the Balinese food stands (also known as Warungs).
After Ben’s surfing session, we found our driver and headed back to the resort for some pool and spa time. The pool at the Le Meridien Nirwana is one of the many highlights of our stay. Palms surrounded its lagoon-like qualities making it perfect for relaxation. We worked up a hunger on the water slide and playing basketball in the water, so we ordered Bintangs (Balinese beer) and poolside turkey and avocado sandwiches.
Surf's up around Bali.
After several hours at the pool my afternoon massage and reflexology appointment rolled around so I explored the other side of the resort on the walk to the spa. The spa entrance was gorgeous, large, airy, and clean. I was quickly taken to the women’s locker room and changed into a plush robe and spa slippers and to await the therapist.
The excellent Swedish massage was follwed by a hand and foot reflexology session. I had been in Bali for about two weeks, and I knew that this would be a great way to rebalance my body and prepare for tomorrow’s long flight back to Los Angeles. My Balinese, reflexologist applied force to the pressure points on my feet and hands and extracted built up toxins. After two hours of therapeutic relief I was escorted into the outdoor lounge for a cup of hot ginger tea. Delixious!
We were relaxed, refreshed, and rejuvenated so we decided dinner would be in the nearby artsy town of Seminyak. Our evening driver, Wayan, told us hilarious stories of his youth when hanging out with Australian women. We had indeed met a real “Kuta Cowboy!” We missed the sunset; however the dusk sky was still enchanting.
A memorial to those lost.
We stopped at the edge of the beach at a two story restaurant called La Lucciola, known for its impeccable service. The European cuisine was simple, yet delicious, and a welcome respite from the daily overload of Nasi Goreng, Satay, jackfruit and other Indonesian dishes. We enjoyed cocktails and conversations mixed with the sounds of the sea as we reminisced about our two weeks in Bali.
After an evening of bag packing we drove back into the hustle and bustle of Kuta for last minute gift purchases for friends and family. We made a point of stopping at the site of the unfortunate bombings that took place years earlier. It’s sad to think that this beautiful island is marred by tragedy. In my Bali experience I have only wonderful memories about wonderful people. Indonesia has given me a lesson in culture and the importance of family, and hospitality.
PO Box 158 Tabanan
Bali, Indonesia 82171
Tel: 62 361 815 900
— Feature by Michelle Schoser, Jetsetters Magazine San Diego correspondent; photos by Michelle and courtesy of Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts.