It’s a bold statement but also a true one: The Bulgari Resort occupies a slice of Bali more stunning than any other spot on the island. Its 59 thatched-roof bamboo villas sit atop the precipitous southern tip of the Jimbaran Peninsula, a jagged cliff that juts out into the Indian Ocean. The effect is that of being engulfed in the vast calm of the surrounding water, almost as if you’re on a raft at sea—albeit a supremely stylish 21-acre raft studded with palm trees and bright fuchsia flowers. It is, fingers crossed, the hope and future of a new Bali.
After opening a chic hotel in Milan three years ago, Italy’s venerable jewelry house created this island retreat, which deftly walks the line between Balinese and Italian design: The villas are decidedly local, constructed from hand-cut volcanic stones and exotic woods, while the interiors are elegantly outfitted with black terrazzo bathrooms and plush furniture. The resort’s cuisine lives in both worlds, too—saffron risotto is on the menu alongside nasi goreng, an Indonesian take on surf and turf that fuses shrimp and chicken with wok-seared rice.
A glass elevator that plunges from the cliffside ferries guests down to the private beach; the pool, on the other hand, requires no vertical travel, though it does seem to magically pour into the ocean 525 feet below. Bulgari cleverly crafted its spa as an open-air structure so that Thai massages are ac-companied by a sweet breeze rather than the stale, stuffy air characteristic of so many cramped treatment rooms. The main pavilion is similarly unburdened by walls, and its teak sofas are ideal for lounging upon while sipping cocktails. Gimlets here come with an unobstructed view of the horizon that is simultaneously terrifying and soothing.
Bulgari is the first in what appears to be the next wave of superluxe resort openings on Bali—retreats whose owners are hoping that the slight rebound in tourism since the bombings that rocked the island in 2002 and 2005 will grow into a full-blown resurgence. Sitting in a private plunge pool (each room has one) high above the lapping waves, it seems likely that even the most timid of travelers will succumb to this otherworldly spot. From $1,100; 800-628-5427; bulgarihotels.com.