By far the most luxurious and original hotel room on the island now is the Royal Suite at Begawan Giri Estate, which opened last year. The suite, finished in September, is housed in the Umabona residence and has two bedrooms and a study on three levels; an open-air living room (778 square feet) and dining area (668 square feet); and the most fabulous bathrooms and separate shower I've ever seen. The latter takes up a whole room and is simplicity itself: overhead an enormous dinner-plate showerhead; underfoot a duckboard with a drain beneath; on the wall a very sensual relief sculpture based on a scene from an Indian temple. The house is built around a courtyard swimming pool—you can actually step out into it from the bathroom—that overlooks the Ayung River valley. $475-$4,400; Royal Suite $2,950. Reservations: 800-225-4255. Box 54, Ubud 80571;
62-361-978888; fax 62-361-978889. www.begawan.com
Here's the Dish
The beautiful opaque square glass plates (right, a tray) used in Biji, Begawan Giri's restaurant, are handcrafted on the western shore of Bali by a Japanese artist, Seike Torige. They're available at the resort ($20-$52) or you can visit the factory (45 minutes away by car) and buy them there. The food at Biji, incidentally, is probably the best on the island right now. It's orchestrated by David King, formerly of Darley Street Thai in Sydney, one of that city's best Asian restaurants. One great dish: tea-smoked chicken.
Kamar Sutra in Ubud carries a terrific selection of silk and cotton batik fabrics, most of them made on neighboring Java. Seek out the silk organza shawls ($50). On Monkey Forest Road (no street number, but the hotel driver will know where it is). Every Indonesian island has its characteristic cloths and weaves, which is why going through the armoires at Jani's Place is a veritable textile tour of the country. The prices here are reasonable. Monkey Forest Road (across from Yuli Drugstore).
Home Away From Home
Amandari , the first Amanresort to be built on Bali, is now constructing 12 villas, to be owned privately, overlooking the rice terraces just south of the hotel. The villa layout is based on the traditional Balinese compound, with separate living and sleeping areas. (Previous page, the view from a villa's pool.) Furnishings are the same as those in the hotel. The average price will be $1.5 million, which buys the building but not the land beneath: That is leased to owners for 30 years. When owners are not in residence, the villas are made available to guests, renting for $2,400 per night. According to Amandari general manager John Reed, a percentage of this income will cover a management fee and operating expenses. For information:
62-361-975333; fax 62-361-975335. amanresorts.com
Ten Years On
Amandari itself marked its 10th anniversary last year. Service is smooth, the rooms are still in the same understated style that has spawned a thousand imitators (left, a Terrace Suite), and the food in the restaurant is good, if much more straightforward than that at Begawan Giri. Best view of the rice terraces is from the Asmara Suite ($950). The Ayung River gorge is best viewed from the Ayung Suite ($950) or the Amandari Suite ($1,350), the largest in the house. It has a separate sleeping and living area and its own 30-foot-long pool, just off the bedroom. Be prepared for the rooster chorus, which starts before dawn and continues well after. $550-$2,400. Reservations: 800-637-7200. Kedewatan, Ubud;
62-361-975333; fax 62-361-975335.
In the Bag
What got us to touristy Kuta were these evening bags ($60), made of beads and polished rock. They're a specialty at Milo's, which also carries a fabulous selection of black-and-white long-fringed scarves. (Also available at the boutique at Amandari.) Kuta Square Block E1;
62-361-754081/765348; fax 62-361-753996.
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