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The cold plunge lasted 15 minutes. Followed by a hot plunge, which also lasted 15 minutes. Not that I was wearing a watch. In Bali, there is no need to know what hour, let alone what minute, it is. In the soothing, bathwater-warm climate of southern Indonesia, the seconds melt one into the next, bright mornings pass into lazy evenings, cold plunges give way to hot. In fact, you only know it’s time to emerge when your dedicated spa guide appears poolside with a robe and slippers, ready to escort you to another series of adventures in extreme temperatures.
This ritual is one of the reasons The Mulia keeps topping ‘must-visit’ travel lists year after year. In addition to being named one of the most Instagrammable hotels, and one of the world’s most opulent and luxurious resorts, it’s also kept its spot on Forbes’ covetable annual Travel Guide as a top-ranking four-star spa ever since 2016.
After the plunge pools, you sauna, steam, and then cool yourself down in the region’s only ice room, chilled to just one-degree Celsius, where frozen water crystals rain down from a fountain onto a pedestal. Go ahead, take a scoop (after all, they have made it rain just for you) and rub the ice vigorously against your skin for as long as you can take it. Whatever the day-long flight to get from New York to Bali took out of you is quickly replenished—and the “official” treatments from the spa menu haven’t even begun yet.
I was at the spa for so long one day they catered my meals, all chosen from a list of 300-calorie options. I hydrated myself with glasses of water infused with various herbs and fruits. Frangipani blossoms practically fell before my feet as I walked. After I had been rubbed, scrubbed, massaged, and moisturized from morning until late afternoon, I was ready to expose my perfectly exfoliated body to sunbeams for what would surely be the most even tan of my life. I chatted with my spa attendant while I dressed, and she told me I would be back next year with my twins, a boy, and a girl. (Full disclosure: I have no children and am not pregnant, but she assured me twins were in my near future. Progenitorial predictive services were not on the spa menu, so… bonus?)
Feeling rather virtuous after a day of calorie restriction, I ordered room service from a surprisingly extensive menu that tries to accommodate every taste, culture (from pizza to dim sum), and appetite level. When the person taking my order asked if I wouldn’t like a drink to accommodate my meal, it was like he was reading my mind. "And for dessert?" He asked, again reading it. But more mind-blowing than The Mulia staff predicting I would be a mother in a year, and that I wanted a cocktail right now, was that my dinner arrived in just 30 minutes, faster than ordering takeout at the sushi place down the street from my apartment back home.
The meal, and its many accoutrements (fresh flowers, fresh linens, condiments I hadn’t even thought to ask for) was escorted by two friendly staffer who drove it up a hill to my private villa so I could enjoy it beside my private pool overlooking the Indian Ocean. The pool is so private that if you’re inclined to swim sans suit, there’s nothing to stop you. The only other person entering your villa is your butler (there is a doorbell and a locked gate, don’t worry), who comes around to see if you’d like your bath drawn. When you say yes—because there is no other answer to this question—you’ll find your whirlpool filled with bubbles that have been arranged in a perfect circle around the edge of the tub, which has been scattered with flower petals. Don’t be alarmed at the new towel animal perched there; this is just one of those universal ‘resort things.’ In fact, a new animal will appear somewhere in your room each day, sitting at your vanity, lounging on your chaise, curled up against your pillow. If you don’t use the towels, you’ll have a small animal army by the end of your stay. Anyway, your bath is waiting.
Aside from drawing your own bath, here are five other things you’ll never have to do for yourself at The Mulia:
1. Flush, lift, or sit on a cold toilet seat—every single toilet on the property is sensor-activated, so the lid lifts as you approach it like an expectant puppy, and comes equipped with more settings than you’ll know what to do with.
2. Choose between showering indoors or out—your private villa has both.
3. Make special food requests—you’ll be asked upon check-in whether you have allergies or restrictions, and somehow every single member of the staff will magically know.
4. Reserve gym equipment—there are ample machines and gear for those whose ambitions exceed poolside lounging.
5. Walk—you now have a personal buggy to take you anywhere you need to go.
Room rates range from $380-980; with ideal weather conditions year-round, there is no off-season.