Here’s decadence for you: your holiday starts even before you arrive at Soori Bali. The moment when my booking was confirmed, a follow-up email by the hotel arrived at my Inbox asking my personal choices of pillows, bar, reading, music and movie options, pretty much like how a celebrity VIP is treated. It was lovely having to agonise over what types of pillows (aromatherapy or hypo-allergen?) and movies (drama? Comedy?). It was also an excellent reminder that an exquisite retreat awaits.
And it doesn’t stop there. Upon arrival at the airport, I was greeted and welcomed by the smiley host and driver who offered a much needed bottled water and wet towel to refresh myself. The journey took approximately an hour to reach to the resort, made bearable by the careful driving and availability of water and snacks in the car. It was a relaxing drive meandering through the villages while making small talk with the supir.
The hour-and-a-bit drive to the resort then ended and I was greeted by the beautiful lull that was live gamelan music performed by two local musicians at the entrance. I was then taken to my Mountain Pool Villa by buggy.
I couldn’t contain my excitement upon arriving at the Villa. I was introduced to my Villa Host, who immediately showed me around. The view was amazing. Over the yonder is the magnificent Gunung Batu Karu. I could literally jump straight off from my bed to the private pool right located in front. The villa is resplendent, designed to combine both the allure of Eastern Balinese panache and Western comfort and practicality. It has both outdoor and indoor rain showers and a tub that comfortably fits two. There is a double vanity for His and Hers (no quarrelling for sink space!). The bed, oh the bed, was plush and inviting; one could build a fort with the pillows provided. It must also be said that the Nespresso coffee pods are a smidgeon upgrade from the usual blah types we sometimes get at other hotels. The villa was, simply put, magnificent.
But wait, I haven’t finished gushing over it… I love the fact that there is a private pavilion adjacent to the pool for one to lounge or snooze about after a vigorous swim. There are also deck chairs facing the paddy fields, where one can enjoy the breeze and calming green hues of the fields, with the magnificent Gunung Batu Karu as the backdrop.
My first night at Soori Bali ends with me blissfully sinking into the sumptuous bed, excited for my Journey the next day.
Soori Bali is an ultimate place where one feels rejuvenated after a holiday. This must be done holistically: by providing a plush and relaxing abode set in calming and beautiful nature, hearty yet healthy food offerings, and unique local experiences worth writing about. The potent combination of Soori Bali’s strong brand promise and Soo K. Chan’s cutting edge designs and creations makes staying at Soori Bali highly sought after among the well-heeled.
Besides outstanding accommodations, Soori Bali also offers Journeys by Soori, a series of customised local activities and experiences on local Balinese culture, arts and crafts or spa and wellness. There are various options: a trip to the market for a cook-out with the Chef; a visit to the nearby temples; and history of Hinduism or even a photography journey to the surrounding areas.
Now my Journey, being young at heart, was traipsing around Soori via Segway.
Bright and bushy tailed in the morning, I was brought to the entrance of the resort to test a few rounds on the Segway, given that I have never done anything more exciting than ordering coffee from a hipster café before. Nyoman was my guide and all-round cheerleader throughout my Segway Journey.
He was too kind, gentle and more importantly, patient, to fuss over a decrepit scaredy-cat like me. We tested a few rounds and I did get a little bit better at it as he promised. I told Nyoman that I was quite happy to be doing just this for a few hours. He laughed and coaxed me to follow him to the main gate and start venturing out to the nearby villages.
It was harrowing at first as I am as unadventurous as it comes. We meandered through the paddy fields so the ride was not always smooth. Once I got over the fright, I revelled in the joyous ride around the paddy fields and villages. Nyoman would slow down to talk about the various local vegetation and fruits, the local community and the various pura, or temple. We also talked about the gentleness of the Balinese, their pride for the family, religion and culture, their sense of community and high regard towards filial piety. We spoke on Hinduism extensively. I learnt how almost each of the temples, or pura in Balinese, is specific for Brahma, Vishnu and Siva; safe for one pura desa (village temple) situated near the resort that was built for all three.
The conversations were enlightening and interesting, it almost made me forget that I am on a two-wheeled contraption that could buckle and kick me off unceremoniously into the paddy field.
The Journey on the Segway took about two hours around the surrounding villages. By the time we reached the hotel, I was suitably famished. Breakfast, at the time of my stay, was at the Reading Room since the main dining area was closed for renovation. Guests are given a simple yet extensive menu made up of local and western dishes. Meals are only prepared upon order, a refreshing change from the copious amount of buffet spread. All meals are bite sized so as to allow you to taste ALL of the food on the menu, if your tummy allows for it.
The food was prepared with much care and thought as with everything else at Soori. All food ingredients are sourced locally where possible. Vegetables, fruits and fish, for example, are purchased from the farmers and fishermen from the surrounding villages to ensure their freshness and quality. The food can also be tailored to guests’ dietary requirements and needs.
Dinner was similarly wonderful. I had the choice between seafood dining al fresco by the beach while being entertained by the local hotel band and soothing waves, or back at the Reading Room with similar delightful offerings from the kitchen.
“I’m Asian, I need my air-conditioning,” I semi-joked to the staff, choosing the serene Reading Room instead.
Eating at Soori was both exciting and delightful. The food is fresh, healthy, light and most importantly, does not compromise on taste. I wish I could’ve sampled everything on the menu, but alas, my rotund tummy was not able to take on all of the kitchen’s delicious offerings.
One of Soori’s key attraction is its extensive spa offerings. I made reservations in the evening after my very, ahem, rigorous Segway Journey earlier in the morning. I chose the 90-minute massage session. The spa is an amalgam of glamour, Zen and remedy, all rolled into one. As I entered the spa, I was immediately cocooned in a quiet and calming atmosphere. I could’ve sworn my heartbeat regulated and my voice turned down a tone – or three. I was brought to the dimly-lit relaxation area comprising plush seats encircling an indoor pond to select the aromatherapy oils for the massage. We agreed on the strokes (medium to hard, with extra attention on some areas) before sending me into one of the rooms to change and begin my therapy. It was the shortest ninety minutes of my life – I wish the massage would go on for much, much longer. All my kinks were sorted out and I’m almost as good as new. I must have floated back to my villa that night. The sleep that followed was a bliss.
Alas, it was much too soon before I had to bid farewell to the good people of Soori Bali. It was much, much too short a stint. I bid you adieu for now, but I’ll see you soon enough!
About Soori Bali:
Soori Bali is located at the southwest coast of Bali in Tabanan, about 20 minutes from the famous Tanah Lot Temple, nestling between the UNESCO World Heritage-enlisted rice fields and unique volcanic black beach coastlines, which make for picturesque and arresting views. Soori Bali opened its doors to the public in 2009. Holiday and merry makers at Soori Bali can choose between the Beach Pool Villas at ground level or the Ocean Pool Pool Villas above it, both overlooking the majestic sea; or the Mountain Pool Villas that overlook the paddy fields.
Soori Bali is designed and owned by the architect genius Soo K. Chan of SCDA Architects fame. Soo K. Chan is a multiple award-winning Malaysian-born architect based in Singapore. His personal touch is visible in Soori Bali. Mr. Soo K. Chan himself visits the resort often together with his team bringing new design ideas or items to furnish parts of the resort. As his personal pet project, Soori Bali is constantly being re-spruced and improved to make the already luxurious resort, better.