Bali is a destination known more by Australians than Europeans. But it’s more accessible these days with convenient flight connections via Singapore Airlines from London’s Heathrow and worldwide. The trip will start as soon as you hit the airport.
If you fly from Heathrow Airport then head for T2B close to gate B36, for Singapore Airlines’ SilverKris Lounge for business and first-class passengers. This offers more than 200 comfy seats for small groups, business trippers and lone travellers. First Class customers are offered meals from both a self-service buffet area and an à la carte menu which changes throughout the day. There might be Singapore Laksa and the famous and ubiquitous Hainanese Chicken Rice. There is also the very traditional Afternoon Tea menu. But you are off to Bali and this is only the first step.
Balinese culture has been strongly influenced by both Chinese and Indian traditions and particularly by the Hindu religion, in contrast to the rest of Indonesia which is Muslim. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. A huge Javanese immigration to Bali continued over the following centuries until the Empire fell in 1520. This led to a unique Balinese national identity which lasted till 1906 when the Dutch took over the government of Bali, and Indonesia in general.
This beautiful and lush island lies east of Java, separated by the Bali Strait, and is approximately 8 degrees south of the equator, making it a tropical paradise. East to west it’s approximately 153km and 112km north to south. Average year-round temperature stands at around 30°C with a humidity level of about 85%.
English and Chinese are the next most common languages of many Balinese after their own language which is a form of Malay. Most shop, bar and restaurant staff in tourist areas will speak English and a smattering of other European languages, so this is an easy place in which to travel. But where to stay?
Montigo Resorts Seminyak, on Bali, has an outstanding location along the famed Jalan Petitenget. It’s surrounded by smart bars and boutiques. Seminyak, a cosmopolitan district, lies along the south-western coast, to the north of Legian. It’s just 30 minutes from the island’s Denpasar International Airport, so not a long journey ahead once you have landed.
One stays in spacious and well-appointed rooms with all the expected technology and perhaps even a private patio. This is high-end comfort and polish which even the most discerning traveller will appreciate: there are mini-bar refreshments, multi-lingual cable TV channels, international power sockets, USB smartphone charging port, coffee/tea-making facilities, complimentary wifi and the essential individual climate control and bottled water, and even 24-hour in-room dining.
For me the most striking feature was the bed! Yes, hotel or resort rooms do tend to have at least one but this one had me wanting to stay – not only in Bali but in that bed. This was a marshmallow feather bed into which I sank. Deep, puffy, comfort joy!
The resort does not forget those who love spa treatments. Montigo has a delightful bespoke area with nine treatment rooms in which to enjoy just about any pampering ever devised. There’s a signature Montigo Spa Journey, Couple’s Spa Experience, Twenty Fingers Massage, Balinese Massage, Thai Massage, Swedish Massage, etc, as well as beauty treatments and men’s spa experience.
Adults will indeed appreciate the sophisticated shops and vibrant bars of the neighbourhood; but the kids will be well occupied by a couple of pools complete with floating animals! Beaches are not far away but a pool next to a restaurant, with the prospect of conveniently handy snacks, might be even more appealing, and that’s just what this well-proportioned resort offers.
Food is a big part of any trip – or it should be. The restaurant called Tiigo offers outstanding Asian and European dishes, and they have a bar which is becoming noted for its classic and exotic cocktails. Indonesian cuisine has both delicate and robust spicing, so something for every taste. There are live cooking stations to add some culinary theatre and all overseen by an exceptional chef, Alit Subawa. He has international experience and is well qualified to cater for both Asian and European tastes – but do try those menu items which are less familiar.
Chef Subawa takes evident pride in menu design and dish presentation. His food is tempting, mouthwatering and authentic. It’s attractive and delicious and offers a real flavour of the location. Start your epicurean adventure with breakfast. Don’t miss the Asian specialities of spicy Nasi Goreng Bali Bumbu Rajang or sweet Kaya toast.
Local sweets are must-tries
Tiigo boasts 12 sauces, 24 mustards and a colourful array of 30 flavoured salts so one can tailor some recipes to one’s individual taste. Try their dinner speciality of Balinese Ayam Betutu – a whole spring chicken steamed with an aromatic mix of shallots, garlic, turmeric, ginger, galangal, wild ginger, candlenuts, shrimp paste and peanuts. Order a starter of satay, which will arrive on a mini grill – memorable! Chef Subawa also has an array of local sweets which are must-tries here.
The bar at Montigo is garnering a great reputation. It is well stocked and has staff who are expert in both iconic and contemporary cocktail preparation. Alcoholic drinks and mocktails are served with charm and good humour. The perfect spot for that relaxing pre-dinner aperitif.
The Montigo resort in Bali offers high-end, yet family-friendly, luxury. Facilities are first-class but there is attention to detail, and personal care which is noteworthy. Nothing seems too much trouble for the well-trained and charming staff. They are positive ambassadors for the brand and the resort.
Travel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018