Thursday, 25 August 2005 02:08 PM
Bali boasts quite a few most delightful hotels, hidden away from the mainstream and quite difficult to find. Even living here in Bali for the past five years I have still only discovered a few of them, like Sanda, tucked away amid a coffee plantation in the foothills on the road north to Pupuan, or, my favourite, Gajah Mina, nestled between two headlands on its own private sandy cove just a stones throw from the excellent though still mainly undiscovered surf beach at Balian on Bali’s Southwest Coast. Such ideal tropical retreats are what many people envisage when they book their first trip to Bali, only to find themselves wedged into Kuta or Legian and surrounded by throngs of hawkers and similarly disillusioned tourists.
Turning left off the main Denpasar-Gilimanuk road at the village of Surabrata, about one and half hours drive from the airport, a small road leads a kilometer down to the coast, where the delightful villas of Gajah Mina laze beneath tall palms and surrounded by picturesque gardens, with just the distant rumble of the surf to aid the sense of relaxation. The deliciously large swimming pool overlooking the ocean is surrounded by comfortable reclining chairs for the sun-worshippers but with ample shade for the designer palms for those more cautious of the suns effect. Between the Pool Bar and the pool a small cluster of umbrella-shaded tables offer a wonderful setting for a casual breakfast or that long, lazy lunch, and a short stroll along either headland reveals the breath-taking vista of Bali’s southwest coastline.
Dominique is the owner of both the hotel and an outrageous French accent, and the style one relates to that nationality is evident in the villas, their furnishings and surroundings, each set within a private walled garden, and from the verandahs of which one can gaze across the lawns and flowering shrubberies to the pool and the ocean beyond.
The main Bar and Restaurant are all one could wish for on this Island, with lots of windows set into stone walls surrounding an amazing intricately carved old Javanese teak Joglo that forms the main support for the roof.. The bar is well stocked, the food is a pleasing blend of French, Balinese and Indonesian, and a reasonably priced wine list combines French wines with those from the “New World”.
Quiet relaxation is the main attraction here, with long, pleasant strolls through rice fields overlooking the ocean, or along the miles of deserted beaches. For the more energetic, however, there is mountain-biking to be had; a 20km ride through the hills. Whilst this may sound fairly scarey to the more sedentary among us (myself included) it has been cunningly well-crafted inasmuch as the Gajah Mina mini-bus will convey the bikes plus riders comfortably and effortlessly up to the top of the hills, and all that remains is a blissfull free-wheel back down a quiet, well-surfaced road to the hotel, allowing one to digest at leisure the wonderful variety of flora and fauna of the countryside, and drink in the magnificent coastal views. Quite an experience.
For most of the year cool on-shore Indian Ocean breezes waft around the seven villas and two suites, one of the latter situated on a headland enjoys spectacular panoramic coastal views.
All in all it’s a great place to “get-away” and to escape from the turmoil and daily dross of city or suburban life. Recommended!!!
Roger Linbird, of England, Australia, and now Bali.
Disclaimer. I have no financial or pecuniary interest in Gajah Mina Beach Resort or any of its associated companies, nor am I receiving payment or inducement for writing this critique.