Dec. 24th, 2019
For decades, Bali’s Ubud area has been known as a place of spiritual healing, blessed with dense tropical jungles, miles and miles of verdant rice fields, one thousand temples and perhaps the friendliest people on the planet. Tucked away in a pristine location is Ubud’s crème de la crème of luxury resorts where the highest echelon of accommodations, amenities, and service is the norm and where weary souls descend to restore and reconnect. This magical sanctuary is Ubud’s most exclusive resort, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is a sophisticated refuge secluded in a dense jungle along the Ayung River and far removed from the bustling streets of downtown Ubud. Once inside the secured entrance and oval courtyard, the setting could not be more dramatic. Beyond a privacy wall reveals a covered walkway flanked by gurgling water features and reflection pools that lead to the suspended platform and breathtaking vistas of the grounds of the reserve. What guests will see is a fairytale-like Balinese village of thatched roofed structures strewn across the valley below with an emerald green rice paddy field as its centerpiece.
Mandapa is the Sanskrit word for temple and on the property, there is an ornate traditional Hindu temple still in use for special occasions by the local people. But the significance of “temple” goes beyond the religious structures on the property. There is an undeniably spiritual presence in the resort that emanates from its beauty, the natural setting, and the serenity that one finds in every moment. From walks on the pathways around the rice fields, languid hours in the spa or found in those unhurried moments just lazing about in a poolside cabana or in the privacy of your villa.
The 5.5-acre property is nothing less than extraordinary, lavish in every detail, and uber-exclusive with only 60 suites and villas yet has all of the amenities that one could desire in a five-star tropical resort. There are several dining options, a full-service spa, pool bar and library for high tea or evening cocktails and an Instagram worthy free form infinity edge pool overlooking the rice paddies and grounds of the resort.
This boutique resort offers 35 suites and 25 pool villas with a contemporary décor with Balinese influences and exquisite furnishings. Accommodations offer privacy as well as interaction with the natural surroundings with commanding views of the tropical forest or overlooking the river. It is instantly apparent that no expense was spared to create this luxurious resort experience that is sure to impress the most finicky of guests.
The bright and airy suites are generous in size, well-appointed with high ceilings, stylish furnishing and travertine floors, with an elegant white and dark brown color palette. The décor is exquisite with traditional Balinese design elements including dark wood surfaces, decadent textiles, and impressive hand-painted wall murals and hand-embroidered bed covers. The contemporary living room is spacious, comfortably furnished while the bedroom offers plush king-sized bed and custom-built Javanese chairs. The bathroom is a stand out as well with a separate shower, designer amenities and an electronic Toto toilet and bidet. The suite’s dramatic centerpiece is the free-standing bath, draped in white muslin netting in the center of the room with doors that open onto the bedroom. The setting is stunning and clearly created to set the mood for romance.
The suite’s glass doors flood the room with natural light. Stepping out on the terrace, guests enjoy an outdoor living space that stretches the length of the suite and overlooks the grounds of the resort village and rice paddies. The patio is well furnished with a day bed, table and chairs ideal for an en suite breakfast or a glass of wine in the evening before turning in.
For the next level of accommodation, the villas are nothing less than indulgent with an airy bedroom, gorgeous Indonesian décor and artwork. The bathroom is spacious as well with a deep soaking tub, outdoor rain shower and tropical bathroom garden. Each of the villas are positioned to provide complete privacy while taking in the beautiful natural surroundings of the river from the wooden deck veranda just outside the bedroom. There’s a full-sized pool, lounge chairs as well as an outdoor living room ideal for your in-villa breakfast.
The attentive service is where the Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve really sets itself apart. Each and every interaction with the staff is a delight from the authentic Balinese warmth to their level of professionalism. Each accommodation is provided with a patih, which is the Balinese term for assistant to the king. The patih is there more as a personal assistant, versus a butler, to look after you during the stay. They are always available with a golf cart to take guests around the expansive property or to help with reservations and seem to anticipate your needs often before you are aware of the need yourself.
Dining at the Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, offers a standout experience of gourmet Indonesian and western dishes. Sawah Terrace is the main dining restaurant set high above the bend of the Ayung River with open air seating or dining under stars on the patio. At night the setting is romantic with candlelit tables as couples talk in whispers while overlooking the sweeping views of the valley. The cuisine is haute Balinese and Asian flavors with locally sourced ingredients including fresh herbs and vegetables, much of which is grown just a few yards away in the resort’s organic garden.
A fairytale-like romantic dining experience is found at the resort’s signature restaurant, Kubu. The setting is magical, in a chic yet rustic open-air fine dining restaurant made of bamboo awash with the gentle light from hundreds of candles. Tables are set throughout the restaurant or under the stars on the deck and just a few yards away from the sights and sounds of the gushing Ayung River accompanied by the jungle’s nightly musical performance of geckos and other sounds of the forest. However, the most coveted dining locations are the nine-private cocoon-like bamboo pods strewn across the restaurants edge and made for intimacy. Cozy couples dine on the decadent six or eight-course degustation menus of Mediterranean-European cuisine created with dramatic presentations and complexity of ingredients, textures, and tastes. Kubu offers a truly memorable evening ideal couples and special occasions.
Ubud is renown as a destination for wellness and spirituality. The Mandapa Spa has built upon this tradition with their first-rate facilities including eight treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion, 24-hour fitness center and his and her facilities with a dry and steam saunas and ice fountains. The rooftop is the location of the open-air vitality pool with water massage jets, an infinity-edge hot pool with water jets that overlooks the river and tropical forest.
The gorgeous treatment rooms overlook the river which is a few yards away. The couples massage experience is nothing less than sublime in treatment rooms with opened doors to let in the fresh tropical air and the fragrance of frangipani as the sounds of the river lulls couples into Zen-like level of relaxation. The Mepijet Massage is their signature 90 mins massage created for weary travelers and targets tight, sore muscles with long rolling, kneading stretching strokes and acupressure to release deep-seated tension.
One would think that with so much to do on the property from yoga, rice paddy planting, to learning local craftwork, that one would never want to leave the resort. Be that as it may, there’s so much to do in an around Ubud that guest will want to take in what the destination has to offer.
The excursions offered by Mandapa take sightseeing to the next level. Guests embark on a tour to the key sites of the area escorted by resort staff in their vintage bright orange 1970s VW Thing convertible. The warm Bali sun and cooling breezes are enjoyable as guest putter along the winding roads past villages and verdant rice fields. Stops along the way include a short trek in the Instagram perfect rice field of Ceking village followed by a visit to the Tirta Empul holy water temple where locals and tourist bath in the holy water to wash away sins and bring blessings. The tour continues to the 1th-century Gunung Kawi temple and concludes with a sumptuous picnic lunch on a coffee plantation.
When we hear the term reserve, we think of something set aside in wait for a special time, occasion or person. Such as with wine, the reserve is of higher quality than usual and set aside and not to be sold immediately. When the time is right it is to be savored and fully appreciated. So, when the Ritz-Carlton, arguably the penultimate hospitality brand, creates a brand within the brand known as the Reserve, one needn’t think too long to understand that this is literally the apex of upscale resorts. The Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties are defined as being less than 100 rooms and in a unique destination. In fact, there are currently only four of these esteemed properties with several more in the planning. To savor the finest of what Bali has to offer, guests need to look no further than Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve.