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COMO Shambhala Estate - Ubud
Traveling the world doesn't mean that your faith needs to have the out-of-office autoreply. Last year we showed you the hotel temples of Thailand. Now, we bring you the religious corners of the hotels we visited in Bali.
Bali, unlike other islands in Indonesia, is predominantly Hindu in faith and each hotel and resort in Bali has it's own temple to pay respect to gods. On our recent trip to the tropical island we took note of the prominently placed temples at our accomodation.
Warning: for serious hotel geeks only!
Step into a suite (they're all suites) at the Anantara Resort and Spa Seminyak, Bali as we did last week, and you'll notice the seamless smooth stone walls, the huge sitting area, the view to the ocean, the fresh passionfruit on the coffeetable...but in the bathroom it's a coffeetable of another sorta coffeetable book.
On the bath tray above a deep soaking tub sits a coffeetable book titled Overnight Sensations. The bath oil and bath salt also on the tray are things you'd expect to see in a bathroom, but this giant book? What if it gets wet? No matterit's a whole tome that addresses hotel design details such as this very thing; the book features other stunning properties around the world, perhaps the better to help you plan your next stay from the comfort of this one. And they're not all Anantaras eitherthey're any property worth profiling and we love it.
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Kopi Luwak. Sound familiar? You've likely heard it mentioned in a documentary or by your coffee snob friend, because this "Kopi Luwak" stuff is well known to be one of the rarest, most expensive coffees in the world (and it used to be the rarest).
Luwak coffee owes all these superlatives to how it's produced: an Indonesian civet (like a possum) eats a certain type of coffee berries. Its digestive system digests the meat of the berry, adds enzymes to the bean inside, and then poops out the bean. These beans are then collected, cleaned and sterilized, roasted and ground into coffee powder.
Kopi Luwak is definitely one of those bucket list items; actually we believe it's even featured in the movie "The Bucket List." Go figure.
At coffee shops around the world, occasional bags of the rare stuff find their way into stock, going for $40-$60 per cup. In Bali, Indonesia however, the "cat poo coffee" is far easier to come by and you can even find individual baggies of the powder for $2. The W Retreat and Spa Bali, being a fancy schmancy hotel, both offers it on their bar menu and marks it up to 120,000 IDR ($13 per cup).
Staying at a hotel that's 3+ stars in Jakarta, Indonesia means you'll likely have a view of the city; many of the central high-rise buildings house hotels. That said, it's rare to have such a straight shot view to the iconic Wisma 46, Indonesia's tallest building nicknamed the "Fountain Pen."
Hopefully you can see why this pointy, 48-story skyscraper looks as though it's ready to write its John Hancock on the Jakarta smog layer. And, hopefully, you're checking it out from inside a cushy room at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, which sits smack dab at the traffic circle around the "Bundaran HI" welcome monument.
The Hotel Indonesia itself is a landmark relic from the 1960s, and now that it's managed by Kempinski the vintage exterior is countered by a seriously modern interior; we're talking designer furniture in the lobby and guestrooms that look like they're in Manhattan, versus a chaotic capital in Southeast Asia. Rooms at the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski being around $250 per night.
When you check into a hotel and sit down to flip through the room service menu tucked into the back of the Guest Services binder, odds are good that one item will be the hotel's "famous" something-or-other, like a signature burger. At the Alila Hotel Jakarta, however, it's something a bit more local: the Nasi Campur 'Alila'.
For 80,000 rupiah ($8.70), you get a large plate of traditional Indonesian fried rice, topped with a fried egg. On the side are a few skewers of chicken satay, some prawn crackers and trimmings. It's a substantial, tasty meal for room service, and the price is definitely right. Alila Hotels is a Singapore-based hotel company, with all their properties in either Indonesia or India, so it makes total sense to forego a huge Western room service menu (though there are several solid choices).
We booked two nights at the Alila Jakarta on Jetsetter.com for $234 total, mainly because they have reliable, free WiFi. Little did we know that the room service was also part of the positives.
We are suckers for a room with a killer view. We find that we are even more likely to forgive some minor hotel inconveniences if we can stare out the window at something pretty--yeah we are that shallow. Let's help out our fellow hotel mavens by uploading rooms with killer views to the HotelChatter/Flickr photo pool, or by sending the photo along to us. We will feature our favorites in this space from time to time. Remember to tell us the name of the hotel and the room number of the hot view.
Maybe Mother Nature isn't too happy that the climate conference participants in Bali, Indonesia couldn't arrange a video conference instead of flying across the world to let out a lot of hot air. A 5.4-magnitude earthquake hit the island of Bali last Friday. There were no damages to the hotels where participants are staying though, so perhaps it was a warning shot.
According to this estimate from Bloomberg, the conference will generate as much pollution as 20,350 cars used for a year. So where are these people staying? At eco-lodges using gray water for irrigation of the landscaping? At bungalows made of bamboo and other natural materials, powered by solar? Ummm, no.
With some 15,000 delegates attending (some arriving by private jet), most are staying at the biggest, brashest hotels on the island, located in the Nusa Dua area. The names kind of give it away: Grand Mirage Resort, Swiss Grand Bali, Melia Bali Villas & Spa Resort, Nikko Bali Resort & Spa, Grand Hyatt Bali, and others that certainly did not have the word "energy efficient" in their business plan. According to the Telegraph, they're not above a little price gouging either:
Hotels, many of which fall into the bracket of some of the most luxurious in the world, have spotted the chance to charge accordingly, with many saying accommodation is only available now at around £400 to £500 a night for a small single room.
The hotel where British ministers will stay, the Westin Resort Nusa Dua, describes the experience of staying there as "sheer indulgence."
[Photo: All lit up at the Swiss Grand Bali]
The resort is located on Sumba island, a remote place and as Conde Nast Traveler points out, "one where people only recently gave-up head-hunting."
Surfers dig the place for the perfect waves but eco-friendly tourists will like the place because it was the winner of the Best Hotel category in the First Choice Responsible Tourism awards for 2005.
With a little more than 400 acres for its use, the resort has seven thatched-roof luxury bungalows and three two-bedroom villas, all complete with balconies overlooking the beach and air-conditioning. (Everything was built by Indonesian craftsman with local materials.)
There's also an open living and dining room, a cliff-top bar, a spa and a yoga studio.
However, its the owner Claus Graves' contributions to the area that put this hotel on the hippie radar. The Sumba Foundation has raised $1.4 million--most contributed by hotel guests--which has gone to help reduce malaria in local children, provide mosquito netting to locals, distribute medicine to needy children, donate services to local schools and help built 13 wells that supply potable water for 5,200 Sumbanese. Take that Four Seasons!
Yet, while this hotel is eco-friendly, sadly it's not wallet-friendly with doubles starting at $390. But it is for a good cause....
· Nihiwatu reviews [TripAdvisor]