Are you dreaming of mid-afternoon mojitos by a saltwater lagoon and waterfalls that pummel the knots in your shoulders? Rosie reports back from a rather indulgent stay at St. Regis Bali…
If you know me, you’ll know it takes a lot to render me lost for words. But upon arrival at the St. Regis Bali, I was not only left speechless, I also found myself welling up.
“It’s absolutely stunning,” was just about all I could muster to my butler Hare, who looked at me sympathetically. “It does have that effect on some people. Perhaps a drink?”
Fortified by a glass of Jamu – a turmeric and ginger concoction consumed in Indonesia for its strengthening purposes, I am told – I am just about ready to be escorted to where I am staying.
As I am led inside the lobby of my suite and attempt to take in the gigantic bed, the balcony, the private dressing room, the huge bathtub – I begin to go weak at the knees again.
“Please, relax,” Hare purrs. “Let me take care of your unpacking.”
And so I lie on the bed, plucking grapes from the fruit bowl that has been left for me, feeling a little like a reclining Cleopatra being utterly pampered. I struggle to shake off the guilt for letting poor Hare deal with the mess that is my hastily-packed suitcase, but when I see how beautifully he folds my garments into the cupboards, I realise he is the right man for the job.
Soon after, I’m whisked away on a golf buggy to explore the resort. I’m told it’s at full capacity, but find it hard to believe given how peaceful the place seems. Perhaps everyone was just as enamoured by their rooms as I had been, and hadn’t made it outside.
I’m shown around one of the lagoon villas, all of which have direct access to the longest saltwater lagoon in Bali, before taking in the resort’s turtle conservation efforts and butterfly-themed spa and gym, which ooze serenity. It’s my idea of paradise.
Back at my suite, I don’t have long to get changed before the first surprise in store for me, so it’s just as well Hare has folded my kaftans in a perfect pile. I slip one on then head to the grand staircase, where a performance is about to begin.
As day turns to night, a troupe of drummers accompany fire dancers, whose feats elicit both gasps and cheers from a captivated audience. The traditional ceremony lasts a full thirty minutes, by which time night has fallen and I’m ready to discover what culinary gems this dazzling resort has to offer.
Dinner is at Kayaputi, the resort’s fine-dining restaurant headed up by Harald Wiesmann, a Master of Wine who selects a sublime Merlot for our meal. After an amuse bouche of carrot and lime panna cotta with cured scallop and caviar, followed by a starter of soy-cured salmon with compressed vegetables and coconut pearls, Harald presents me with a scroll containing a poem he has written about the wine we are drinking. “I wanted to ensure your meal was a feast for all the senses, so this is to stimulate the mind,” he explains. I begin to wonder whether this really is some kind of divine playground after all.
Our sensory journey is completed by listening to live jazz in the King Cole Bar, accompanied with a Bloody Mary for tradition’s sake – the drink was invented in the St. Regis New York. The smooth, serenading sounds lull me into a dream-like state, and I float effortlessly into the comfort of the down pillows on my huge bed, sleeping the best I have done in weeks – not just on account of the Merlot, I’m sure.
I wake up early, energised and ready for a sunrise yoga class on the beachfront. As I hold a downward dog, I can feel the blissful sensation of rays of sunshine tickling my back, and I finish in a savasana with a smile extending across my face, barely able to contain my gratitude.
Time for breakfast – and boy am I in for a treat. The waitress explains that breakfast comprises three parts: a la carte, the buffet, and chefs bringing around tasters of their special dishes. Before I’ve even contemplated the buffet I’m facing the dilemma of what to choose from a menu including lobster eggs Benedict, wagyu steak and eggs, caviar and foie gras. You know you’re on a spectacular holiday when the hardest task you face is whether to have another portion of the charcoal pancakes or save room for the cheese trolley.
After more rounds of strawberry sorbet, dragonfruit bircher muesli, coconut croissants and salted caramel waffles than I’d like to admit (and that’s just the sweet courses…), it’s time to recover by the pool. I can choose from the main pool, the saltwater lagoon or the beach, and opt for the tranquil lagoon. After allowing my breakfast to digest while relaxing on a huge day bed, I decide to swim the length of it to make room for lunch.
I’m tempted into Gourmand Deli by its jars of freshly-baked mini chocolate chip cookies resting invitingly on every table, and contemplate a multi-course lunch comprised solely of the patisserie delights that stand there seducing me: chocolate truffles, a chocolate fountain, ice creams, macarons, and various cakes and tarts all made by a team of pastry chefs on site. Instead I choose a salad to justify having three desserts…
The ensuing sugar coma demands that I spend the rest of the afternoon lying languidly by another pool. This time I opt for the main pool, since it has a swim-up bar that might just tempt me into a mid-afternoon mojito.
A few hours (and cocktails) later and it’s time for a massage at Remede Spa. On my therapist’s advice I begin with a circuit of the hydrotherapy pool, where jets massage different body parts – my favourite being the waterfall that pummels the knots in my shoulders. After an invigorating dip in the plunge pool, I’m returned to sobriety and taken to the therapy room for my Balinese massage.
The technique of long strokes highlights areas that are particularly tense or knotty, and for a tiny woman my therapist possesses extraordinary strength when it comes to working through my knots. She gives my shoulders some extra attention, telling me “you no go massage enough”. Sufficiently chastised, I vow to book many a return visit to this magical place.
I drift back to my room in a bit of a daze, a blissed-out mix of both mojito- and massage-induced mellowness. I decide a nap is probably a good idea, and wake up hours later, realising I’ve slept through my dinner reservation.
“Hare, I’m so, so sorry,” I apologise down the phone meekly. Of course he’s already rearranged it for me, and offered room service as an alternative. Ashamed of my mistake, I politely decline the latter and hot foot it to Dulang, an Indonesian restaurant that serves traditional ‘Rijstafel’ meals – a feast of multiple small plates including sate chicken, Balinese barbecued chicken, and shrimp wrapped in banana leaf.
Resisting the temptation to order another round of black rice porridge with coconut ice cream and banana fritters, I return to bed and promptly resume the deep sleep I’d only just pulled myself out of.
As I drift off to the memory of being lulled by the waves in the lagoon pool, the prospect of floating through a few more days like this at the St. Regis Bali seems rather dreamy indeed.