Bali's Apurva Kempinski the last word in luxury

Photo of Amanda Keenan

Holiday island's latest retreat is a stunner, writes AMANDA KEENAN

I stumble — neck craned, mouth agape — through what is surely the most breathtaking lobby of any resort in Asia and out on to the expansive, sunbathed balcony that overlooks the sprawling gardens and the flat, amethyst ocean.

I’ve been to the Four Seasons in Jimbaran Bay, Bali’s very first big resort, and had my honeymoon at Ayana, its hippest. The Apurva Kempinski, designed to conjure cascading rice paddies and the revered Pura Besakih water temple, is the newest resort on the Island of the Gods — and for now, at least, it is the final word.

Despite her grandiose girth, the Apurva Kempinski doesn’t skimp on the details or hide behind her heft. Three nights there and you honestly cannot imagine anyone, anywhere doing it any better. The German-owned five-star resort is a world of its own. A sanctuary. A state of mind.

There are 475 rooms and while on my visit the resort was fully booked, it never felt busy or crowded — the serenity never compromised. At the top end of this stunning situation are 43 one, two and three-bedroom villas. There are another 161 ocean-front junior suites like mine, and 14 specialist suites. Then there are 256 so-called grand deluxe rooms with footprints ranging from 65-80sqm. My suite is a handsome combination of contemporary design and Balinese bling. The bathroom alone is bigger than a regular hotel room.

The exclusive Cliff Lounge is deluxe by any standard. Two pools are surrounded by classy cabanas inhabited by loved-up couples supping salty margaritas. Happy hour, from 5-7pm each day, means free cocktails and wine, and a generous selection of snacks at an elegant buffet and cooking station. An excellent vodka martini comes with three olives, a cool towel and a smile.

Apurva Kempinski’s culinary offering is world class. The flagship restaurant, Pala, boasts an elaborate spread that immediately banishes any buffet snobbery. Seafood, Mexican, Indian, Chinese and of course Indonesian food and dessert stations are next level. Upstairs, the rooftop bar is a sexy, grown-up oasis overlooking the pools and the ocean. And on the beachfront is the Reef Beach Club — a casual, family-style restaurant that sits adjacent to yet another pool. You can dine on contemporary Italian-style fare and seafood at a table on the sand while a band plays.

In the main building is the Selasar Deli. There, we are treated to a Jamu masterclass. Jamu is a Balinese pressed juice made using the likes of turmeric, lime and ginger. The food here is upscale traditional Balinese food in a breezy, bright and utterly charming setting. Around the corner is Izakaya by OKU, a high-end Japanese joint. If you want to indulge further, the Apurva Spa is a magical destination. Spacious rooms, many of them with verandas and water views, open out off a long golden corridor.

The Apurva Kempinski sits between the Ritz-Carlton and the Hilton. Both are popular wedding venues but they’re surely getting cold feet thanks to the good-looking new kid in town.

This is an edited version of the original, full-length story, which you can read here.

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Disclaimer

Amanda Keenan was a guest of Kempinski Hotels. They have not seen or approved this story.

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