The Mystical Beauty of Bali

The Island of the Gods...

Full of legends and magical tales, the island of Bali is a colorful procession of festivals, music and exotic dances presented by its warm, gentle people. The southernmost end to a string of shimmering islands between Thailand and Australia, Bali is Indonesia’s radiant gift to the world, a place of spiritual complexities and innocent charm. Marco Polo came here nearly seven centuries ago looking for spice. Sophisticated travelers arrive on Bali’s shores from around the world today, seeking its cultural wonders and tropical climate.


Bali is a land of contrasts, from lush, humid mountains to arid coastal lowlands with fresh, persistent breezes. Terraced rice fields sidestep down the hillsides, and graceful coconut palms sway rhythmically over white sand beaches. At the southern tip of the island is Nusa Dua, Bali’s newest beach resort named after twin headlands which jut out into the turquoise sea. Here, the mystical culture of the gentle Balinese people blends in perfect harmony with world-class facilities to create an international enclave of impressive resort hotels.


The buildings are designed in traditional island style, with strict adherence to guidelines that no building be taller than the coconut trees and all must contain at least one Balinese temple. The people of Bali practice a form of Hinduism dating from the 7th century; many blend both Hindu and Buddhist principles in a daily ritual of offerings which may be as simple as a spoonful of rice on a delicate leaf tray or as elaborate as tropical floral arrangements and flags. Estimates suggest there are more than 20,000 Hindu temples in Bali, not counting the small shrines in homes, schools and offices.


Ancient religion of the Balinese even plays a part within Nusa Dua’s sunny resort hotels. One elegant resort, the Grand Hyatt Bali, is patterned after the exquisite Balinese water palaces of old. Four ethnic villages are clustered within an interconnecting series of cascading waterfalls, tropical gardens and koi filled lagoons that meander through the resort’s 40 acres and on into the sea. The Grand Hyatt Bali enjoys the longest stretch of beachfront in the entire area, and features six pools and a waterslide in an elaborately designed, terraced tropically landscaped water playground.


Each of the hotel’s 750 rooms has a distinct Balinese feel. Grass mats cover the floors, furnishings are light, and flowering orchids and hibiscus cascade over patio walls. Grand Hyatt offers five separate dining experiences, with seafood, Chinese, Italian, Indonesian and Japanese restaurants all located on the property. In evening, intriguing sounds of traditional Balinese instruments accompany the ethnic dancers who perform in the resort’s central lobby area. Ancient Balinese dances were almost invariably based on religious belief.


The game of golf has found its way to Bali and has flourished. Adjacent to the Grand Hyatt Bali is the internationally acclaimed Bali Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole championship course in a spectacular seaside setting. Designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright, the course plays through three distinctly different environments. Holes 1 to 9 travel uphill and provide sweeping views of Nusa Dua, the Indian Ocean and Bali’s sacred volcano, Mount Agung. Holes 10 through 16 play along gently sculptured fairways through a mature coconut grove; they’re bordered by deeply contoured sand bunkers groomed in artistic patterns. The final two holes run along the beach and face the prevailing winds before winding up at the Balinese-style clubhouse.


As design elements throughout the course, Nelson and Wright incorporated small stone walls reminiscent of rice field terraces to shore up the sides of fairways and tees. Balinese culture also appears through hand carved stone tee markers and intricate stone godlets that serve as the 150-yard markers; there’s even an authentic, actively used temple located on the beach just off the 17th hole.


For the ultimate in privacy, the villas of Four Seasons Resort Bali are unsurpassed. Within close proximity to Bali Golf and Country Club, the thatched-roof pavilions of Four Seasons house one- and two-bedroom villas beautifully designed for open air living. The indoor environment becomes a natural extension of the resort’s lovely outdoor surroundings, with screened louvered doors and refreshing outdoor showers in secluded gardens.


Each villa has its own private courtyard entered through carved and painted Balinese double doors. Private plunge pools and luxuriant pocket gardens add to the serenity, and the air is fragrant with the scent of frangipani. As a homage to the gods, the Balinese have a small temple within each villa, and offerings of beautifully arranged flowers are made daily.


Scuba diving, white-water rafting, kayaking, hiking and water skiing on the glassy surface of a volcanic lake are available. Shopping for local crafts such including stone and wood carvings, batik prints and ikat cloth is a real treat as well. But the people of Bali are the true lure of this island, with their sacred practices and their complex culture. The warm hospitality and intriguing rituals of the Balinese are sure to stir the soul of all who visit here.

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