Bali Sets The Pace
By John Wogan, Travel + Leisure
Some of the most luxurious resort hotels on the planet are located in Indonesia, home to everything a well-traveled hotel connoisseur would expect: beautiful beaches, delicious food, postcard-perfect views, and faultless service. So it’s hardly a surprise that our readers are willing to endure multiple flights (and more than a full day of travel) to reach this archipelago of some 17,500 islands.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as City or Resort based on their locations and amenities.
The love affair with Bali continues this year, as the island is home to four of the five resorts on the list. Of note is the recent renovation of the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, where all 147 thatched-roof villas were given a fresh look using traditional Balinese ikat fabrics, wooden sculptures, and local artwork. All villas come with their own infinity plunge pools and views over Mount Agung, and one reader pointed out that the setting was very “private and romantic.”
Amandari is a big hit with couples (and loyal Aman fanatics) thanks to its secluded setting near Ubud, in Bali’s lush interior.
Suites feature coconut and teak wood details and have their own private gardens, while the open-air lobby was modeled after a wantilan (village meeting place). “The décor was stunning, and very true to the area and culture,” said one reader. “Impeccable service.” In the beachside area of Nusa Dua, the St. Regis Bali Resort impresses with an almost 40,000-square-foot swimmable lagoon.
But the sole non-Bali resort on the list also happens to be this year’s winner. Nihi Sumba Island, formerly Nihiwatu, scored rave reviews across the board for its remote location (it’s an hour by plane from Bali). Owner Chris Burch, who bought the property in 2012 and expanded its footprint by adding a spa, nine villas, and 13 rooms, has managed to preserve the edge-of-civilization vibe and strong sense of community.
1. Nihi Sumba Island
With just 33 villas spread across 560 acres, Nihi Sumba Island is far from your typical resort experience, and readers continually mentioned the sense of privacy and exclusivity.
Virtually every form of water activity is offered on the near-empty beach (and beyond), from surfing one of the best breaks in Indonesia to snorkeling, free diving and spearfishing. Yoga, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding satisfy those who want to remain on land. Whatever guests choose to do, it’ll be amid one of the most jaw-dropping jungle settings in Indonesia. As one reader put it, “this is paradise.”
2. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
3. Amandari, Bali
4. Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
5. St. Regis Bali Resort
Source: Travel + Leisure