Remotely located in Gyanar, Bali, is the traditional resort, Santi Mandala Villa & Spa.
Upon arrival when I was walking along their bridge towards the front desk, hollering attracted me to the river in front of the resort where there were a group of buck naked boys gleefully catapulting themselves into the water and splashing one another. The welcoming staff explained that the kids were doing just as they had at their age.
The welcoming staff explained that the kids were doing just as they had at their age.
The open-aired resort is one entwined with Balinese traditions and fragments of the easy-going ways of the past have been kept even in the fast-paced ways of the present.
The private Pool Villa that we stayed at is rooted in nature with the entire bathroom located outside, which made for a gorgeous outdoor flower bath and interesting midnight toilet runs, while the spacious bedroom’s sliding doors open out to an inviting pool and lofty views of the resort’s lush grounds. A paddy rice field was situated just beside our Pool Villa and geckos a plenty sounded out their presence to leave you with no doubts that you were staying in Bali.
A part of being in Bali is dealing with the soaring heat and the villa’s plunge pool was lovely to soak in whenever it got too hot. The water never seemed to reach those artic levels like some pools get. As you bask in the environment’s tranquillity on the large and comfortable daybed, you might even hear a distant elephant’s trumpet or a roar of a tiger as the resort is located just beside Bali Zoo.
Ubud is about a 20-minute drive away, which Santi Mandala offers guests a free shuttle to. Given the distance, the shuttle service doesn’t really go often enough and you have to book your spot in advance to ensure you get a seat on the shuttle. The last pick up time in Ubud is at 10:30pm, which is 6 hours later (4pm) than the latest time you can be dropped in and another shuttle run at 7pm or 8pm would be a welcome addition to the service. The drop off and pick up point is at a Coco supermarket, which is near Ubud’s Monkey Forest, and is approx. 20 minutes’ walk from the main area, so be prepared to become a sweaty mess if that’s your destination. I recommend that you use the supermarket as an opportunity to stock up on in-room treats so you can enjoy the comfort of your pool villa because there’s no shop near the resort.
The complimentary breakfast is a simple affair with a modest buffet of pastries, cereal and fruit. There’s also a limited ala carte menu for eggs and to ask for a cappuccino or a latte will come at an additional cost, however, the humble breakfast was befitting of the morning’s serene setting as I sat relaxed admiring a pair of swans gliding along the river with my cup of local Bali coffee in hand.
The price of a room at Santi Mandala is of great value and combined with the ingrained Balinese traditions, the rustic setting and rural location, the resort is ideal for families and I’d recommend a great location for yoga groups to consider for spiritual retreats. In between yoga sessions, you can learn to sway your hips with cultural Balinese dance classes, receive a traditional massage, relax by the resort’s modern pool that overlooks the river which flows through the grounds, or saunter down to the edge of the resort to Santi Mandala’s very own waterfall.
This quaint resort is somewhere you can hop in and out of your online life with their fast Wi-Fi while still enjoying the yesteryear of Bali.