Paradise island; that’s what they say about Bali. This island offers so many amazing things and culture, all of which make Bali one of the most famous Indonesian brands.
Nowadays, Canggu is known as the place for expats. If you want to experience bustling Bali, throw parties, and chat in bars, the crowd is there. Some people find it fun. Sometimes, some people tire of being in tourist spots and want to be in a quiet place. Ubud offers you that option.
For two days, I was enriched in a sanctuary, a luxury village, to escape from busy city life and deadlines. With the hotel’s tagline, “A sanctuary to relax one’s mind, body and soul“, Mandapa, which is located along the majestic Ayung River and meets the lush forest in Ubud, offers you a different experience. You’ll stay in a blend of rural atmosphere in a luxurious place. It’s definitely a great getaway from the bustle of busy streets and sparkling city lights. “That’s exactly what I need,” I told myself.
I arrived in the afternoon; it was hot outside and I followed where my map took me. That led me to a residential alley. Wait, am I in the right place? Having a moment’s hesitation as the location is hidden from the surrounding area, I decided to just move forward and finally, I arrived. Someone was standing in front of the lobby and led me to come in. And wow, the lobby is on the highest level of this five-hectare hotel and I had a clear view of the rainforest from there. I took a deep breath, feeling my lungs being cleansed of the polluted air below.
Not long after I set foot in the reception area, a green refreshing drink came; their signature welcome drink Loloh Cemcem, a traditional chlorophyll juice along with the cemcem leaf. It’s a little bitter but very refreshing – I loved it. This traditional drink must be familiar if you have been to Penglipuran Village. To be very honest, I preferred the one served here.
When I got to my room, I didn’t interact with many tourists here. I guess they had the same agenda on their minds: being away from hecticness. A buggy car is ready to take guests to every corner of the hotel. Any plans to lose weight? Skip the buggy and get your daily steps in.
Entering my suite, a king-sized bed with wood surrounding gives a romantic yet classy ambience, the rooms truly represent a village with their wooden interiors and dim yellow lights. A bathtub facing the bed and rainforest just pushed me to take a dip to relax.
It’s equipped with a fully stocked minibar, an espresso machine, a hairdryer, and air conditioning. What’s fascinating is the bathroom – where the shower, toilet, and bathtub are in a separate place, and two sliding doors separate it from the bedroom. It’s a unique way to control privacy which other accommodation doesn’t normally offer. For me, I kept open the sliding door to be able to soak in the bathtub while enjoying the view that is directly visible from my bedroom. Facing the bathtub, there are two large round mirrors with aesthetic lights that make it impossible for anyone to just take one mirror selfie.
Named after the entrance to a traditional Hindu temple, Mandapa offers individually tailored spiritual, wellness, health, and detox programmes, complemented by the full-time personalised attention of a dedicated Patih (king’s assistant) or butler, the retreat is designed to be a sanctuary to relaxing one’s mind, body, and soul naturally.
The Balinese way of living is the concept of this hotel. As the name implies, Mandapa Village truly represents a village. The interior is made mostly of wood and bamboo, with natural surroundings, and no plastic. I remember when I ordered a drink, the straw they used was made from lemongrass stalks. “Wow, they are very serious about promoting sustainability,” I thought to myself.
Mandapa is a resort with 35 spacious luxurious suites and 25 private pool villas, designed to magnify and embrace the surrounding tropical landscape. Equipped with facilities such as a spa, sauna, gym, vitality pool, relaxation room, and eight treatment rooms including for singles and couples. Considering this place is very spacious with complete facilities, you’ll get a stronger urge to stay in rather than explore since everything you need is literally here!
One thing that really caught my attention here is a temple by the river that belongs to a family, where several times a year, traditional ceremonies are held. The best part is, you can be a part of the ceremony! The rooms at Mandapa are equipped with kamen and selendang – traditional Balinese bottoms and belts – that you can use when you want to join. Wish yourself luck as the ceremony is held on certain days such as Piodalan, Galungan, and other special days.
Don’t worry about your kids, they’ll be well-occupied. In accordance with their “back to nature” concept, Mandapa provides a Kids Club built with bamboo for your “mini explorer” to play within nature. There’s no such thing as a Playstation or any other electronic game. Children are invited to play with the concept of nature and socialisation such as playing with puppets, reading books, playing ball, and feeding animals like the resident chickens, ducks, and their two superstar cows, Manda and Dapa. It’s not over yet – the unique activity here is planting rice. You can keep your child away from gadgets and have them play in the mud for a while.
I had breakfast at Sawah Terrace restaurant, this place is above the Ayung River. I sat in a corner where the view was clearly visible without anything blocking my way, allowing me to enjoy my food while looking at the flowing water – this aroused my appetite. The food choices here combine buffet and a la carte, Indonesian and western for breakfast.
Mandapa Village is home to several restaurants that have their own speciality. Kubu Restaurant serves European-Mediterranean dishes, Sawah Terrace with their Balinese and Indonesian cuisine, and The Pool Bar and The Library, where guests can spend an afternoon enjoying beverages.
The next day, I joined John Hardy’s master class jewellery making programme, which is an additional Mandapa package called “Time to Reconnect”. I was very excited as this was my first time. I got there and did a little touring around. I didn’t mean to overdo it – but I was amazed by the whole process. I never imagined making a silver bracelet would take days with such a tedious process where everything is made with great care and attention. Unforgettable new experiences were unlocked!
Only 30 minutes from John Hardy, I arrived at the hotel and went straight to my room. It was raining outside and my stomach started growling. I rushed down to go to the Sawah Terrace restaurant; serving authentic Indonesian foods for dinner. I sat in the same place where I had had breakfast. Well, I couldn’t see the river anyway, but I think it’s my favourite place. The view of the river in the afternoon turned into a romantic atmosphere, “what a perfect place to overcome hunger and calm my mind before I head off to my bed,” I whispered to myself.
I ordered sate languan, oxtail soup, and bebek goreng bacem. I was thinking of ordering dessert but I’d already filled my stomach with all the main dishes that I’d ordered earlier. “Let’s try tomorrow,” I told myself. I returned to the room in a happy mood and rushed to fill my bathtub with warm water and bath salts – dipping myself while watching TV, relaxing my tense muscles and my full stomach.
I had planned to wake up early in the morning for a walk, but I failed to do so – I peacefully slept in and felt unbothered to wake up at 8:20am. That was fine because no matter what time you wake up, you’ll wake up to nature – maybe a little late to hear the birds whistling, but the fresh atmosphere overlooks the rainforest and the sound of the Ayung river can still be heard clearly all the time.
Having slept like a baby and woken up fully charged, I decided to grab the buffet for breakfast that morning. Heaven on earth! Everything from nasi goreng, bubur Bali, bread, pastry, sushi, chicken buns, sashimi, and many more – made me confused about which one to take first! I glanced at the various pastries and was tempted to pick up the doughnuts later as yesterday I didn’t have space in my stomach to order any dessert.
Surprisingly, the chef prepared a special smoothie for me. Its soft texture is worth competing with gelato – but of course, this one is healthier. A scoop of smoothie inside a greenish-white coconut, made me take a few pictures before forcing myself to eat it right away.
While I was busy admiring and falling for the comfort of this place – I didn’t realise it was already my last day. I filled my soul with gusto for the next few days and was ready to get back into the routine. Sad to say goodbye but see you again soon, Mandapa?
- Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- Address : Jalan Kedewatan, Banjar Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, 80571
- T : +62 361 4792777
- W : ritzcarlton.com
- Instagram : @mandapareserve