Fashion Gods Descend on Island of the Gods

Cliffside Bali Resort Features Spa, Fashionistas and Extremely Private Grounds


March 4, 2008

The glam Bulgari Resort in Bali perches cliffside, overlooking the Indian Ocean.

The sublime setting on the peninsula of Bali, or Island of the Gods, was once the former hunting grounds of Balinese royals.

Today the jet-setting elite are escorted by a fleet of golf carts and whisked to the private beach below in a glass elevator tram.

Blink and you'll miss the people.

In this extremely private setting, there really isn't much to do, especially if you aren't there on your honeymoon, as it appears everyone else — 70 percent occupancy — is.

In fact, without a date to distract, especially for the Blackberry-toting, Manolo-clicking clientele the resort attracts, the silence can be deafening.

At least at first.

But staying in, in this breathtaking Zen-like setting, just seems wrong.

First stop is the spa. The private pavilions have large open-air windows with wispy white curtains and breathtaking views of the ocean below.

Therapies suit every high-life taste and need — balancing or replenishing, herbal or fruity, restorative or detoxifying.

The sound of crashing waves and the smell of salt water air mixed with natural ESPA oils fills each room.

There's the Single Massage With Volcanic Hot Stones, the Unforgettable Double Bulgari Royal Lulur, the Balinese Four-Hand Massage, the Jet-Lag Recovery Ritual.

Outside the pavilions, the pampering continues in plunge pools overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Barefoot staff serve hot serenity tea and delicate duck spring rolls cooked in banana slips.

The staff, and Banjar butlers, are everywhere, anticipating each guest's every need, returning everything back to its proper place without anyone's noticing.

They also offer factoids about the entrance to the spa area. It's a Joglo House, an intricately hand-carved structure, once used only by royal families and other wealthy people on the island of Java.

The brainchild of Italian architect Antonio Citterio, Bulgari's second hotel after Milan was built using primarily a mahogany wood from Java called Bangkiray, with large glass windows and open-air rooms to take in the breeze.

The resort's clean-lined furniture and unique accessories are handmade in Bali, inspired by local culture, history and nature, and designed by Indonesian artists and Citterio's team.

Each of the 59 villas, ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 a night, oozes intimacy, with its own secluded garden, al fresco living room, and plunge pool to escape the tropical humidity and rinse away the mozzie spray.

Inside, the free-standing villas capture the essence of Bulgari, resort-style, combining dark and modern furnishings with Balinese thatched roofs.

Luxuries include his and her closets, Bang & Olufsen speakers for the flat-screen TV and an elegantly hip bathroom with floor-to-ceiling glass, a stand-alone tub and an outdoor shower made of natural green subakumi stone.

A Balinese silk songket, or textile, drapes the bed with color. Handwoven with gold and silver thread, these ceremonial symbols of wealth can take many months to perfect.

Each night villa guests are gifted with Balinese turndown amenities, chosen to indulge the senses — including wind-makers, traditional chimes, incense and tokens from the spa.

Other souvenirs are available for purchase at the arts and crafts boutique.

Advanced shoppers can hit the Bulgari store, which recently sold more than $100,000 in a single purchase from its latest jewelry line, Elisia. A limited edition Bulgari Bali watch is also exclusively available there.

For a break from seclusion, guests can lounge at the infinity pool along the cliff's edge or take a dip in the outdoor Jacuzzi.

To get to the beach, guests are whisked cliffside by elevator tram four minutes, or 174 yards, down.

The specially designed funicular track and cabin was built in New Zealand and has glass windows so as not to miss a shade of the ocean's breathtaking blues.

Just before descending a final flight of stairs to the beach, the Beach Club is a resting spot for chilled cocktails, fresh seafood and a moment of life appreciation.

The final flight of stairs down to the beach can set the stage for a bride's dramatic entrance. The Beach Wedding is the latest of four wedding package offerings by Bulgari Bali. So far only one lucky couple has tied the knot in the sand.

In the evening, as the sun goes down and the sky swirls pinks and purples, candles and lanterns flicker throughout the resort.

Well-coiffed couples emerge from their villas to dine at Sangkar or Il Ristorante for authentic Indonesian or Italian flavors. Glasses clink at the cliff-top bar, whispers carry in foreign accents.

Even in the dark of night, when the ocean below is out of sight, the Bulgari Resort in Bali proves worthy of the Island of the Gods.