// THE BASICS
I wanted to visit Bali and see a real slice of the country. I didn’t have any interest in the over-developed tourist beach resorts of Kuta, Seminak or Sanur. Instead I was looking for rice paddies, local communities and craftsmen to experience the natural side of this tropical island. I’m happy to say at Mandala Desa – a luxury villa in Bali – all of my wish list came true! I first read their excellent Trip Advisor reviews whilst searching for accommodation in Ubud, as this is a popular but increasingly over-developed inland destination that I already knew of. Mandala Desa is not actually in Ubud, so I’m even more pleased to have discovered it and be able to share this glowing review of a wonderful untouched neighbourhood of Bali.
This boutique resort and luxury villa in Bali can be found in the small village of Batuan, near larger Sukawati and about 30 minutes’ drive south of Ubud. The entire property is large and spacious yet retains an air of exclusivity via the 5 immaculately maintained accommodation options. The largest Superior Suite has two bedrooms ideal for families with older children; the View and Garden Suites each have one bedroom and private terrace; the two Deluxe Villas (I stayed in the poolside villa) perfectly integrate self-contained indoor and outdoor living. Here you’ll be treated to a sumptuous bedroom and living area, private sundeck with views of the rice terraces, gorgeous floating dining pavilion, lotus pond teeming with koi carp, and finally a beautiful bathroom connected to an outside bath and shower!
There is a shared central pool with sun loungers, as well as extra cosy pavilions for shade. I suspect even if every villa was full to capacity, each guest would feel they had sufficient privacy and solo pool time based on differing daily agendas and appetites for exploring. Behind the two Deluxe Villas is Mandala Desa‘s own organic garden from which they source almost all of the items you’ll find on the extensive menu. At the far end is a second communal terrace and peaceful lounge area that overlooks a lawn and play area for children.
// WHAT I LOVED
Aside from everything?!
Waking up at Mandala Desa was a blissful experience and I was treated like a princess for the rest of the day by the delightful staff. Their attentiveness at this luxury villa in Bali is second to none. As the hotel wasn’t busy during my visit, I was required to order from the choice of five complimentary breakfasts the evening before. I can’t think of a better start to the day than a lovingly prepared feast – including anything from pancakes, organic oatmeal and daily homemade yoghurt to fresh fruit, jams made from the garden and squeezed juice – served on your own private terrace. My definition of a piece of heaven. Oh, and afternoon tea and freshly baked cake is included as well. Sigh.
My favourite time of the day was at around 5:30 in the evening as the night starts to draw in and the heat from the day subsides.The noisy chorus of cicadas, frogs, geckos and birds is unmistakable. It stays sunlit for an hour or so, during which time the gentle and caressing dusky light feels perfect accompanied with a chilled Bintang. When in Bali 😉 Mandala Desa is surrounded by vibrant green rice paddies and around this time the workers will burn rice stalks (I believe a form of pest control), producing a serenity of sorts via this smoky routine labour.
The food at Mandala Desa was not only the best I ate in Bali, but perhaps some of the best vegetarian food I’ve ever eaten! Every meal was faultless and extremely creative in terms of flavours and aesthetics. Due in part to the location and travelling solo, yet also because of the standard of food, all three of my evening meals were here: try the Seafood Curry, the Vegetable Curry, and my absolute favourite the Nasi Campur. Incredible.
Finally I wanted to mention the immense effort the Mandala Desa team went to ensure I got the most out of my stay. I followed the suggested three bike trails (using the free push bike supplied) to check out the local area, as well as doing a half day tour to see some temples. My driver Ketut was extremely knowledgeable about the local area (he was born in Batuan, a village of less than 400 people) and shared lots of information on our visits to Ganung Kawi and Terta Empul. My highlights however were getting to meet his wonderful grandfather, a famous mask-maker, and having a tour of the Batuan Village Hall. The importance, power and respect of community in Bali is extremely humbling.
// GET TO KNOW
The owner and on-site manager of Mandala Desa is the wonderful Jacinta, who originates from Holland. She has been personally running the boutique resort and luxury villa in Bali for 8 years, having bought it from an American couple who built it around ten years earlier. Jacinta and her Indonesian husband met working in the cruise industry and now live in Butuan with their two young children, who will benefit from growing up fluent in Indonesian, English and Dutch. Smart kids.
Describe in 3 words how you feel about your business // Blessed, passionate, happy.
What would you love to do if you weren’t running Mandala Desa? // I enjoyed my previous job as Officer on a huge cruise ship. However, that was hard and stressful work and for now not possible for me to combine with raising two little kids. I like to travel, contribute to the enjoyment of other people, look for opportunities for improvement, train other people and horses, as well as educate myself more. Maybe I’ll write a book one day, but for now I like to spend time with friends, family and the horses, as well as salsa dancing.
Dream guest? // The nice thing about running a guest house is that you get to know people from all over the world, without travelling yourself. They all have different backgrounds, professions, preferences, religions, colours, ages and languages. That is what makes my job different and exciting every day. No guest is the same, so none of my days are the same!
// ADDRESS BOOK
Phone Number: +62 361 294 525 or +62 812 8888 3002
Address: Br. Lantangidung, Batuan, Sukawati, Ubud, Bali 80582, Indonesia