No trip to Bali would be complete without a visit to the forested, mountainous Ubud. And in our humble opinion, no visit to Ubud would be complete without a stay at the magical Maya Ubud Resort & Spa. Lined with traditional Balinese-style cottages that come with private gardens and pools as well as a serene golf course, gym and ethereal riverside spa, this resort is an extension of Ubud’s prime attractions such as the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Goa Gajah Cave Temple and Tegallalang Rice Terrace. Ubud was our second stop in Bali after Sanur, and so large and enticing was Maya Ubud that we changed our hectic travel plans and spent an entire day simply enjoying the various sights and pleasures the resort offered.
We reached Ubud after an hour-long drive from Maya Sanur and the change in landscape was remarkable. Gone was the easy, seaside rhythm of Sanur and in its place was an older, deeper music, personified by stunning paintings on display outside art galleries at Ubud market, little roads fringed by whispering trees and a cloudier sky. A long path within the gate led us to the bright and cheery reception area of Maya Ubud Resort & Spa. All the staff wore the traditional dress of kebaya (fitted lace blouse) and sarong for women and sarong, shirt and udeng (head dress) for men. After a brief wait during which a refreshing welcome drink kept us company, we were taken to our cottage in a golf buggy.
A luxury hideout in the woods
Our cottage was so vast and the room so wide that we were simply not able to contain it all in one frame. Photos really don’t do justice to this resort but we’ll endeavour to give you a glimpse of its loveliness, even if we did have to pan each time to include the high ceiling crisscrossed with Balinese wooden beams! Our cottage had a high, four-poster bed, a large LCD TV hidden within a multi-purpose unit, writing desk, wardrobe with self-sensing light and a luxurious bath-tub and entrance to the outdoor shower in the bathroom. Yes, we had a completely private outdoor shower adjoining the cottage pool, both of which were surrounded by thick, protective foliage. But the fixture we ended up using the most was the comfy, long settee outside the cottage, perfect for listening to the birds and bees and dozing the afternoon away.
Early morning jottings
Tiny blackbirds slice the Balinese sky
Even as a golden orb peeks
From behind the trees –
It’s divine light so all-powerful
That even the neighbouring clouds aren’t immune.
The sun rises early at Maya Ubud, as do the little spotted doves and other myriad birds on the elven property. Last night, we glimpsed the tinkling Petanu River and waterfall in the indigo moments of a passing day. This morning, the light flutters in through our shuttered door and reminds us of lovelier joys ahead.
The day we arrived, we kept up our exploration of Maya Ubud’s infinity pools, walking trails and hidden sanctuaries well until darkness took over. We raced against time to make it across the wooden bridge over the robust Petanu River, close to the spa and the riverside restaurant. We felt like we were in a rainforest, surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing gush of the waterfall. Another favourite moment was when we climbed a large mound in the middle of the resort garden so we could be silhouetted against the setting sun. We also toured the prestigious Petanu Villa and observed red and orange fish swimming around in the L-shaped pond between the gym and golf course.
High tea and breakfast
Maya Ubud offers complimentary high tea for its guests at Bar Bedulu, the garden restaurant, consisting of tea, coffee, iced tea, cakes and one Indonesian specialty such as laklak, a delicious pancake served with grated coconut and palm sugar. We chose a table on the terrace where a sweet breeze kept us company and panoramic views of the forest and mountains enveloped us on all sides.
Breakfast was always served at Maya Sari, the signature restaurant with a variety of dining spaces. One counter was dedicated entirely to local delights and some of the dishes we tried and enjoyed included pisang goreng, banana fritters served with custard; bubur sum-sum; pandan rice pudding with palm sugar; pumpkin pudding and potato and vegetable coconut curry. We also loved the organic yoghurt with coconut and honey. We’d always choose a table overlooking the garden even if it became sunny because one simply can’t get enough of the scenery at Maya Ubud.
Balinese massage at the spa
Our second day at Maya Ubud began with a rejuvenating couples’ Balinese full-body massage. We were given a choice of three different oils – jasmine oil, ginger oil and a traditional Balinese flower oil with curative properties. The last one smelt heavenly and so, the Balinese oil it was. The cooling lemongrass drink we were offered on arrival put us in a great mood, as did the artful massage room, where we could hear the tinkling of the Petanu River. We’ve enjoyed several Balinese massages in India but to experience the real thing in Bali was a revelation. We wished we could learn to massage the soles of our feet the way the therapists did! After our session was over, we were asked to let the oil stay for an hour. In the meanwhile, we munched on a platter of fruits and relaxed by the infinity pool outside River Cafe.
Every morning at 7 AM, the resort conducts complimentary yoga classes at the open-air yoga pavilion overlooking the gardens and terraced rice fields. But if like us, you like to linger over your mornings, it might be a better idea to take a dip in the infinity pool outside Maya Sari (there are three different pools at the resort) and swim up to the rim to look over all of the surrounding forests.
Getting there: It’s a one hour drive from Bali’s international airport to Maya Ubud Resort & Spa.
Getting around: Rent a bike at around 75000 IDR per day or book a sightseeing tour from one of the operators at Ubud Market. You can go up to Mt Batur, an active volcano in Kintamani or Pura Bratan, a scenic temple in the mountains near Bedugul.
Bookings: Rooms at this five star hotel start at around 19000 rupees per night. Please visit their website for bookings.