24 May, 2012
Travel, Weddings

Chedi Club, Bali: a haven in the paddy fields

24 May, 2012

Ubud in Bali is famed for rice farming, but spend too long in the busy centre of town and you feel you could be in any tourist-overrun Asian destination. The Chedi Club, a GHM property with only 20 villas, is located 15 minutes outside of town; hidden amongst rolling hills, it offers a window into the true Ubud, the rustic farming community located in Bali’s cultural highlands. As an Ubud virgin, the setting of this secluded estate leaves me breathless. Arriving in time for sunset, I am astounded by the peacefulness, the natural beauty and the unbeatable views.

The Chedi Club hasn’t tried to compete with nature. At the heart of the resort’s design and architecture is an awareness that the real beauty lies not in the man-made building but the surrounding vista. Three aspects afford you unlimited views of working rice paddies meaning that we spend most of our time in the hotel witnessing the daily activities of the local farmers. This doesn’t detract from our holiday experience but enhances it as we gain a sense of the lifeblood of the region. The Restaurant, with its traditional Balinese open sides and high roofs, hovers over a sea of knee-deep rice crop; the tables all face out to the arable spectacle unfolding beyond. Lingering breakfasts were spent watching the sun rise whilst straw hat-clad villagers went about their morning offerings.

Floating amongst the fields perches a beautifully candlelit table where we sat one evening immersed in the surroundings, romantically detached from all other diners. Delicious Indonesian food is served up by an incredibly gracious team of waiters. The service throughout the resort is faultless; not only is there a polite willing approach found in many hotels but also genuine goodwill radiating from the waiters, pool boys and especially our personal villa butler, Pasek.

Each of the 20 villas stands alone scattered amongst the property. Our one-bedroom pool villa has its own gated stone archway leading through to a private pool overlooked by an outdoor seating area. Traditional Balinese style infuses every element, from the ornately tiled roof to accents of dark wood found in the flooring, furniture and pillars. The inside is no less impressive, anchored by wooden wardrobes and a decorative bed frame; there is also a dressing area, his and her sinks, rain shower and a beautiful outdoor bath large enough for two. Slatted wood shutters discreetly separate the various areas but the highlight truly is the exterior space. Two stone fountains therapeutically cascade water into our pool and each morning the rear gates at the end of the pool are magically opened to expose yet more peaceful views beyond.

As enjoyable and relaxing as spending time in our own private paradise is, we find ourselves repeatedly drawn to the hotel’s communal areas. In keeping with the predominance of the Hindu faith throughout Ubud, the grounds are scattered with century-old religious statues; Ganesh is the presiding image over the beautiful ponds at the centre of the resort.  Blanketed in lilies and home to a beautiful family of swans, the ponds contribute to the restorative feel of the resort. Combine this with the meandering nature of the resort, the authenticity and calming influence of the surrounding rice fields and the Hindu touches and you start to understand why this hotel has transcended the typical and emerged into the realm of inimitable sanctuary. With so few other guests and such aesthetically-pleasing mesmerising surroundings, we find ourselves lingering over the smallest details; slowly walking through the grounds, endlessly photographing the natural surroundings and staring at the views from The Restaurant for hours after our meal’s end.

When in need of more external stimulation, we took advantage of the hotel’s free transfers into Ubud, cooking lessons on site and most memorably, a walking tour around the rice paddies and local village with Pasek, where we stalked the edge of the paddies and witnessed close-up the calming stillness in the fields. Offerings to the gods provided constant reminders of the inseparable nature of religion and work, reinforced by the beautiful temples scattered around.

The Chedi Club is unequivocally one of Ubud’s best hotels. It is relatively expensive with room rates starting from $400 US per night but fantastic offers found on their website such as the current “stay three nights for the price of two” help soften the blow. What’s more, the rate includes a fantastically large and delicious breakfast, return airport transfers, morning yoga, daily afternoon tea, in-room mini bar and our favourite, sunset cocktails and canapés before dinner. With reasonably priced lunches and dinners and so many free on-site activities, you really do feel like you get value for money.

I cannot convey enough how magical we found The Chedi Club. It is a favourite amongst honeymooners but until now, relatively unfrequented by Hong Kongers. This has to change; I can picture no other resort that can so quickly and magnificently transport us from our overworked over-wearied selves and instil within us the sense of calm, relaxation and deeper purpose that we all crave. Beach resorts outside of Hong Kong are aplenty, but it is locations like this that are the most special and in my opinion, the most needed to remind us of the true essence of life.

SASSY DEAL: On top of the fantastic offers such as the above 3 for 2 found on their website, all Sassy girls will receive the following perks if you quote SASSY when following up your online booking:

–        A complimentary mojito for two (either upon check-in or at anytime during their stay) 
–        Complimentary laundry throughout the stay (no limit to the number of pieces per day)

The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia, +62 361 975 685

www.ghmhotels.com

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