Our honeymoon was a bit of a bust. It wasn’t helped by the fact that we were both very ill. I have a hazy memory of throwing up in the garbage bin at Sydney customs and hearing a little boy say “Mummy is that lady ok?” and her answering “I think she’s a little bit sick, move along now and stop staring”. We had caught a stomach bug on the eve of our honeymoon and we had to postpone it by two days. Qantas were lovely about it and rescheduled us without penalty but the resort wasn’t as charming and charged us full freight. Luckily we had travel insurance and that covered it-moral of the story: always get travel insurance!
We’ve always wanted to “right” our honeymoon which was a bit of a dismal failure. We spent much of it being ill and bored out of our brain as we were on an island that only had a limited amount of activities. When Villa Sungai was offered to us as a four day holiday we leapt at it. Well only the feeble minded wouldn’t quite frankly. It is a private villa with a 24 hour butler, driver and staff where every whim is catered to and is a destination for honeymooners-or redoing honeymooners like us.
We arrive at Sydney airport where we check in. I’m flying Star Class (the business class) with Jetstar and I’m curious to see what it is like. With Star Class flights, you are offered Qantas lounge access which I take up and avail myself of the Neil Perry plate of goodies which has salamis, prosciutto, olives, manchego cheese and a tiny sliver of quince paste. The lovely, crunchy Spanish almonds are also a favourite.
Lindt chocolate, soy chips (or fruit and nut mix) champagne, water are offered. The seats are comfortable leather and wide with electronic recline, back comfort, leg rest and extension with a footrest although they don’t fully recline. A soft black blanket is given along with socks, earplugs, eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste and noise canceling headphones which I’m convinced helps with jetlag.
Beef korma with spicy yogurt pumpkin and rice
Our meals arrive and inhale my usual virgin mary. I choose the beef korma which comes with some rice and spiced yogurt pumpkin. I like the pumpkin and rice and the korma isn’t bad although it is a little on the tough side. The flight attendant Lauren is very friendly and tells me that they are upgrading the meals soon and introducing proper crockery over the next few months.
I’m busy watching a movie when dessert comes (Inception, which I found confusing as I kept nodding off to sleep and waking up at odd times!) and the dessert trolley offers either a choice of cheese and fresh fruit or chocolate cake which is moist and very sweet which I have with a chamomile tea. The last stop is a mini bottle of Baileys with a glass and ice as a nightcap. Lauren is lovely and she takes care of us very well ensuring that we have enough hydration and food during the flight. Before we know it, we’ve arrived in Bali!
We arrive at Denpasar airport at around 10pm Bali time which is 1am Sydney time. I’ve been to Bali about four times always staying at Nusa Dua or Sanur and it has been five years since our last visit. There’s our airport butler Made (pronounced mah-day) waiting for us holding our name plaque and we are whisked past the queues and straight into an air conditioned car and given a cold wet towel and water. I remember reading a chapter in Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw where he describes a time with a socialite heiress and the drugs and lunacy. This must be what it’s like living as a socialite (minus the drugs and lunacy of course).
Our schedule here at Villa Sungai is filled with breakfast (at our leisure), lunch (at our leisure) and dinner (at our leisure) with a signature massage on some days or a gentle suggestion to visit some areas of Bali like Seminyak or Ubud-all after 2pm. Yep I’m pretty sure this is how socialites do it.
We take the 45 minute drive to Cepaka. Villa Sungai isn’t set in the hub of Bali or on a beach. It is actually set in a small village of 1,500. Formerly a sandstone quarry it is the brainchild of Pamela Hayes, an Australian woman who fell in love with Bali and built her business in a local community hiring local staff. Indeed Made (the villa manager) grew up in Cepaka and he heads a seamless team of eleven including four chefs that take care of all the little things. They ensure that mosquito coils are lit so that you aren’t bothered by pests, and clean our pool every morning while we sleep and while we are breakfasting they clean our room so that we emerge to a spotless villa.
We drive through some rough roads and are then greeted by white arches and the aroma of frangipani and gardenias. There is Villa Sungai which is a 3 bedroom villa and there is Sungai Gold which is a one bedroom villa where we will be staying. Our bags are taken care of and placed in the dressing room. The villa is decorated in chic neutral tones and cream terrazo and there are thatched rooves in traditional Balinese style with European fittings and toiletries.
One of the chefs Wayan
The team of eleven staff cater to your every whim at anytime as the villa is staffed 24 hours a day. The rates, and they are very reasonable given the standard of accommodation ($550US a night for 2 people-we paid about that for our honeymoon and it wasn’t anywhere near as good as this) include breakfast, a team of four chefs to cook whatever you would like (you just pay for the raw ingredients), a chauffeured vehicle available at all times, laundry and pressing, twice daily room servicing, an experienced tour guide for up to eight hours a day and a concierge service.
We get a tour by Made who shows us helpful things like how to turn off the lights in the room (arrgh this always confounds me and is made worse when I’m tired). There is a beautiful infinity pool and it and the villa is bordered by trees. All rooms have large covetable mirrors and this was a deliberate choice by Pamela as she did not want to impose her choice of art works on guests (they also do daily maintenance with paint so that no guests see other guests scuff marks!). There are two dining areas including a breakfast pavilion and a formal dinner pavilion where places have been set for the two of us for a late supper.
There is also a huge open space double day bed. Our room is gorgeous, with a netted canopy bed, a huge dressing room, BOSE sound system, and an outdoor bathroom with a bath filled with frangipanes, a his and hers monsoon shower and Acqua Di parma toiletries. The wall on the bathroom is a striking moss covered hewn rock with orchids growing from it. It takes a lot to impress Mr NQN, he’s a fusspot, but he’s in love.
Signature Welcome cocktail and cheese biscuits
Made senses how tired we are-by now it’s 2am Sydney time and ensures that our supper is made quickly. We start with a welcome drink which is lovely and refreshing with beautiful Asian flavours like palm sugar, kaffir lime leaf, lime juice and lemongrass mixed with vodka and soda water and quenches our thirst. We are served delectable cheese biscuits to go with these.
Mango & Prosciutto skewers Click here to read the full story