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Indonesia » Bali » Sanur-Ketewel » Villa Maya - an elite haven
Majapahit Villas are down a small track a kilometre or so off the main Denpasar–KlungKung bypass. They face out over the Badung Strait with Nusa Penida in the distance. This stretch of black sand beach with its excellent reef break is good for experienced surfers, but strong currents and a swirling high tide that covers the beach all the way up to the villa sea wall mean that this is not really the spot for swimming. Within the immediate vicinity of the villas is little except a few sleepy local houses and a tiny temple spotted amongst the rice terraces, grazing cows, fields of tapioca and chillies and pockets of coconut palms. Nearby is the tiny village of Ketewel, while Sukawati, famous for its cheap local market, is a few kilometres inland en route to the cultural and artistic heart of Bali, Ubud.
If Kuta is the energetic, crowded hub of Bali’s tourism, the historical and easy going village of Sanur is its sleepy antithesis, sitting on Bali’s south-east coast just a short distance from the capital Denpasar and 16 kilometres from the airport. Relaxed restaurants and bars line the road whilst a slew of resorts line the pretty beaches which are more protected than those on the west coast. They start from backpacking huts and progress to some of the original beach retreats, popular with celebrities of the '60s and '70s, which put Bali on the tourist map.
In common with many other tourist centres in Bali, Sanur has expanded, not always beautifully, and now boasts the 9-hole Grand Bali Beach Golf Course, a bowling centre and collection of spas and massage centres, supermarkets for provisioning, banks and ATMs, and a range of shops selling everything from simple postcards to sophisticated artwork. Bali’s famous silver, teak, paintings, masks and more are all available in Sanur, which remains a charming, low key, relaxed destination.
Thirteen kilometres east of Sanur, the area collectively known as Ketewel includes a string of traditional fishing villages - Pabean, Saba, Lebih, Maceti and Ketewel itself - running along the coast. The construction of Sunrise Road (also known as the Klungkung bypass) in 2004 meant that the windswept black sand beaches of this part of the Gianyar Regency suddenly became a lot more accessible. Bounded by the River Wos, terraced rice fields, tobacco plantations, papaya and banana groves, the area is blessed with spellbinding views extending across the ocean towards the beaches of Sanur and Nusa Dua, the islands of Lembongan, Ceningan and Penida, and the mountains of East Bali.
Ketewel village itself is the origin of the celebrated Legong Bidadari Dance, and the neighbouring village of Saba produced the finest Legong dancers on the island. The nearby beach of Pabean was once a small port through which oriental traders brought their products; at low tide you can still see the structure of the old harbour, and a Chinese cemetery is located close by. Balinese Hindu purification ceremonies are held beside the ocean at the sacred Pura Segara sea temple, and the offshore reef is renowned for its surf breaks. There are no Western-style restaurants in this area, but there are plenty of local warungs (eateries), while international restaurants galore can be found just down the road in Sanur.
Bali is Indonesia’s most popular tourist location and is considered one of Asia's premier tropical island destinations. Steeped in history and renowned for its artistic way of life, Bali is a peaceful contrast to some of the more frantic destinations Asia has to offer.
The inner peace and creative talents of the Balinese has attracted artists the world over fascinated by local dancers, silversmiths, wood carvers, potters and painters that seem to pervade throughout the island. The abundant verdant fields and surrounding sea have long supplied Bali with an easy surplus of food leaving time for life’s more artistic past times. As a result everything in Bali has a creative and religious element centred around the local Banjar (residents association) – little, adorned temples are everywhere, doors are covered in intricate carvings, huge kites ward off evil spirits and colourful roadside ceremonies bring traffic to a standstill.
Bali is a popular destination principally from Australia and Asia but also from all over Europe. The island welcomes thousands of visitors each year to a relaxing lifestyle, stunning beaches, world class surf, vibrant villages, and spectacular scenery all with an exquisite tropical climate. Located approximately two hours’ flying time from Singapore the island is serviced by an international airport at Denpasar with direct flights to and from many major cities in Asia, Europe and Australia and many more via Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
The island offers an impressive range of leisure and lifestyle amenities including world-class golf courses, wonderful seascapes for surfing, diving and snorkelling as well as luxurious spas, chic boutiques, tropical forests, towering volcanoes and international cuisine.
Our review Overall Rating: 7.80
While Majapahit Villas may not be prime position for restaurants and nightlife (with a team of chefs producing gourmet cuisine from Majapahit's professional kitchen, who needs restaurants?), they offer some unique guest benefits, including a private boat for sight-seeing, fishing and snorkelling trips, and Villa Maya has its very own temple which makes a wonderfully Balinese setting for a special ceremony. Some of Bali's best surf beaches (especially during the East Coast Season – November to May) are within an easy drive, as are the fascinating traditional craft villages of Mas, Sukawati, Batubulan and Batuan, as well as Ketewel and Saba which are both renowned for their elegant Legong dance performances.
Aside from location, Villa Maya and co are really just comfortable, ‘liveable’ holiday venues. Let’s call it ‘luxury for beginners’. The staff are genuinely warm and helpful, if a touch over-eager (they tend to hover unless you are quite clear about being left alone); the in-villa chef is quite a dab hand in the kitchen (best spaghetti bolognaise we’ve had on the island to date); and the facilities/amenities are all thought of – including an excellent stock of the latest release DVDs).
It may not be the most swish accommodation on the island, but its understated luxury feels ‘homey’, the type of place that finds you thinking, ‘I could live here.’
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Sleeping Capacity: 10
The spaces that make up Villa Maya are very simple and airy in design, in spite of paying tribute to the traditions of Balinese art and the intricacies of Balinese Hindu symbolism. Each of the Majapahit villas is entered through traditional hand-carved wooden doors, behind which stands an ‘aling aling’ – a short wall designed to protect the property from malign influences (apparently evil spirits have great difficulty turning corners). Beyond these tricky corners, however, Villa Maya is all about letting the sea views, and breezes, in.
The bottom floor of this two-storey villa is dominated by a living and dining area that can be opened up completely on each end, the back leading to a separate fully equipped service kitchen across a lotus fish pond, and the front to the pool via a jacuzzi that extends into the lounge area. Ceiling fans supplement cooling sea breezes as you laze about on rich jewel-coloured silk cushions amidst traditional wooden Balinese artefacts and local artwork.
Tiring of the views? Settle into a movie on the surround-sound entertainment system, or – horrors – do work courtesy of wireless high-speed Internet (at an additional cost). Or simply retire to one of the four fully air conditioned bedrooms, complete with individual entertainment systems, where oversized beds dressed in more jewel-coloured silks demand afternoon naps. Three bedrooms are situated in the main villa: two queen-bedded rooms downstairs, each opening onto a sea-facing terrace, with ensuite garden bathrooms which feature two washbasins and a black terrazzo sunken bathtub and shower. A winding, floating staircase up towards the pitched roof adds a Hollywood touch (though perhaps less Hollywood and more safety alert for small children and tipsy adults!). Beyond that is the impressive master suite. The bedroom is similar in style to those downstairs, although the ensuite bathroom consists of two separate outdoor areas – one with a bath, shower and twin basins, one with toilet and washbasin – linked by a timber walkway. A massive king-size bed is covered in regal black and red Chinese silk and crisp linen, while a teak writing desk in the corner almost makes you believe you have the next great Nobel-winning novel in you. But the main attraction? A lovely timber balcony overlooking the ocean and, it seems, the whole world.
The fourth bedroom lies in the Joglo suite accessed through a carved sliding door in the wall of Villa Maya. The Joglo features a shady open-sided living room with hardwood floors, and richly carved ceilings. An adjoining kitchenette presents a breakfast bar, twin gas hobs and a fridge. In the studio-style bedroom is a king-size bed and a flat-screen TV. A sunken bath and monsoon shower are incorporated into the room. In the Joglo's garden is an 8m pool and a seafront sunning deck.