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“Since opening in 2005, Gaia Retreat & Spa has won more than enough accolades to establish itself as Austalia’s leading & most renowned boutique lifestyle retreat.”

The View From the Bottom Of The Hill

The Gaia Retreat & Spa journey begins with an easy 30 minute drive north from Ballina airport or a half-hour drive south from the world renowned Byron Bay. The retreat (click here) is nestled just a stone’s throw off one of the endless winding roads of the breathtaking Bundjalung Country hinterland, on quite possibly the most gorgeous 25 country acres in Australia.

We flew in early to Ballina at around 8:30 in the morning after waiting for the bags and hiring a car (a must if you intend to get around). As we were checking in at 2 we decided to drive past the retreat and go on straight to some quick sight-seeing so we began the very lovely trip up the highway towards Byron Bay.

After attempting to capture some Instagram worthy photos we decided to try our luck for an early check-in. So back we went to Gaia but this time we decided to go the scenic route; a lovely drive through sprawling hills, luscious greenery and historic towns.

Check’n In

It is hard to describe the feeling that you get from the moment entering this absolutely beautiful property, it’s not something you can really pin point, there is this serene energy that sweeps over the entire 25 acres. As the car pulls up and you step out and see the magnificent view of rolling hills, the farms, the uninterrupted blue sky and the greener than green lawns from the retreats’ clearing, you really have a bit of a pinch me moment. (The photos do not do it justice to how beautiful this place really is)

The View From The Top Of The Hill
Gaia

Getting to the reception you need to walk down a brick path through overhanging tropical trees and ferns of all varieties to an oversized wooden door with different ornaments to either side.

Gaia's Front Door

The reception is lofty with lots of different orange and gold hues and many, many different seating options that continue out onto an outdoor verandah. The entire setting has a very balinese feel to it. (note the reception is now undergoing a major revamp thanks to hail damage it attained in late 2017 and will be closed from Monday 12th March for a month or so).

Inside Kukura House

After a brief check-in we went and grabbed our bags back from the car and wheeled them down to our room. For us this was quite easy, but for an elderly person or someone who’s packed a lot, this might be a little difficult. I’m sure though if you asked one of the staff they would gladly help.

The Room

Komala Villa 3

We stayed in the new Komala Villas. It was a spacious split-level one bedroom suite. The upper level consisted of a very generous bathroom with double shower and double vanity on the left, a central king size bed and a seperate gorgeous free standing bath on the right.

The bottom level was made up of a lounge area and kitchenette inside, while the outdoor living area had a large deck, day bed & saltwater plunge pool that faced the north-east of the property (perfect for early morning dips).

Food & Beverage

Well where do I start. If I had to describe the food that was presented to us in just three words, Divine would be the first thing that springs to mind, Delicious would be the second and Nutritious would come in equally second.

Gaia Organics

In every dish there is a huge emphasis on fresh, seasonal & local produce. The meals I had were literally garden to plate type of meals ( I’m happy to say I actually picked the radishes that were used on one of the nights from the veggie garden). Every meal we ate were balanced, light, colourful and beautifully presented and so so fresh.

A bit of a quirky point of difference that the Gaia Spa & Retreat offers is that there is no set menu or menu at all for that matter. Each meal is inspired by the seasonal produce and tailored around everyones specific dietary requirements that is gathered at check in. The team lead by Chef Dan accomodate and tailor each meal around every type of diet you could think of; Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Pescatarian, FODMAP are all catered for.

Chef Dan & I

We ate breakfast and dinner here both days and could not fault anything that came before us. Check out the visual deliciousness to see what we ate.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Banana
Pear Frangipani Tart

Every week Chef Dan also holds a cooking class which I highly recommend. It’s a great way to learn, watch and discover new flavours to eat.

Pool & Gym

Our room (Komala Villa) had it’s own plunge pool so we didn’t venture down to the main one which is located at the Day Spa.

The retreat also has a million different activities to do (tennis, meditation, yoga, gym, boxing, tai chi to name a few) but once again we ran out of time to participate. Everything is optional, so how much or how little you do is up to you, it’s your retreat, your experience.

Yoga & Meditation

Day Spa

In addition to winning the worlds leading retreat in 2016 & 2017, Gaia has also won the worlds best day spa three years running, so coming here you would expect a world class treatment and to put it very simply that’s what I got.

Talking purely about the treatment both myself and my partner received (his was a deep tissue massage & mine was the Gaia Deluxe) they were one of the best, if not the best massages we ever had.

Gaia Spa & Wellness

Yet another reason to fall in love with Gaia Retreat is their organic skincare range Retreatment. Full of incredibly powerful ingredients and essential oils to help nourish and rehydrate your skin. It’s just another little something that adds that little extra class to Gaia Spa.

Pros:

  • Some of the friendliest staff I have come across in my travels
  • Food was amazing
  • The massage I had was amazing
  • Breathtaking view
  • Very relaxing

Cons:

  • If I was really picky… actually nope I don’t have one
Maybe One Of The Best Views In Australia

Overall:

The incredible energy that radiates from the grounds of Gaia Retreat & Spa transcends you to a place of pure bliss. From the friendly, hospitable staff to the nourishing food and the exquisite views, your stay will be unforgettable.

Gaia Retreat & Spa
933 Fernleigh Rd, Brooklet NSW 2479
02 6687 1216

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Gaia Retreat & Spa was provided complimentary for a review on the Krumbled website. All opinions/views or thoughts are not influenced and are my own.
Have you stayed at Gaia Retreat & Spa before? Have you treated yourself to the Gaia Day Spa? If you have any experiences or questions please feel free to drop me a line below!!!

“Most Sydney-siders wouldn’t be familiar with the Primus Hotel. Soo without further ado I will introduce you to this (not so little) hidden gem.”

Primus Hotel Sydney

The unassuming entrance of the Primus Hotel (click here) is located at 339 Pitt Street. Originally home to Sydney’s Water Board HQ. Undergoing a complete restoration, this 1930’s heritage building has had a breath of fresh life put into it. Showcasing the 1930’s art deco era at its best.

In 2008, the Water Board relocated and the two year restoration commeneced. This massive task was undertaken by Chinese hoteliers Greenland International Hotel Group or (GIHG) and architect design firm Woods Bagot.

Check’n In

The Lobby At The Primus

As we pulled up, we were a little confused what to do with parking. The bell boy had gone inside with other guests just before, so we were left on the busy path trying to get our bags out. 

Hoping the car would be alright we walked in through the discreet frontage (and to my surprise a rather expansive check in area). A different bell boy was quick to attend to our bags and grab the car.

The lobby features eight original scagliola columns. The restoration of these eight-metre-high pillars has been a feat on its own. (There are only two men in the world that have the artisanal skills to complete such a job). The striking ruby red columns beamed above the marble floors, finished off with the glass brick atrium ceiling.

The Room

There are 172 rooms at the Primus. All rooms feature a dark masculine decor, from the carpet to the oak cabinetry. Breaking up the dark tones are subtle gold geometric trimming, plush pillows and lush robes.

We were in the deluxe suite, and as the name suggests it was spacious and accommodating for those needing a little extra space, ideal for business travellers.  

The bathroom was extra spacious with seperate bath, extra large shower and double marble vanity (that had insanely good lighting).

Dual Marble Basins

The art deco theme is carried throughout but reversed, with elegant white “brick like” tiles contrasted by black tapware and finished off with amenities by Appelles.

Appelles

Food & Beverage

For me, I had a bit of a hit and miss in terms of food (in room dining that is). The first day I checked in I was ravenous so immediately went straight for the in room dining menu. I opted for the fish of the day (which was barramundi), it was fresh and cooked well, accompanied by broccolini and fries.

The Barramundi

The second day, we wanted to suss out the ‘cheat meal’ options, and ordered the Wagyu burgers and fried chicken. For me, this meal was inedible. The burgers were not waygu, there were two fillets on top of each other and felt as if it had been pre cooked and the texture was off. The fried chicken was bland and cold and very grey.

Pool & Gym

Level 7

One of the hotels biggest draw cards would have to be Level 7. Once a test rifle range during the Second World War, it has been completely revolutionized to be an exclusive rooftop pool and bar. Fitted with blue and white striped lounges, being quite literally an oasis in the middle of the city, with drinks on hand and in the warmer months being absolutely sun drenched.

There is an outdoor pool located on Level 7, and is heated for those wanting to have a dip during Sydney’s cooler months.

The gym is quite small and underwhelming, but does the job.

On Level 7

Pros:

  • Glamorous art deco décor
  • Level 7, perfect for a cheeky afternoon drink and dip
  • Extremely spacious
  • Prime city location

Cons:

  • In room dining was a little off, I would opt for one of the many great nearby restaurants (or via ubereats etc)
  • Valet parking is an option, however quite pricey

We checked in early, and it must not have registered to other staff, as I had not 1, not 2 but 3 staff members come in after one knock to do quality checks and mini bar checks. Being all the way in the bathroom, they entered far too quickly!

At The Level 7 Bar

Overall:

The Primus Hotel is a surprisingly gracious hotel, with so much to offer. We will definitely be back for another staycation!

Primus Hotel
339 Pitt Street, Sydney, 2000
+612 8027 8000

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Primus Hotel was free of charge. All opinions/thoughts are my own.
How good is the location! If you have stayed at the Primus before and think I have left something out or have a question, drop us a line below!!

“Take a walk off the beaten track and experience one of Bali’s best-kept secrets in West Bali, The Menjangan”

The View From The Top Of The Tower Was Incredible

Located within the heart of the unspoiled national park of Bali Barat National Park and spread across 382 hectares, The Menjangan (click here) is a place for you to unwind, connect with nature and explore the native wilderness.

Getting to The Menjangan, on the North West Coast of Bali is a 4-5 hour car trip from Denpasar airport. To break up the trip, get your driver to take you on some activities along the way. (Click here to see what we did)

Another Deck At The Menjangan Tower

Check’n In

The Menjangan Tower Top
The Menjangan Tower Middle
The Menjangan Tower Bottom

The landscape is not what you’d typically expect in your typical Southeast Asian rainforest but something more like the Australian bush. The Park Rangers at the main National Park entrance greeted us* and from there we took off on the somewhat weathered road to the main lobby. As we pull up to check in, the sheer grandeur of the 28 metre high open air “tree house” dubbed the Bali Tower was astounding. This is where we were to spend most of our time (when not in our room). Boasting panoramic 360 degree views across to Menjangan Island and onto neighbouring Java from the top of the tree house, the idyllic surroundings make this a view to remember.

* Please note that adhering to the latest regulation issued by the Indonesian Forestry Ministry, all visitors to the West Bali National Park are required to pay entrance fees. The tickets will give access to all the National Park area and Menjangan Island, so guests can freely enjoy trekking, bird watching, snorkelling, etc.

The View

From the Tower we jumped on the safari style double decker shuttle to go to our room. We were staying in a suite at the Monsoon Lodge, which consists of 14 thatched-roof rooms and two suites. The Monsoon Lodge is a haven for those who want to harmonise with nature. As we walk through to our suite, we pass the swimming pool (which is reminiscent of a watering hole) and hot spa.

The Monsoon Lodge At The Menjangan

The Room

The décor within our suite had a traditional Balinese tone throughout, with Bengkirai wooden floors, traditional alang alang grass roofing and minimalist furniture.

The Menjangan Deluxe Room At The Monsoon Lodge

Food & Beverage

There are 2 restaurants located in The Menjangan, (both with the same menu), one on the beach and one in the Tower/Dining Deck. We opted to dine in the Tower due to its unrivalled view and serenity. The menu consisted of both traditional and western (Italian/French) inspired meals. Considering the resorts remoteness, the food at The Menjangan was of a high standard; every meal we had was extremely enjoyable.

The Restaurant Level At The Menjangan

On the third and fourth floor were observation deck’s for sunrises and sunset cocktails.

Pool & Gym

The resort has one pool at monsoon lodge.

Monsoon Lodge Pool

As the other rooms are on the water you can simply go out and have a dip in the sea. (In certain areas you need booties because of sea urchins).

The resort doesn’t have a gym but offers plenty of activities in exchange from horse riding & mountain biking to snorkelling and diving trips to Menjangan Island. For the less adventurous there are also cooking classes and bird watching, (the park is home to many different types of wildlife like deer, wild pigs & monkeys as well).

Diving Area Before The Storm Hit

Pros:

  • The Bali Tower – especially at sunset
  • The serenity
  • Great food
  • Animal spotting
  • An abundance of activities

Cons:

  • Because of the monsoonal rain, we couldn’t walk around
  • Can’t swim in the main beach due to rocks and sea urchins
  • No room service
  • No gym
The Menjangan Tree Top Deck

Overall:

If you are after a holiday full of relaxation, immersing yourself in nature and having some of the best diving spots in Bali at your fingertips, The Menjangan is a must.

The Menjangan
Jl. Raya Gilimanuk – Singaraja Km. 17, Pejarakan, Gerokgak,
Pejarakan, Buleleng, Kabupaten Buleleng,
Bali 81155, Indonesia
+62 362 94700

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at The Menjangan was provided complimentary from Lifestyle Retreats in return for brand awareness and a review on the Krumbled website.
Have you been to West Bali before? Have you stayed at The Menjangan before? What did you think? I’d love to hear your comments or questions below.

“The Olsen has made a name for itself as a hot spot for celebrities and athletes”

The Olsen

Perched above Melbourne’s prestigious Chapel Street, the Art Series’ trendy 229 room boutique hotel The Olsen (click here) has made a name for itself as a hot spot for celebrities and athletes. The hotel offers chic accommodation, drawing inspiration from renowned Australian artist John Olsen. The refined charm of Olsen’s artwork throughout the hotel balances the energy and charisma of Chapel Street seamlessly.

The Olsen hotel is located in the heart of South Yarra on Chapel Street. A swift 30minute cab ride from the airport, The Olsen is in the midst of one of Melbourne’s main tourist destinations with a myriad of cafes, restaurants and shops at its doorstep.

Front & Centre At The Olsen

The Room

We stayed in the ‘Deluxe Studio Suite on the 7th floor’. Our North facing room overlooked the thriving hustle and bustle of Chapel Street. The neutral and earthy tones of the room were highlighted by the abundance of natural light that is let in by the oversized window, giving the room that ‘very comfortable, home away from home’ feel about it.

The room area itself was quite cleverly thought-out, with floor to ceiling mirrored walls and wall-hung plasmas that free up a lot of ‘leg room’.

The room also boats a lounge area, a fully equipped kitchenette with quartz bench tops and a semi private bathroom, which is separated by a screen-printed glass mural.

The Bathroom At The Olsen

Food & Beverage

Being located on Chapel St the hotel has an abundance of dining options at its’ doorstep. Spoonbill is on the ground floor next to the lobby while Two Wrongs (click here) & Smäk (click here) are around the corner.

Pool & Gym

The pool area is situated on the first floor; the pools deep blue mosaic tiles, sandstone pavers, lounges and deck chairs give a somewhat ‘European’ feel to it. The pool is half undercover while the other half hangs off the side of the building, with glass flooring that allows you to see pedestrians walking underneath while floating above them, which is something different.

At one end there is a spiralling staircase that leads up to 2nd level to another lounge area. Honestly the 2nd level is a little lack lustre but on a sunny day you can certainly unwind on one of the oversized sofas/lounges. There is also an oversized novelty chessboard that makes the area a little more playful.

The gym isn’t anything flash, it’s a stock standard hotel gym with a few running machines, bikes and free weights up to 20kgs.

Then Overhanging Pool
Semi Open Pool

Pros:

  • Beautiful Art
  • Stylish
  • Pool Area
  • Location
  • Spacious Rooms
  • Very Accommodating Staff
  • Hotel Restaurants

Cons:

  • Air Con Needed Repair*
  • No iron in room (there normally is)

The air con was working at about 50% when we got to the room, I brought this to the attention to the concierge on our way out to dinner on the first night. Someone came up to fix it and when we got back to the room, the room was nice and toasty but after waking up the next morning there was a slight layer of dust on the glass table, so I think it was due for a service.

Overall:

The Olsen brings a touch of class and finesse to Chapel Street, the location is central to everywhere and I would definitely stay here again.

The Olsen
637-641 Chapel St,
South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9040 1222

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at The Olsen was provided complimentary from the art series hotel group in exchange for a review on the Krumbled website. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Have you stayed at The Olsen before? What’s your favourite hotel in the Art Series Chain? Leave any questions or comments below.

“The Amala is a holistic and tranquil sanctuary only minutes from Seminyak”

Just a 10 minute walk from Oberoi Street in Seminyak, The Amala (click here) is home to a holistic and tranquil sanctuary completely surrounded by lush tropical gardens.

Entry To The Amala

Check’n In

As we drove down the bamboo lined driveway the soft approaching sound of flowing water  instantly relaxes guests . The boutique villas main focus is to provide “a relaxing space for couples to escape the outside world, rejuvenate and reconnect with each other”.

The Room

Our Room Number 9
Welcome

Our pool villa was set to the back of the hotel. The villa consisted of an outdoor lounge area, dining table and fully equipped kitchen which took up one side of the open air thatched roof.

The other half was a private dipping pool that was shaded by a fragrant frangipani trees and had a big water feature.

Towards the back of the villa is the bedroom. The bedroom itself was reasonably comfy, with bi-fold doors that open out directly onto the pool.

The Bedroom At The Amala
This Photo Was Taken From The Bed

To its side is a semi-detached dark concrete and stone bathroom that contrasts the white tiles and white walls of the villa. The bathroom was good in size and had a Jacuzzi smack bang in the middle with double vanity and rain shower

Food & Beverage

We only ate once at the villa and it wasn’t great (in my case dangerous, explained in ‘cons’). With Seminyak only a 5 minute walk we decided not to risk it again.

The Spa

The Spa at the Amala offers guests complete wellness packages that focuses on ancient Asian medicine and western holistic philosophies.

Pool & Gym

Each villa has its’ own private dipping pool. There is also a shallow lap pool in the middle of the hotel.

The Amala has a spacious wellness centre for yoga classes and other relaxing activities such as painting. Guests are invited to join the yoga masters in daily classes, which are also open to the public.

Pros:

  • The serenity of the open plan pool
  • Yoga classes

Cons:

  • No gym
  • Food wasn’t as good as expected and in my case dangerous**

 

**After a Spa treatment where lunch is included I ordered the Vichyssoise soup (a thick soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock) for my starter. I am anaphylactic to tuna, salmon and trout. So when my soup arrived I noticed it had something that looked like red capsicum in the middle. Having, re-read the menu and talking to the waitress on the day, neither said that there was any animal product (especially fish) in the dish whatsoever. I was still sceptical so I didn’t eat it. After my partner had finished his starter I asked if he could taste mine just for peace of mind and it turned out that it was indeed tuna. Luckily I stuck to my gut-feeling (pun intended) and didn’t eat it because the next post I would have been writing would have been from hospital!

The Amala

Overall:

Our stay at The Amala was very relaxing and a great place to unwind and still be so close to Seminyak.

The Amala
Jl. Kunti I, Seminyak, Kuta, Kabupaten Badung
Bali 80361, Indonesia
+62 361 738866

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at The Amala was provided complimentary from Lifestyle Retreats in exchange for brand awareness through Krumbled’s media channels.
Have you stayed with Lifestyle Retreats before? What do you think of The Amala? I’d love to hear your comments or questions below!

“Showcasing Osaka’s very finest, the InterContinental Osaka takes the concept of urban luxury to the next level”

Intercontinental Osaka

The InterContinental Osaka (click here) has quite the enviable location. The hotel is conveniently attached to the large-scale mix-development complex, Grand Front Osaka. A two minute walk can get you to the shopping and entertainment complex which is home to 266 stores plus has the added bonus of the JR Osaka railway station inside it as well. From here you can connect pretty much to the whole of Osaka and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the InterContinental’s doorstep.

We arrived to Osaka by Shinkasen (Bullet train) from Kyoto and headed straight to the hotel to freshen up and start exploring. It was only a 15 minute taxi ride from Shin Osaka (Shinkasen Station).

Check’n In

As we pulled up to the entrance, we were greeted by not 1, not 2 but 4 bellmen and concierge hosts, who took our luggage off our hands and directed us to the check-in lobby which was located on Level 20.

Stepping out from the elevator I was honestly taken back by the sheer size of the lobby. In a country like Japan, space is such a precious commodity so to say The lobby with its’ commanding 360-degree panoramic views of the city was big would be an understatement.

The distinctive Bilkey Llinas and Yuki Hashimoto design seen in the lobby transcends through the entire hotel. There is a generous use of glass, wood and natural stone (that is locally sourced) used to create a contemporary Japanese environment.

Having opened in 2013, the InterContinental Osaka is relatively new and showcases many modern amenities and fixtures.

The Room

There are 215 guest rooms, and 57 residential suites for longer stay guests.

Funnily enough, the first thing I noticed walking into the room was actually the door! The door was extremely heavy and well insulated. This immediately gave an element of seclusion which you wouldn’t expect in a large inner city hotel. We stayed in the Deluxe room with view. The room was gorgeously light filled from the two large feature windows and was extremely spacious (for Japanese standards).

Deluxe Room With View

The elements of stone, wood and glass are once again seen heavily in the room. Especially with the ‘signature’ lump of stone with glass table that is the work area.

Work Station Rock

The bathroom was very generous in size with interchangeable sliding doors and bath/shower combo area.

Food & Beverage

The InterContinental has 5 food and bev outlets that have all been influenced by french cuisine. Level 20 is home to four of the five outlets. Straight to the left of reception is the 360 lounge which has light snacks and afternoon drinks. Past the lounge is Noka Roast & Grill (we ate here for breakfast and dinner) it is half-half buffet and a la carte bistro.

Noka Roast & Grill

To the right is the 1 Michelin Star restaurant Pierre which joins transforms into stylish bar called Adee the further you walk along. The entire floor has amazing 360-degree views of the city.

On the 1st floor is the french bakery STRESSED (desserts backwards, love the pun). They had a lovely collection of home made cakes and chocolates and was great for afternoon coffee. There was a line out the door when we were there.

InterContinental also has 24 hour room service if you don’t feel like leaving your room.

Pool & Gym

There is a 20m indoor pool, a very large and well equipped 24-hour gym, a spa (All That Spa Osaka) and a traditional Japanese Bathhouse, not something you wouldn’t expect in a high rise urban hotel. To top it all off there is also an in house florist for those that are looking to brighten up their day  and a stunning wedding chapel with stone waterfall to emulate nature at its best.

Pros:

  • Traditional Japanese Bathhouse
  • Beautiful Design
  • Michelin Restaurant
  • Location

Cons:

  • If I was really nitpicking the buffet selection for me was a little bit restricted. Im anaphylactic to tuna, salmon and trout so I couldn’t eat most of what was on offer due to the french cuisine influence. In saying that the three other people I was staying with who aren’t allergic to anything thoroughly enjoyed it.
Osaka Castle

Overall:

The InterContinental Osaka was near faultless. It has been one of my favourite hotels to visit thus far. From the service, to the decor, to the location it really ticked all the boxes that you want from an international hotel.

InterContinental Osaka
3-60, Ofuka-cho, Kita-ku
Osaka, 5300011, Japan
+81 6-6374-5700

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Intercontinental Osaka was provided complimentary in exchange for a review on the Krumbled website. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Have you stayed at InterContinental Osaka before? What is favourite InterContinental in Japan? If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them below.

“A slice of heaven at The Anantara Dhigu in the Maldives”

The Maldives From The Sky

Stepping off the plane into the (rather hot) Maldivian humidity. We embarked on our journey to Dhigufinolhu Island which is in the South Male Atoll of the Maldives. It takes roughly about 45 minutes to get to the Anantara Dhigu (click here) by the resorts’ private speedboat from the airport. (Luckily for us the weather was beautiful and the water was calm for our boat ride to the island).

Maldives From The Plane
Passing By Other Resorts On The Trip

The scenery much like from the plane was absolutely breathtaking. Passing by the beautiful reefs, deserted islands and bungalows made this trip go extremely fast, I felt as if I had been transported to another world.

Arriving At The Anantara

Check’n In:

Anantara Dhigu

The Anantara resort surrounds a lagoon with a total of 3 islands, making up Dhigu, Veli & Naladhu. The turquoise lagoon is home to beautiful marine life that makes it perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.

As our boat pulled up to the resort, we hopped off  and we were taken up to the sandy lobby. My first impression was heaven. The staff (a mixture of locals and ex pats) were extremely friendly and more than happy to take some happy snaps of us on arrival.

Once we checked in, we were taken by our butler to the over water bungalow by golf buggy. In the back of my head I could not stop thinking how extravagant this all was.

Arriving To Our Room

The Room:

We stayed in the ‘Sunset Over Water Suite’, which was such an incredible experience in itself.

Outside The Over Water Bungalows

Our entrance room was decked out with everything required for a secluded tropical holiday (think disposable water proof cameras, a chess board, mini bar, nespresso machine, life jackets & umbrellas).

Sunset Over Water Suite

Our bungalow was extremely spacious and peaceful with an open plan living room fitted with king sized bed, oversized wooden wardrobe and entertainment unit. Our suite opened out straight onto an oversized deck through floor to ceiling bi-folds with uninterrupted views of the ocean as far as the eye could see. You could literally jump into the ocean from the bedroom.

Surprise For His Birthday
The View From The Bathroom

The sublime bathroom had floor to ceiling sandstone tiles and was fitted out with a custom built-in stone bathtub*. There was also a seperate Grohe rain shower that overlooked the horizon through floor to ceiling glass panels.**

Oh and underneath our toilet there was a little glass viewing panel built into the floor to see glimpses of the marine life underneath.

The Bathroom

*note since our stay the resort has had a major revamp and the bathroom has dramatically changed in appearance to give ‘a more contemporary feel’.

** important note: remember your surroundings. Since the end of the bathrooms are floor to ceiling glass and a very popular activity on the island is paddle boarding around the islands. It is as easy to see in, as it is out! I found this out one afternoon, while turning around in the shower to see a young Scandinavian family of four awkwardly smiling at me.

Sunset From The Deck

The large wooden sun deck had an abundance of lounging spaces, including 2 sunbeds, built in lounges and outdoor dining. We really were spoilt for choice.

Sunset From The Balcony

At sunset, our room truly came to life, the vast array of turquoises, emeralds and blues emulated throughout our room with picture perfect sunsets every night. On the last night you could see a distant rolling thunderstorm pass by to open up for a star struck sky.

Easiest Way To Travel

Getting to & from your room and around the island is a breeze, there are communal bike spots placed around the island where you can drop off or collect bikes at will and can simply ride them to your doorstep. From our room to the other side of the island only took roughly took 3 minutes.

Bikes Everywhere

Or roughly 10 minutes walk

Anantara Dhigu

Food & Beverage:

Sunset Cocktails At The Anantara Dhigu
Anantara's Sunset Cocktail Party

As Dighu is in the middle of the Indian Ocean and miles away from anything you would think that the food would be limited. Think again. With two buffets options and four main restaurants on the islands we were once again spoilt for choice.

The View From Breakfast

We ate at each of the buffets for breakfast, which were both great and had an assortment of different choices. It wasn’t until our fourth morning that we actually understood how the breakfast was set out. There was no bacon or ham options for my omelettes in the morning (which is blasphemy in my eyes) but I really should have worked it out quicker, since the Maldives is predominantly a Muslim country where pork is not allowed, the buffet breakfast on the Dhigu Island is completely Halal where as the buffet breakfast on the Veli island is Haram and full of bacon goodness.

Pizza at Terrazzo

For dinner we ate at the buffet style restaurant another two times for dinner, which was once again was nice but it’s the Anatara’s restaurants that really excel. My favourite restaurant of the trip was definitely Baan Huraa. Baan Huraa is a Thai restaurant poised in between the Dhigu and Veli islands. The restaurant is perched above the rocks that divide the outer reef and the turquoise lagoon The easiest way to describe the restaurant is a glamorous, oriental inspired, oversized, open plan teak hut that is softly lit by lanterns.

We dined here late one evening and the food and the cocktails were great. The dishes are inspired from the north-eastern and southern parts of Thailand. What really made the dinner special was watching the reef sharks scouting for food amongst the rocks and coral. The waitress mentioned every night at that particular time you could see them for up to one hour, which was a pleasant surprise.

Dinner By Design At The Anantara

Another dining option that the Anantara provides is ‘dining by design’ which is a private banquet on the beach with your own personal chef. There are several different cuisines to choose from. We chose the bbq seafood banquet. Our seafood was caught that day and could not be any fresher.

Fresher Than Fresh Seafood

Around The Island:

So Much Fun

There is a lot to do around the island as well. With every type of water sport imaginable at your fingertips, paddle boarding, wind surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving & the under water rocket to name a few.

Paddleboarding At The Anantara
Kayaks and Paddle Boarding Are A Big Thing

There are also cooking classes available for entertaining indoors if you are unlucky enough to get rain.

Cooking Classes At The Anantara
Fresh Ingredients Are Delivered Daily

Or there are endless amounts of spots you can simply pull up, relax and take in the beautiful surroundings.

A Hammock Just Casually 100m Offshore
Just One Of The Relaxation Spots Around The Islands

Spa:

If leisure is more your thing there is a luxury spa perched over the lagoon on Dhigufinolhu. The spa menu features holistic therapies designed to enrich and detoxify, while you relax and take in your perfect island holiday. We chose the Anantara Synchronised Massage which was totally pacifying that my partner actually nodded off during it.

The Spa

Overall:

The Anantara Dhigu is a complete luxury island getaway where you can totally immerse yourself in the island’s serenity.

Anantara Dhigu Maldives Resort
Dhigufinolhu, South Male Atoll 20109, Maldives
+960 664 4100

My stay at the Anantara was provided free from the U.N (united nations) to promote small developing nations.
Have you been to the Maldives before? Where is your favourite island getaway? Leave any questions or comments you might have below.
K x

“The Santai provides a tranquil and exclusive oasis nestled in the quite neighbourhood of the up-and-coming area of Umalas”

The Santai

One of Lifestyle Retreats newest members to their hotel family is the Santai (meaning “relax” or ‘lazy one’ in Indonesian) and boy does it truly live up to its name. The Santai provides a tranquil and exclusive oasis nestled in the quite neighbourhood of the ‘up and coming’ area of Umalas.

The Santai (click here) is located halfway between Seminyak and Canguu. It is approximately 15 minutes either way by cab to Canguu or Seminyak (be careful, as when in peak hour these trips can take up to 45 minutes!) Umalas is renowned for beautiful villas, air bnb’s and homestays.

The Santai Lobby

Check’n In

As we entered into the hotel from the road and on to the ‘cobble stone’ driveway I was truly surprised. From the road you can’t directly see how big and luxurious these clusters of villas actually are.

Walking up a large two-toned staircase to the raised lobby, The Santai had a mixture of Japanese and Balinese feel to it. Adorned with a soaring pitched roof and remarkable dark wooden features, the buildings simple yet intricate design of criss crossing timber lattice formed a dramatic three-dimensional effect.

Wooden Lattices & Large Pendant Lighting
Large Pendant Lighting

With only 11 private villas in the complex, there is a level of personalisation that you don’t normally get in a big resort. As we walked to our villa it was like we were the only guests here.

The Room

Our villa was exceptionally large with 3 separate living areas, pool garden and pool. As you enter the villa you have to walk through two double-breasted ornate wooden doors which leads into the pool area and sundeck.

From this outdoor area you get to the first (of three) glass sliding doors. From here you enter into the living and dining area which has a wall mounted plasma, fully functional kitchen and wooden furnishings.

Leading from the living room, you go through another set of sliding doors into the bedroom. The sizeable bedroom was filled with a very comfortable king bed, sun lounge and another wall-mounted plasma. From the bedroom you can walk straight into the private pool and water garden area.

Through yet another set of sliding doors you enter what would be one of the largest bathrooms I have seen in a villa. Boasting both an ‘outdoor and indoor’ rain shower, extra large concrete bath and a hanging double vanity in the middle.

Food & Beverage

The villa’s restaurant ‘Gong’ offers a variety of South East Asian signature dishes.

There are also cooking classes that can be done in room. This was a great experience.

Pool & Gym

Each villa has its own huge pool.  So there isn’t really the need for a general space one.

Early Morning Yoga

The Santai also doesn’t have a gym but bikes and yoga mats are provided to each guest.

Pros:

Large private pool
Spacious living area with kitchen
Butler service
Complimentary car transfers into local areas

Cons:

No gym (however, bikes and yoga are matts provided)
No room service after breakfast

Overall:

We found it very hard to fault our stay at The Santai. If you are looking for an exclusive and relaxing stay, a little out of the hustle and bustle of Seminyak, but close enough to enjoy it at the same time, The Santai is a must.

The Santai
Jalan Bumbak No.88A, Banjar Kelod Anyar,
Kerobokan, Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung,
Bali 80361, Indonesia
+623619002699

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Santai was provided complimentary by Lifestyle Retreats in return for creating brand awareness through Krumble’s social media and the Krumbled website.
Have you stayed with Lifestyle Retreats before? What is your favourite villa? Leave any questions or comments below.

“The Balé had a big WOW factor!!!”

The Balé

The Balé is the perfect place to unwind and relax in sleepy Nusa Dua. The ultra chic and luxurious resort surpassed all our expectations, The Balé’s main focus is getting guests to enjoy each other’s company in their own private “zen” pavilion.

The Balé, Nusa Dua is a short 15-minute taxi from the airport and a 30/40 minute taxi from Seminyak. The resort is located approximately 10 minutes from the main beach in Nusa Dua although it’s only a short 2-minute drive to the private beach club Gegger. 

Getting Around The Balé

Check’n In

Upon arriving at the Bale, the somewhat sombre entrance soon led into a minimalistic pathway surrounded by monochromatic neutral colours and different sizes of columns and decorative pipe pillars with the gushing sound of the waterfalls cascading throughout the resort.

From check-in, we walked up the three-tiered monolithic stone staircase that has water gracefully flowing down the middle. The attention to detail in each of The Balé’s 29 immaculately designed villas will make your stay second to none.

The Room

The villas design highlight was bringing the inside out or the outside in (whichever way you want to look at it). Our room featured stunning polished concrete throughout, including the substantial elevated slab that the king size bed was built upon. Apart from the gigantic bed, the room also included a window seat and a free standing cupboard with floor to ceiling glass mirrors.

The bedroom looked out to the tranquil garden area and cabana with its own floating day bed, which was the perfect place to unwind during the Balinese heat.

On the other side of the mirrored cupboard is the bathroom. An abundance of light filled the room through its many floor to ceiling glass windows and the reflection of the water outside glistened on the polished stone to create a beautiful effect.

The room was very spacious, with a floating double vanity, spa bath, inside and outdoor shower which the latter being in its own personal garden Also through double sliding doors you could literally walk straight into the pool.

During my stay in the villas, simple things like reading a book in the sun, eating breakfast on the daybed or just enjoying the gentle breeze from your very own private pool, I felt like I was enjoying a lifestyle usually reserved for the super rich.

Food & Beverage

There is a resort wide focus on wellness and health. There are numerous healthy options on the food menu.

Pool & Gym

The gym is small yet functional with a lovely view out onto a pristine garden area.

If you want to explore outside of your villa, The Balé has a two-tiered large swimming pool with day beds and luxurious water features. If you are after a bit of beach action.

The Balé has its very own beach club located on Geger Beach. It’s within walking distance or a quick car ride (provided by resort).

Pros:

  • Tranquil grounds
  • Beautiful design
  • Privacy
  • Chic villas
  • 24hr butler

Cons:

  • There isn’t too much ‘night life’ in Nusa Dua, so if you are after an action packed night, I suggest somewhere else!
  • Also the bed sheets were a bit uncomforatble
Sun-baking At The Balé

Overall:

The Balé exceeded in delivering an extremely enjoyable relaxing couple of days in ultra chic comfort. It was very hard leave!

The Balé
Jalan Nusa Dua Selatan, Benoa, Kuta Selatan,
Benoa, Badung, Kabupaten Badung,
Bali 80363, Indonesia
+62 361 775111

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at The Balé was provided free of charge from Lifestyle Retreats in return for a review on the Krumbled website. All opinions/thoughts are my own.
Have you stayed at The Balé before? What were your thoughts? I’d love to hear any comments or questions you might have below!

“Set amongst one of Japans’ most beautiful locations, Arashiyama. The Suiran Kyoto has gracefully set the benchmark for what can only be described as a relaxation paradise”

Arashiyama Mountains

Part of Starwood’s The Luxury Collection, The Suiran Kyoto (click here) has effortlessly blended cultural traditions of old Kyoto with modern day comforts. The Suiran was the perfect place to unwind, restore and take in the breathtaking surroundings of Arashiyama Mountains.

Cafe Hassui On The Hozu River
The Hotel Is Built Literally On The Bank Of The Hozu River

To get to Kyoto, we took the Shinkasen (the three hour bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, which was definitely a highlight of my trip!) From the train it’s a brisk 2 minute walk to the hotels collection point (Suiran offers a complimentary taxi service from the station). The drive from the station to the hotel took approximately 30 minutes, which seemed to go quite quickly.

Check’n In

The Surian Kyoto is the last block of buildings along the Hozu River. It has uninterrupted views of the river and backs on to the Kameyama-koen Park.

As the car slowly drove down the length of the river and pulled up gently to the entrance, I noticed that the facade somewhat depicted a ryokan (traditional Japanese bnb). This traditional style entrance was in fact part of an original building that dates back to the Meji-Era (1868-1912).

The Suiran Kyoto

As we walked through the gated entrance, it was as if we were stepping back in time and into a pristinely kept beautiful zen like garden

Immaculately Kept Gardens

Walking through to reception, we were greeted by Yoshiko, who gave us a great run down of what to do, where to eat and how to avoid the crowded popular spots. Check in was extremely quick and swift and before we knew it we were headed off to our rooms.

The Room

There are 39 rooms at the Suiran, we were in the “Yunzunoha” Deluxe Room. At first glance, I was pretty underwhelmed with the room but in saying that once I began to look around and notice just how the room ‘worked’ I started to appreciate it a bit more.

“Yunzunoha” Deluxe Room

It was a traditional Japanese room mixed with some modern day comforts. With ‘Tatami’ mat flooring, low chair set (actually incredibly good to work at for your posture!) and to top it all off, we had our very own open air bath with natural hot spring water from the Arashiyama Onsen.

Having this open-air bath was quite an experience. It was quite a bit of a shock to the body with the change of temperatures. In fact, when I lived in Japan when I was younger, I would often go to the local onsen to help with my skin irritations, reduce body soreness and it helped with my blood circulation.

Food & Beverage

Suiran Kyoto has two dining options: Restaurant Kyo or Cafe Hassui.

Restaurant Kyo was originally erected in 1899 as Baron Shozo Kawasaki’s summer house. Depicting true Meiji Era architecture, Kyo has been restored and rejuvinated with contemporary lighting and seating, floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the tranquil garden area and onto the Arashiyama hills.

Dining options allow you to choose from traditional Teppanyaki dishes or more western infused meals. We ate here for dinner one night, the meal was extremely satisfying and the sushi was some of the best sushi I have ever had.

Breakfast was also served at Kyo, however, in a complete contrast to the meal the night before, we felt as if the menu lacked and wasn’t anything special.

Cafe Hassui is absolutely stunning, set right upon the Hozu River. We had afternoon drinks here after our action packed day exploring. The cafe is housed in a 100 year old building that was actually built for 19th century poets. I can also happily report that there are still a few original pieces of artwork and calligraphic poems. The front verandah of Hassui is in my opinion the epitome of relaxation, listening to the whisper of the river below and taking in the surrounding beauty (it would have been slightly a little bit more amazing if the cherry blossoms were in full bloom, but hey, who’s complaining!)

Pool & Gym

The Suiran doesn’t actually have either a pool or gym, however what it lacks in guest services it more than makes up in their spa treatments. The Suiran offers private spa experiences in either your room or the spa rooms, with treatments such as jade stone facials, green tea scrubs and collagen masks.

Pros:

  • Tranquil landscape
  • Traditional rooms
  • Private hot spring

Cons:

  • no pool or gym (take advantage of the many surrounding walks if cardio is on the top of your list)

Overall:

The Surian Kyoto was just what I had hoped for. It doesn’t have all the modern bells and whistles of an International hotel if that’s what you need. Nevertheless for those who are after tranquility, great views and authentic Japanese charm, The Surian is exactly where you want to be.

The Suiran
12 Susukinobaba-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Kyoto, Japan
+81 75 872 0101

Kx
Disclaimer: My stay at the Suiran Kyoto was provided complimentary in exchange for a review on the Krumbled website. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
Have you stayed at The Suiran before? What did you think of  the Arashiyama? If you have any comments or questions feel free to leave them below.