Last year was long and tough. One of the hardest aspects being how much I miss YoungestOfAll, The Exocet who now lives in Melbourne.
Last Spring then, flights were booked for a three-week Christmas holiday. Deeming it necessary to shed some of the year’s stresses before reaching DaughterBliss in Australia, we accounted for a four-day stopover in Bali.
On the 17th December 2016 we set out for Heathrow. Not half an hour before boarding the 9pm Garuda flight an announcement was made. There is a longer story here, but suffice to say that our journey was extended by 22 hours; we should have been grateful, for our bags took a further three days to join us.
Luckily we were heading for Karma Kandara, the King and Queen of resorts and the tortuous journey delivered us to a welcome even warmer than the weather. Checking-in formalities over, a buggy arrived to transport us to our villa … five-star luxury, perched atop Bali’s southernmost point.
Moments after we had settled in – easily achieved with no luggage – the doorbell rang; two young men attired in Karma White entered, bearing chilled Champagne and a huge plate of canapes. “You have had a difficult journey,” they said. “Management thought this may help.”
As it happened, management was correct. Sighing with pleasure, we took our booty outside, where we found rather more than we bargained for: a private garden, dining table and chairs, recliners and a canopied day-bed open to the magnificent view. The party piece was our very own shimmering infinity pool. Furthermore, we had complete privacy and could not be overlooked or disturbed by neighbours.Sipping Champagne, we strolled to the end of what we came to call Our Estate; this exceptional clifftop villa nestled lightly in the land. To our right, lush leaves and fantasy foliage; ahead, a glittering seascape that circled 180 degrees to an adjacent clifftop where we spied Di Mare, the resort restaurant, a-twinkle with welcome.
Replete and happy we retired inside to a king-size four poster bed, artfully draped with silken net to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Our limbs unwound, minds cleared and the sea below sang us to sleep.
A few short hours later I awoke, bright as a button. It was maybe 4am, BB sleeping so soundly I could not wake him; instead, I slid open the glazed garden doors, stepped onto the terrace and into the pool, the glow of dawn casting a mystical light across the sea.
Our first full day at Karma Kandara began with villa-service breakfast; exotic fresh fruit, fluffy omelettes, bacon and coffee; a fine, lazy holiday start. We swam, we read, we gazed at the view, a world away from London; 4pm brought an appointment with the Karma Spa.
The Karma Spa is no ordinary therapy spot. It is poised on a cliffside promontory overlooking the ocean; beneath, one can just about glimpse the resort’s private beach.
The therapists beckoned us onto parallel beds and so began the next stage of de-stress. We were rubbed with salts and oils, wrapped in hot muslin, washed, oiled again, pummeled and stroked to within an inch of our lives; tension relieving massage as never before. Treatment over, the pampering continued: we were given kimonos and led to a compact and private terrace, featuring sauna and Jacuzzi. The cabin was glazed to the ocean view; this hot, surreal and sensuous experience was followed by a soak in the Jacuzzi, marveling at the sheer, decadent good luck of finding ourselves here, now.
We returned to the villa in time to change for dinner. Well, our clothes washed and dry from the sun were in surprisingly good shape. Fortunately, I had just-in-cased some elegant silver sandals in my hand-luggage; these brought my look to something more appropriate to our setting, while poor BB stepped out in long wool trousers … and boots.
We wandered through paths lined with scented flowers and low dry-stone walls, past an elegant sign asking guests not to feed the monkeys – they are fat and lazy enough! – around a guest pool with waterfall, up some steps and into Di Mare, the shimmering destination of our villa view.
Whisky and G&T in hand(s), we settled into these new surroundings. Then we ate; every dish was sublime, created and served with the lightest touch, the wine, fragrant and dry. We stayed awhile, replete and happy, this long lazy dinner having taken the day to dusk and into darkness. It was under a canopy of stars that we wove our way home to find – oh joy – that the diligent Concierge had somehow teleported our luggage into the villa.
Not wishing to break the spell of this magical night, we retired to the day-bed and lay watching sea and sky. BB dozed while I took a dip in the pool, pausing to watch starlight dance upon the tiny waves below. Before long, subtle eddies washed against my body and I turned to see BB floating towards me; his arm then around my shoulder, he pointed out starry constellations, with a reminder of how to identify my own sign, Taurus.
And so to our final day. Holiday wardrobes now at our disposal, we made our way to the seaside. A frisson of excitement accompanied us to the Funicular that transports guests from resort to private beach.
The carriage landed at a leafy waiting area, through which was the lively beachside restaurant and cocktail bar, complete with DJ. We were welcomed by name (how do they do that?) and led to less seaside, more elegant stretch of finest Karma reef decorated with sand, canopied daybeds, a healthy sprinkling of recliners and friendly staff that almost outnumbered the guests.BB loved diving into the waves, I paddled; olives and a local super-fruity and dry white Pinot cooled us. Reclining, we watched men, women, boys and girls frolicking and it occurred to me that there is a beach-body factory somewhere, popping out perfect people with sunny silhouettes from a life-size cookie cutter, although I confess that by now, we too felt sun kissed, relaxed and happy.
Back in the villa our backs turned to the kitchen, one fat and lazy monkey crept in to claim a pack of peanuts. On hearing the war cry from BB, he grabbed a pack of coffee, fled to the terrace and settled down to his snacks all the while keeping a wary eye on us, the interlopers.
Our stay at Bali’s southern-most point came inevitably to an end. Karma Kandara sent us on our way feeling lucky, rested and fresh for much anticipated Christmas and New Year DaughterBliss.
Since our visit, I have thought long and hard about Kandara and what it does for its guests. I give you that it is a rare destination, awash with perfection; it appears that even when every-day folk arrive at Kandara, they too become effortlessly relaxed and desirable, floating artlessly here and there with an enviable edge of glamour.
For this is what Kandara does. Rumour has it that every Karma Resort casts the same spell. Dear reader, I will investigate and promise faithfully to report on my findings.
© Giovanna Forte 2017
Footnote: our luggage arrived thanks to daily efforts of the Karma Kandara Concierge staff, who called the airline and airport again and again … until they got the answer they sought on our behalf. The staff at Karma Resorts have, for us, set a whole new standard in hospitality.