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Tuesday 10 March 2015

The very lovely, extremely luxurious Villa Sungai

There are some people who visit Bali for the nightlife, the cheap beer and the beaches. And then there are others who visit for a sumptuous lifestyle they can adopt for a week or two, the local culture and the delicious food. 
Room to relax

If you fit into the second category rather than the first, let me introduce you to the lovely Villa Sungai, a multiple award-winning property tucked away in the rainforest decked hills of Cepaka, just a 30-minute drive from the bustling beaches of Seminyak and Legian. 

Villa Sungai overlooks a local river, is just a short walk to rice paddies and you can hear the local roosters going about their business, as well as the village pigs and abundant bird-life.

It's like living with the locals, except most Cepaka residents do not have their own (rather large) team of staff on call 24 hours a days, do not have unique access to a beautiful 18-metre infinity pool, massive days beds, Bose sound systems and maxi bars.   

Villa Sungai is over the top in terms of luxury, but in the most tasteful way possible. It is an exclusive-use Australian-owned property, where every guest is made to feel like a king.

After being pampered and coseted by the extremely friendly staff here, staying in a hotel just doesn't pass muster, although all the comfort does come at a price.

First up, Villa Sungai offers a VIP airport arrival service (although the immigration queue at the execrable Ngurah Rai Airport cannot be avoided).The airport butler meets guests as they enter the arrivals hall, helps them with their visa on arrival and luggage and delivers them to the villa car, avoiding the maddening crowds.

The car has cold towels, cold drinks and snacks to fortify you for the drive. Upon arrival you are met by around eight or nine of the staff, who work on shifts around the clock to make sure your every whim is catered for. Like your unpacking done for you? Certainly. Like a refreshing drink, or a cold towel? Here it is. Another one? Right away. 

The staff are headed by Made, part manager/part concierge who can arrange any activities you request, any foods and drinks you require. He is charming, friendly and ultra-efficient. Every home should have one. 

VillaSungai offers three poolside king suites and four en-suite bathrooms, one with an al fresco showers and a bath that was strewn with flower petals for our arrival. Five-star furnishings in Balinese style meet Provencal chic. There's a private couples massages suite and several gorgeous nooks and crannies for reading or listening to music. 

The villa has space for up to six adults and children are welcome. Adjacent but completely private, is a second smaller but equally gob-smacking villa, Sungai Gold. The villas can be rented as a pair for groups of up to a dozen. 

The chauffeured 7-guest air-conditioned vehicle is included in the tariff (and ready to depart at any time). Breakfast and first night canapés are provided free of charge while meals are charged at cost of ingredients only (visit the market with your chef in the morning to see what looks good). Laundry is complimentary; as are all-day Nespresso coffees and TWG teas, while the bar is provided at wholesale prices. Fast wifi is available, resort-quality massages cost just $US30 for 60 minutes, and rooms are serviced twice daily, or more regularly should you require it. 
There is an excellent selection of TV channels, and a massive choice of movies in your pavilion - and for golfers the Greg Norman-designed Nirwana course is just 15-20 minutes' drive from the villa

As we were staying for just three nights rather than the usual seven night minimum, we spent virtually all of our time on-site, loving the luxury. While the staff are there should you need them, and extremely hospitable, they do not intrude. Staying here is like having your own personal lodge.

And what of the food, which is served whenever you want to eat? 

It is better than at most of the upmarket restaurants on the island and served with real care and attention by the delightful Putu and Iluh; among the dining choices are western and Asian specialities.

Think hors d'oeuvres/appetisers like lamb spring rolls with hoisin dipping sauce, chicken satays with peanut sauce, Thai lon with prawns, lime and cashew blue-eye cod rolls with Chinese black vinegar dipping sauce or Thai fish cakes. 

Main courses range from whole baby snapper steamed with Balinese spices, fried sweet pork belly with green mango and chilli palm sugar dressing, Nonya pork satay with tangy pineapple and peanut sauce and braised beef rendang.

The food is seriously fabulous 
For the less adventurous there are burgers, steak sandwiches and spaghetti bolognaise, while desserts may feature Balinese banana fritters with coconut ice-cream or sticky black rice with coconut cream, ginger syrup and banana. 

It's your call. Wayan and the other chefs will make dishes to your instructions, including spice levels. 

It is disturbingly easy to get used to local Bintang beers by the pool, or the delicious signature cocktails: vodka, lime juice, and palm sugar with kaffir lime and lemongrass infusions and topped with soda. 

The wine list, very reasonably priced in a country with very high alcohol taxes includes the local Hatten label and names like Alexis Lichine, Louis Latour, Guigal, Zonin, Domaine Chandon, Wynn's Coonawarra Estate, Cape Mentelle, Astrobale and Drylands, among others.

On warm days (every day, in fact), lime, mint and ginger beer mocktails worked their magic. This is the perfect spot for a small wedding, family get-together or a week doing absolutely nothing.

For details and prices email or go to

# The writer and his wife were guests of Villa Sungai and travelled with assistance from Air Asia.     

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