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Wednesday 13 March 2024

A very special getaway in the hills of Bali

Tucked away in the hills above the northern Bali coast is a superb rural getaway that allows guests to experience the authentic sights, sounds and tastes of the holiday island. 

The Damai, which reopened last year after a three-year Covid closure, offers a luxury villa experience surrounded by temples, small farms and rice paddies. 

The 15 private villas (in four configurations) all offer an essence of Balinese style (think al fresco garden showers), but each has its own swimming pool and western comforts, including fast, reliable wifi. Think simple, but elegant, in a serene garden setting. 

The Damai's slogan is: "hard to find; harder to leave" and it offers a rare sense of tranquillity just a winding 4km drive up from the black sand beaches at Lovina, where visitors can go swimming with dolphins on a local fishing boat, and sample the many local warungs to maybe try some babi guleng (suckling pig). 

It is also close to a number of spectacular waterfalls.

As the light fades, guests can sit on the terrace with spectacular views down to the water, and take in sounds wafting mellifluously across the landscape. 

The soundtrack ranges from the call to prayer at local temples, the sound of gamelans practicing their art, resident frogs and local roosters.

The word damai means "peace", which seems totally appropriate. 

Many guests choose to spend most of their time at The Damai, where local experiences are highlighted and most of the very impressive staff come from the hillside villages. 

Think herbal shots made from local plants for breakfast, a daily menu of Balinese food specialities, and cocktails made with local ingredients that the bar staff have marinated themselves. 

Meals are served either in the open-air dining room, at poolside, or in your villa's garden, should you be looking for complete privacy. 

If you are looking for a local breakfast try a colourful fresh fruit platter (above) followed by a spicy mie goreng and chicken skewers. 

At dinner there is always a Balinese three-course menu choice, perhaps featuring a half chicken from a local village, or some crabs from local mangroves (below). 

That said, the western food is also very good with the Balinese-style Angus burger for lunch a standout, and dishes like yellowfin tuna with mango, langoustine and green curry, or fish of the day with beurre blanc or a spicy soy sauce; served with pilaf rice or steamed greens.

The Damai uses organic ingredients where possible with herbs and salads from the on-site market garden, honey from the Damai bees, and poultry, eggs and fresh coconut oil from the neighbouring village. When you dine you can see the local fishermen out at sea readying for tomorrow's catch.

The hotel can arrange for you to take a trip further up in the hills to visit "Vanilla Farm" where you can see vanilla, cloves, nutmeg and other spices being farmed and dried - as well as exotic fruits like jackfruit and dragonfruit.

The ambience here is totally relaxing, but if you really want to chill, the signature The Damai Massage is an excellent excuse to nod off. For just a few minutes, of course. 

The Damai offers a slice of the real Bali. A deserted beach; a dance class in a village; a glimpse inside a temple, or a moment of contemplation at a spectacular waterfall. 

A range of packages can be tailored to your preferences - and drivers are available to take you where you want to go (at extra cost, of course). 

For more details see Villas start from well under $300 a night. Tell them I sent you.

Qantas flies Sydney-Denpasar with daily direct flights operated on an Airbus A330 aircraft, fares start from $414 one way. Melbourne-Denpasar direct flights operate five times per week using a Boeing 737 aircraft. Fares start from $415 one way. See

# The writer was hosted by The Damai.

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