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Bali’s iconic senior luxury hotel is agelessly up to date

A hot tamarind Jamu drink, women only...

A hot tamarind Jamu drink, women only…

Talking of stress-free, when on Bali try a Jamu. The Legian, one of GHM’s luxury hotels on this idyllic island, has’em on room service.  For men there is an STMJ, a white drink which apparently enhances strength and endurance.  The gal tried the ladies’ version, a Jamu Sehat Wanita, which apparently preserves youthful complexion.  This is it, tamarind, turmeric, raw sugar and palm sugar, and a week’s stay in an icebox before being served, as it usually is, to couples who have been out on the town here in Seminyak and they need a bit of de-stressing before collapsing into bed or doing what couples do at that time of night.

Kevin Abramowicz

Kevin Abramowicz

Kevin Abramowicz, who runs this iconic hotel, got the recipe for me.  Apart from anything else I am never in one place – even home – for a week so how could I produce my own Jamu Sehat Wanita?  I loved my one-occasion (been there, done that) but I will leave making the complexion-retainer to others.   This hotel is fascinating.  It is a stone fortress, rising four floors high with views over 200 feet of flat grass to the sandy Seminyak Beach. Look the other way and 20 feet away is Jalan Kayu Aya, which takes you, five minutes by car, to Seminyak town and its outstanding shopping.

Xylophone players

Xylophone players

Honestly, fashionistas are in heaven here.  It is not so much Armani and Zegna as hip designers of the calibre of State of Georgia, Lulu, Innuendo, Biasa, Lily Jean, Magali Pascal, Prasada and Religion (actually, I would forget that last one – came across the brand in Singapore, at a temporary display at the otherwise-sophisticated Fullerton Bay Hotel, and found Religion sheer grunge).  Seminyak also offers fashion outlets (Billabong, Quicksilver and Rip Curl) and art galleries and outdoor markets and of course restaurants…  No wonder one of the many Australian couples here (sixth stay, love it) said they cannot wait to come back (seventh stay, will love it).  One reason is the sense of calm the hotel offers.

Dusting the library

Dusting the library

Musicians play bamboo xylophones outside the hotel’s lovely all-purpose restaurant (dine in, dine out, love where-ever). What with 335 people (yes really), to look after a mere 68 rooms, you would expect them all to be getting in each other’s way. Just occasionally you do see staff doing something that makes you think ‘ha ha, they keep this place really clean’. But the Balinese know when they are wanted, and if they are not they keep out of sight.  The butler for suite 531 miraculously never ever was there unless needed.  Suite 531, by the way, is really stress free, with zigzag wood floors and wood Venetian blinds leading to a long balcony for that view of the ocean.

A healthy courgette carpaccio

A healthy courgette carpaccio

Since we are on a de-stress kick, I do recommend dining on the terrace part of the restaurant.   You are down at ground level, near the first of three parallel pools – the one nearest the beach is deeper, and adult-only. Start with an extremely healthy courgette carpaccio, go on to slow-cooked Tasmanian salmon with caviar, drink a Chardonnay (Cloudy Bay 2007), drink masses of water.  Fans twirl overhead.  Back here a few hours later, the breakfast coffee is some of the best in the world, as are the house-made croissants. I have borrowed a couple of books from the library leading off the main lobby – yes, this is one of those intelligent hotels which assumes that people who stay here are polysyllabic.

Look down at the spa floor's flower

Look down at the spa floor’s flower

The final de-stress at this luxury hotel is a visit to the spa.  Lie down on your bed, look through the head ‘window’ down at a flower  floating in a bowl on the floor.  As the neck massage starts, you feel better just for being here. The retail can wait for another visit.