Ceviche is a cold marinated seafood dish associated with Central and South America – it probably originated in Peru but others, including Polynesia, also claim to have invented it. Whatever, this is one of the most refreshing ceviches that the gal has had in a long time, namely, on the left, Lombok Island scallops with lemongrass, and, accompanying it on the right, a green chilli and lime sorbet. Girlahead has moved to another exciting part of the world – Bali, and we kick off at Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa.
Eating the scallops, followed by an Australian Wagyu tenderloin from Oakleigh Ranch in south-east Queensland, I look down from the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. Down is the operative word. The hotel is built into a limestone cliff. The main building goes down seven floors, set into that cliff face. Most of the 74 rooms are in the main building but some are stand-alone or detached villas, down by the water. These villas have flat roofs. Look down from the restaurant and you see their grassed roofs. To the right is what looks like a box cantilevered out to sea.
This is the wedding chapel, big enough to hold 50. What a perfect place to get married. Walk along a decorated path, koi either side (a man is photographing them). As you make your vows you, and your loved ones, feel you are flying over the ocean. And then later you go back to your villa, because of course you have taken a villa rather than a room in the main block, and you look out at more water, at your own pool, at the shared pools below, at the blue sea. No wonder people love Bali.
Take, say, villa 602, the lowest-set and right on the beach. You have 700 sq ft of personal space, and a private pool that is 24 by nine feet. Your terrace also has an outdoor bathtub, and if you get bored lazing in it they have provided a sketch book, with pencils, and a stone Congklak set, a traditional Balinese toy to learn accounting. Some of the people staying here seem to spend all day just lazing around the various pools, their own and the shared ones. There is a beach-set restaurant so you do not need to hike all the way (108 stone steps) up to the lobby.
Stay down here and have, say, a local vegetarian wrap, gado gado – cabbage wrapped around vegetables, served with peanut sauce and prawn crackers. But it is worth getting back up to the lobby, which is open to the cool winds front and back. Its floor is Labradorite, which looks like iridescent black and blue butterfly wings (it is a feldspar mineral from Canada, hence its name). Yes, you can keep really fit here, without having to use the gym – which, rather pleasantly, has glass walls so you look down at the surrounding countryside. Even exploring the terrain is calorie consuming. While I was out doing a recce I came across one flat roof that had a canopy like the outlines of a four-post bed, ideal for private dining.
Or it could double as a chuppah for a Jewish wedding. They even have a selection of bagels, displayed on a tree-like stand, on the breakfast buffet, together with salmon and cream cheese. They even have a juice chef there, who will put any of the dozens of fruits and vegetables into his blender to make a juice of your choice. Want a detox smoothie, or a long life smoothie? No problem. While I wait for my berry blend, I think how supermarkets are leading the way, offering Innocent and Naked and other blends of green, orange and purple smoothies. At this rate no luxury hotel worth its salt (sorry, that is unhealthy) will be able to justify ‘only’ having orange, grapefruit or tomato juice. After which profundity I make my way back down to the beach and join others, lazing another day away. Who needs stress when you have such an environment as this?