Living the Balinese Life at Umana Bali, LXR Hotels & Resorts | Savoir Flair
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Living the Balinese Life at Umana Bali, LXR Hotels & Resorts
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by Xandi Eleazar 7-minute read May 28, 2024

Alexa, play ‘Island in the Sun’.

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A typical morning in Ungasan, a remote town at the southernmost tip of Uluwatu, starts early, with the tranquil air of dawn filled with the fragrant scent of incense from morning offerings. The locals begin their day with a deep connection to their spiritual practices, preparing and placing canang sari at small household shrines, businesses, and on the streets as a gesture of gratitude and to appease the spirits for the day. As the sun rises, painting the sky in hues of pink and orange, the quiet streets gradually come alive with the sounds of scooters zipping by, as people make their way around town. From the roadside, some can be seen grinding fresh spices and preparing ingredients for the day’s meals — the aromatic smells mingling with the salty sea air.

The local temples, ever-present in the community, host a few early risers who come to pray and meditate, seeking spiritual reflection to start their day. Here, the morning is a beautiful blend of routine, cultural rituals, community interactions, and natural beauty, all unfolding under the warm Balinese sun. 

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In Bali, rituals and ceremonies are an integral part of daily life, reflecting the deep spiritual and cultural fabric of the island. There seems to be a ritual or ceremony for every aspect of life, from the mundane to the profound. 

This is immediately felt upon my arrival at Umana Bali, LXR Hotels & Resorts , as I was greeted with the reverberating sounds of a ceremonial gong. Frangipani flowers and a handwoven bracelet were also presented to me as traditional symbols of hospitality, followed by a special welcome drink, offering a refreshing taste of the island’s flavors.

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Perched high above on the island's southernmost peninsula, Umana Bali Resort boasts 72 breathtaking all-pool villas. It is also distinguished as the first LXR Hotels & Resorts property in Southeast Asia. Drawing inspiration from "Uma," the Balinese word for the island's ancient rice paddies, Umana exemplifies luxury and personalized service, reflecting authentic Balinese hospitality. Each villa, experience, event, and service element is thoughtfully designed to lead guests into the Bali Way of Life.

First Impressions

Following the ceremonious welcome, the warm Balinese hospitality shone through as the team provided an in-depth tour of the resort. The main reception lobby is guarded by two stone sculptures of winged mythical creatures, while the ceiling is adorned with a canopy of cascading wood, and the wall molding is patterned after traditional woven cloth. These thoughtful touches pay homage to indigenous traditions and crafts, offering visitors a connection to the local culture.

The check-in area is spacious, airy, and informal, with personalized and sincere service. Each guest is assigned an official Curator, acting as a personal concierge throughout their stay and available via direct message to attend to requests at a moment's notice. 

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Suite Life

I was assigned a partial ocean-view villa centrally located on the property, making it easy to access the main restaurants, spa, and pool. The one-bedroom unit was spacious, with a large outdoor area and a private infinity pool. It featured two entrances; the first led to a quaint outdoor area with a landscaped garden walkway, while the second door opened to the indoor living space.

The indoor area of the villa was spectacular, with high ceilings, huge window panels, and glass doors that offered a welcoming atmosphere and a stunning ocean view. The living area featured a chandelier, an L-shaped sofa, two armchairs, and a large flat-screen television. A welcome amenity consisting of a fruit basket, sweet treats, and a personalized fresh coconut with my (very long) full name carved on it greeted me upon arrival. I must say, I really appreciated the effort it took to personalize the coconut.

A wireless speaker, a spacious working desk with power outlets, and excellent Wi-Fi connectivity added to the villa's modern conveniences. The living area also included a dining table for four, suitable for in-villa dining.

The bedroom was as impressive as the living area, with direct pool access and an amazing ocean view. The massive bathroom boasted double sinks, a wardrobe area, a large soaking tub, indoor and outdoor showers, and a Japanese-style toilet. 

The outdoor area was furnished with a cabana, double-size daybeds, sunbeds, a dining table for two, and facilities for an in-villa barbecue. The highlight was the 10-meter private infinity pool and hot tub, which were so inviting and offered a serene setting to relax and enjoy the view. Needless to say, I spent the majority of my afternoons there.

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Food Matters

Umana Bali offers two main restaurants, Commune and Oliverra, each providing a distinct experience. Commune, the hotel’s all-day dining spot, emphasizes ethically sourced ingredients and serves a semi-buffet breakfast, along with lunch and dinner featuring a diverse array of Southeast Asian and international cuisine. 

During my stay, I participated in a Balinese Cooking Class held at Commune. Under the guidance of the hotel’s Head Chef, my fellow guests and I learned to make the delicious sate lilit, a traditional Balinese dish of meat cooked on skewers. Commune also hosted an Indonesian coffee-tasting session, where each cup revealed the story of its origin, from the robust intensity of single-origin espresso to the intricate nuances of meticulously crafted pour-over blends.

Oliverra, the resort’s fine-dining restaurant, is located on the cliff next to the chapel and offers breathtaking ocean views. Specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, Oliverra features a bar area, the main restaurant, and an outdoor patio dining area. I chose to sit outdoors to enjoy the amazing weather and was treated to a short glimpse of the sunset. For the best experience, I recommend arriving early while it’s still bright to fully appreciate the view.

For those lazy, sun-soaked days when leaving the comfort and privacy of your villa feels impossible, in-villa dining is also available, ensuring you can enjoy delicious meals without stepping out of your vacation home.

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R&R

Lohma Spa is the main wellness destination within the resort; it specializes in the signature authentic Balinese massage. However, I opted to have my treatment, the Lohma Massage, in the convenience of my own villa. The session began with a foot soak and scrub, followed by an aromatherapy ritual to kickstart the massage. Enhanced with a specially blended oil and energized gemstones, this treatment revitalizes the body through a combination of rolling and kneading strokes, palm pressure, and palm slides. Different massage oils, depending on the chosen gemstone, provide a therapeutic treatment that induces deep relaxation. The experience was exceptional, leaving me wishing it could have lasted forever.

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It Takes a Village

Umana Bali puts great effort into fostering a connection between guests and the authentic way of life of the locals. The Village Walk truly showcased this mission, offering a six-kilometer trek that took between 90 to 120 minutes, allowing me to explore and uncover the vibrant alleys and corners of Ungasan village. As an art and history enthusiast, it was a treat to visit three local temples, wander through the bustling local market, and engage with warm-hearted locals amidst a kaleidoscope of colors, scents, and sounds. During the walk, I was also welcomed into a traditional Balinese home to learn about its design philosophy and architectural nuances. It was inspiring to be surrounded by people who deeply appreciate and take pride in their indigenous culture, and who are open and willing to share it with visitors.

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The name "Bali" is believed to be derived from the ancient local word "bebali," which translates to "offering." This connection highlighted the spirituality that permeated the island, where offerings are a central component of daily life. 

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As a visitor, the opportunity to participate in creating a canang sari was a deeply reflective experience unlike anything I had encountered at any other resort. A canang sari, composed of a small woven basket made from coconut leaves and filled with flowers, incense, and various other symbolic components, represented this tradition. 

When asked if the canang sari was offered to make a wish come true, our hosts at Umana explained that the practice is actually rooted in gratitude rather than personal intentions. This insight shifted my mindset to a deep, genuine appreciation for life, a perspective I will carry with me for years to come.

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