From the rice paddies of Tegallalang to the breezily ironed waters of Uluwatu, Bali – in intrepid travellers’ eyes – is as pristine as it is a fearful hive of drink spiking and moped crashing (in the eyes of Australian parents who watch crude ‘exposes’ on Channel 7).
The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between. Even then, when you think about it, that’s a very 2006 assessment. Without even going into how it focuses on tourists, there is a whole contingent of travel bloggers and digital nomads who now call Bali home.
Speaking of which… if you’re willing to cast your jealousy aside and watch their videos, there are insights to be had. Enter: Christian LeBlanc. A filmmaker who quit his job in accounting to travel the world, LeBlanc recently shared a video of what it’s like to stay at arguably Bali’s best hotel, The Ritz Carlton Mandapa, in Ubud.
Entitled, “staying at Bali’s best resort changed my life,” the video shows LeBlanc’s experience at what he describes as a “hidden 6 star” hotel in Ubud. He visits with @rubystravels who remarks when they arrive in their accommodation above the trees: “You are suspended over the jungle.”
“This is crazy.”
The whole hotel is surrounded by the Ayung river – the longest river in Bali. As they arrive in reception, LeBlanc describes it as “like an amphitheatre” – with mountains surrounding the resort. The couple then travel in a golf cart, through a windy “Indiana Jones” esque maze and beautiful gardens, before arriving in their room.
Well… room. As LeBlanc points out: “this is not a hotel room… this is insane.” They enter into a private villa, right on the river, with a pool, beautiful paintings etc.
LeBlanc explains that this is one of five Ritz Carlton reserves in the world, and that, “Reserve basically means that it’s hidden.”
“The cool thing is that when we were out on the road in Ubud there were no signs, nothing saying, ‘come down this way to Mandapa.’”
“[There was] just a dead little quiet alleyway.”
The Mandapa has been open for 5 years, but the area they visit next – The Sky Bar – for drinks only opened this year (2021).
The experience, according to LeBlanc typically costs US $1,200 dollars a night, “but with the current situation, they are offering free upgrades.”
The two then take followers into a virtual journey into a little known (by those outside the area) waterfall – Tukad Cepung – which you can drive to from the resort.
After completing a spot of canyoning they come across a natural shower and enjoy a breeze which prompts LeBlanc to say: “This is like a breath of mother nature. This is Bali’s lung.”
They also provide a top tip for those looking to snap the spot: if you get there between 9 and 11am (on a sunny day) there will be light rays that stream through, making for a more majestic photo opportunity.
They then head back to the resort for acro yoga and afternoon tea.
Finally, according to LeBlanc, what really makes the resort arguably the best in all of Bali is the fact that “you come here and you still get to see the ‘real Bali.’”
“Still get the landscape, still get to try the cuisine, still get everything that makes this island so beautiful in one place and all within walking distance.”
The resort similarly spruiks its natural charm.
“The essense of Bali, its natural beauty, warm hospitality and rich artistic and cultural heritage, is celebrated in the villas and suites at this Ubud resort. With uninterrupted rainforest, rice paddy or river views, these luxury accommodations are attended by 24-hour butlers and feature outdoor spaces with private terraces and plunge pools.”
Though the cynics might say that if it weren’t for these lavish resorts there would be more ‘real Bali’ to look at, as LeBlanc (and expats DMARGE has spoken to) point out, right now many Balinese people are actually super keen for visitors to return, to boost the economy. There is also an argument to be made that tourism, done right, can also be what saves natural areas from being plastered in concrete.
Whether you see The Ritz Carlton Mandapa as a monument to excess or as a ~life goal~ (or both), we recommend watching the video…
Read More: Hidden Ubud Secret Will Blow Your Mind