Viceroy Bali rolls out new suites and a sprawling spa

Bali isn’t just about beaches. Those who know, know that the best parts of the island are deep within its culturally rich interior — and its spiritual center is Ubud.

Ubud derives from the Balinese for “medicine,” and that’s exactly what it is for those coming off a Bintang bender on the beach.

Located high within the island’s monkey-filled forests, it’s home to many of the best resorts on the island. The atmosphere is more grown-up, less packaged holiday. Traditional dance, chef-y food and innumerous temples are all on the menu. If you linger on the live broadcasts from the Met on public radio, you belong here.

Now, one of the area’s best five-star standbys is learning new tricks.

Exterior of the Viceroy Bali.
Yoga by the pool, or something more relaxed? The Viceroy Bali has unveiled fresh suites and a souped-up spa with a tradition-meets-tech approach.
Viceroy Bali

Perched above the Petanu river valley, Viceroy Bali has been a main attraction since opening in 2005 — which, in terms of Bali’s rapid rice terrace-to-resort development, pushes it into grand dame territory.

Not to be confused with the US-based Viceroy Hotels & Resorts brand, this 40-villa boutique is a family-owned indie act with lots of personality and a Small Luxury Hotels of the World endorsement.

Unlike many self-contained resorts, where few seem to come or go, Viceroy has always been outward reaching. It’s one of very few resorts on the entire island with a helicopter pad. It’s well used. Small numbers of non-guests arrive each day (more often by car) thanks to restaurants CasCades and Apéritif, which is the area’s preeminent fine-dining destination. This is the only place in Ubud where you’ll find imported caviar, serious French Burgundies (DRC anyone?) and a massive Cuban cigar selection on the menu.

Overhead of a dish at the Viceroy's restaurant.
The resort’s restaurant, Apértif, is an uncontested best thanks to tasting-menu courses designed to give you a Bali high.

Belgian chef Nic Vanderbeeken administers the ever-flowing, hugely generous tasting menu. Their suave mustachioed sommelier is from the south of France. The restaurant’s neighboring 1920s-inspired bar is a hub of conviviality and nostalgic craft sedatives. Poolside yoga, blessing ceremonies, bar socials and even a game of squash are the popular pastimes. The result is a lively resort that is as popular with honeymooners as it is with families, with little of the gilded terrarium about it.

And so it had been until the pandemic pressed pause. Bali took the coronavirus hard, but like many other hotel operators, Viceroy’s owner Margaret Syrowatka and her daughter Amanda, the hotel’s general manager, got to work.

The result is the Akoya Spa, opened this year, and four new junior suites. The spa is especially ambitious with a host of high-tech meets traditional services that range from IV infusions and “super facials” (which use radio frequency energy and ultrasound) to time-honored Balinese wellness practices.

Exterior of the Viceroy Bali.
An aerial view of the jungle-surrounded property.
Viceroy Bali

The new suites weigh in at 753 square feet and act more like villas than traditional rooms. They sport large living rooms and nearly full-size private infinity plunge pools located on terraces with traditional Balinese-style bungalow sunbeds. They’re perfect for tropical love birds but for a family affair, the resort’s premier stay is the Viceroy Villa, which spreads two bedrooms and two bathrooms over 4,306 square feet. Peep that 160-square-foot private pool overlooking the jungle. Rates range from $385 for a junior suite to $2,500 for the Viceroy Villa.

Nobody loved the year 2020, but sometimes shaking the snow globe results in an even prettier picture.

Getting there

Interior of Emirates with a flight attendant.
Need a faster flight from NYC to Indonesia? Emirates has a route for that.

Bali is over 10,000 miles from New York — but just about 8,600 miles from Los Angeles. Our geographically inclined readers will have intuited that. What they wouldn’t have guessed is that it’s now nearly as quick (and more comfortable) to get to the Isle of the Gods from Gotham than it is from La La Land. For this mathematics-defying miracle, thank Emirates.

Last month, the airline launched direct, daily flights from its Dubai hub to Denpasar, making it possible to board an A380 at JFK, transfer to another A380 and be in Denpasar in just 23 hours. The fastest flight from LA currently takes over 20 hours on Philippine Airlines with a layover in Manila. Did we mention that business class on Emirates has a stand-up bar and lounge?

Better still, Emirates recently launched a premium economy class (above) that makes the (let’s face it) substantial journey to honeymoon heaven much more affordable without scrimping on the comfort you need when you’ve spent an entire day of your life in the clouds. (sample roundtrip fare from JFK in December was $1,425).

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