The first time I went to Bali, I found myself completely enveloped in the romance and richness of the landscape and culture there. I had long fantasized about witnessing the Tegalalang Rice Terraces in person (Brody thought this was ridiculous BTW, “it’s just rice!”), taking a dip in an infinity pool overlooking the Ayung River, being surrounded entirely by lush, humid jungle, and watching monkeys climb the rooflines of 600 year old temples — I mean just about anyone who saw “Eat, Pray, Love” does, right? Ubud is the area within Bali that you typically see in the movies or in photos. Ubud is a little over an hour from the airport in Denpasar, and some of the most spectacular resorts, food and sightseeing in the world are there. The holistic health and organic dining markets are strong there, as well. There are endless fresh juice stands, vegetarian restaurants, spas, soap and botanicals shops, knock-off handbag stores, and open-air markets. Four days in Ubud simply wasn’t enough, so when it came time to plan a trip with my parents to celebrate their 30th anniversary, I suggested we go back. It only made sense for them to celebrate romance in one of the most romantic places on earth!
On our first trip to Bali, we stayed at the Four Seasons Sayan, which was absolutely spectacular! But I love to have new experiences, so on our visit this time, we gave the Royal Pita Maha a try, and I’m so glad we did! Although they are located just two miles apart and both right along the Ayung River, our experience at each was completely different. I’ll give you a little breakdown of the difference just in case you’re curious:
The Four Seasons is, obviously, an international chain so everything there is a bit westernized. It’s very luxurious and high quality, dining options are international, and the design of the resort and villas is more modern and stylish. The Four Seasons truly felt like a luxury resort, and also had its’ own rice terrace (which you know I loved).
Royal Pita Maha is owned by a royal family from Ubud, and as such, is extremely traditional in Balinese style. The accommodations are older and look like ancient temples (not quite as luxurious as the Four Seasons but probably more beautiful), the food is entirely Balinese, operations don’t run quite as efficiently, and you must like climbing stairs because there are hundreds of them and they’re unavoidable.. BUT the spa is one of the best in all of Bali, which is really saying something in a country known for its spas! Our room category at Royal Pita Maha included a complimentary one-hour massage every day, which is definitely the most luxurious thing I’ve ever been treated to on vacation.
Both resorts are along the river, so you can watch rafters go by all day long screaming and laughing, both have very photogenic pools, and both are a 10-15 minute drive from the heart of Ubud. I would recommend the Deluxe Pool Villa at Royal Pita Maha, and the Riverfront Villa at the Four Seasons.
Anyway, now that my hotel review is complete.. we spent 5 days in Bali this time around. Each day we did an activity earlier in the day (feeding monkeys at the Monkey Forest, shopping at the local market, surfing/swimming at Keramas beach) and then spent the afternoon relaxing at the resort before a dinner somewhere different each night (I highly recommend Hujon Locale!).
Then we were off to Nihiwatu on Sumba Island: another stop Brody and I made last year and felt our parents had to experience. You’ve likely seen many photos of Nihiwatu on my Instagram. It’s the place that looks like heaven on earth! It’s also, now, a place that will forever hold a very special place in my heart because Brody and I got engaged there!!
We checked into Nihiwatu’s Mamole Treehouse, a 3-bedroom villa, with my parents and Brody’s mom. That treehouse is everything. I never wanted to leave. As a surprise to my parents, I organized a private, romantic dinner at the treehouse for them the night of their anniversary. Little did I know at the time that Brody was trying to figure out when, exactly, he wanted to propose to me. He thought the night of my parents 30th wedding anniversary would be meaningful, but because they had a private dinner planned, he decided on the following day instead, which was the anniversary of my parents meeting for the first time: May 4!
I haven’t shared many details about Brody’s proposal to me with anyone because for me it was such a sacred moment between us, but I wanted to share this photo with all of you:
It was taken just after we became engaged! It was just the two of us, at sunset, and Brody got down on one knee – very traditional, and absolutely perfect!! It was the most romantic, surreal moment of my life. Our parents were waiting just up the beach to celebrate with us, but we took our time sipping champagne and staring at my ring and taking photos of each other and laughing just the two of us for a little bit before joining everyone else. I really wanted to take every detail in, and I felt so fortunate to be in such a beautiful place with my best friend celebrating us and our future together.
I spent the next week straight waking up each morning in disbelief that I was really engaged!! I still can’t believe it, honestly. It is a truly unique and special feeling, and to have shared that experience with Brody in Indonesia made it all the more memorable.
Destination wedding anyone….??