Mandapa Luxury Hotel Bali: Is It One Of The Best?
On this recent trip to Bali we decided to stay in two hotels, one by the ocean and another in Ubud. Once again, this decision was spurred by my ridiculous fear of missing out. Both hotels scored high on my excel chart and they were in very different locations; beach vs. jungle. Our first stop was Soori Bali, an ocean front resort in Tabanan; you can read my review here. The second half of our Bali trip was spent at the Mandapa, A Ritz Carlton Reserve, in Ubud. The hotel offers several packages and we chose the Couple’s Retreat which includes a variety of activities. We tweaked the package slightly since waking up at 7am was not an option; the goal was to relax. Wondering if the Mandapa luxury hotel is the best choice in Bali? Keep reading to find out!
Getting To The Mandapa Luxury Hotel
The Mandapa is a secluded resort in Ubud surrounded by the Ayung River. Our transfer from Soori Bali was approximately one hour long which is the same if you are coming from the airport. It is easy to miss the entrance to the resort as it blends in quite well with the surrounding buildings. As you make your way through the driveway, past security and into the courtyard you begin to see the impressive hotel grounds.
The Impressive Hotel Grounds
We were immediately greeted by Dendi, our personal Patih, a Balinese term for butler, and escorted to the wantilan where we enjoyed a traditional welcome drink called Loloh Cemcem. As you make your way onto the edge of the wantilan, you can’t help but admire the incredible view. The resort is made up of luxury suites with views of the rice paddies and riverfront or rice terrace pool villas. The lush greenery may be appealing to some but all I could think of was the nestled tiny critters waiting to jump out. A little more on that later.
Dendi offered to give us a tour of the resort so we hopped on the golf cart and off we went. As we made our way around it was evident how much work goes into maintaining this property, the grounds are manicured to perfection. We were surrounded by lush vegetation so of course that meant it was only a matter of time before the Balinese mosquitoes would start feasting on my blood. But back to positive thoughts!!
Our first stop was the Sawah Terrace restaurant and The Pool Bar, where guests can enjoy all day dining with views of the rice paddies. We then passed by the gift shop before heading to Kubu, Mandapa’s signature restaurant which is amazing by the way! (more on that later) Our final stop before heading to our room was the spa. We spent a great deal of time at the spa and I’ll fill you in on the amazing treatments later.
One-Bedroom River Front Villa At Mandapa A Ritz Carlton Reserve
We had originally booked the one-bedroom Pool Villa but got upgraded to the one-bedroom river front pool villa. Was it because of my Marriott status (that’s what we were told) or because the resort was empty? I think it was more due to the latter. But I’ll take it.
Dendi pulled up to our villa and showed us the way. There is one main entrance with a courtyard that leads to two villas and we were in villa 20 on the right. He opened the door and that’s when we got a first glance of our little tropical oasis where we’d be spending the next three nights. We had our very own private pool, surrounded by a beautiful Balinese garden and a separate in-door living room where we could dine, read a book or watch tv. Can you guess what was going through my mind as we walked over to our room? Yup, all the bugs and other creatures that could be hiding in all that foliage… Welcome to the jungle… I am one of those people who won’t sit or even worse, lay down on grass because I can’t stand the idea of anything crawling on me.
Our room was beautiful! The traditional Balinese décor was perfect and there were luxury amenities throughout our 4630 SQ FT Villa. If you are into outdoor rain-showers, you’re in luck! For those who’d rather shower indoors, like myself, there is a very large rain-shower and romantic tub.
Breakfast And Lunch At The Mandapa
At this point we were starving so we decided to grab a bite at the Sawah Terrace Restaurant before our spa treatment. This is where we had our first weird creature sighting, some sort of reptile, I believe it was a really fat Bali Skink. It decided to park itself under our table - lucky us. Ok, back to more important things; the food! We opted for the tuna tartare, the selection of assorted sushi and the Sate Campur which is a selection of beef, chicken and pork skewers with peanut sauce and chili sambal. It was 3:30pm and our dinner reservations were at 7pm so we made sure not to stuff our faces. So far, my inner foodie approves! We enjoyed several other dishes during the remainder of our stay at the restaurant and in-room dining.
We opted for in-room breakfast every morning which was served in the separate living room area. The pancakes, crepes and fresh fruits were excellent but the eggs Benedict were underwhelming.
Spa Treatments Are A Necessity
Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating but the hubby had a conference the following week and I had to make sure he was well rested. So, I took the liberty of booking one spa treatment per day. Completely reasonable, if you ask me. Each treatment begins with a traditional Balinese foot ritual which is something I wish more western spas would adopt. We both chose the Revitalizing Brightener Facial and it was fantastic! My face was glowing after the treatment and my skin felt so good.
The next day Carl decided on the Back, Face & Scalp Treatment and I the Padi Massage. Padi means rice, and the treatment is inspired by the traditional ingredient. This was an unusual treatment but weirdly comforting. I say weirdly because the massage therapist applied burning hot rice pouches on my body throughout the treatment. Despite the really hot bundles of rice, I left this treatment feeling light and so serene.
The facilities are beautiful, and you get a true sense of relaxation as soon as you walk in and until the very end. They also offer traditional Balinese healing sessions that I failed to book in advance. If you’ve read or watched Eat Pray Love you are probably familiar with Ketut Liyer. Well you can have your very own Ketut experience at the Mandapa. I really wanted to try Ibu Ketut Mursi, a blind healer able to assess emotional and physical issues through awareness and touch. Oh well, next time!
Dinner At The Mandapa
Kubu is the signature restaurant at the Mandapa and it was our favorite dining experience during our entire Bali stay. You get your very own private cocoon overlooking the Ayung River making it a romantic and unique experience. We tried the a la carte menu and The Gourmet option on the degustation menu. My inner foodie was not impressed with our dining experiences in Bali until we tried Kubu. We also dined at Locavore, no. 49 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and it was quite disappointing. Kubu is worth a detour if you are visiting Bali and like fine dining or good food, period.
Couple’s Retreat Mandapa A Ritz Carlton Reserve
The couple’s retreat package offers a variety of activities like yoga, a couple’s treatment at the spa, a Volkswagen vintage tour, Jamu workshop and Subak farming. I forgot to pack my yoga clothes, so we skipped that one. We also had a tour planned outside the resort so the only activities we ended up participating in were the Jamu workshop and the spa.
The Jamu making workshop was very educational and Eri did a great job demonstrating the process. This drink is used as a medicine and made of all-natural ingredients loaded with vitamins. The ingredients are sea salt, palm sugar, tamarin paste, turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemon grass and lime. The result is a spicy flavorful tea that is said to help clean the blood and eliminate unwanted toxins from the liver due to the high content of turmeric. Will I be making it at home? Probably not. But fun nonetheless!
The Mandapa offers several other complimentary activities like a Balinese costume demo, aqua aerobics, rice pounding and much more!
Mandapa Luxury Hotel Bali: Is It One Of The Best?
Time to answer the question of whether or not the Mandapa A Ritz Carlton Reserve is one of the best hotels in Bali. Here’s my honest opinion: The service is flawless, the food is probably the best in Bali, the resort is stunning, and the rooms are beautiful. The frog leaping across me while I walked through the small path into our villa caused my heart to stop slightly. The Bali Skink under our dining table didn’t allow me to fully enjoy my meal because I was too focused on making sure it didn’t eat my toes. The snake lounging by our pool made me wonder how many more there were and if any would make their way in my bed while I slept. And finally, all the mosquito bites I endured despite the ridiculous amount of DEET (or the all-natural hotel brand) I sprayed all over my body multiple times a day. Are all reasons why this hotel wouldn’t be my first choice. If you don’t mind all these things and are one with nature, then this is the perfect hotel if you are looking for luxury in the jungle.
I hope you found this review useful! Would love to know your thoughts so please leave a comment below!
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