I’m happy to say that I’ve visited Bali on eight occasions, and have loved it each and every time. My last visit was the lucky eighth, complete with the pleasure of staying at one of the freshly refurbished Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort.
Situated atop of Bali’s spectacular southwest coast and set against the stunning Indian Ocean and renowned Tanah Lot Temple, the resort boasts so many amenities and special features that you hardly need step foot outside it to enjoy a rich, memorable holiday.
Let’s start with that temple. Tanah Lot has a lot of history behind it. It’s a great rock formation off the southwest coast of Bali that is home to a spectacular large temple. Balinese for ‘Land in the Sea’, its mysterious shape is due to water erosion where night after night visitors enjoy viewing the ocean tide crashing against its side.
The temple is claimed to be the work of a 15th century priest, Nirartha, who -legend has it – spent a night here and spoke with fisherman, asking them to build a holy place of worship to the Balinese sea gods. The Tanah Lot Temple has been a part of Balinese mythology for centuries and has a significant Hindu influence. Study the base of the rocky island-scape and you’ll spot sea snakes said to be poisonous and believed to be the “guards” of the temple, protecting it from evil spirits and intruders. Like Lochness has its sea monster, so too does Tanah Lot. Locals like to tell the tale of a giant serpent that evolved out of Nirartha’s scarf when he founded the island.
A mere 20 kilometres from Denpasar airport, Tanah Lot is easy to get to, and thanks to a resort like Pan Pacific Nirwana, there is everything you could want to feel a part of civilisation while still being surrounded by gorgeous nature.
Set amid 100 hectares of vivid greenery, Pan Pacific Nirwana offers astonishing views of the island’s many volcanic mountains and one very blue Indian Ocean. With 278 rooms – including luxury suites and villas – the resort offers world-class recreational and banquet facilities including spacious indoor and outdoor meeting areas.
Its lush 18-hole world class golf course – designed by Australia’s own Greg Norman – has won so many awards, the resort has lost count. These include Best Course in Asia, Best Course in Indonesia, and the World Travel Award as Indonesia’s Leading Golf Resort.
Now, I’m not much of a golfer myself, so when the marketing director of the resort, Sugeng Purnomo, suggested I book a day to play golf, I simply laughed it off. But then, in the middle of our stay, myself and my travelling companion Denise decided to give it a go – and we’re glad we did.
Novices will be happy to know that there is an endless supply of golf balls to randomly smash with the assurance that you’re not going to whack somebody else in the head – the holes are that far away from one another. They’d also be content to learn that there’s a complete area devoted to golf gumbies (ie: newbies like us).
Though we spent more time on the practice patch then we did on the actual course, we still found the experience an enlightening one and promised to come back and play a whole day next time.
For those not strictly into golf, there’s plenty else to do here: tennis, squash, yoga, gym – the fitness centre is even equipped with video games!
At sunset, bike tours are offered where you get to ride on paths between rice paddy fields, all the way up the coast to revel in the most glorious of sunsets. Alternatively, guests can cycle around the grounds or on the periphery of the resort where smaller temples are peppered, and the occasional sound of chanting might entice you to pull your bike over and meditate for a moment.
The Nirwana Spa is a sanctuary to sooth the body and mind, inspired by the rejuvenating nature of traditional Balinese therapies and using organic, eco-friendly products to make you feel good while being spoilt.
The spa’s professional team offer holistic treatments to guests, from traditional Balinese Ritual massages (starting with a foot wash followed by a full body massage and then wrapped in a blend of traditional Balinese herbs and linen to let the goodness really soak in) to the more involved ‘Nirwana Ritual’ where a combination of exotic ingredients like coconut, avocado, mango, turmeric and sandalwood all play a part in a beautifying and wellbeing process.
We opted for the oddly titled ‘Green Apple Ritual’ where the body is wrapped in linen but not before crushed green apple is lathered all over you. Since green apples are packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants, they’re the perfect choice for an innovative wrap treatment such as this. Prior to the wrap, the body is scrubbed with crystallised apple, as granules work to exfoliate dead skin cells. And following the treatment, essential oils are rubbed over the body to lock in the moisture.
Sure, it all starts to smell a bit like a fruit market, but that’s got to be better than gooey mud.
There’s no better way to follow a blissful massage than spending a couple of hours by the pool, or pools in the case of this resort. With no less than three watering holes to choose from, there’s the option of a huge family pool complete with water slides, but for somewhat more of a private experience, there’s also the poolside bar: shadier and nice and close to some very enticing cocktails inspired by the Pacific. Our favourite would have to be the Tropical Lychee Pear Martini – impossible to stop at just one.
The pool grill offers a wide choice of fresh seafood for lunch, as well as pizzas and even steaks; an ideal way to combine lunch and leisure.
In the afternoons, the resort is proud of its sustainable features and offers small tours to its organic farm from which select produce is incorporated into the menus of its various dining spaces. The Nirwana Spa Organic Café, for example, offers a menu with dishes incorporating all its own freshly grown vegetables, herbs and spices.
A special organic menu is also being devised for the main restaurant, Merica, and we were the first fortunate guests to sample the chef’s fully organic three-course meal.
Starting with an entrée that consisted of a medley of carrot, beet, horseradish and mesclun salad, while the ingredients were simple, this really was the most wholesome produce I’ve ever tasted.
Our mains arrived as an Asiatic take on the popular Italian dish, ravioli a la panna (or ravioli with cream sauce), served with baby tomatoes and a shard of crispy parmisan. The sauce was so light that you’d forgive the cook for having placed so many ravioli on the plate. They were pretty big, so three would have been fine, but I won’t lie, I did manage to finish the whole dish.
Dessert, too, was a glorious combination of organic ingredients, from the rich red berries in the panna cotta to the cocoa in the chocolate that topped its side of fresh cream. So descriptive are the ingredients in just about every dish on the menu, that my travelling partner and I played a game where we began reading menu items completely backwards. We’re sure you’ll agree that “Double-baked Crème Brǔlée with Last Season’s Sweet Marinated Cumquats” and “Cumquats Marinated Sweet Season’s Last with Crème Brǔlée Double-baked” have a similar gourmet twist to them. Go on, try it yourself next time you’re dining in a posh restaurant…
Seriously, though, none of the food at Pan Pacific Nirwana Resort could be faulted. Oh, except for the coffee… For some strange reason (and we won’t mention the brand name here), each time a cup arrived it was always bitterly strong or appeared somewhat diluted. We did have a chat to management about it and they’ve promised to fix up the issue immediately so rest assured even coffee will be great by the time you might venture there.
A great thing we noticed during our entire stay at the Pan Pacific Nirwana is that there was a certain lack of ‘kid’s noise’. Not that the resort shies away from hosting children but they are catered to in a fully decked-out kids club called the ‘Kokokan’ that keeps them busied with everything from pottery to painting, Balinese dance lessons to kid’s yoga. Since many of my friend’s are now in the family way, I’d strongly recommend them bringing their kids along to this resort. The staff work like well-trusted nannies 24/7 which means leaving you and your partner plenty of time to relish in the hotel’s many amenities and avenues of entertainment.
Overall, the Nirwana experience extends far beyond its expansive grounds and rich temple history, with managerial staff always at hand to organise anything from a custom-made tour to provide information like the best spots to visit in nearby Seminyak.
Like I said, everything is here in this one idyllic hideaway, so we doubt you’d want to stay away for very long, anyway.
Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort is situated on Jalan Raya Tanah Lot in Tabanan, Indonesia.
For nightly rates and information visit www.panpacific.com or phone +62 361 815 900.
Images courtesy of the Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort and additional photography by Antonino Tati.