GATEWAY to Bali Barat National Park, Santi Sari Boutique Hotel is a far cry from the rustic lodge that you might expect on the fringes of an animal and marine sanctuary. This is the sort of luxury suites-only living that vacationers envision when they think about a holiday in Bali. Island excursions, temple visits and highland excursions are all on the itinerary.
Santi Sari offers exclusive, resort-style living without the crowds of Kuta. There are only 10 suites on this 21-acre property, so solitude and privacy are easy to find. Guests enjoy natural grounds, complete with lotus ponds, landscaped gardens and a backdrop of volcanoes and mountains. Massages, spa treatments and five-star dining are all on offer.
It’s difficult to justify leaving the tranquil hotel grounds, but there are natural attractions worth exploring in the area. Wildlife abounds in the national park, with excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities offshore. A nearby uninhabited island makes for a perfect day escape and offers the white-sand beaches that are prominently missing from this region of Bali.
What makes it special?
Talk to anyone who has been coming to Bali for a while, and they’ll tell you that the last few years haven’t been so kind to this island paradise. Santi Sari is a carefully crafted and well-maintained oasis in the midst of an increasingly hectic and littered island environment. The suites are luxurious, the grounds beautiful and the overall atmosphere serene.
What to expect?
Surfers, backpackers and package tourists aren’t likely to make it to this corner of the island, and that’s part of what makes Santi Sari such a satisfying place to tuck in for a few days. There is plenty to do on the 21-acre plot, from strolling through the gardens to admiring the mangrove stands on the coast. But here on the doorsteps of the West Bali National Park, most guests find plenty to do off-site as well.
The dining at this ‘adults-only’ resort is particularly noteworthy. Careful attention has gone into crafting this five-star menu, which abounds with vegetarian and seafood dishes. Guests also rave about the resort’s spa treatments and specialized in-room massage therapy.
What is there to do?
There is plenty to do here on the northern coast of Bali, especially for visitors who favor dramatic scenery, scuba diving and inland mountain excursions over a more mainstream beach holiday. Guest are also less than an hour out of Lovina, famous for its early morning dolphin cruises.
Santi Sari is situated on the edge of West Bali National Park, which is composed of forested slopes, mangrove swamps, coastal flats and rainforest. The park is open to visitors, who come to spot barking deer, macaques, wild boar and the unique banteng –a wild Balinese cow. The coral reefs here are particularly diverse, and whale sharks are sometimes sighted.
You can also plan a daytrip to Menjangan Island, which is only about 30 minutes away by boat. This protected sanctuary is home to deer and white-sand beaches, which aren’t found on hotel grounds due to the mangrove stands. Hindu temples are also on the island, and scuba diving excursions can be planned off its shores.
Hot springs (air panas) in nearby Banjar are also close enough for a half-day visit. Depending on your preference, you could ride a hire a bemo to take you there or even ride a bicycle. Just be sure to take your swimming suit if you plan to soak in the steaming mineral bath.
What’s the damage?
The Banyan Junior Suites are the most affordable, beginning at US$200 in the low season. Prices edge up from here to about US$350 for the finest suites. Compared with luxury accommodation elsewhere on Bali, where rack rates continue to go up, these suites offer excellent value for money. Prices increase around US$30 during peak season and are based on double occupancy. Children are not allowed to stay at Santi Sari.
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