Maya Ubud Resort & Spa: Stoic celebration of Bali’s dense rainforest

The resort’s welcome area that opens up exponentially to tropical gardens.

THE mysteriously long driveway leading to Maya Ubud’s entrance is only but a teaser to what lies ahead. If the resort’s welcome area was a book, its first chapter is simply a prologue to the twisting paths and devastating beauty that thicken the plot.

The 9ha Maya Ubud is one of the region’s most well-thought forest resorts, flanked by the dramatic Petanu River valley, the villages of Bedulu and Pejeng to the east, and the verdant rice fields of Peliatan to the west.

The biggest sell here is its surrounding – thick rainforest, sprawling paddy and cool rivers. These are not views you’ll easily find in central Bali; at Maya Ubud, the natural landscapes are heightened by maddeningly elaborate tropical gardens.

Walkways and individual villas are flushed with farmed trees including alang-alang, bamboo and coconut as well as Balinese flowers such as kamboja, bougainvillaea, dadap merah and flamboyant, while fragrant trees like kenanga and sedap malam line the sloping hills leading to Petanu River. As you can imagine, it’s all a bit lush.

To add to that, the natural rock pool in the valley blends into the surroundings; occasionally, the hotel organizes Kecak dance performances by the pool to capture the mystic and magic of the woods. Meanwhile, the Petanu River walk is kept as natural as possible – complete with raggedy edges – to make you feel “at one” with nature. Spoiler: It works.

The Spa at Maya is a suitably stunning accompaniment to the landscape with private pavilions set against the vertical forest and valley embankment. While you get your shoulder kinks ironed out, the gurgling river is the background score to beat any pre-recorded flute-laden spa music.

After your session, it’s not difficult to feel powerless at the tip of the resort’s infinity pool with the droning gush of the Petanu River – the rain just having packed up after a morning’s worth of showers, and the towering rainforest beyond shrouded in mist.

The resort’s architecture is reflective of Balinese influences including details such as thatched roofing, the use of bamboo instead of rainforest timber, pavilions with coconut columns, rice plows used as legs on beds and sofas, and old railroad track supports as table tops and luggage racks.

For a compound so large, there are only 109 rooms in the entire resort, adding to its low-density mystery. And if you book into the Deluxe Pool Villa, your private infinity pool overlooking the sensuous forest means you’re likely to spend more time in your villa than outside.

If you absolutely must stretch those limbs, the common pavilion hosts complimentary yoga and Pilates lessons, the tennis court and pitch and putt are up for booking, or you could sign up for village trekking, mountain biking, and nature excursions.

But ultimately, Maya Ubud is the kind of resort that promotes idleness. Whether you’re contemplating life on your private balcony, catching the vermilion morning sun at the observation deck, or skimming a summer read by the pool, deep collectedness is necessary at a resort so entrenched in its natural landscape.