In Bed With: Alila Ubud

Story and Photographs by Rhiannon Taylor from In Bed With

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The long drive up in to the hills to Ubud, my reliable car sickness overwhelming me, I was really looking forward to the end of my Bali tour. Keen to escape the busy crowds of Seminyak, tourist markets and the never ending strip of same-same resorts, I anticipated Alila Ubud like water in the desert.

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Driving through Ubud, a small town which is known for its exquisite cuisine, resorts are many but far between. Turning in to the long driveway, passing rice fields and chilli plants, you arrive at a divide in the Ubud valley, which is Alila. Your breath is taken away and you’re still in the car.

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Check-in is personalised and relaxed. Lounging in the reception, your host greets you with cold juice (watermelon) and refresher towels. Discussing your individual itinerary from dinner reservations to spa treatments, they have everything covered down to the last detail.

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Guided through the resort to my Terrace Tree Villa, I felt inner calm landing on my patio. Plantation views surrounded the villa with a feeling of total privacy and escape. The 120sqm treehouse is naturally furnished, with particular attention to soft light, candles and neutral tones. A refreshing change from the heavy balinese aesthetic that is the norm.

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Fresh tuberose perfume your room (and the resort) and the daily turndown service comes to light candles and mosquito coils for sunset on your terrace.

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Entering the bedroom, the bed faces a bay window lounge and morning views are peaceful and perhaps cheeky (monkey alert). Sinking in to the king bed, it was hard to decide which of the eight pillows to use. Ranging in size and weight from heavy to light, there were no complaints of a poor night’s sleep.

Alila’s full range of his and hers amenities feature throughout the room. From his and hers robes and straw sunhats to shampoo, cleansers and lotions. The differences are subtle in fragrance but distinctly feminine and masculine.

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Oversized stone bath tubs and rain showers give you the sort of unnecessary luxury that feels totally necessary. How can one go back home to apartment living after this? I tried not to think about it – just fill the tub and submerge.

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Dining in Bali can be hit and miss. I was told that Ubud had some of the best chefs the island had to offer and one of them was at Alila Ubud. There was no disappointment. The menus offered both balinese and modern options but avoided confusion. The options were on-point for today’s palette without being fussy. Between room service and the restaurant, there was no need to leave.

Room service lunch on my terrace, was fresh and delivered quickly. Tea smoked chicken salad with mango, local broth soup with braised beef and freshly made fettuccine with tomato passata were all perfectly balanced.

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Artisanal breakfasts changed daily. With a menu that allows you to choose small plates and as many as you want, there is no fear of missing out. Freshly baked croissants with honeydew and vanilla bean jam, local cleansing juices, palm sugar porridge and fruit with lime and mint gets you started. Followed by poached eggs, house made hash and bruschetta with local tomatoes, its a surprise you can fit in french toast and a smoothie.

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Dinner under the open-air, thatched roof restaurant overlooking the valley was a spectacular and romantic occasion (they have their in-house Alila insect repellent lotion on hand if your require). Starting with cocktails on the verandah, I craved something sweet and fresh with gin and lime. The bartender was inventive and nailed it.

 A degustation menu that is sophisticated without being showy highlighted the chefs skills. Short ribs with sticky caramel, fresh tortellini and confit chicken were modern and expertly executed. I couldn’t decide between banana fritters and black rice pudding, two of my all time favourite desserts. They surprised me with both. I rolled back to my room that evening.

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One of the unique parts of the resort is the Organic Garden. Open for guests to explore, much of the fresh produce is sourced here.

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I was surprised to see how Bok Choy looks when it is grown, alongside chilli, galangal, ginger and shallots.

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Afternoon refreshments on the restaurant verandah is served at 4pm daily. Snack on traditional cakes and herbal tea while local children perform their balinese dancing talents.

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The Alila spa is a destination in itself. Outside visitors come far and wide for the ancient Asian healing techniques and the use of local ingredients in their products. My signature massage used long therapeutic strokes and skin rolling to relieve tension in an open-air enclosure listening to a soothing water fountain.

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Your private changing room gives you hanging space, robes and slippers and a petal foot bath to relax while waiting for your treatment. Rinse after in the stone shower.

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The pool unfortunately was under renovations during my visit, but it has a spectacular view over the valley.

I didn’t want to leave Alila. It was an oasis in an otherwise bustling island. Ubud feels like a real place, where people are truly interested in you and likewise you in them. The staff clearly love Alila and it’s mantra and it showed through their engaging conversation. They didn’t just ask how your day was, they made it. It was here that I fell in love with Bali.

 

 

Chronicles of a Journey to the East (Day 1)

Exploring remote areas of the planet was a childhood dream for me and one that I was determined to realise. There are hundreds of places that fit that criteria but few that can boast the outstanding beauty of Raja Ampat, located just off the shores of Papua in Indonesia. I had read stories of explorers such as Alfred Russel Wallace who played a major role in the discovery of numerous animal species when he made this very same journey over 150 years ago and published his expedition in “The Malay Archipelago”. Then, there were the Blair brothers who, much like I did, wanted to retrace Wallace’s steps in the 1960’s and recounted their journey in the excellent “Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey”. Both these accounts recall a land of beauty full of secrets just waiting to be discovered. Things today may be slightly different to the way things were back then, but it is still possible to feel that sense of discovery and exploration if you go to the right place.

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My journey starts in Sorong, a small coastal town on the West side of Papua. Upon my arrival at the airport I am greeted by “Bagus”, a friendly Balinese chap, who kindly escorts me to the car that would bring me to the harbour. This is just a short 10 minutes drive at the end of which “Teddy”, the speedboat driver, takes my bags to the speedboat that would bring me to the Alila Purnama.

Sorong’s harbour is an interesting one, the dock itself is relatively small but the bay is populated with numerous ships of all kinds from small fishing boats to commercial ships delivering goods from all over Indonesia to the island. The actual town winds around the hills directly parallel to the shoreline causing it to extend lengthwise instead of inland. This creates a beautiful backdrop of verdant hills to the comparatively bustling coastal town. On the opposite side of the bay, there is a small island that is equally developed but using the area’s famous “floating homes”. These buildings, named “Kelong”, are constructed upon stilts and perched on the sea instead of on land and mainly house fishing communities.

As I approach the Alila Purnama, I am already overwhelmed by all these foreign experiences and exotic sites, yet my journey hasn’t even truly began. At this point my excitement is barely containable; I am finally here! I am about to embark on my very own expedition to the East!

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Approaching the Alila Purnama on the speedboat led by Teddy, I am greeted with the entire crew’s friendly waves and welcoming smiles. As I board the ship, Gede hands me a fresh fruit juice and a cool towel, while Mario the cruise director, welcomes me aboard and guides me towards the living room where I find a comfortable couch to sit on. Having sipped at my fruit juice a few times and adjusted to my new surroundings, the first thing that strikes me is how majestic the ship truly is, both inside and out. The living room is beautifully furnished with comfy sofas and is panelled with the most beautiful teak wood varnished to a dark brown. In fact, this teak wood is found throughout the ship from its deck, its hull and even its interiors, creating a real sense of quality and solidity.

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The living room has a couple of settees in the two port side corners of the room with a selection of interesting books to read. On the starboard side, one can find a beautiful communal dinning table and the bar from which Bagus and Gede are eager to serve their delicious drinks and cocktails. In the centre, a staircase descends to a hallway from which the four suites; Bali, Cirebon, Jawa and Mataram are accessed.

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Mario clearly noticed my curiosity and offers to give me a guided tour of the ship. We start with the upper deck, which is accessed from a staircase within the living room. Upstairs I am immediately greeted with three doors, one leading outside, one to the library and one to the master suite “The Sriwijaya”. The master suite is stunning and surprisingly spacious with a large bay window overlooking a private balcony located at the stern of the ship and the ocean beyond that. The upper deck is also home to the captain’s bridge and keeping to the ships overall design, the room is decked with the same dark teak and adorned with the traditional three-foot wooden helm. The way the ship is constructed using traditional building techniques and the use of exotic yet luxurious furnishings reminds me of the adventure I seek and cherish so deeply. This is not just another ship in the sea; this ship was constructed and is maintained out of love and respect for times gone by. One could truly envision stepping back in time and seeing the infamous “Bugis”* hard at work during their expeditions through Indonesian waters on these very same decks.

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Having explored the upper deck, we descend back to the living room and Mario shows me to my room where I allow myself some time to rest from the journey here. During this time, the ship sets sail for Waigeo, the largest of the four islands located north of Sorong. The journey there takes approximately six hours and by the time I awoke, we only had another hour until arrival. I decide to have a cup of tea on the deck at the bow of the ship on one of the very comfortable sun loungers. The sunset is truly inspiring, set across the horizon with a few small islands sprinkled in the distance. As I grasp my camera to immortalise this exquisite scene, I wonder what else this place has to offer. What other stunning scenery will I experience and what knowledge will I gain from visiting this paradise? What will I learn about the local culture and what will I learn about myself? As I lay there, content with my cup of tea and afternoon nibbles I notice three crewmen moving toward the very front of the ship’s bow. They proceed to lower the very large and distinctly heavy anchor and after a few minutes of labour we are officially anchored. Here we are, just off the shores of Raja Ampat’s largest island and I can sense it is eager to be explored. As the sun has now well and truly set, it is best to leave the adventuring for tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see what sights the new day holds for me.

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* The Bugis are a community of seafarers originated from central Indonesia on the island of Sulawesi (where the Phinisi ship originates from). They sailed these seas long before any European set foot in the area and are famous for their skills at sea and craftsmanship when building the Phinisi ships.

Karen Tran “Asia Masterclass”

As featured in Signature Weddings, Asia Edition 2015

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Words by Deborah Lee & Photography by Karen Tran

Acclaimed event cum floral designer Karen Tran owns her very own floral and events company in San Diego, Southern California. Her brand, Karen Tran Florals and Events is all about the creation of exquisite floral arrangements to enhance every kind of occasion, from weddings to dinner parties and corporate affairs. Growing up amongst flowers, she’s mastered the poetry of flower arrangements which add just the right touch of extravagant elegance and dazzling opulence. Known as one of US’ leading wedding designers, Karen is widely considered as a trendsetter in her field. Here, she talks about inspiration, flowers, and her recently concluded Asian Tour.

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Tell us about yourself, your background. How and when did you start out in this event and floral designing industry?

I’ve been a designer for 22 years. I basically grew up with flowers, being surrounded by beautiful gardens all my life. My father was an accomplished gardener.

Was there a defining point in your career that set the Karen Tran brand on to the path of success? If so, what or when was your big break?

No, I really can’t say there is. I believe I’m still on a journey to discover more in life, and in this passion that I’m pursuing.

Your signature style has been described as “glamorous, luxurious and romantic”, and you’re renowned for designing one-of-a-kind high centerpieces. Tell us more about it.

I’m glad to know that I’m recognised for that very reason – “glamorous, luxurious, romantic” – because truly, I love that style! I think most brides picture their weddings to be romantic, glamorous and classy. When I design a wedding for my client, I picture them entering their wedding, filled with their own emotions. I want the environment to be as glamorous and romantic as they themselves are.

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What motivates you when it comes to designing? Where do you seek inspiration from?

I’m inspired by everything! From the picturesque landscape of Hong Kong to the exotic natural beauty of Bali, I love working with different cultures and environments.

What are your favourite florals and fabrics that you loved to work with?

Well, I’m a ‘girly-girl’. I love the feminine aesthetics of soft colours. In our work, we make it a point to introduce many soft fabrics and elements into our designs so there are many options available to choose from.

Could you share one good tip from your Master Floral Classes when assembling floral arrangements (centerpieces and bouquets)?

Our technique and focus when designing these pieces all comes down to movement. We want guests to dine underneath the floral piece that speaks to them, dances and entices them.

Why is movement, texture and variety so important when choosing flowers for centerpieces and bouquets?

A floral piece isn’t only about flowers in a vase. One must view it as if it’s a work of art that has character – its dances, movements and display of it’s best features.

SW 2015 (front cover)

Weddings are …

Incredibly romantic, ethereal and the way I’d put it? An ‘out-of-this-world’ experience.

Which other designers inspire you the most and why?

I admire architects, interior designers and designers who move me emotionally. I love it when they can create an environment that evokes a feeling when one enters the room.

What do you like to do when you’re not designing/creating?

I love family. I love travelling, but what I do right now provides me that opportunity. At home, you’ll find me sipping wine in our backyard, enjoying the California sunset or golfing whenever I can. I’m not good at it, but I do love it!

What’s in your floral mood board right now?

My floral mood is always romantic and moving! I truly believe that flowers can do that to you.

If you had any words of wisdom to pass on to brides-to-be looking for the perfect event/floral designer, what would they be?

To the bride: Take it all in and enjoy the moment.

To the designers: Give it all that you’ve. It’s not only a one day thing; it’s someone’s ‘special’ day.

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Similarly, if you had any words of wisdom to pass on with regards to brides looking for the perfect bouquet, what would they be?

Not to have unrealistic expectations. For example, if peonies and dahlias aren’t available, have an alternative design ready at hand. The bouquet is your accessory, not your feature because you are your feature!

You’ve toured Asia – Hong Kong (The Ritz Carlton HK) and Bali (Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali), with Master Classes held at these locations. What are your personal expectations and hopes before you embarked on your Asian Tour?

I loved every minute of it! I’m so blessed to have worked at the most prominent resorts in Asia, The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong and Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali. I had high hopes before embarking on my Asian Tour, and thankfully, these were met – which went above and beyond what I had expected it to be. The services were second to none, and these resorts truly set the standard. The Ritz-Carlton lived up to its well-known gold standard customer service, but they’ve gone beyond being ‘efficient’. Whatever we needed, it was promptly provided. I’d describe it as ‘instantaneous’! There’s nothing they can’t do. Alila Villas Uluwatu, on the other hand, provided a balance of outstanding ambience and impeccable service. I was swept away by the entrance and the overall aesthetics of the resort – perched high above the Indian Ocean, with stunning clifftop views, beautifully secluded villas with private pools. Very, very gorgeous and the perfect locations to say “I do” at!

What have you achieved from this Asian Tour?

Throughout my stay at these two locations, from the bell person to the catering staff, everything was superb, which are important observations that really matter to us in our work, and why we do what we do. Our clients only want the best for their weddings. They want us to think about all of these elements – outstanding ambience and quality service – before they do and these two properties have done just that. From this Asian Tour, it has really taught me a lot and opened my eyes to Asia’s potential and the very best that the continent has to offer. In fact, we’re seriously considering it for future prospects and are excited to have a ‘Karen Tran’ wedding there soon!

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Photography by Adi from Axioo

Set on one of the most beautiful places that Bali has to offer, Karen Tran showcases her love of all things floral in this masterclass. A long floral chandelier extends from one end of the wedding reception to another, flanked with tall floral arrangements and crystal chandelier. The infinity pool reflects the beauty of the decor and stretches it all the way into the Indian Ocean.

Is this the ultimate destination wedding decor? We absolutely believe in a resounding “Yes”.

SW 2015 (front cover)

SW 2015 (front cover)

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SW 2015 (front cover)

SW 2015 (front cover)

Island love

Story and Photographs by Agung Mulyajaya as featured in www.imajgallery.com

Bali_prewedding

Belgium natives, Romy & Julien had their honeymoon soiree in tropical island of Bali. There’s absolutely no competing with the beauty of Alila Soori, this resort provides an epic stunning backdrop and a sleek modern design. Take a peek at some of our favorite moments as well captured by Agung Mulyajaya.

What an honor to record their beautiful journey for them. The day full of love and happiness, may your love grow stronger everyday.

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You’re my destiny, Raffi & Nagita’s Love in Bali

Story adapted from Cek & Ricek Vol. 844 Raffi Ahmad and Nagitu Slavina’s wedding named “You’re my destiny, Raffi & Nagita Love in Bali”, not only felt luxurious but also fun and cheerful. The event was broadcasted live by RCTI on Saturday the 25th of October 2014 from the afternoon to later that night and […]

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Azure Water, Cerulean Sky and Everlasting Love…

Photography by Andreas ‘Adi’ Permadi from Axioo Videography by Kinema Studios This magical day, framed between the cerulean sky and azure waters of the Indian Ocean, was the day Ruth and Alex celebrated their everlasting love. Family and friends were gathered, the venue was decorated beautifully and the bride’s dress looked gorgeous, all was set for an unforgettable day. While […]

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Bukit Cinta “Love Hill”

As the sun gently rose over the hills of central Bali, the bride and groom began their preparations for their special day. A touch of Yoga in the morning to awaken their senses and off to their Villas to get suited up. With the stunning selection of dresses for the bride and her bridesmaids, the day was certainly set to be a […]

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Style: Weddings at Alila Villas Soori

Featured in Style Weddings Magazine September 2014 – February 2015 issue. Art Direction by Allyson Anne Klass, Photography by Darren Leow/darrengabrielleow.com Heaven on Earth These curve-skimming, flouncy and embellished styles are perfect statement pieces amid the lush tropical landscape of Bali’s Alila Villas Soori. With st unning landscapes of blacks and beaches and dramatic cliffs surrounding the resort, Alila Villas Soori makes for a […]

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Weddings at Alila Villas Soori

Alila Villas Soori and wedding bliss are a match made in heaven. The romance of the beach, the fragrance of exotic flowers, the sparkling ocean and a sunset glow provide the magic that sets off your special day to perfection. Our diverse range of Bali wedding villas and venues can accommodate your big day, whether an intimate family celebration or a gala occasion.

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More reasons to enjoy our homegrown Alila Living products, check our latest offers :

For all purchases above USD 150, get a Pure C Facial Serum and Cooling Cucumber Eye Serum for free*

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