Photographs and story by Laura Csortan
Iâve been to Bali numerous times now and every time is a unique experience. To date, this one is my favourite and certainly the most luxurious.
Another fan of Alila Villas Soori is none other than The Biebâs, thatâs right Justin Bieber has visited for the last three years with his Mother. Itâs no wonder as Tabanan, where the resort is located is a world away from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak and Kuta. You could be anywhere in the world at this secluded resort located along the southwest coast of Bali. Soori embraces all the stunning nature that surrounds it. The lush green fertile land which is home to an abundance of rice terraces and the beautiful black-volcanic sand beaches which shimmers at sunset and feels as soft as icing sugar under your feet.
The minute you enter the resort an ease washes over as the friendly staff guide you to your villa, not before welcoming you with a refreshing ginger welcome drink and a cool lemongrass infused towel.
Driving to Alila Villas Soori was an experience in itself. We cruised through beautiful frangipani lined streets where villages and temples form the landscape in their splendid original form, no Hard Rock Cafeâs here!
Alila Villas Soori is also located just 20 minutes from Tanah Lot Temple, one of Baliâs most sacred temples. Sooriâs surroundings are as special as the resort itself. Â Opening the door to our villa was like walking into a dreamâŠthe ocean crashed in front of our uninterrupted view and the pool surrounding our room created the illusion we were floating on water.Â No stone has been left un-turned in the stylish, luxurious and contemporary villas. Â Iâm not one for relaxing usually but this place has a magical vibe which would send even the most hyperactive person into the zen zone.
I woke up every morning to the smoothie of the day followed by the most beautiful yoga class right next to the ocean. Starting with a meditation followed by a series of yoga moves, I was floating after each class. Breakfast, my favorite meal of the day changed daily and never failed to impress. The small portions meant I could try a few dishes, all unique in flavor and varied from healthy to wellâŠpancakes, caramelized banana and bacon, I tried them all, everything is calorie free on holiday! Â After breakfast the hours seemed to gently drift on by, either spent by the pool, in my seaside villa or in the world class spa getting a local massage as onlyÂ the Balinese can.
Each night the sunset would spill itâs orange and gold brilliance over the resort. Basking in the golden glow my boyfriend and I walked the black glistening beach until the sun finally sunk into the ocean. Wine by the fire pits followed over-looking the Indian Ocean, needless to say the ambiance was out of control.Â We had dinner nightly at Omak, the outdoors restaurant next to the illuminated crashing waves. I was beyond relaxed and ready to do it all over again the next day. How does one return to reality?
Stay tuned for more Alila Bali adventures and pics, coming soon!
Happy Travels, Laura xx
Photographs and story by Ernanda Putra :Â http://instagram.com/ernandaputra
âThis is paradiseâ were the first words that slipped out of my mouth when I arrived at Alila Villas Soori. Although clichĂ©, I didnât know if there were any other words that could truly capture the beauty of the mountains unfolding into the rice fields against the gleaming black sand beach. As we stepped out of our transportation, we were greeted by the warm smiles of the staff with lemongrass-scented towels to refresh our faces from fatigue.
Later on, we took a Segway tour around the resort and the surrounding areas. Zipping along on a Segway through the rice fields is truly a unique, exhilarating âŠ almost zen-like experience, where I really felt one with nature.
When it was time for dinner, the food enchanted us! Our first culinary experience was a flavorful one, filled with the layered spices of Indonesian âRendangâ and grilled prawn from Cotta. The second dining experience we had was the next day at Ombak, Alila Villas Soori Western restaurant, the Wagyu steak was so juicy I wasnât in a hurry for it to leave my mouth as I wanted to savor the taste for as long as possible.
The villas were designed to mix stone and wood, the combination of these two elements made me feel calm & comfortable. The little elements of luxury that added to the comfort were all over the place, from the furniture to the sheets, creating a long lasting impression that will forever linger in my mind.
While we were inside our villa, and I was looking out at my view of the ocean, I was constantly reminded about how amazing nature truly is. This is something that I often forget about living in the hustle and bustle of a sprawling metropolis like Jakarta where itâs easy to get lost between the tall skyscrapers . My time in the villa gave me a much needed escape to lay back, relax and get lost in my thoughts.
As everyone says, Bali is truly the island of the Gods, and itâs essence was indeed captured at Alila Villas Soori. Thank you for inviting me here and giving me this beautiful experience! I really do hope I have the opportunity to return once again in the future.
Yoga is a sneaky thing. It crept up on me without announcing itself and snuck its way into my body, my thoughts, and ultimately, my life.
I took my first yoga class while studying abroad in Australia, and since then yoga has been a part of each and every day since. Surprisingly, yoga helped me navigate through and heal from an eating disorder, process past traumas, create a fit body I feel healthy in, reduced my stress, cleared up my digestive system, and so much more.
Practicing yoga daily doesnât necessarily mean I attend a structured yoga class on a daily basis. Just like you, I have a busy life and sometimes donât choose to spare the two or so hours to drive to, set up for, and take a traditional class at a studio. However, I used to. It was like a ritual, and it served me deeply. I began to learn about my body, and the association between my body and my mind. In just one single yoga class, I could feel anger, frustration, lightness, resistance, humility, grace, sadness, bliss, and surrender. The lightness I experience after leaving a yoga class feels like walking on clouds. I didnât want the feeling to end. And it hasnât. The more you practice yoga, the more it will become a part of you. It will infuse your decisions around food, lifestyle, career, and relationships. Yoga off the mat serves as a âpauseâ button so I can respond in the moment out of present awareness as opposed to react out of habit.
The teachings of yoga and a dedicated practice for many years led me to deeply understand the signals my body is telling me. Our bodies are constantly sending us signals. Itâs up to us to develop the awareness to listen and honor those important cues. For example, my diet completely shifted to a more organic, whole foods based diet as a result of yoga. It was a gradual process that came from within. It did not come from a dietician. It came from my bodyâs own wisdom. I already knew what I needed to eat to nourish myself. Yoga reminded me.
The truth is, our bodies are constantly seeking balance. Applying a regular yoga practice serves as a gentle reminder to pay close attention to our cravings, our intuition, our desires, and our fears, so we can walk boldly and joyfully through the world.
In order to fully receive the therapeutic effects of a daily yoga practice, I encourage you to immerse yourself on a yoga retreat or an intensive yoga training. Retreats serve as mindfully structured events that allow you to ignite your bodyâs inner wisdom and start new practices that you can take into your daily life. Also, retreats are usually held in very natural environments which are conducive to receiving yogaâs full spectrum of healing benefits. Retreats typically offer yogic foods, meditation, and other spiritual practices that restore, nourish, and activate the wholeness and peace that resides within each of us.
I am guiding a special, one of a kind yoga retreat in Bali, Indonesia at Alila Villas Soori this March. I chose to create an unforgettable experience in a luxury, comfortable, spiritual environment. We will enjoy local foods, meditation and yoga practices, and self-care in order to unwind, re-set, and create more balance and wellness form the inside out. I hope you can join me on this magical adventure to a very sacred place.
Yoga, Nutrition & Wellness Retreat
March 9th -15th, 2015
Sun-drenched destinations in the Middle East are becoming more popularÂ among visitors who are searching for the perfect remote escape. We visitÂ Oman and discover why it should be next on your itinerary.
Words by Leo BearÂ for Mayfair Magazine.
Photographs by Serge Guerand for Alila Jabal Akhdar.
Iâm weaving my way along a narrow winding street in an ancient, crumbling hilltop village. The air is heavy with the scent of frankincense and rosewater, and my head and heart are pounding in the 40-degree heat.
Iâm venturing into the heart of the country, where the mountains meet the sky, to search for an Oman of yesterday. The Al Hajar mountain range runs for 500km and is the highest on the eastern Arabian Peninsula. Itâs here, perched on a ledge overlooking a vast dramatic gorge, that a breathtaking new hotel is blazing a trail for eco-luxury in the Middle East.
Alila Jabal Akhdar is the brainchild of the Singapore-based hotel group Alila Hotels and Resorts, which specialises in slick Asian five-star hotels. This one, funded by Omran, a division of the Oman government, is Alilaâs first foray into the Middle East.
To reach the resort, one has to mission two and a half hours south east of Muscat to a height of 2,000m. Driving conditions are treacherous; itâs steep, winding and not uncommon for goats to stray into the road. But the journey is worth it. Surrounding the hotel is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Spectacular canyons, gorges and rock formations make it a paradise for adventurers, nature-lovers and anyone seeking escape from the mind-scrambling desert heat â temperatures are 10-15 degrees cooler in the mountains.
“Towering pillars of dark North African wood provide support for the main buildings,Â while interiors feature plenty of rattan”
Traditional Omani techniques have also been employed in the construction of the resort. The architecture, inspired by ancient forts, combined with an unlimited supply of local pink and purple-veined ophiolite rock, is arresting. Towering pillars of dark North African wood provide support for the main buildings, while interiors feature plenty of rattan (on the ceilings) and colourful woven furnishings, along with antique copper pans, rosewater tureens and Persian lanterns â all picked up locally. Two large villas come with their own lap pools, while the rest of the hotelâs 78 rooms have generous terraces, viewing platforms for that vast echoing canyon.
Spectacular it is. But itâs also incrediblyÂ isolated. After two years on site, generalÂ manager Jork Bosselaar has just about come to terms with the remoteness. âWhen I first gotÂ here, I looked down and saw a goat nibbling atÂ my toes and thought to myself âWhat on earth am I doing here?ââ he quips. But nowadays heÂ has an almost prophet-like zeal about theÂ place.
One afternoon, I return to the hotel toÂ find him and Guy Heywood, COO of the AlilaÂ Hotels and Resorts group, giddy as schoolboys.Â Just back from a hike, they are elated to haveÂ found an old weather station looking out overÂ magnificent views just an hour from the gatesÂ of the property. This, they can add to a longÂ list of hikes in the area which vary in lengthÂ from 60 minutes to nine hours. Simple tracksÂ will take you down into the wadi (valley), up toÂ once-inhabited hillside caves or cross-countryÂ to remote herdersâ villages. I start with an earlyÂ morning stroll around the hotelâs backyard.Â The property is vast; its perimeter marked outÂ by a simple wooden cattle fence. As the sunÂ starts to rise, clouds gather, casting dramaticÂ shadows across the canyon. But these, and aÂ capricious crimson hummingbird, are the onlyÂ things to distract from the stillness…
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