East Bali is a less travel destination for international travelers who come to Bali, but it make no stranger to the local expatriates who head away from the crowds and prefer to spend a much quieter and peaceful weekends to be indulged in the luxury of time. Experience the real, original, traditional and the simplicity of around relatively un-spoilt and age old traditions, the swaying palms and narrow streets and etc. With more resorts are built over the years in this area, finding one who truly know what you are after, Alila Manggis is one of Bali’s best kept secrets. Located in the village of Manggis, the Balinese name for the exotic “Mangosteen” fruit. Set amidst a coconut grove, the secluded yet stylish resort is nestled between the east coast sea in Candidasa and the majestic Mount Agung, Bali’s most sacred mountain.
After nearly two hours pleasant ride on a bright sunny day with a wide variety of pre-selected music selection offered in a private pick up comes with the remote control. Balinese Jazz, blues and lounge music were our best company beside our well spoken and courteous driver guide, Budi also a local personalities who was born and raise in Candidasa, a true East Balinese indeed.
We arrived at Alila Manggis just after noon, the warm breeze from the see strikes us immediately after we stepped out from the car, an ice cold scented face tower with the in house produced aromatic spray and refreshing welcome drink awaits. That was exactly we we needed. Minutes after the adequate check-in process and prompt greetings, we were showed to our upper level room with a balcony and day bed overlooking across the coconut grove, swimming pool and the sea.
Alila Manggis’ modern European design with a hint of the Colonial tropical charm demonstrates the elegant luxury and pure well-being. Designers at Kerry Hills Architects inspired by a seamless concept with free-flowing interaction between the buildings and surrounding nature. The traditional alang alang thatched roof covers the lobby, beautifully offset by polished ivory and coloured concrete floors.
The blue petals on the tiles on the floors in the lobby replicate the flora design from the Manggis
Alila Manggis’ modern European design with a hint of the Colonial tropical charm.
Room with a view, the upper level room with a balcony and day bed overlooking across the coconut grove, swimming pool and the sea.
The four two-storey buildings built around a palm-fringed and centrally featured pool captured one of the best East Bali’s black sand beach ocean views.
The traditional alang alang thatched roof Seasalt Restaurant is inspired by a neighbouring organic salt farm. Set in a traditional Balinese pavilion on a lotus pond, serving both a contemporary menu and a range of Indonesian and Balinese favorites. Simple, elegant and relaxed, the restaurant looks out on to the ocean and the resort’s beautifully landscaped grounds. Our Balinese dinner was booked here for the evening.
The Black sand beach from the Candidasa east coast.
The Pandan Forest surrounded the two outdoor spa bales
Days at Alila Manggis are filled with activity and regeneration, pampering yourself at the Spa is the must. We were book for the Balinese Massage at 3pm at the two outdoor spa bales after a quick dip in the pool. Alila’s surprising different and unique treatments from heart, blending ancient Asian healing techniques with age-old beauty recipes featuring the curative benefits of fresh, natural, quality ingredients.
From facials to aromatherapy massages, the local therapists combine the latest organic nutrition and health knowledge with the most essential element – warm, genuine care that flows from the heart through the hands, to stimulate, rejuvenate, balance and relax your mind and body. Our 60 minutes Balinese Massage feel tension dissolve with the ancient Balinese healing therapy that combines gentle stretching, long therapeutic strokes and skin rolling to relive muscle pain. The Palm and thumb pressure techniques are also applied to unravel the deepest stress and improve blood flow.
Beside the usual suspect in mos spas, hoot ginger lemongrass tea were served. On top pf that, Alila Manggis Spa homemade coconut sorbet is rather refreshing and surely did awaken our slumberous souls. We then adjourned to the afternoon tea and sampled some traditional home made snacks for a more R&R while enjoying the placid surroundings. It was a truly alternative bliss and wellness despite the afternoon heat kicked in.
The traditional alang alang thatched roof covers the lobby and serene landscaping.
We headed back to the pool and did a few laps to get rid of a few calories to make rooms for dinner at the Seasalt Restaurant later in the evening. The swimming pool is the central feature of the resort and is designed as an unusual inverted pyramid, This creates deep water in the middle and shallow water around the edges.
The Bali’s swaying coconut palms, and beautiful landscaped gardens provide the perfect setting to lay back and enjoy the resort’s peaceful, sunny environment and of course, cocktail is not forgotten.
We stayed on till dusk and waiting for the sun down to see the changes of the surrounded scenery. It was indeed another delightful experience to be able to put everything behind by indulging ourselves in time where money can’t buy.
Seasalt Restaurant at dusk.
Seasalt Restaurant’s welcoming interior
Different homemade Chillies dipping, Bumbu Bali (Balinese Spice) served before the meals with crackers is a norm in Balinese meals. Balinese meals are meant to share especially when it was done in many flavours. We were recommended the Signature Meal – The Traditional Balinese Megibung which is a unique and very traditional way of sharing food with friends and family during village festivals and ceremonies in East Bali and some parts of Lombok. This is an excellent way to sample the local cuisine and is decoratively served on a carved timber stand called the Dulang. The dishes consists of : <Nasi Kuning> Turmeric flavoured rice, <Tum Be Pasih> Steamed Fresh snapper chopped with ginger chili, lemongrass and tamarind, wrapped in “See” leaf, <Lawar Ayam Kacang Panjang> Snake beans and poached chicken with ‘Bumbu Bali’ and fried shallots, <Urab Campur Nangka> Young jackfruit, green papaya and red bean with spice dressed with a fragrant coconut sauce, <Ares Be Bebek> Fragrant braised duck, lime leaf, galangal, turmeric and banana stem, <Sate Asem Be Siap> Chicken marinated in Balinese spice grilled on bamboo skewers, <Sate Lilit Languan> Finely chopped trivially, lime leaf, fried shallot and coconut wrapped on bambu sticks and <Es Puter> Local sorbet of coconut, green bean and jack fruit. Honestly, dinner for two are enough to feed the whole village, it worth the cost in no doubt yet one of the best traditional East Balinese meals we had by far.
Alila is a Sankrit language which means surprise with a different. Within one day, from what we have experience, it was more then just that. We took a slow walk under the moonlight serenade back to our room before we called it a night with lots of fond memories.
Travelling to a new place is a journey undertaken to learn about that place, the people, the culture, the food and some of the more down to earth ways in which they may live. Experiences provide happy memories that outlive those material things and possessions, it is indeed the key to emotional well being, this is a philosophy that Alila creates. This is also the life in East Bali style, With the Alila’s surprisingly different concept of hospitality, Selamat Bersenang-Senang or enjoy the experience with another day in paradise, do you need to thick twice?