Phil Brown -  journalist . writer . poet


Phil Brown

journalist . writer . poet

articles . books . poems

Phil Brown - Travel Stories

Bali - Spellbinding spot

In Sanur, it’s all about kicking back and taking things slowly

Phil Brown reports

You know you are on holiday when nabbing a banana chair by the pool is your main priority for the day. At the Bali Hyatt, Sanur, poolside is a pretty nice place to spend a few hours, dunking yourself occasionally in the tepid waters, sipping cocktails (or mocktails) on an underwater seat, or wandering through the gorgeous gardens nearby. But remember to leave a towel, newspaper or book on your chair so no one steals it.

It's all about relaxation in the most exquisite setting. Some people have the wrong idea about Bali, or get Bali fatigue from spending all their time in the hurly-burly of places such as Kuta, which can get a little crazy.

Sanur, on Bali's east coast, not far from the other tourist enclaves, is different. It's quieter (some refer to Sanur as "Snore"), more manageable and a wonderful place for a family holiday. A friend with a young child recommended this hotel and after a quick check online it looked pretty tempting. It turned out to be heaven.

From the moment we arrived, greeted by the tinkling of a small gamelan band, its music echoing under the vast thatched roof of the foyer, we felt welcome and at home.

As for the service, well, there seemed to be three staff to every guest, and all of them smiling and friendly. The Balinese are lovely people, one of the reasons tourism has been so successful there.

This resort is an established one that first opened its doors in 1973. But age has not wearied this fivestar haven. One of its main attractions is the gardens, designed by expert landscapers including the famous expatriate Australian Made Wijaya (Michael White), who creates Balinese-style gardens all over the world nowadays. Studded with lotus pools and populated by lizards, squirrels and birds, these gardens create an Eden-like atmosphere that adds to the ambience.

The hotel has a beachfront setting, and Sanur stretches for 5km along this beach. A reef offshore protects a large lagoon, which is good for swimming or exploration when the tide is out. From the beach, the view is spectacular. It's dominated by the huge volcano Gunung Agung, rising above the clouds to the north.

Colourful fishing boats rest on the sand and local beachfront life adds to the atmosphere. There are numerous warungs (shops and cafes) along the beach and the shopping strip of Sanur is only a short walk beyond that.

The Bali Hyatt has excellent restaurants offering local and international cuisine, or you can walk to one of the local eateries. Massimo Italian Restaurant is a local favourite and we hung out there a bit.

Sanur was one of the places Westerners settled when they were discovering Bali. Many artists have made it their home, including Australian Donald Friend, who lived there in the 1960s and '70s. His Bali paintings reflect his love of the place and people.

Bali is a Hindu enclave; Sanur was traditionally ruled by Hindu priests and scholars and is still ruled by members of the elite Brahman caste. It is also, intriguingly, known as a home of sorcerers and healers and is a centre for both black and white magic.

We didn't find much evidence of that, although I have to admit the place certainly cast a spell on us.

After four days, we were so chilled out we could hardly raise ourselves from our banana chairs to drop into the pool. Now that's the effect every holiday should have, right?

Phil Brown
Arts Editor - The Courier-Mail, Deputy Editor - CANVAS, News Queensland

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