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This clifftop villa resort is Uluwatu’s best

Driving towards The Ungasan Bali feels like rural Bali; cows, chickens and dogs forage beside the road before we turn into the immaculate Uluwatu clifftop resort. Chauffeured to the entrance of my villa, I’m greeted by my butler holding a tray of coconuts. It’s a refreshing welcome and a sign of things to come. One of five villas at The Ungasan – one-bedroom suites are also available – Villa Santai Sorga is set amid lush tropical gardens and boasts a stunning design combining traditional Balinese architecture with contemporary elegance. The villa has sprawling living areas with exquisite furnishings, blending indoor and outdoor spaces to create a seamless flow across the stunning 2,500-square-metre space.

Traveller: Lisa Wagstaff
Room: Villa Santai Sorga
Best for: Sleeping up to 15, the villa is great for families or large groups
Website: theungasan.com

Villa Santai Sorga

I walk to the edge of my impeccably manicured garden, perched on the clifftop with views over the Bukit Peninsula and the ocean below. Teetering on the southernmost tip of Bali, I look back at the sprawling villa. The word villa has its origins in the Latin word for ‘village’. And this villa can certainly accommodate a village. The main building is a two-storey home with a butler’s kitchen, open-plan living spaces, and a theatre room. Upstairs, the bedroom boasts a four-poster bed and an oversized balcony with views of the azure Indian Ocean below. The room also has a connecting study and bathroom with a giant spa bath.

There are four additional suites, named the ‘king bedrooms’ in the villa’s grounds, separate from the main building, some with separate outdoor showers. The villa also has a private infinity pool and expansive pavilion to enjoy the panoramic views at any hour.

Master bedroom at The Ungasan Bali
Master bedroom at The Ungasan Bali

Mornings at the Uluwatu resort

On my first morning, I wake to golden glows of sunshine as I contemplate how best to start my day. Alet, my butler, tells me the tennis court is free and makes a reservation. After an energetic match, I decide to have breakfast in my villa’s open-air pavilion beside the pool. It’s a delicious mix of tropical fruit, pastries, yogurt and granola. A selection of cooked plates follow, like eggs benedict or nasi goreng. Floating breakfasts are also able to be served in the infinity pool.

The private pavilion in Villa Santai Sorga at The Ungasan Bali
The private pavilion in Villa Santai Sorga at The Ungasan Bali

Spa time

Bodily bliss is next. My spa experience starts with a rosella tea and then I choose a massage oil: jasmine, lavender, sandalwood or lemongrass. The sandalwood combined with the breezy traditional Indonesian music and my therapist’s hands take me into a dream-like state.

Read: Bali’s 12 best luxury wellness retreats for mind, body and soul

Sundays Beach Club

Directly below the resort at the end of Melasti Beach is Bali’s renowned Sundays Beach Club. Free for hotel guests, it is accessible by The Ungasan’s private inclinator. I’m here celebrating a birthday in a VIP bungalow with its own shower and butler. I order a ‘21st-century girl’ cocktail and sink into an aqua-coloured beanbag. The beach club is one of Bali’s best a has a great drinks menu and Balinese and international cuisine. At high tide, the beach is a thin strip at the mercy of the crashing waves, when the tides lowers and a coral reef emerges it becomes as still and flat as glass. Five sun lounges are booked beachside for us and as the tide recedes, I take a snorkel and fins to explore underwater. Iridescent fish, mini sea slugs, and a timid sea snake keep me entertained for over an hour. Above water, I explore paddle to the coral formations atop one of the complimentary SUPs. Come nightfall fires are lit and we are given marshalls to roast. Being a resort guest means we also get to skip the inclinator queue back up to the resort.

Sundays Beach Club
Sundays Beach Club is free for guests at The Ungasan Bali
VIP Bungalow at Sundays Beach Club
VIP Bungalow at Sundays Beach Club

Dining at the Ungasan Bali

We return to the villa for an Indonesian Rijsttafel, a local meal adapted by the Dutch. Our butler Alet serves us traditional dishes with five types of the chilli sauce, sambal. Skewers of various meats and tofu are followed by yellowfin tuna lightly marinated in coconut cream and spices – all the flavours are sensational. Next, we are offered chargrilled pork ribs, snapper, chicken curry, and barbecued vegetables.

At The Ungasan, meals can be enjoyed in-villa or at The Pool Lounge, where you can dine on an eight-course Chef’s Tasting Menu by Executive Chef Shaun Thomson, who has worked with celebrity chef Neil Perry.

Our degustation begins with bubbles, before diving into the courses: potatoes cooked under the sand and thick-sliced yellowfin tuna served with a Moroccan-inspired eggplant infused with cumin. Mains are organic baby chicken with truffle cream, and gold band snapper topped with spiced yogurt, calamari and clams. To cleanse the palate, a crisp mandarin sorbet is served in a passionfruit before the most delicious Bombe Alaska arrives with mango sorbet for a sweet ending.

Whether seeking tranquillity, adventure or simply a luxurious hideaway, The Ungasan is an idyllic retreat on Bali’s southern coast.