Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java and Bali. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Singapore Airlines A380 new First Class suite from London to Singapore
- Review: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (today)
- Review: Four Seasons Bali at Sayan, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobudur (Java)
- Review: Amandari, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amankila (Bali)
- Review: Anantara Uluwatu (Bali)
- Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Uluwatu (Bali)
- Review: Bvlgari Bali Resort (Bali)
- Review: Singapore Airlines B787-10 Dreamliner Business Class from Bali to Singapore
- Review: Six Senses Duxton (Singapore)
- Review: Singapore Airlines A380 (old) Business Class from Singapore to London
Today (September 26, 2018): Review of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay.
- Location: Google maps
- Address: Jimbaran, South Kuta, Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia
- Hotel website: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Designed as a traditional Balinese village, this luxurious all-villa enclave spreads across 14 hectares (35 acres) of oceanfront in Bali. The resort offers 147 spacious pool villas (relaunched in 2016 following a transformative renovation), and 9 residences in a private estate just steps from the beach. The luxurious villas – each with a private plunge pool – terrace down a hillside covered with brilliant flowers and Balinese temples. At the resort, you can steep yourself in local island culture, unwind with holistic spa treatments and enjoy a wide range of dining options, including the beachfront Sundara restaurant. For a complete island experience, you can extend your stay at its magnificent jungle sister resort, the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Reviews of other hotels in Bali & Indonesia
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Located on a gentle slope overlooking the deep-blue Indian Ocean, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay enjoys a convenient location near a sleepy fishing village on Bali’s sunny south-west coast. Jimbaran Bay is part of the narrow isthmus that connects Bali’s mainland to the semi-arid Bukit Peninsula, and is famous for its magnificent gold sand beach lined by busy barbecue seafood shacks. The resort is a short 20 minute ride from the airport, which is a blessing in Bali’s notoriously congested traffic. While there’s not a lot to do in the immediate surrounding of the hotel, it’s only around 30 minutes by taxi (when there’s no traffic) to the busy Seminyak area, which offers some of the island’s best attractions, shopping and nightlife.
Set in 35 acres of tropical gardens cascading down the hillside, the resort stretches for nearly 1500 m (5000 ft) along the rocky shore. The open-air lobby is located on top of the hill, affording lovely panoramas over the bay and giving way to the large boutique shop, main restaurant, pool area, and accommodations below. The far end of the resort grounds skirts the beach of Jimbaran Bay, where you find the stunning beach club (more on that below). The hotel’s sprawling design requires steps along steep pathways lined with tropical flora, but a 24 hour buggy service is available for those that require it.
The resort’s traditional architecture is based on a Balinese village concept – albeit a luxury version – with an authentic Hindu temple (with resident priest) at its heart. Built in local volcanic stones, the thatch-roof pavilions blend beautifully into the tropical gardens, which are adorned with over 1500 shrines. But while the architecture is beautiful, it were two other key design elements that made headlines in 1994 when the hotel opened its doors: it was the first large scale all-villa resort ever created and the first to incorporate a dip pool in every villa. An extensive two-year renovation of the resort was completed last year, guaranteeing that the property remains a global standard-bearer for tropical luxury despite being more than 20 years old.
- The resort features 147 hillside pool villas, which rank among the best lodgings on the island. During my visit, I stayed in a fully renovated Premier Ocean Villa. Reflecting a ‘sense of place’, the villa was inspired by a typical Balinese house with coral-stone walls and a carved gate leading to a flower-perfumed entrance courtyard. The thatched-roof sleeping pavilion featured a bright decor with timber flooring, Balinese artworks, and a romantic netted kingsized bed. One wall of the room featured glass sliding doors giving way to a sundeck with a private infinity pool and outdoor living area. The bedroom connected via a dressing area to the bathroom, with double sinks, indoor and outdoor showers, and a marble stand-alone tub.
- In case you are traveling with a larger party, you may consider booking one of the 9 private residences, which are set in a private estate, across the road from the main resort and just steps from the beach. In two-, three- and four-bedroom configurations, the residences offer open-air thatched living quarters, expansive gardens with water features and generous private pools. Living space includes a sunken lounge and dining room. The large and fully equipped kitchens are staffed, and butler service operates separately. Tucked within tropical gardens, these two-storey villas offer all the privacy you need to relax with family and friends.
- In addition the private villa pools, the Four Seasons also offers 3 separate pool areas. Featuring a quiet ambience ideal for adults, the main pool is located on a stone terrace on the hillside below the lobby, affording magnificent views of Jimbaran Bay and the sunrise. Double daybeds follow the line of this infinity edge pool, where it’s easy to spend all day soaking up the warm rays, cool vibe, and hand-crafted cocktails. One level down the main pool area is another pool complex, comprising a shallow pool with waterfall, one hot and one cold plunge pools. IMHO, the third pool area is the most stunning one, a 57 m (178 ft) long but narrow pool located on the silky sands along the ocean at the beach club (more on that below).
- Opening directly onto the sands of Jimbaran Bay, the hotel’s fashionable yet family-friendly beach club Sundara is named after the Sanskrit word for “beautiful”. Featuring a wonderful, upscale mix of classy flair and beach club chic, Sundura is one of Bali’s coolest hangouts, offering direct access to one of the island’s best beaches. Sundara’s indoor-outdoor design cascades from a restaurant with bar and patio, to a lotus pond, daybeds and Bali’s longest beach-front pool whose edge seems to fuse with the shimmering seas. Poolside service includes complimentary sun care products, cold towels, misters, ice water and frozen treats to help you keep your cool. A sultry beach-club by day, Sundura becomes one of the best restaurants in Bali by night.
- One of the prime reasons to stay at the property is that it gives direct access to Jimbaran Bay’s beach, a 3-kilometre (1.9-mile) curve of golden sand. On a raised plateau a few steps above the beach, adjacent to the Sandura beach club, a secluded beach retreat – called Coconut Grove – is reserved exclusively for hotel guests. Here, you can relax on comfortable lounge chairs to work on your tan in the sun, to nap in the leafy shade of palms and other tropical trees, or to watch the surfers in swimmers in the ocean in the setting sun. Non-motorised water sports (Hobie Cat, windsurf, kayak, paddleboard, boogie board, surf board and snorkelling equipment) are offered on complimentary basis.
- One of the highlights of a stay at the resort is the terrific food, some of the best I ever enjoyed at a Four Seasons property across the globe. The property features two restaurants:
- Taman Wantilan restaurant is an open-air dining room above the infinity pool, designed to catch the sea breeze and maximise the soaring views over the gentle curve of Jimbaran Bay and Bali’s southwest coastline. At night, the restaurant features two show kitchens where the resort’s brigade of specialty chefs cook up a spread of Asian and Western cuisine with made-to-order dishes delivered directly to your table. In the morning, from 6.30 am till 11 am, it’s also the scene of a fabulous breakfast buffet with the same concept of the live action stations.
- Sundara’s restaurant offers tapas-style lunches during the day. As the sun goes down, the fire pits are lit and Sundara transforms into one of Bali’s best dining venues, offering modern Asian cuisine in a relaxed seaside ambience.
- Located near the entrance gates, the resort’s wellness and health center (called the ‘Healing Village’) offers some of the best spa treatments on the island. The menu features a wide range of traditional treatments, such as Balinese massages, body scrubs with ancient Himalayan salt crystals, and skin renewing facials. In addition, there’s also a range of holistic offerings, such as Welas Asih, a 150 minute treament involving scrub, bath, massage and heart chakra work to reconnect the body and mind to inner peace and stillness. The spa also features a well-equiped gym and gender segregated Jaccuzis, Swedish saunas, and steam rooms. There’s also an ocean-front bale for daily program of yoga and meditation including anti-gravity yoga.
- Ganesha Culture Center is an interactive and experiential space dedicated to exhibitions and workshops in Balinese art, music and crafts. The centre’s primary purpose is to actively support local artists and give them a chance to exhibit their work to an international audience, and to preserve and celebrate Bali’s heritage as the only remaining Hindu civilization in Indonesia. The rich culture of Bali permeates every aspect of daily life, architecture and art, and guests are invited not only to observe, but to participate in rituals, ceremonies and cultural activities, ranging from local visits to workshops, experiences and performances.
- As good as the facilities are, in the end, it is the unmatched service that really has this hotel standing head and shoulders above most of its competitors on the island. From the second I stepped foot onto the property, I was treated like royalty, thanks to the incredibly hospitality and the welcoming, professional attitude of the hotel staff. Senior managers frequently checked throughout my stay whether everything was ok and whether there was anything I needed.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is hands down one of the best resorts in Bali, offering superb accommodations, a fabulous beach club (with sunset views), terrific restaurants and impeccable service. There’s little to say against the hotel, although you need the know the following when considering a stay here:
- The hotel is close to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, ony a 20 minute ride by car. The airport can be seen from the hotel at the horizon, across Jimbaran Bay. You don’t see any buildings though (except for the control tower) and you don’t hear any plane traffic; what you see is a part of the runway extending into the sea and the planes landing and taking off (far away from the property). It’s nothing too bad (chances are you won’t even notice), but nonetheless I want to mention it as it can distract a little from the paradisiac ambience.
- Not all villas enjoy a sea view. The lower end category villas enjoy garden (and not open sea) views. In addition, these villas feature a smaller pool, only allowing for a mere dip. As you can expect, the villa rates rise according to the layout, pool size and sea view (from peep to panorama). I recommend to book at least a sea view villa category to experience the resort at the fullest.
- The Sandura beach club is also open to non-guests, who have to pay 980,000 Indonesian Rupiah (+/- 60 euros) per couple for two sunbeds (including food & beverage credit, WiFi access, mineral water, towels and poolside amenities). Although the clientele and vibe is chic and upscale, some guests may not like fact that they have to mix with non-guests at the beach-front pool.
- The resort is expensive, but you should know that going in. It’s a Four Season property and one of the best of Bali after all. That said, if you find the resort’s delicious food to be too expensive, you can always visit one of the cheap seafood huts on the beach, a few minutes walk away from the hotel.
- While excellently maintained and exuding a calming ambience, the spa village is an older facility. It is rumored that the resort is considering to construct a brand new spa.
- With calm, crystal blue waters, Jimbaran Bay is one of Bali’s best and safest beaches with the added bonus of spectacular sunset views. However, from April to October, the ocean waves can be larger, making the beach less suitable for swimming, but offering a great opportunity for newbie surfers.
- Because of its secluded location in the south of Bali, the property is quiet far from some of the best bits of culture (around Ubud) that make Bali such a spectacular place. Getting there can literally take hours at peak times. That said, I recommend to spend a few days at its sister property Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan to take in the natural and cultural beauty of the Ubud area, before heading south to Jimbaran Bay for a few days or week-long total relaxation.
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 10/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a Four Seasons property (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
- Room tip: there’s no need to worry about what villa you get, but keep in mind that the least expensive villas feature smaller pools and don’t come with open sea views. I recommend to book a premier ocean villa, which allows you to gaze out to the ocean from your poolside open-air bale.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & INDONESIA
- Review of Amankila, Bali’s best luxury hotel
- Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)
- Review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Bali, Indonesia)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Ubud, Bali)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: Villa Sungai, Bali (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: the Viceroy Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel
- Hotel review: COMO Shambhala Bali (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: Soori Bali (Indonesia)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Located close to the equator, temperatures in Bali hover at a balmy 30°C (85°F) year-found. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit this paradise island. The rainy season lasts from October to March, and the heavy humidity and torrential rainfalls make this period more unpredictable for adventures and exploration. The dry season lasts from April to September, and the weather during this time is warm and pleasant, so this is generally viewed as the optimal time to experience Bali at its finest.
HOW TO GET THERE
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay is a short 20 minute ride from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.