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
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
- Review: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Bali (today)
- Review: Amandari, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amankila (Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobodhur (Java)
- 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 (October 10, 2018): Review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Bali, Indonesia).
- Location: Google maps
- Address: Jalan Kedewatan, Banjar, Kedewatan, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali 80571, Indonesia
- Hotel website: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for “temple,” Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, stands as a tropical shrine dedicated to the self. Fronting the Ayung River near the Ubud jungle, the hotel replicates a traditional Balinese village, complete with working rice paddies. Showcasing the architecture and craftsmanship of the area, each of the 60 luxury suites and villas features a private outdoor space (some of them with pools) with views of the river or surrounding scenery. Four restaurants serve health-conscious cuisine sourced from the organic garden, although you can also arrange a romantic dinner overlooking the river or rice terrace. The spa offers a variety of programs focused on physical and spiritual well-being.
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
- Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is located near Ubud, a traditional village which has been the spiritual and cultural hub of Hindu Bali for thousands of years. Nestled among cooler mountains, Ubud offers a welcome respite from the crazy pace of Bali’s popular beach resorts on the island’s southern shores. The area’s magnificent jungle, verdant (and UNESCO protected) rice terraces, and spiritual way of life have drawn celebrities, artists and throngs of tourists from all over the world in recent decades; some have even adopted Ubud as their own home. Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling memoir turned movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (starring Julia Roberts) has further increased the appeal of Ubud, turning it into one of Asia’s major tourist attractions. Ubud is a 90 minute drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport.
- Named after the entrance to a traditional Hindu temple, the reserve evokes the feeling of a sacred site as you cross its unassuming stone gates into an elegant entrance courtyard, lined by moss-covered brick arches. Upon arrival, all guest are welcomed with warm Balinese hospitality, Jepun flower necklaces and fragrant cold towels as they are escorted by the resort staff through the breathtaking open-walled lobby. Perched on top of a bluff, the lobby affords spectacular views of the fabulous resort grounds that cascade down a steep, lush hillside towards the sacred Ayung River. The secluded and serene location is only a 10-minute drive (but world apart) from the center of Ubud and the hotel runs a complimentary shuttle service to town with frequent departures.
- The Ritz-Carlton Reserve is modeled on an indigenous Balinese village, providing a sensory path to wellness and nature. All public areas, accommodations and walking paths are centered around a magnificent terraced rice field, well-maintained by a crew of local farmers. Beautifully evoking a sense of place in Ubud, this working rice farm allows guests to experience the time-honored methods of planting, harvesting and tending this local culinary staple while enjoying the natural soundtrack of the Ayung River’s rushing water and leaves blowing in the wind. Adjacent to this rice field is a century-old Hindu mandapa (Sanskrit for temple), where guest can not only observe Hindu rituals but also participate in spiritual celebrations and purification ceremonies that aim to cleanse the body, mind and soul.
- Mastered by renowned interior designer Jeffrey Wilkes, the interiors marry sleek modern architecture with traditional Balinese details, mirroring the landscape and temples around the Reserve and offering a true luxurious decor designed to allure the world’s most discerning travelers. Jeffrey Wilkes is the owner of the Kuala Lumpur-based boutique interior design firm, which also created the interior of other famous hotels such as The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai and The Oberoi Udaivilas. Every element of design at Mandapa is naturally inspired and sustainably sourced, blending effortlessly into the natural surroundings. All public areas and rooms feature colorful artworks depicting Balinese heritage and embrace the surrounding tropical landscape with the use of natural wood in the wall panels and teak floors.
- The property features 50 ultraluxurious accommodations, comprising 35 penthouse-style suites (located on the hillside) and 25 private pool villas (set on the valley floor). During my visit, I stayed in a ‘one bedroom rice terrace pool villa’, located on the outskirts of the resort’s central rice field. Surrounded by a large walled outdoor space, with pool and tropical garden, the villa featured a welcoming Balinese style interior. The palatial bedroom featured a kingsized bed (with batik pillows and embroidered bedcover), carved teak, vibrant paintings and modern chandeliers, while the beautifully designed bathroom came with a toto toilet, a soaker tub, his/her wooden sinks, and outdoor shower. The living room was detached from the villa, featuring glass walls which could be opened to the elements, offering a view of the rice paddies.
- Set at the heart of the premise, the resort’s beautiful pool area overlooks the idyllic rice paddies and the verdant jungle beyond. The pool deck is always quiet, probably because most guests prefer to lounge at their private pools (although the 35 suites don’t come with a private pool). One pool is heated while the other pool is cold, offering guests the choice of either taking a refreshing dip or swimming in lukewarm water according to their liking. Both pools are lined by a single row of comfortable sun loungers with some cabanas set at the end of the pool deck. Behind the pool is the so-called Library, a traditionally elegant yet relaxed lounge offering an inviting space to enjoy drinks before dinner and/or signature afternoon tea in both English and Indonesian style over sunset.
- Renowned as a center for spiritual and physical healing, Ubud offers a unique setting where visitors can escape the stresses of the everyday world and find peace within. So, not surprisingly, there’s a huge emphasis on wellness at the Mandapa Reserve, based on the practice of treating the body to harmonize the soul. Located on the banks of the Ayung River, the resort’s spa facility allows guests to discover peace of mind and body through holistic, comprehensive wellness and lifestyle programs based on five pillars: Balinese spa, detox & nutrition, alternative therapy, body therapy, and healing. Featuring eight treatment rooms and utilizing both ESPA and local products, the spa complex also feature a state-of-the-art fitness center, sauna, river-front yoga studio, vitality rooftop pool, and relaxation areas.
- There are exquisite dining options aplenty at Mandapa as guests can experience Indonesian cuisine, alongside international dishes, at four distinct dining venues, where every meal is an elegantly orchestrated experience:
- Meaning “hut” or “shelter” in Bahasa Indonesia, Kubu is the signature restaurant, serving Mediterranean-European cuisine in nine bamboo huts by the river.
- Providing panoramic views of the majestic Ayung River, Sawah Terrace brings “dining with nature” to the next level with a farm-to-table concept, offering Balinese and Asian flavors.
- The Pool Bar serves timeless classics, fresh products, salad and sandwiches and light fare ideally suited for the warm climate.
- Dining Beyond is a unique and romantic dining experience, where guests are taken to exclusive locations within the resort’s premises (e.g. riverside, in the rice terrace or in the villa) and are treated to a special tailor-made menus by Executive Chef Maurizio Bombini.
- An organic garden, farm, and educational Kid’s Hut are tucked away from the rest of the resort, to enable the smallest VIP guests to take an exclusive journey. The curious minds of younger guests are enriched with exciting, nature-based educational activities designed for mini explorers. In partnership with The Green School in Bali, the educational experiences of Green Camp at Mandapa introduce both the natural wonders and the rich cultural traditions of the destination. The program aims to provide a natural, holistic, student-centered learning environment that empowers and inspires the young guests to be creative and innovative green leaders.
- Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, offers a dazzling array of offsite activities and excursions to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds, architecture and culture of Bali. Highly recommended and one of the most favorite experience at the property is the Volkswagen Vintage half day tour, an unwinding journey in a classic VW 181 convertible, whereby the staff drives you along the incredibly beautiful country side, passing the rice field of Ceking village, visiting Sebatu water temple and the historical Gunung Kawi. A lunch picnic pit-stop along the way completes the ultimate vintage experience. A full day tour is also available upon request.
- The Ritz-Carlton is obviously a well-known luxury brand, managed by the Marriott Hotel Group, but the brand’s most prestigious properties are operated under the label of the ultra-exclusive Ritz-Carlton Reserve collection, comprising one-of-a-kind sanctuaries tucked away in the world’s most exquisite corners. For the most discerning travelers seeking a personalized meaningful escape, these resorts feature chic, relaxed and intimate settings that weave indigenous flavors with highly responsive service. The Mandapa property opened in 2015 as the third Ritz-Carlton Reserve; the other two are located in Dorado Beach (Puerto Rico) and Phulay Bay Krabi (Thailand). Three other reserves are slated to open in the coming years in Mexico (Los Cabos), Panama, and Morocco.
- I loved every aspect of the resort during my stay but a stand-out was the incredible staff, who provides impeccable service 24/7. It’s clear that the resort’s General Manager Ana Gorjão Henriques – who was there to welcome me upon arrival and frequently followed up with all guests during breakfast and dinner to make sure they had a good time – is doing a great job, making sure that the well-trained staff delivers a stellar experience to everyone. All guests have access to a 24 hour certified butler service (Patih), regardless whether you are staying in a suite or a villa.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
IMHO, Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is the best and most impressive luxury hotel in the Ubud area. The incredible design, spectacular location, fabulous villas and impeccable service make it very hard to fault this resort, but you may want to know the following nonetheless:
- Due to the steep hillside terrain and the expansive resort grounds, it does require some efforts to get around, but the friendly butlers always make themselves available to drive guests around in buggies.
- Because of its secluded location in the center of Bali, the property is quiet far from the beach and getting there can literally take hours at peak times. That said, you can always combine a rainforest stay here with a few days at the beach at the property’s sister resort in Nusa Dua, The Ritz-Carlton Bali, which offers 313 spacious and sumptuously appointed suites and luxury villas in an elegant and oceanfront tropical ambiance.
- Although Mandapa is managed by Ritz-Carlton, a full subsidiary of Marriott, the property does not participate in the Marriott Rewards loyalty program, so you cannot earn hotel points nor use them for a free stay here.
- There is a free shuttle service operating into Ubud but it is one way only. Due to heavy traffic and prohibition to park in Ubud, the resort does not offer transfers back to the hotel. Although taxis in the Ubud area are very cheap, this is a somewhat remarkable contrast to some of Mandapa’s high end competitors, like the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan and Amandari, who both offer complimentary return shuttle service.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 10/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,2/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury property like Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & 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. Temperatures in the Ubud area remain fairly constant throughout the year, although some cooler evenings can occur due to its location in the mountains. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit Ubud. 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
Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, is a 90 minute from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.