The Starfish has discovered the ideal way to become an instant Lotus Eater.

For Perthites keen to away from the daily grind, we know  an enchanting spot in Bali that will turn you Zen-mellow faster than you can say, “Jeez, I need a break!”

A quick flight from Perth and a bumpy 25 minute cab ride (it’ll shake off any inflight stupor) to Kerobokan from the International Airport puts visitors into the exclusive tropical luxury of Villa Banteng Bawah – Perth to Paradise in a few easy hours.

While many argue that the main tourist centres in Bali have become overly frenetic and commercialised, here is a semi-rural sanctuary set amid the tranquillity of lush rice paddies, far from the madding crowd and hawkers. The Kerobokan-Umulas area still offers a Balinese village atmosphere, steeped in tradition.

It’s pure therapy. The villa is an idyllic, well-priced option for couples, small family groups, or singles just wishing to leave a more demanding world behind.

Sun-splashed days by the pool, soft balmy nights, and tropical mornings seem to filter the stress right out of us. Like ‘manana’ in Mexico, the Isle of the Gods has lost none of its ability to anaesthetise against pressure and commitments.

Bye Bye Winter, Hello Banteng

Decisions, decisions

The moment one wafts, from the cool of beautifully appointed bedrooms, into the morning air to be served a yummy breakfast, there is a tangible sense of well-being and good fortune.

Perhaps the hardest decision guests will make is whether to have the charming staff prepare dinner at the Villa of an evening, or to take a pleasant stroll to the nearby Bali Buddha or other local eateries to sample the fine ethnic fare.

If you choose the latter, chances are you’ll witness one of the ubiquitous Hindu evening festivals at the ornate village temple – the changs and clangs of music and the people swirling about in their marvellous ceremonial costumes, devout and upbeat as ever.

On our last sojourn in Bali we noted even the cars and trucks were festooned with offerings and garlands. Turned out it was the to celebrate the Festival in Praise of Metal, vehicles being made of said substance. Anything to give thanks and to have a good time. Perhaps WA could take a leaf out of the Hindu ceremonial book, since we are one of the world’s largest iron ore producers … Hmm..

While some of the tackier elements of modernity may have over-run parts of Bali in recent decades, the people’s core traditions remain vibrantly alive and well, and this remains one of the most endearing (and enduring) qualities of our wonderful island neighbours to the north.

Dining in is just one of the many charms of the villa

A thriller of a villa

The villa is tastefully decorated with its own 15m private lap pool, landscaped gardens, kitchen, sunken lounge and Zen area with a swing. It overlooks rice terraces which add to the lovely rural persona, and are particularly enchanting when viewed from the villa at dawn and dusk.

Recently fully renovated, Villa Banteng has three spacious air-conditioned bedrooms and is built along the slope of a rice terrace in the attractive open air Balinese-style.  It is fully self-contained and  offers complete privacy and seclusion. The Villa has 24-hour staffing, which includes a cook, maid and butler, as well as a driver for transfers to and from the airport.

Of course all the attractions and distractions of Bali are only minutes away: the beaches, surf, shopping, events, cultural centres, arts and crafts, cuisine, amusement parks, nightclubs and whatever else might take your fancy. The closest major centre is the fashionable Seminyak district, just 10 minutes distant in a taxi, with its world-renowned beach, restaurants, bars and shopping.

All in all, Villa Banteng is a pretty well placed HQ for a great time in Bali. So, with the winter wind and rain on the way here in Perth, it might just be time to check the diary and block out a week or two of Balinese ‘me’ time…

Virgin, Jetstar, Garuda,  and AirAsia all do the Perth-Bali hop daily.

Villa Banteng offers great value with rates from $370 per night, which includes transport to and from the airport. Starfish readers are eligible for a 20% discount until June and 10 per cent all year,  by mentioning The Starfish when you book.

For more information or to make a booking at Villa Banteng Bawah, please email Anthony at: villabanteng@hotmail.com

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