Bali is one of the most popular holiday destinations for Australians and Jimbaran Bay, located a 15 minute drive from Bali’s international airport, is an ideal spot to explore it from. What was once a simple fishing village has evolved into a destination renowned for its luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons Bali but, unlike some areas of the ‘island of the Gods’, Jimbaran has retained its charm and local markets and charming local vibe.
It’s also a top spot to come for a little five star pampering. One of the area’s original hotels, Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, is famous for being the world’s first large scale luxury beach resort to feature plunge pools in every guest room. The Four Seasons at Jimbaran Bay has recently undergone a major renovation of its villas, adding features such as a 50 percent bigger bedroom combined with a new indoor living area featuring double sliding doors to the garden and pool, offering both air-conditioned and outdoor living spaces.
With a minimum room size of 250sqm, even the most affordable accommodation at this resort is huge, something that is much appreciated if you’re travelling with children. A new beach club, pool, bar, restaurant and kids club was also added a few years ago, an area we were keen to check out as this was under construction during our last visit. Here are a dozen reasons to check in and check out the Jimbaran Bay Four Seasons. I’ve also included some hints and tips to help you make the most of your stay at Jimbaran Bay, whatever your budget.
1. Four Seasons Bali villa
When you arrive at your villa it’s tempting to say “I am not leaving”, particularly if – like many Australians – you’ve already visited Bali’s most popular tourist sites. If your love of luxury is smaller than your budget, I’d suggest staying at a cheaper hotel on the days you are out sightseeing as you won’t want to leave this place. Even though this is a 5 star hotel, there are connections with the local culture throughout the resort. Decor reflects local architectural styles and each villa has its own Balinese temple.
All of the villas offer a sanctuary-style accommodation experience with loads of space inside and out plus new flooring, roofing and decor which gives the accommodation a lighter, brighter feel, making it seem even bigger than it is (and, believe me, it is big). There is also an indoor and outdoor bathing area which means no one has to wait, even if you are travelling as a family of three: one in the outdoor shower, one in the indoor shower and one lucky person gets to soak in that gorgeous tub.
I wasn’t sure if we would notice the additional 50% in room size from our last visit but it is very noticeable, particularly when you are travelling with a child. Unlike most hotels which have a cut off age of 12 for children, kids up to the age of 18 can stay free in their parent’s villa. Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay villas have a couch that can be made up into a bed or a complimentary rollaway if they’re a lanky teen. As parents of a child who is now 12, this is a major bonus as having to pay for an additional person each night quickly adds up when you’re travelling as a family.
2. Be active, get relaxed
Sometimes the beginning of a holiday can be frustrating because you are desperate to relax, but still feeling anxious from the fast pace of the life back home you are trying to escape from. I think the best way to combat this is to sign up for activities that use some of that pent up energy, making it easier for you to settle into holiday mode as quickly as possible. Of course, you could always book a tour through the concierge, but Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay has loads of free activities including sailing, kayaking, yoga, beach games, and tennis (they even provide sports shoes if you forgot your own). Many of these activities can also be enjoyed as a family.
3. Embrace the local culture
From offering making lessons to temple tours and traditional blessing ceremonies, there are plenty of ways to experience the heart of Balinese life at this resort. You can take a tour of the grounds with a guide who explains the legends and tales of Bali using art and carvings or go for a stroll to learn more about the 1500 shrines throughout the resort. On Wednesday and Sunday evenings, a traditional dance performance is held outside the onsite temple.
4. Feeling blessed
If you have visited temples in the past and would like to experience the religion and culture of Bali more deeply, Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay offer a traditional blessing ceremony with their resident Pemangku (Balinese priest). The melukat ceremony is a Hindu rite of passage that is meant to cleanse karma. It begins with biyakala, the ceremonial cleansing of hands, feet, face and mouth, followed by prayer and meditation, during which offerings of fruits, flowers and incense are made. An important element of the melukat ceremony is the benang sridatu, a white string that is tied to the wrist and worn until it falls off, reminding you of the experience long after you return home.
5. Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay kids club
Last time we visited the resort, the new kids club was being built but now it’s finished and looks so fabulous that our 12 year wished out loud that he was ‘still a little kid’. Jimba Club has an indoor tree house and its own kiddie-size infinity pool overlooking the beach. With everything from cooking classes, kite flying, Balinese dancing with local kids and Balinese offering making to try, this fun kids club is enough to make parents (and older kids) wish they were still aged between 4 and 11.
6. ‘I’m Not a Kid Anymore’ & other dining tips
From traditional Balinese cuisine to Asian-inspired share plates and Western classics, the dining options at this resort offer something for everyone. We loved the ‘I’m Not A Kid Anymore’ menu aimed at children our son’s age who are too old for a kids menu but perhaps not quite sophisticated enough to order from the regular adult menu.
Breakfast offers a combination of Western and Balinese cuisines, with espresso style coffees made to order at no extra charge. Hot chocolate is a specialty, made with freshly-grated chocolate and loads of marshmallows. You can also request eggs-made-to-order, waffles or banana pancakes from one of the food stations. If you are sensitive to the heat, it can be wise to have breakfast earlier rather than later as the Taman Wantilan restaurant isn’t air conditioned and can get rather warm as the day heats up.
One some nights of the week there are unique themed dinners, such as lavish seafood banquets or Indonesian themed buffets by the beach. If possible, try to time your arrival for one of these nights as a buffet featuring the local cuisine is an ideal way to introduce children to Bali’s culinary delights. Select a food you think your child will enjoy and, in exchange, say they can choose something for you to sample. Fortunately, anything they choose will be delicious so you’re in safe hands at this hotel. Think twice before you try this at a traditional market as your kids will probably take great delight in choosing the most ‘unusual’ thing they can find for you to try.
7. Spa in the great outdoors
The Healing Village Spa at Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay offers something more meaningful than a simple massage with unique treatments that celebrate the local culture and create a sense of place. The two-storey spa building has a heated quartz-sand bed for inversion therapy and undulating massage, coloured light therapy, gemstones and crystal singing bowls, and surround sound original music. There’s also a private steam room, double sun loungers equipped with infra-red gemstone therapy mats, and a powerful two-metre-high waterfall shower. There is also an option to have your treatment at one of the outdoor bales dotted throughout the resort, accompanied by the sound of the waves. We asked our therapist to turn off the music so we could enjoy this beautiful ‘natural soundtrack’.
If you want a classic Swedish massage, you will find it here but I would suggest you opt for one of the culturally-inspired treatments. Some use a traditional Balinese gayung – a vessel used to splash water infused with seaweed and herbs – while others feature the likes of Indian ayurvedic techniques or reiki from Japan. One of the more unusual massages involves a 15 minute ‘sound bath’ created by singing bowls and the deep boom of Balinese gongs which massage you inside and out with rich vibrations. It’s a strange yet deeply relaxing sensation and something that is truly unique. This treatment is an absolute must for spa aficionados who want to try something new.
8. Jimbaran Bay cooking class
Foodies can enjoy delicious food and learn about the local culture at the same time at the on-site Jimbaran Bay Cooking Academy. Classes begin with an optional visit to the Jimbaran seafood market where rainbow-coloured lobsters and other unusual sea creatures adorn the stalls. On arrival back at the resort, you gather in the kitchen to begin creating a full five-course meal which you can enjoy for lunch, dining at a communal dining table or in the shaded courtyard. Your hand-drawn menu booklet and new-found culinary skills make for a wonderful souvenir that lasts far longer than any I ♥ Bali t-shirt. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort, you can still book in for the cooking class.
9. Sundara Bali
Sundara is an all-day drinking and dining destination perched above Jimbaran Bay, a sultry beach-club by day with huge day beds and hypnotic views and an upmarket Asian-inspired restaurant by night. Don’t think because Sundara is at the Four Seasons that it’s going to put a hole in your wallet. Even if you aren’t staying at the resort, the Kids Club is complimentary when you dine at Sundara. Sunday Brunch offers unlimited grazing with or without a wine package. During dinner, the menu steers away from the formality and pricing typical of hotel restaurants. Instead, it is divided into three sections (cold, hot and sweet) with each dish is available in three sizes (small, medium and large), so you can order as much or as little as you like.
10. Sundara cocktails
Jimbaran is justifiably famous for its spectacular sunsets. When the sun is sliding into the sea and the sky begins turning pink, orange and blue, there are few better ways to enjoy it than with a refreshing drink, either in the privacy of your villa or at the Sundara bar. With the latter you can also enjoy some of Bali’s best bands and indie-artists and an array of locally-inspired cocktails and snacks. If something more romantic is in order, there are also private bures dotted throughout the resort where you can have sunset drinks followed by dinner.
11. Swimming and sunshine
There is a free-form infinity pool at the main resort but we couldn’t go past the 57 metre lap pool on the beach at Sundara. This is the longest lap pool in Bali with an ever changing view, from sparkling sunset skies to traditional fishing boats, and kids playing soccer on Jimbaran Beach. There is a separate area set aside exclusively for in-house guests but if you want to have the pool all to yourself, head to Sundara straight after breakfast. It was just us in the pool for almost two hours on our last day at the resort which was absolutely magical.
12. Four Seasons Bali late checkout
There is no need to head to the airport early as it is only a 15 minute trip, even with Bali’s notorious traffic. If a late checkout isn’t possible, you can use of all the resort facilities for free until you depart. This is greatly appreciated Australians who usually have a late night flight home. Perhaps dinner and a swim at Sundara before departure to make every minute count?
If you aren’t staying at the resort, but want to experience the luxurious facilities before you fly out, there is a VIP Departure Lounge package at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay. It’s best to book this in advance as there is only a limited number of spots available. For a 750,000++ minimum spend on food and drinks (for two people) you get loads of benefits to enjoy. These include complimentary daybed usage from 12 noon up until 1am the next morning, bottled water, a fruit platter, towels and poolside amenities, complimentary wi-fi, luggage storage and 15% off spa treatments at Healing Village Spa. It’s a great way to finish your holiday on a high note.
Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay.
We’ve got plenty of hints and tips for travelling in Bali and also some great hotel and resort suggestions. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, we’ve reviewed the Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort, Peppers Seminyak Resort, Apurva Kempinski Bali, Bulgari Resort Bali, Aria Villas Ubud, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, The Mulia Bali, Merusaka Nusa Dua, Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Anantara Seminyak Bali, the InterContinental Bali for couples and those travelling with kids. We’ve compared the Singaraja and Club rooms at the InterContinental Bali and found the best luxury family hotels in Bali and the best honeymoon hotels in Bali.