Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins
Welcome to “The Island of Gods” in the magnificent Republic of Indonesia for an immersive vacation to focus on deeper spiritual awareness and living in the presence of Mother Nature’s serenity. Located between Lombak and Java, Bali is a majestic land consisting of volcanic mountains, mesmerizing topography, stunning flora and heartwarming people. The tropical climate — commingled with deep ravines, hillside rice fields, enchanting waterfalls and delectable Balinese fare — has created an indelible imprint that will remain with me indefinitely.
The lifelong dream of visiting Bali was shared by my wife Misa so we decided to manifest our intentions and make reality come true. Deciding on accommodations, whether it’s a resort, condo or villa, is always pivotal. Since Misa is a Platinum member with SPG we zeroed in on The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali which is conveniently located 10 kilometers from the Ngurah Rai International Airport (resembles an ancient temple) and close to the capital city of Denpasar, the main gateway to the island. The luxuriant 5-star family resort is nestled on white sandy beaches with beautiful vistas of the Indian Ocean. The Westin was perfect for enhancing our constellation of wedding commemorations.
As I always say, please select one hotel group and an airline of choice for all travel needs since the awards and perks are far too important to ignore. In fact, we used points to book our stay which allowed more funds towards day excursions, food and gifts. Also look into the Westin Vacation Club where the goal is to help you feel better than when you arrived. From the well-known Heavenly Beds, nutritional SuperFoodsRx dishes, energetic WestinWORKOUT facilities and invigorating Heavenly Spa treatments, these resorts are designed with your well-being in mind. Trust me, we treat all vacations with fitness and wellness in mind and Westin has yet to fail us in regards to the expectations required to enhance the Fit Fathers lifestyle.
The prolonged journey from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C. was comfortable due to upgrades in United Airlines’ (UA) Polaris Business Class cabin. Again, we are 1K and Global Service members with UA so everything from checking in to special meal ordering was convenient and the Polaris club lounge for international business was utter worldly. Polaris has its own restaurant with complimentary food for guests while lounge chairs consist of micro office spaces. This particular route stopped in San Francisco and Singapore before landing to the enchanting island of Bali.
After passing through the main gate of Nusa Dua you will immediately feel like a spirit trekking through time when nature ruled all. This area of Bali is so divine that it was challenging leaving for various other landmarks. Upon arrival to The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali we were greeted with a warm welcome inclusive of traditional music and hostesses dressed in authentic Balinese attire. The renovated grand lobby was conceptualized from a “secret garden” full of greenery, open space and tall, timber-clad pillars representing aged trees in the rainforest. The paragon of civility from the staff of Indonesia’s leading family resort (based on the Indonesia Travel & Tourism Awards) was simply amazing during the entirety of our stay. Though we left the kids at home, the Westin Family Kids Club would have been perfect for keeping them occupied as we witnessed with other families partaking in this specific amenity. My two daughters would have also enjoyed the Westin Kids Spa featuring massages, mini facials, manicures and pedicures.
Walking through the resort in route to our upgraded suite was truly enlivening with large, verdant plants, a pond, inviting pools and panoramas of the ocean just a few strides away. Since we are vegan the hotel made certain that our welcome gift of appreciation was a generous bowl of exotic fruit to nourish the body with antioxidants after the long trip. Each day the maid also left a small plate of natural snacks. Our villa was blessed with an enlarged bedroom, dining room, living room, office space, a stretched patio with multiple entryways, two bathrooms and a few TVs that were never utilized because of our desire to remain unplugged and release emotional heft from back home.
“Vacation is to relax the mind, not the body,” is one of my key mantras when touring. So of course, Misa and I initiated each morning with strength training at the WestinWorkout which is open daily 24 hours. A few times we met up with friends for a WestinRun while exploring the sites along Nusa Dua Beach such as the Water Blow where the Indian Ocean sends strong waves crashing on the jagged limestone edges of the cliff. Guests may also partake in an array of holistic activities including yoga, meditation and life talk discussions.
Nourishment would be restored through the all-vegan supreme Balinese breakfast offered at Seasonal Tastes’ morning buffet. Every dish chosen incorporated exotic fruits, super green veggies, eggless noodles, brown rice, seeds and tempeh to provide plant-based proteins and complex carbs after workouts.
During the day there were endless choices of activities from sunbathing, volleyball, cabanas, pool time, selecting unique gifts at the Shopping Arcade, cocktail crafting class, Barista class and much more. Restaurants for lunch and dinner are aplenty whether its Japanese delights at Hamabe, Italian cuisine from Prego, Mediterranean grub at Velada Tapas Bar & Kitchen or local Balinese meals from Ikan while listening to live musical pleasantries. Tea Time at the lobby bar also included curated finger foods.
However, our moment of greatest enlightenment was visiting the Heavenly Spa for an extended couples massage to the sounds of entrancing instruments, inviting aromas and restorative reflexology from our master therapists. After 90 minutes we left revitalized and wishing only to lay by the beach and meditate on life. Another practice of mindfulness at the spa is Tibetan Sound Healing that encourages relaxation, offsets both hemispheres of the mind and enhances the quality of your resting hours.
Looking for a romantic evening with one another without leaving the resort as we were? Simple, then select a 5-course set Dream Dinner on the beach outside of Ikan. After the sumptuous meal and drinks feel free to relax and chill on a Dream Bed while gazing at the stars and reminiscing your years together.
For those that want to venture off property but close to Nusa Dua there are a few options. You have the choice of visiting either the cultural and religious complex of Puja Mandala, Geger Temple or the Museum Pasifika art museum, watching the Dvdan musical show, shopping at the Bali Collection outdoor mall or spending time at Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park to delve into Bali’s rich history.
For extended excursions look to visit places like the Kintamani Lake and Volcano, the region of Ubud for the Tegenungan Falls, The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary where 600 Balinese long-tailed monkeys make this home, Earth Cafe for vegan treats or the endless array of Ubud shops for cultural keepsakes. Here we also picked up exquisite, hand-crafted jewelry from Prapen which specializes in centuries-old techniques passed down generationally. We also biked Bali’s hidden beauty in the countryside where the locals dwell. I even met and synergistically bonded with a High Priest in one of the Temple villages. Though we didn’t speak each other’s language, ideas and thoughts were exchanged by way of love, respect and mutual understanding of one another’s principles.
Energy from Bali life comes from music, dance and spiritual devotion. Hence, another compelling and transformative spectacle to witness is a Kecak dance show whereas the music is formed by the chorus of more than 100 men called the Gamelan Suara. It tells of the legend of Prince Rama and his wife Sita as part of the Hindu epic Ramayana.
After leaving Nusa Dua and our home away from home, we headed to the towns of Kuta and Seminyak to explore more eclectic Balinese sites. Collectively, the memories from The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali and our various journeys will remain for eternity. Remember, life is for the living so continue to travel far and wide!
Sadly, calamity befell the island of Lombak in the form of numerous earthquakes after we left so I want to extend my condolences to the families who lost loved ones. So sad to hear that such a magical place could fall to the despair of the same Mother Nature that brings us life and vitality. Our prayers are with you Indonesia. One love!