MASON ELEPHANT PARK & LODGE

MASON ELEPHANT PARK & LODGE

HOTELS & RESORTS

MASON ELEPHANT PARK & LODGE

 Although it’s a small island, Bali really has so much to offer. Until recently I had never heard of Mason Elephant Park and Lodge. And the incredible thing is that it’s only half an hour from Ubud.

 

bali interiors, mason elephant park
bali interiors, mason elephant park

I have always loved elephants, they are probably my favourite animal, so getting a chance to be close to them and photographing them was an opportunity that I couldn’t resist.

I came to this park as a blank canvas, open to see what this place had to offer. I have been in elephant parks in Thailand and I have washed an elephant in India, but never seen one in Bali. This place is not an elephant sanctuary where the Elephants roam free. And with a bit of knowledge and common sense, I now see why this is not possible here.

Elephants are big animals. Up close, they are massive.  They each eat 250Kg of food per day! At Mason there are 31 elephants. If the Elephants were roaming free, not only would the park and lodge would be destroyed, but a large part of Bali would as well. As well as that, it’s illegal in Bali for elephants to be wandering free. The elephants at Mason Lodge and Park are rescued elephants from Sumatra (which is 82 times bigger than Bali). Unfortunately, palm oil farming has caused their habitat to diminish to approximately half of what it used to be. And it continues to shrink. Just as the orangutans who live in these jungles are losing their homes, so too are the elephants. Elephants end up separated from their family unit, some are poached and some are poisoned by farmers as the elephants now need to look for food on farmed land. Suddenly, there are a lot of elephants with nowhere to go, injured or with not enough food, and at risked of being killed. What is happening in Sumatra is a catastrophe. Their whole fauna is very quickly disappearing. Sumatran elephants are now an endangered species.

bali interiors- mason elephant park
bali interiors, mason elephant park
mason elephant park-ball interiors
bali interiors- mason elephant park

Of course, the best possible outcome for the elephants is to have their native habitat back or an elephant sanctuary where they could be free. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be possible in Indonesia, and at this stage is not a realistic option. So, a pragmatic alternative is needed to save these elephants right now.

With this in mind, I’m in awe of the Mason family that took it upon themselves to house these elephants. Clearly, this is not a small undertaking. And it’s made even more challenging by the problem of navigating the bureaucracy of a developing country. There is no doubt that they really love these elephants and are seriously committed to the cause.

The park is immaculately kept. The grounds are stunning, with a mini-forest in the park and a jungle-trek behind it. There are 2 swimming pools for the Elephants to bathe. One is a man-made lake where the elephants can completely submerge and have a good play. There is also a huge restaurant and a kind of open-air stable where the elephants can rest, eat and be cleaned.

The Elephants are in great health. They have vets around the clock, they get immunised, they get given vitamins and minerals, they even get pedicures! The food they receive is quality controlled and, more than anything, the elephants are treated with love. This is abundantly clear. Elephants are not forced to do anything that they do not like to do, and training is done using a repetition and reward system of patience and empathy. No cruel methods are used and there is an instant dismissal for any mahout (elephant trainer/carer) striking an elephant.

They have zero tolerance of any kind of violence towards the Elephants. On my 3 days there, I didn’t even see any of the mahouts using a stick. They only talked to them and the elephants responded gently.

bali interiors, elephant park
bali interiors, maso elephant park
bali interiors, mason park
bali interiors- mason elephant park

The accommodation at Mason includes small lodge with no more than 27 rooms/bungalows. The rooms are tastefully and comfortably furnished and are very accommodating for families and people with disabilities. 6 of the rooms face the park where the elephants eat and sleep. Going to sleep looking over the park and waking up with the same view is pretty special. Kids (and grown-ups) absolutely love it. As well as that, there is a swimming pool and 2 restaurants.

The park itself is not huge. While it’s has enough room for the elephants, it’s still small enough to have unexpected (and wonderful) encounters with these giants. Walking from my room to the pool, 2 enormous elephants (with their mahouts) crossed my path. It’s a humbling experience to be so close to them.

In the park, you can wash the elephants, you can feed them, you can walk through the park with a guide and learn all about them. You really can get close to them - enough to touch them and see their beautiful personalities. Even though they are big animals, not once I felt scared. They are gentle giants. I got a chance to meet with the Mahout Manager that came originally from Sumatra 20 years ago with the first 9 elephants. He knows all of the elephants and, in fact, a few elephants will only respond to him and no one else. He explained how incredibly intelligent they are and what a long-lasting memory they have. I also met with the manager of the park and it was inspiring to see how passionate she is about her job.

bali interiors mason elephant park
mason park- bali interiors
bali interiors- mason elephant parks
bali interiors- mason elephant park

 

This lodge has won the prize for Best Eco lodge on the Luxury Hotel Awards two years in a row, as well as being supported by the National Geographic. It’s easy to see why. Everyone that works at the park sincerely loves and cares about the Elephants.

By dedicating themselves to Mason Park, they are doing something that truly matters - keeping these elephants alive and happy.

MASON ELEPHANT PARK & LODGE

www.masonelephantlodge.com

 

THE LAGUNA RESORT & SPA

THE LAGUNA RESORT & SPA

HOTELS & RESORTS

THE LAGUNA RESORT & SPA

There are so many large resorts in Nusa Dua that it’s hard to choose where to stay. The Laguna Resort and Spa is a great combination of a kid-friendly resort mixed with total indulgence for mum and dad.

With 5 restaurants to choose from, including a Deli with home made ice-creams and an extensive wine cellar, The Laguna Resort has plenty of choices for adults and kids alike.

The Laguna Resort and Spa is a beachfront resort. As well as having your own private beach, it has over 5000 square meters of turquoise lagoons and pools. There is even a waterfall and a man-made beach inside one of the pools so little kids can splash around in total safety!

But the pièce de résistance of this resort is the Lagoon Spa. Before entering, you descend via a circular staircase. In the middle there is a huge mother of pearl chandelier that contrasts with the textured walls behind. I was impressed before I even stepped in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by the 7 Pillars of wellbeing, this spa is a revelation. Once downstairs, the low lighting induces a mysterious mood that feels like you are now somehow inside a James Bond movie. The circular room at the end of the spa blew me away. In the middle of the room, there is a glass sculpture made of hundreds of little glass spheres held together by clear thread. It creates an illusion of the tiny glass spheres being suspended in the air. It’s beyond incredible.

 

 

THE LAGUNA RESORT & SPA

http://www.thelagunabali.com/

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ST. REGIS

ST. REGIS

HOTELS & RESORTS

ST. REGIS

The first time I went to St Regis was about 5 years ago to meet some friends for dinner. At the time I was staying in a cute room in a local family compound in Canggu, which cost about $50 a night. So when I walked to St Regis, coming from our humble accommodation, I was gobsmacked!

 

The lobby of St Regis matched my wow reaction. The incredibly high ceiling, huge open space, and the descending staircase draws the eyes through the amazing garden and finally to the beach.

The bars and restaurant at the hotel are nothing short of spectacular. From Boneka with its unique decoration of puppets which is reminiscent of a circus, to Kingcole Bar, an English-looking bar and tea room, furnished with a classic mix of sofa chairs, sofas and a grand piano, perfect to watch a Jazz band in the evening while drinking the finest whiskey or having an afternoon high tea with the family. The Kayuputi beachfront restaurant is divine during the day or night. With a grand open kitchen, all white interiors, tall windows to make the most of the ocean view and impossible high ceilings, it is perfect for a midday lunch or a romantic dinner while the live DJ entertains. Whatever your choice, you will be impressed!

St Regis also offer the most sophisticated Deli. I think calling it “Deli” is under-selling it. The interiors remind me of London’s Harrod’s food-court. It has an English world sophistication to it.  With so many amazing divine food options, including home-made chocolates and other delicious treats, visitors and hotel guests are spoilt for choice.

And we haven’t even discussed the pool, the rooms, villas or the Spa.

The pool is a 3668sqm of crystal blue salt water lagoons. No irritated eyes from swimming in chlorine at the St Regis! The tiles are tiny and individually placed. It’s simply spectacular. In the middle there is, of course,  a lounge area to swim and relax while you drink your favourite cocktail. As well as sun beds spread all around to always have a place to relax.

The Spa has a high-tech Aqua Vitale sea salt bath therapy, as well as, private rooms and marble bathtubs. And don’t get me started on the yoga room, fitness centre, aromatherapy steam room and Jacuzzi! Heaven! Don’t forget to ask for their delicious rosella water while you wait to be taken to your treatment.

The suits are a whole new level of luxury. They all have a living room, a stand alone bathtub and double shower. The décor in the suits and villas is very English with an understated opulence. The villas have either salt water lagoon access or direct access to the beach, where an umbrella and a few gorgeously designed sunbeds await you. The beach is the most stunning I have seen in all of Nusa Dua and if all of that wasn’t enough, you get your own private pool and Butler service 24 hours a day!

All in all, St Regis is in a different league of luxury hotels. The chefs they employ, the furniture they use, the drinks they serve, the facilities, the grounds, the service is all phenomenal. Yet what stands out is the impeccable taste that has been used to combine it all. It’s definitely worth staying, or at least experiencing their Sunday Brunch which is also open to non-guests.

 

 

THE ST. REGIS BALI RESORT

www.stregisbali.com

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KOMANEKA BISMA

KOMANEKA BISMA

HOTELS & RESORTS

KOMANEKA BISMA

Komaneka Bisma is right in the centre of Ubud, but when you are inside, with those views of the jungle and the river, it feels like you are miles away from everything. Although Komaneka is a luxury resort in Ubud, it is also a family business. And you can feel it. Every person that works there is kind, makes an effort to know your name and greet you at every opportunity. They make you feel so comfortable that you even start to feel like you have a second home.

Komaneka begun as an art gallery in Ubud and then developed into an artist residency. It later become a resort. To this day Komaneka Monkey Forest offers artist residences to local artists. Their love for contemporary art is clearly felt and seen in Bisma. The incredible wooden sculpture in the lobby, the beautiful big wooden table with round ball legs in the foyer, the majestic wire scaling huge men in the dinning room. All the art is chosen from local artist and curated by the owner. Every room has beautiful paintings and sculptures. Art is everywhere and all of exquisit taste.

Komaneka at Bisma has two swimming pools. The main large rectangular one has beautiful decking by the side. A semi circular one at a lower level provides more privacy and is located next to the spa. The spa is divine with a private hut for your own personal treatment, with its own huge spa bath and even a small waterfall to keep your zen. There is also a very well stocked library above the main restaurant to acquaintance yourself with modern art or do some work if needed.

However, it's the rooms in Komaneka that take this resort to a whole new level. There is attention to detail in everything they provide, such as the beautiful antique-looking bathtubs. Even the beautiful robes, gorgeous nightgowns, slippers and the hats for the sun. All are perfect. The rooms are absolutely impeccable and all have divine views of either the rice fields or the jungle.

We had the privilege of staying in the family duplex villa at Komaneka Bisma. It definitly exceeded our expectations. With two floors, one master bedroom upstairs with a small living area, a beautiful bathroom and bathtub. Downstairs there is another king bed with yet another living area that overlooks the surprisingly long swimming pool and jungle view. The villa is jaw dropping. Not opulent, but luxurious, comfortable, refined. Absolutely stunning.

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Komaneka is definitely an experience. Ideal for a weekend escape with a partner. Although the staff were gorgeous with my little 'uns, next time I will make the trip with my spouse instead, so I can fully relax and make the most out of this blissful resort.

 

 

KOMANEKA BISMA

 

http://bisma.komaneka.com