M. Group expands its portfolio in Bali with a new hotel and a five-bedroom villa
My travel companions and I have just gotten off a choppy 30-minute boat ride from Bali’s Serangan Harbour when a uniformed gentleman greets us amicably and invites us to hop on his buggy. It’s going to be another bumpy 15-minute journey to our villa – this time on pothole-filled roads, but it’s also the final lap to our destination. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long for us to snap out of the aftermath of the boat ride ordeal either. After all, we’re in Bali and the Island of the Gods heals everything.
We are in Nusa Lembongan, the southeastern part of Bali, and we’re headed for Mandala. The Bay. The property is Singapore-based M. Group’s fourth and newest addition to Mandala Places’ collection of design-centric residences in Bali. But just the day before, we spent the night at the brand’s first and new hotel, The Clubhouse at Ulu, in Uluwatu. The seven-suite property easily hits the spot for those with a penchant for 1950’s California surf chic – all seven suites are named after legendary surf breaks that surround the property, such as Impossibles, Dreamland and Lakeys.
Want to soak up some sun, but not interested in travelling far? Ulu Cliffhouse, the brand’s very own beach club that has been running for around two years, is perched just alongside the hotel. Or get a private bartender to shake you up a glass of martini in the comfort of your own room.
Mandala. The Bay, however, has a far different tale to tell. A sense of familiarity washes over me within five minutes of the buggy ride to the villa as it brings back memories of my adventures exploring untouched Gili Trawangan some 10 years ago. The roads here are mostly dotted with local shops and houses, a far cry from the trendy cafes, beach clubs and bars in the touristy areas of Canggu, Kuta and Seminyak.
Mandala. The Bay sits in an alluring, unexplored side of Bali that overlooks vast, dramatic views of waves crashing off Devil’s Tear, billed to be the best vantage point on the island for viewing the sunset. I step in the striking red front door of the cliffside, five-bedroom villa and I am immediately drawn past the living area and open kitchen to the outdoor dining area that sits in front of an ocean-facing pool. The villa, which sprawls across 1,200sqm, comfortably sleeps 10.
Mandala. The Bay overlooks vast, dramatic views of waves crashing off Devil’s Tear, billed to be the best vantage point on the island for viewing the sunset
But where M. Group truly shines is in its ability to marry the indoors and outdoors seamlessly. While it’s hard to go wrong with a book in hand on the daybeds by the pool, there are plenty of other spaces within the residence that also make for cosy resting spots: from the stools by the kitchen and bar to the capacious TV lounge outside the twin room on the upper floor. These areas are suffused with modern-meets-mid-century chic, and are further punctuated with striking wall mural art and framed art pieces.
Four bedrooms with lush outdoor bathrooms sit on the ground floor: the master (which is housed in a Joglo structure carved from teak and boasts its own mini verandah) and three other rooms. There are options for lazy lunches or picnics at the villa’s lush garden and outdoor dining area. The food here is whipped up by an in-house chef and bartender who will be at your disposal throughout your stay.
On our last evening, we’re treated to a barbecue at the main dining area, filling our bellies with the catch of the day in addition to wholesome sides and several variations of the Balinese sambal, which leave us hankering for seconds.
But of course, if you start to feel a little lethargic with the pace of life in the villa, ask the property’s concierge team to sign you up for a snorkelling or diving trip, spa services, personal trainers or even private yoga classes around the island. Sandy Bay Beach Club is also nearby if you’re up for a party vibe. But if you’re an island bum like me, all is well at the villa’s hidden firepit that’s tucked away quietly at the cliff’s edge. That chilly evening, we huddled close around the fire in the company of distant waves smashing against rocks at Devil’s Tear across us – and experienced the newest definition of Balinese luxury.