Opened in September, Mandapa is Ritz Carlton’s third reserve property, set in Ubud, Bali, on the banks of the Ayung river.
So, let’s just start by saying that we travel a lot. And this may just be – to date – our favourite property ever (potentially tied with Conrad Maldives Rangali Island). One of the reasons we sometimes shy away from big brand hotels is because of the lack of individuality in the properties, and their failure to integrate the local culture. Well, NOT HERE. The property was modeled on a working Balinese village complete with rice paddies and a temple, and while we were there, there was a celebration, and locals spent the day performing ceremonies. UJ felt a little ‘Eat Pray Love’, and a lot grateful to be there. The overall vibe here is serene – you come here to truly get away. Each guest is given a 24/7 butler who’s on hand for anything you need, but apart from when you want to engage, they’re almost invisible. That’s the Ritz way: stealth service so you’re always impeccably looked after, but never feel suffocated.
The grounds here are huge. You need a golf cart to get around (which gives it a slight Disney World feel, in a good way), and the suites and villas are, thankfully, very spread out.
UJ stayed in a river front villa, which consisted of two small ‘houses’; one with the bedroom, walk-in closet, washroom with freestanding tub and outdoor shower; the other with a living room with river views. There was also a private pool, which made it hard to ever leave. Is there anything more luxurious than laps under the moonlight? Not to us. The décor – with interiors designed by Jeffrey Wilkes – was understated, high quality luxury. If we’ve ever believed in Feng Shui, it was here: the villa layout felt just right.
Wellbeing is at the core of this hotel with full moon, half-moon and new moon activities in the spa, all designed to reboot the soul. The treatment list is long and varied and the therapists, as expected, are first rate. Do book a treatment, and make it a long one. An afternoon here gets your trip off on the right foot. There’s also a large list of activities to choose from including hiking up Mount Batur to watch the sunrise, white water rafting and yoga, to name a few.
For breakfast it’s either in your room or at the Sawah Terrace, where there are several healthy options on the menu, with ingredients straight from their organic garden. For drinks, it’s the pool bar, and for dinner, UJ dined at Kuba, where you can either sit in one of nine bamboo cocoons, or in the main restaurant. Soothing sounds of the river accompany either the à la carte menu or six or eight course degustation menus. Menu highlights include cod ravioli with eggplant and smoked onion cream and Wagyu beef ribeye, braised tongue, celeriac and truffle jus. Everything was good, and portions – for a tasting menu – were almost doable!
The rooms. Yes, you need to leave and see Ubud (of course), but it’s nice to luxuriate for a day or two. The in-room products – like black rice and lemongrass soap and bergamot orange peppermint aloe vera gel – are all worth trying too. The staff here are outstanding and your wish is truly their command. UJ went on a guided bike ride and loved going through the rice fields; it was a great way to see town and around. The serenity here! There are very few hotels where you truly feel like you are on your own private escape, which is exactly how you feel here. A picnic by the river, complete with umbrella and cushions, three courses and drinks, was also a nice touch. This is one romantic abode.
Do go into Ubud for a look around. If you fancy dinner here, make sure to make a reservation in advance: the two highly recommended restaurants, Mozaic and Locavore, are both hot tickets. And now that we’ve had such a brilliant time at Mandapa, we can’t wait to try the other two Ritz Reserve properties, Phulay Bay in Thailand and Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico.
Rates for a Reserve Suite at Mandapa start from £350 (inclusive of all taxes) per night for 2 people including breakfast and 24-hour dedicated butler service. http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/indonesia/mandapa