Perched, celestially, between the azure Indian Ocean and emerald jungle of Bali’s southern Bukit Peninsula, Karma Kandara takes relaxation to a higher plane. Vast villas hidden among tropical gardens, a serene spa, gourmet restaurants and a sexy beach club invite you to perfect the art of laid-back lounging.
Indian Ocean-facing spa, with outdoor Jacuzzi, staffed by talented therapists
Spacious, multiple-bedroom villas with indoor and outdoor space for sprawling
Undiscovered rugged pleasures of the Bukit Peninsula, far from the clamour of Kuta
A 30-minute spa treatment each for two: a neck and shoulder massage, reflexology session or bespoke massage
In the know
Also need to know:
Smoking is allowed on balconies only, and guests are not allowed to bring in food or drink from outside.Look out around the resort for the fruits of Karma Kandara’s artist-in-residence programme, which nurtures the talents of painters, sculptors and musicians then try the healing hands at clifftop Karma Spa.
Eres and Odabash bikinis are the swimwear of choice at Karma Beach Bali. Add a good sunscreen to your kit as the strong sun’s natural glare is enhanced by the resort’s white-stone façades.
Strictly flip-flops and beachwear at Karma Beach Bali; take the glamour up a notch after dark at Veritas and di Mare – although summer-casual prints suit the mood better than dressy labels.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
How good is that moment at the start of a beach holiday when you spot the ocean for the first time? It doesn’t matter if it’s the Bahamas or Bognor – that initial glimpse of blue always makes me grin. So, as our golf buggy winds its way from reception through a pretty maze of walled limestone lanes, over little humpback bridges and past splashes of hibiscus and bougainvillea, I’m craning for a look at the Indian Ocean.
At a sunshine-yellow door we descend stone steps into our Luxury Pool Villa. I’m absorbing its vast proportions when Mr Smith emits a squeak of astonishment. I spin round – there, at last, is the sea. I squeak too, because this isn’t just the sea. It’s an epic, eye-popping, mind-drenching, soul-serenading expanse of big blue. It is the ocean and the sky and the gleaming infinity pool that flows to the cliff’s edge and seemingly beyond. It’s up and down and side to side and forever. It’s blue without frontiers.
This is Bali’s southernmost tip, at the end of a limestone peninsula that extends over the ocean like a ship’s prow, providing the all-embracing blue view. A vertiginous 150 metres below is Ungasan Beach, site of a sacred cave temple. This spot, uncommonly gorgeous even on an island that excels at gorgeous, was identified by a feng shui master as Bali’s most powerful location. Energy apparently flows inland from the ocean through a deep green ravine around which 46 villas, all with private pools, are dotted. A sceptic might say that whatever the energy, you simply couldn’t go wrong with a setting like this. Staring into that vista is like inhaling pure contentment.
The blueness winks and flickers through bamboo trees as I traverse a stone bridge to Karma Spa. (Mr Smith has elected to remain in the villa to keep an eye on the three bedrooms, outdoor shower, pool deck and kitchen with everything from a microwave to Häagen-Dazs ice-cream in the freezer.) For the next half-hour, I’m to relax in the spa’s infrared detox sauna. It is tucked away in a glass-fronted cabin on a rocky outcrop, clinging to the brink as if it’s about to abseil down. There’s an oval pool, also cliffhanging, where you’re simultaneously enveloped in warm Himalayan saltwater and suspended, god-like, high above the surf. This is life on the edge as it should be. Inside the cabinet, the heat has my circulation singing while I gaze at the horizon. Words for blue float through my mind: cobalt, sapphire, azure...
This ever-so-slightly tripped-out state is very Karma Kandara. The spa specialises in holistic hedonism. ‘Pleasure is part of the cure’ is the mantra on a menu offering a his ‘n’ hers Moët and Manicures treatment alongside more deeply soulful therapies from world-renowned healers. The Ultimate Oxygen Infusion facial even has plumping properties recommended by Madonna. The Karma group’s owner John Spence, an ex music-biz Brit who was once Boy George’s agent, encourages a ‘five-star hippie’ vibe. He loves a party and they happen frequently at Karma Beach Bali, at the bottom of the cliff, where you can be a lounge lizard by day, social butterfly by night. A Karma Chameleon, if you like. (Spence enjoys this gag, but swears he didn’t name his resorts after the song.)
With the white, blue and focus on fun, I reckon this place channels Mykonos. ‘It’s Hellenic!’ I declare, re-entering the villa with glowing skin and clear eyes. ‘I don’t agree,’ says Mr Smith. ‘I think it’s lovely.’ Bless him, he’s still tripping on blue. We’d better eat.
Di Mare, Karma’s restaurant, is a sun-drenched – or moonlight-bathed – white semicircle on the cliff edge, with fabric ceiling and open front. The Mod Med/Asian menu takes full advantage of the catch from down below. Between courses, I’m lured from our table by Veritas, di Mare’s climate-controlled wine treasure trove. Pop a plastic card into a slot and you can access samples of eight different tipples by the glass, kept fresh by Bali’s first Enomatic dispenser. A wine ATM? Now, that’s very good Karma.
Mr Smith is missing the next morning when I wake in our floaty-curtained four-poster. I locate him in Karma’s main infinity pool, outlined against water and sky like a stuntman on a blue screen. ‘I’ve been riding on the inclinator,’ he says. ‘It’s great! I’ll show you.’ In the little white box we drop slowly down the green-clad cliff. At this time of day, Karma Beach Bali is a picture of snoozy decadence. A four-poster day-bed beckons, and then the tide turns making it the perfect time for a snorkel on the reef. Later, hours vanish as we watch the resident monkeys swinging through the trees.
On our last night, we stroll hand in hand to the spa, where two massage tables await in that cliffhanging courtyard. With waves for music and the moon for light, we’re rubbed into heaven by two amazing Balinese therapists. Afterwards we bask, just the two of us, suspended in the night air with the world at our feet and the stars overhead – I can see why this is a major scene for proposals. We top off the evening with a movie down at the beach, snacking on popcorn in padang leaves and grilled seafood (the Odeon, this ain’t).
Following a few final rides on his beloved inclinator, Mr Smith joins me in our pool. We are wallowing contentedly when we spot a kingfisher – a bright blue bird on an endless sky-blue canvas. By now we’re not even sure if it’s real, or yet another psychedelic side effect of Karma Kandara’s blue-induced bliss. Feeling blue never felt so good...
Jalan Villa Kandara, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan, Bali, 80362
13.6 mi / 22.0 km from city centre
- Valet parking
- Exercise gym
- Internet services
- On-Site parking
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
Main restaurant di Mare is a high-ceilinged, airy, whitewashed space above the pool. Executive chef Iain Murray serves a Mediterranean menu featuring dishes such as red wine spice pouched fillet of Wagyu beef and garlic jimbaran prawns. It’s all grilled seafood and pizzas from the brick oven at the laid-back, veranda restaurant at waterside Karma Beach Bali down on the sand. Veritas has an addictive tapas menu.
Book ahead at di Mare for a perimeter table for two with eagle-eye views of the peninsula. The communal central table is a sociable option; we’re also drawn to the back wall’s elevated padded banquettes for their broader ocean views.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am, lunch from 11am to 4.30pm, and dinner from 5pm to 10.30pm. Last orders is at 10.30pm at di Mare, Veritas and Temple Lounge & Bar; Karma Beach Bali pours drinks until 11pm.
Available 24 hours. Enjoy salads, Balinese specialties such as ayum bumbu (coconut-milk braised chicken with Balinese yellow bumbu and stir-fried water spinach) or classic burgers and pastas.
Fruity concoctions, wine and ice-cold beers can be found at Karma Beach Bali, but serious oenophiles will enjoy Veritas, the resort’s glass-clad wine bar overlooking the coastline. Sink into plush, dark-velvet club chairs, and sample chardonnays and pinots from Bali's first Enomatic wine dispenser
(just help yourself to a glass with your own access card), or take advice from the sommelier. Sun-kissed Temple Lounge & Bar, on the roof above di Mare, is another dreamy drinking hole with Moroccan styling and great ocean views. Graze on Middle Eastern small plates, then kick back with a fruit-flavoured shisha pipe.