By Lee Cobaj
This story originally appeared in the January/February 2019 issue of Elite Traveler.
As difficult as it may be to drag yourself away from the decadent tented suites at the newly opened, Bill Bensley-designed Capella Ubud resort, it would be shameful to miss out on the many wonders Bali has to offer. To resolve this dilemma, it offers a range of unique ways to see and connect with the island — while ensuring thorough pampering along the way, of course. Experiences include a private helicopter tour o the golden beaches on the island of Nusa Penida, culinary tours of local farmhouses and cocoa plantations, and mountain biking down the active volcano Mount Batur.
On the cultural side of things, A Journey for the Soul takes you to a trifecta of ancient Hindu temples. Accompanied by a Balinese healer, the adventure begins on the edges of Batur with a short blessing ceremony at the colorful Pura Ulun Danu Batur temple, which overlooks the caldera and the navy blue waters of Lake Batur. From here, the newly anointed are driven through lush countryside to 1,000-year-old Pura Pucak Penulisan. Perched at 5,725 ft above sea level, it is Bali’s highest temple, and the scenic views over a patchwork of rice terraces all the way to the Singaraja coast are sublime.
After admiring Pucak Penulisan’s spectacular panorama, pretty courtyards and fascinating artifacts, the journey continues with a downhill drive through bountiful fields of oranges, coconuts and tropical flowers to Pura Dalem Balingkang. Set in a broad valley and little known to visitors, this serene temple is dedicated to the tale of a local king who fell in love with and married a Chinese bride, and it mixes the architecture of both cultures to beautiful effect — think curling stone dragons, red lanterns and thick alang-alang thatched roofs.
Afterwards, a checkered blanket is laid out in a private spot in the gardens for a leisurely picnic. As with the rest of the resort’s restaurants, the menu is overseen by Matt McCool, protégé of Tom Aikens and Gordon Ramsay, and features wooden tiffins filled with the likes of fig and goat cheese salad, freshly baked breads, Italian hams, lemon cake and chocolate brownies.