Being young and free, the sound of Bali never fails to thrill me as it is the best known destination to have a well-round up trip where travellers can take pleasure in doing almost anything, be it sunbathing on countless beaches, immersing in Balinese history and culture, appreciating the community’s art scene, shopping at inexpensive local bazaars, or even disappearing into the lively Kuta’s night life.
Travellers who come to Bali normally visit the provincial capital, Denpasar; the crowd magnet, Kuta; the old colonial capital, Singaraja; and finally Ubud. the cultural centre of Bali, which was where we decided to explore in this particular trip. Ubud has lesser crowd compared to other cities in Bali. Ubud offers serenity. It is where you find peace. It is also the place where travellers are safe from the trauma of having to see disturbing bevy of bikini-cladded ladies who have already past their prime.
Ubud’s charm is remarkably palpable. Over the years, more and more tourists visit Ubud and prefer to remain longer within the area, thus driving the demand for more lodgings. However, though the number of visitors has increased, the laidback and bucolic communal atmosphere still pervades. “Even though Ubud is now more commercialised, it still retains its serene atmosphere and suitable for silent retreat,” said the President of RHR Hospitality, Puan Nonni Mahmood.
When being in Ubud, it is recommended that travellers stay at The Grand Sunti, a homely and airy resort located in a corner of a quiet little art street, owned by a local but managed by RHR Hospitality Malaysia.
Do not be fooled by the resort’s rather small entrance – once guests pass the lobby area, the inner part of the resort is actually spacious.
Though the decor looks contemporary, we realised that The Grand Sunti stays true to their roots since we immediately smelled the lingering scent of frangipani throughout the resort, easing away our tiredness.
The Balinese consider the frangipani as sacred and used it extensively for religious rituals and celebrations. We also heard the soothing sounds of traditional music playing at its open air restaurant, putting us further at ease.
But what fascinates us the most is that The Grand Sunti is imbued with subtle Balinese concept, which preserves the traditional elements without going overboard. Interestingly, the hotel is aesthetically landscaped by the owner himself, Mr. Kadek Serada, who is also a talented painting artist. Guests could see that every corner of the property receives his personal touches.
Mr. Kadek informed us that The Grand Sunti humbly began in 1997 with only eight rooms. During that time, it was known simply as Puri Dewata. However, due to increasing demand, he felt the need to expand his property without compromising the original Balinese aspect. Today, The Grand Sunti receives many new and repeat guests mainly from the European countries.
We sat down with Mr. Huzni Muit, the President Director of RHR Hospitality Bali Office, over a pleasant dinner.
He shared with us on why he thinks travellers should visit Ubud, and of course The Grand Sunti. “Ubud has a strong community where the people have high respect and tolerance towards each other, thus, constantly making travellers feel genuinely welcomed,” said Huzni. He further added that the resort choose to hire highly experienced employees because they need staff members who know how to treat guests well. So that explains the warm and friendly greetings received by the guests each time they bumped into The Grand Sunti’s employees.
The following is a recommended itinerary of what guests could do when staying in The Grand Sunti:
Take a stroll to the local market
As Ubud is also famous for its local art scene, we suggest that travellers walk around the shops located just outside the hotel’s entrance and feast their eyes on the creative and colourful art paintings displayed openly along the street.
Other than that, travellers could also buy souvenirs at the nearby shops since we were told that the prices are slightly cheaper here compared to elsewhere.
If the shops are not enough, travellers could simply head to the main Ubud market, located around 10 to 15 minutes’ walk from the resort. As mentioned by Puan Rohanna Ramli, the Managing Director of RHR Hospitality, Ubud, as well as the rest of Bali, “is filled with interesting places to shop and bargain. Being an avid shopper like myself, I find that Bali offers satisfying experience for those who love to shop while being on holiday.”
Play with monkeys at Monkey Forest Sanctuary
Unlike the usual sanctuary that we had been to before, the Ubud Monkey Forest Sanctuary is actually owned and run by the villagers of Padangtegal. The sanctuary is considered as a sacred place since it also houses three holy temples named the Pura Dalem Agung Temple, the Holy Bathing Temple and the Pura Prajapati. Entrance fee to this sanctuary is Rp30,000 per adult and Rp20,000 per child.
1. Have lunch at Warung Janggar Ulam
We love this restaurant for its cosy ambience and impressive view of the surrounding paddy field. But what we will never forget is the restaurant’s delicious Balinese cuisine that come in both traditional and innovative forms. Warung I Janggar Ulam’s signature dish that must be tried is gurame santan kemangi (steamed freshwater fish with coconut milk and basil), which we devoured till nothing left.
2. Learn about Balinese Art at Agung Rai Museum of Art
Built on five hectares of land, the museum intends to enhance and enrich visitors’ experience of Bali through a deeper understanding of its art and culture. They occasionally organise workshops including lectures on Balinese painting, Balinese gamelan music, Balinese dance, Balinese cooking and Hinduism in Bali, including Balinese Astrology and Numerology.
3. Watch Kecak Dance at Pura Dalem Taman Keja
Generally, you can watch kecak dance at every corner of Bali as it is widely practiced by the locals. However, the one we saw at Pura Dalem Taman Keja was by far the most harmonious we’ve ever seen. Kecak dance is a depiction of the Ramayana story accompanied by music made by human voice only.
The Grand Sunti offers a shuttle bus for the convenience of its guest to explore Ubud’s offerings. Guests are encouraged to check with the resort’s reception concerning the shuttle bus’ schedule and make prior arrangement.
In short, staying at The Grand Sunti allows its guests to efficiently savour what Ubud has to offer without having to walk far. We find that our stay was remarkably pleasant due to the resort’s contemporary and cosy rooms, good service from the highly attentive staff and the availability of halal dining option. Travellers definitely should consider staying at The Grand Sunti when they are in Ubud.