May newsletter


With its pristine beaches, turquoise bays, ancient temples, dramatic volcanoes, traditional villages, fascinating marine life and luxury villa accommodation, Bali’s south-east coast promises equal measures of natural beauty, adventure, tranquillity and relaxation to the discerning traveller.

An easy 20-minute drive up the south coast from Ngurah Rai International Airport brings you to Sanur, which became home to many European artists and creative types during the early decades of the 20th century. Unlike its flashier cousins, Seminyak and Kuta, Sanur still retains a sleepy seaside vibe with plenty of local charm. Tall leafy trees fringe the roads and the main drag, just back from the beach, is lined with atmospheric cafes and restaurants. The long and shady promenade that spans Sanur’s golden sands is also flanked by cafes, beach bars and market stalls, making it ideal for leisurely afternoon strolls or morning jogs. Island-hoppers take note that Sanur is the departure point for boats to Nusa Lembongan, a charming island that makes a great day trip (30-minutes/12-miles on a ‘fast boat’), with its picturesque beaches, good snorkelling and surf breaks.

While private luxury villas in Sanur and further up the south-east coast may not be as plentiful as along Bali’s more populated south-west coast, what they lack in number they make up for in spaciousness and charm. At the southern end of Sanur is the majestic six-bedroomed villa, Taman Sorga, nestled in lush tropical gardens and just a gentle walk from the beach, while the sublime Batujimbar, designed by the renowned Asian architect, Geoffrey Bawa – setting for Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall’s wedding and holiday haven of countless other glitterati – has direct access to the beach in central Sanur. On the northern side of town, the quiet beach of Padang Galak is home to another gorgeous beachfront property, Sanur Residence, whose three individual villas offer a total of nine bedrooms.

Heading further up the coast, the rural backdrop is one of tobacco plantations, banana groves and gently terraced rice fields. The Palm-fringed black-sand beaches of Ketewel (around 13 kilometres from Sanur), are home to a string of serene fishing villages where traditional life continues, and adventurous surfers come in search of waves without the crowds. Among them is Pabean where, in recent years, a number of exclusive villas have sprung up. Pabean was historically a small port used by oriental traders and at low tide you can still see remnants of the old harbour. Here, the three Majapahit Beach Villas, Villa Bayu Gita, Villa Pushpapuri, and Villa Samadhana offer supreme luxury with stunning views out to the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida. The famed art and craft villages of Mas, Sukawati, Batubulan and Batuan, and cultural Ubud, with its palaces, temples and holistic vibe are all just a short drive up into the hills.

A few kilometres beyond Pabean is the quiet village of Saba, home to the Pura Segara sea temple, and famed for traditional gamelan music and some of the finest legong dancers in Bali. Staff at the gloriously serene beachfront retreat, Villa Ylang Ylang are happy to arrange a private performance for guests. Adults and children alike will also enjoy a day at the nearby, multi-award winning Bali Marine Safari Park. Activities include fun safari tours, elephant treks and the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the animals.

The coastal village of Kusamba is home to the fascinating salt pans of Bali. Here, in a tradition that dates back a thousand years, farmers harvest natural sea salt evaporated by the sun and wind. Also hugging the coast is Pura Goa Lawah, an important sea temple designed to appease the wild and unruly ocean gods. Thousands of bats inhabit this temple, which is formed from a natural cave. It is also the scene of frequent and colourful Hindu ceremonies.

Ten kilometres to the east is the harbour at Padang Bai; gateway to Lombok and home to a number of dive operators. The town is flanked by two gorgeous – albeit hidden – beaches: Blue Lagoon has good offshore snorkelling, while Bias Tugel is a beautiful white-sand beach reached by a forested hill path.

Next up is the quirky seaside town of Candidasa. Imbued with a laid back charm this sleepy town makes a good coastal escape and a comfortable base for exploring the region. Candidasa’s main strip has a good range of restaurants, while nearby attractions include the ancient stone-age village of Tengenan, the ornate water temples of Tirta Gangga and the glorious white-sand beach of Pasir Putih. Perched on a headland with stunning coastal views, Villa Asada is five kilometres to the west of the town. Villa staff will be happy to book a trekking guide for those wishing to enjoy spectacular views from the top of Bali’s highest volcano, Mount Agung. [wpanchor id=”spillingbean”]

While a myth persists that the east coast is a ‘long way from anywhere’, the reality is that even Candidasa is only just over an hour away from the airport thanks to improvements in the road system to the east of Denpasar. If smart boutiques and a buzzing nightlife are your thing, perhaps it’s not for you, but for space, serenity and Bali’s best beaches by far, head east!


Elite Havens villa chefs share their special recipes


Elite Havens villas are synonymous with superb dining, prepared by skilled chefs – many of whom have trained in internationally renowned restaurants. Villa menus include an extensive range of Western and Asian suggestions, and our chefs will also do their best to cater to guests’ special requests. But of course every chef has his or her own ‘special’ dishes – the ones that guests ask for again and again. With much coaxing and cajoling, we’ve prised some of these secret recipes from our chefs to share with you here. [wpanchor id=”recipe”]

In this issue, the outstanding private chef at Seseh Beach Villas reveals how to make two dishes that had recent guests – who originally intended to travel around Bali seeking new gastronomic experiences – staying ‘at home’ most nights simply because the food was so good.

Tuna sambal matah
(Balinese tuna salad with raw sambal dressing)

Serve 2

Grill the tuna for 4-5minutes (or less depending how rare you like it) and slice.

Mix all the other ingredients by hand in a medium size bowl, add salt & pepper to taste, serve and top with the sliced tuna.


Be Genjol
(Stewed pork belly with Balinese spices)

Serves 2

Cut the pork belly into 3cm strips, wash and set aside, then finely chop all other ingredients.

Heat some cooking oil in a pan or medium stockpot, and sauté all the spices until fragrant, then add the pork belly and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes. Top with water and reduce for about 2 hours or until tender.

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Serve with steamed rice.




Situated on Sri Lanka’s south coast, historic Galle is a destination in itself. Famed for its seventeenth century fort, its prominent natural harbour and its serene sea-sloshed shores, Galle boasts a surprisingly sophisticated restaurant and shopping scene to match.

Once the island’s most important port, Galle’s natural harbour attracted seafaring traders long before the arrival of the European colonialists who turned it into a flourishing market town and built its fort. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fort’s ramparts are filled with an evocative collection of intimate boutiques, tiny cafes and period properties.

Take a guided walking tour to explore the fort’s narrow cobbled streets – many of which still bear their English and Dutch names – ending atop the ramparts at sunset, where local life congregates before stunning sea views. Afterwards, sip cocktails on the street-side veranda of the Galle Fort Hotel while deciding where to dine: should it be home cooked rice and curry at Mama’s Rooftop Café? Homemade iced tea and a mouthwatering Rocket Burger? Exquisite European fare at Amangalla? Or, perhaps a feisty fish dish at the nearby Sun House?

In stark contrast to the fort, Galle’s new town is a hive of activity where noisy traffic-filled roads overflow with frantic shoppers, and hawkers of luscious fruit, fish and vegetables loudly promote their wares. A wander around the town’s markets is a fabulous way to gawp at the dazzling array of produce on display. Afterwards, stroll along the promenade for excellent harbour and sea views.

Shopping will also fill your time here; boutiques in the fort sell handicrafts, delicate lacework, glittering gems and other evocative souvenirs. Our favourites are Barefoot for handloomed cushions and linens, KK for home decor and The Old Railway, in Havelock Place, for edgy fashion and stylish souvenirs. Make sure you add in a revival coffee stop at Pedlar’s Inn Café just to try their delicious chocolate brownies!

Situated between the old and new towns, the international cricket ground boasts one of the most picturesque sporting backdrops in the world. Test matches are occasionally hosted here; the atmosphere is vibrant and tickets are inexpensive.

Head inland from Galle to arrive at an unspoilt oasis of calm where iridescent paddy fields are bordered by palm-patched jungle hugging hillsides and village homes. Tea estates such as the white-tea producing Handunugoda Factory add to the region’s verdant tapestry whose back lanes are best explored by bicycle and its rivers by kayak, both with Idle Tours.

Galle’s idyllic beaches stretch out to the east of town between Unawatuna and Koggala. Dalawella Beach is a particular favourite for its year-round swimming in a lagoon-like sea that laps gently onto a picturesque sunbed-scattered shore. Stop off at the popular Wijeya restaurant here; it’s the perfect spot for savouring seaside dining in relaxed, casual surroundings.

When to visit
Apart from the May/June and October/November monsoons, Galle is a great place to visit year-round. December to April is the driest time of the year and when the seas are at their most serene. Christmas and New Year get very busy so it’s best to book your villa as early as you can.

Where to stay
For a slice of living history wrapped in 21st century comfort, book a stay at No. 39 Galle Fort or the gloriously decadent Ambassador’s House. Both properties are in the heart of heritage Galle, offering a fascinating glimpse into life within this ancient fortress, and easy access to the glorious beaches of Sri Lanka’s south coast.


Simona Oasis & Spa


Newly renovated, the beautiful 5-bedroom Simona Oasis & Spa, located in Canggu, offers guests the perfect luxury holiday villa with abundant living and relaxing areas, 13 meter pool, large gardens in addition to its very own private spa with the villa’s in-house massage and beauty therapists.

Fully staffed, the villa comes with an experienced villa manager, private chef, butlers, housekeepers, gardeners and 24 hour security. For more information, please visit the villa’s website

Arnalaya Beach House


Arnalaya, which means rhythm of the waves, is a classic modern 5 bedroom beach house located on Jalan Nelayan in Canggu, with fabulous sea views, and is a just a casual walk to the surf scene of Echo Beach. The villa comes with a superb chef, private tennis court (with staff that can play or be ball boys), spa, gym and great surf breaks in front of the villa.

For more information, please visit the villa’s website


Sleek, stylish seafront bliss. Can be yours now.


The Lepang Estate
5 Bedrooms, Beachfront, East Coast, Bali

The Lepang Estate is a spectacular property, impeccably finished and offering maximum privacy. The estate boasts 270 metres of beachfront, located on over two hectares of land on Bali’s beautiful east coast, with panoramic views to the islands of Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida.

Designed with impeccable taste, this bright and airy residence has generous living and dining spaces; a 25-metre beachfront pool with relaxation bale; 5 ensuite bedrooms (with space to create more if desired); a restaurant-grade kitchen; expansive gardens and ample staff quarters.

This is an unparalleled residence in Bali, providing a unique investment opportunity, and only an hour’s drive from the international airport.

For more information visit


Emirates and Qatar launch daily flights to Bali

From 3 June 2015, Emirates will operate a daily flight direct to Bali from Dubai, avoiding the current requirement to transit via Jakarta.


“The new service will greatly increase convenience, choice, and consistency of travel experience for consumers who currently have to travel via multiple stops, or via other points in Indonesia to reach Bali,” said Thierry Antinori, Emirates’ Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer.

Qatar Airways is also launching a direct daily flight to Bali from Doha starting 21 July.


Republik 1945


Indonesian Independence was officially proclaimed on August 17, 1945, representing a turning point in the country’s history and a statement of national character and pride that the owners of Republik 1945 hold dear.

The menu here is authentic Indonesian cuisine, made with traditional recipes, ingredients and cooking methods. They take great pride in creating signature dishes from various parts of the region, emphasising their true flavour and composition. Expect a robust and textural blend of rich, spice-driven recipes, freshly made in their purest form, in a modern, relaxed atmosphere with international service and design.

Try their Udang Daun Jeruk – sweet fern tips, grilled tiger prawns and spinach; Sapi Rendang – a stew of slow cooked beef tenderloin with a distinctive rich chili and coconut emulsion, or Pangsit Bebek – crispy pastry pockets filled with minced duck, vegetables and local spices. To accompany your menu selections the restaurant offers an exquisite list of cocktails and beverages. [wpanchor id=”keyhole”]

Republik 1945, Jalan Raya Kerobokan 86A, Bali.


Conversations with our villa owners


Elite Havens’ villas come in many shapes and sizes. That they are all luxurious homes in some of Asia’s most prized locations, brimming with first-class facilities and tended to by a caring team of staff, goes without saying, but beyond that, each and every villa has its own distinctive character. Many are the fulfilment of their owners’ dreams and have interesting stories attached to their creation. ‘Through the Keyhole’ takes a peek behind the scenes and chats with some of our villa owners to find out how the dream became a reality.

In this issue the owners of Villa Iman tell us how they came to design and build their brand new luxury villa in Canggu.

So, Why Bali?

We came to Bali more than 10 years ago and instantly fell in love with the island’s breathtaking beauty, cultural complexity, but most of all the warmth and hospitality of the Balinese. When you think of building your dream home you want a dream location and Bali perfectly fits that mould for us.

What made you decide to hire architect Gary Fell and go for a custom designed villa instead of just buying something already built?

The pre-existing villas we saw in Bali did not match our needs in terms of location, style, or size so we had no choice but go down the far harder route of buying the land and then building the villa ourselves. It has not been easy, but given what we’ve accomplished we certainly don’t regret it.

In 2008 we stayed at Villa Niloufar, one of Gary Fell’s first villa projects in Bali. We loved the design and hunted Gary down to see if he would design our villa for us, which he thankfully agreed to. Once we met Gary we clicked instantly, and being a fellow Brit made it that much easier. We coupled Gary with our close friend, Rima Bokhari, who herself is an amazing architect, to create a powerful tag team.

How did the environment, neighbourhood and culture affect your design brief?

Our goal was to leverage on the natural beauty of our Canggu surroundings, so, for example, we orientated the covered area to the right-hand-side of the land to allow for stunning sunset views over the paddy fields.

We believe in honouring tradition, and invited the local Mangku (priest) to advise us where to position our house temples. We then held an all-day blessing ceremony, for which the local community prepared incredible hand-made offerings.

What is unique about Villa Iman’s location?

We are uniquely located in a part of Canggu that allows guests to have the flexibility to align their holiday to their own needs. If they want to relax in the villa’s swimming pool and TV room all day they can. If they want to go surfing and then enjoy an evening barbecue they can head down to Echo Beach. If they want to take the kids for a day out at the Canggu Club, it’s only 10 minutes down the road. If they want to shop till they drop, Seminyak’s boutiques are close at hand, and if they are avid golfers, the amazing Nirwana Golf Club is just 20 minutes away.

What risks and challenges were involved in building on this location?

Our neighbours are the local rice farmers so our primary concern during the entire building process was to ensure that we did not affect their livelihood. We employed someone to liaise with the local community and alleviate any concerns, and held our contractor to strict guidelines to ensure that the local water supply was not affected by any chemicals or waste. We have purposefully invested in the best water filtration tanks to ensure we are seen as a responsible neighbour.

What is the best piece of advice you would give a person building their first villa in Bali?

Don’t! But seriously, make sure you do thorough due diligence when selecting your contractor, and re-write the penalty clauses for late completion or sub-standard work. We initially selected an MEP (mechanical, engineering and plumbing) contractor who was just not experienced enough to handle the complexity of our design. It was a painful and expensive lesson.

Tell us a little bit about the interiors and art Villa Iman?

The villa’s interiors are designed using luxurious materials, including beautiful teak wood, to create a warm soothing space. The art is all local Balinese as we pay homage to their incredible handicraft skills and blend this with our modern and minimalist villa design.

Do you have some favourite interior and art sources you would like to share?

Clare Mulholland has helped us find and select the majority of our locally produced interiors. A real favourite amongst the many local sources we’ve found is De-Lighting, which has a very creative team and excellent imported light fittings.

What authentic local experiences will guests have access to?

Guests don’t need to go far for incredible local experiences. Our chef offers Indonesian and Balinese cooking classes for adults and kids in the villa kitchen. We can easily organise a relaxing massage, and we have an amazing tarot card reader available for private sessions. If you still feel an urge to venture out, we can arrange a car to take you sightseeing – perhaps to the stunning Tanah Lot sea temple, which is only 15 minutes away.

How would you describe Villa Iman’s staffing, cuisine and atmosphere?

The atmosphere at The Iman is all about comfort and relaxation – whether lounging by the pool, watching a movie on the 60-inch TV screen, or having a massage in the sunken lounge.

Our staff do a great job. They have been professionally trained by Elite Havens to cater to the needs of every guest and we have set up an incentive scheme where they get additional benefits based on positive guest feedback, so it is all about the guest experience.

We handpicked our chef based on his incredible culinary skills. He used to work on a Royal Caribbean cruise liner so he is able to cook a wide variety of international cuisine. He’s a barbecue master and we have given him a professional pizza oven to play with too. One of our staff used to be professional bartender and can make any drink on request. So there’s really no need go anywhere else to eat or drink at all!

Visit us at to find out more.