(Full disclosure: We were invited as guests of Sungai Gold for our two night stay)
We stepped off the plane at Denpasar Airport and as we headed down the stairs, it hit us - humidity. For Jesse and I it was actually a nice change - A Southern boy who has spent his life living in a high-humidity climate and the cold bug Australian who loves nothing more than summery weather.
Walking down the stairs and hopping onto a cool air-conditioned bus, we were whizzed over the tarmac and taken to the arrivals area where we bypassed immigration (thanks to Garuda's Immigration on Board Service) and headed straight through the customs line - out of the airport in a record breaking 24 minutes.
Heading out of the arrivals hall, I immediately spotted Little Made from Villa Sungai who would take us to the first stop of our Bali Adventure, Sungai Gold. The first hint of the service to come came when we first sat in Villa Sungai's comfortable air conditioned car - inside, between the seats, were ice cold water bottles, cool towels and some freshly roasted peanuts to snack on in case we were hungry.
The drive from the airport to Sungai Gold took around 30 minutes and we got to see just how diverse Bali can be - from busy shopping districts to rural areas and insane traffic. I asked Made what the road rules were in Bali and he told us that in Bali, there's just one road rule - Don't hit anyone.
When we pulled up at Sungai Gold, we were greeted by the staff who took our bags down to our room and Made showed us around our private villa where we'd stay the next two nights. The Sungai Gold staff also made us some gluten free cheese biscuits to nibble on with our cool drinks - a Bintang for Jesse (which he quickly fell in love with) and an ice cold mineral water for me.
The bedroom at Sungai Gold was absolutely serene - and I have to say, laying down in that plush king sized bed, surrounded by a romantic net canopy, I felt like a bit of a princess (and yes, I've already asked Jesse if we can have a canopy on our bed at home).
The owner, Pamela, has impeccable taste and whilst there are no paintings and very limited decorative pieces, you feel like you're in a place that interior designer spent years umm-ing and ahh-ing about.
One of the features I loved about Sungai Gold was the use of mirrors to enhance the space. Pamela didn't want to impose her choice of artworks on the guests and chose to keep things simple - and I think that's one of the reasons why Sungai Gold feels so incredibly relaxed.
We noticed that, in Bali, flowers are a key decorative feature - and Sungai Gold was no different. From the beautiful orchids by our bedside to the Frangipani trees lining the private infinity pool overlooking the river below.
The bathroom at Sungai Gold was incredible - an indoor outdoor bathroom with European fittings, his and hers sinks, a huge bathtub, toilet and an outdoor shower.
The bath and shower are placed just outside of the "indoor" part of the bathroom where the wall is actually a rock wall covered with moss, orchards and ferns - it was absolutely stunning and totally "Bali" - Jesse was blown away by the bathroom and whilst Modest Miss Kristy was a little weirded out by showering outside, I can assure you that absolutely no one can peep down at you from above.
That said, I did have a shower with a snail on our third day - slightly odd after watching Turbo on the plane ;)
On our arrival the bathtub was filled with fresh frangipanis and the bathroom had everything we needed - from Sungai Gold's Signature body lotion and Aqua Di Parma toiletries to bug repellent and bottled water for brushing our teeth.
Every little detailed is covered at Sungai Gold and with a team of eleven staff, there's someone there to cater to your every need at anytime of the day.
Staff even stay overnight to ensure they can take care of anything you need - just a simple press of the doorbell outside the bedroom or a call on the walkie talkie will have a smiling staff member at your side within seconds.
Every guest at Sungai Gold or Villa Sungai is treated like royalty and they will care for your every need. If, like me, you suffer from allergies - this is one place you will feel completely at peace. The Sungai Gold kitchen staff will prepare you whatever you fancy and ensure that it doesn't contain a single ingredient that will make you sick.
I was happy as a clam with a full belly of refreshing rice noodle salads, delicious canapes, fresh coconut milk, homemade coconut icecream and steaming hot fresh ginger tea. Whilst I wasn't able to order off Sungai Gold's exquisite fine dining menu, I can assure you that the food was impeccable - and I know that those of you with allergies would appreciate that the staff catered to my every whim and I didn't get the slightest bit sick!
Jesse enjoyed delicious meals off the menu - from traditional Indonesian style dishes to American style breakfasts and a big juicy steak on our first night in Bali. Feed that boy steak and you've got him wrapped around your little finger.
Words nor picture cannot describe just how incredible Sungai Gold is. I'm someone who is constantly busy - and I love to be busy - but at Sungai Gold, I was completely relaxed - more than content lounging on the day bed reading a book or looking at the gorgeous frangipani trees which line the infinity pool and fill the air with their sweet scent.
Our first dinner at Sungai Gold was incredible - the pool was lined with warm glowing candles and the staff organised for two traditional Balinese musicians to serenade us whilst we ate.
Once our bellies were full and we were ready for bed we walked the flower petal lined path to our bedroom.
Our second day at Sungai Gold started bright and early. Thanks to the time difference we were bright eyed and bushy tailed at 4am in the morning and laid in bed listening to the sound of roosters crowing and the local villager's animals stirring.
At around 6am we decided it was time to get up and dressed so that we could relax before our private yoga class.
We started our day with drinks - a piping hot English breakfast tea for me and a freshly squeezed orange juice for Jesse - which he raved about for days!
This was the first time Jesse's ever done yoga and the first professional class for me for quite some time - and Jesse soon realised that yoga isn't as easy as it looks from the outside. Our instructor was amazing and adapted the class to suit my shoulder disability and Jesse's newbieness ;)
Once our yoga class was finished we were starving and gobbled down some breakfast before it was time for our couple's massage.
We had the Sungai Gold Signature massage which began with a foot bath for each of us and followed with 90 minutes of pure bliss. We each had our own massage therapist who tailored the massage to suit us and it was the perfect way to spend the morning after our yoga session.
If you're a yogini, do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a massage after a yoga class one day - it's the perfect combination.
After our massage we had some lunch and then decided to head to the local markets to see what treasures we could fine. At Sungai Gold you don't just have a team of staff to cater to your every whim, laundry and pressing services and twice daily room service - you also have access to Sungai Gold's chauffered vehicle at any time - and a staff member will come along with you to show you the local sights.
We headed to the markets and stayed before about an hour before we retreated back to our incredible villa - and the sight of the Sungai Gold doors was incredibly welcome. It just felt like home - albeit far far away from home.
We were definitely sad to leave Sungai Gold and we're already talking about how perfect Villa Sungai would be for a family vacation as it sleeps up to 8 people. If you have an even bigger group, you can also combine Sungai Gold (which sleeps up to 6 people) and Villa Sungai (which sleeps up to 8) to make sure everyone can come along!
The Details: Sungai Gold, Cepaka Tabanan
Phone: +61 (0) 410324535
Rates: Between $650 - $950 per night, depending on number of guests and time of year (see full rate details here)
Details: Private villa with 2 identical master suites and an outdoor entertainment pavilion which can be shut off to become a third bedroom (complete with king size bed, air conditioning and bathroom)
Complimentary Inclusions: Welcome drinks, evening canapes, full staff of 11 including chefs, full daily a' la carte breakfasts, unlimited bottled water, aqua di parma bathroom products, twice daily room service, laundry and pressing, 24hr butler service, night staff offering bar/dining and housekeeping, pre-arrival guest preference and booking/planning service, all-day imported teas and nespresso coffee, concierge service to arrange all bookings/tours/cruises etc, 8 seater vehicle, driver/tour guide for up to 8 hours per day, wireless (WiFi) broadband internet, late check out to suit flights can be arranged unless there is a new check-in that day
Other features worth noting: All other meals are charged at the cost of ingredients only. Private spa treatments, yoga classes, bike hire and other activities can be arranged.
But tell me, where would I find you if you were on vacation?
Relaxing on a daybed in Bali? Skiing the slopes of Vancouver? Cycling in France? Tell me about your dream vacation - is it relaxed, action packed or adventurous?!
Full disclosure: Kristy and Jesse stayed as guests of Sungai Gold and all of their accomodation costs were covered by Sungai Gold. The couple paid for their additional extras (yoga, beverage costs, massages) and flights.