As my 50th birthday approached I knew I wanted to celebrate in a big way. I was feeling fit and healthy and loving this stage of my life. You can read about my midlife journey in my About post. I wanted a celebration that honoured this milestone because getting older is a privilege denied to many, right?
I also wanted to my celebration to be about the people important to me – my beautiful family and friends. Bali ticked all the boxes with affordable and direct flights, a unique private villa, and easy organisation of transport, meals and day trips.
I was a Bali Sceptic
Admittedly, I was once a Bali sceptic. The stereotype of badly behaved Aussies raising merry hell in Kuta was front and centre in my mind. The tacky, touristy, overcrowded and chaotic scenes left me cold. Yes, that’s definitely one Bali and, let’s face it, can be fun in a have-to-see-it-for-yourself kind of way. But there’s another Bali that I want to share with you. This is the Bali I encourage you to consider if you’re planning a milestone celebration, a girls’ getaway, or even a family holiday. Or just because you’re worth it!
Villas are the perfect holiday accommodation
Renting a villa is the perfect way to accommodate a large group yet still have privacy and personal space. Our group of 10 adults and two kids had 10 wonderful days at Kembali on the River. Kembali is a magnificent property far removed from the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas.
Located in the small traditional village of Cepaka in the Tabanan regency of Central Bali, Kembali consists of five spacious, elegantly decorated bedrooms across three pavilions. Each room has its own bathroom, sitting area and balcony. A central open-air dining room overlooks the beautiful pool surrounded by lush greenery. Daybeds await where you can while away the hours. Villa manager Putu and his team will arrange day trips and transport you everywhere in air conditioned comfort. Meals are prepared for you and refreshing drinks are brought to you as you lounge by the pool. Your laundry is taken away and returned clean and ironed every day. It really is a holiday.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to dining options
Bali has plenty of great restaurants, warungs (local cafés) and hotels to choose from that will accommodate large groups. Your villa manager can make suggestions and bookings for you if you wish. Everywhere we went had a charm of its own, from the most sophisticated restaurant to the roadside stall selling Pisang Goreng (banana fritters).
On the day of my birthday we had afternoon tea at Biku Bali in Seminyak. Think traditional high tea opulence with an Indonesian influence, set in a beautiful Javanese teak house.
There’s nothing quite like home-cooked meals, and there’s no need to leave your villa if you don’t want to. The team will cook delicious meals from ingredients sourced from local markets. I still dream of breakfasts of banana pancakes, smoothies, omelets and rich local coffee, surrounded by the cacophony of birds, roosters and snorting local pigs! Ahhh, Bali.
You’ll find an activity to suit everyone in the group
There are so many great places to visit in Bali. Everyone is guaranteed to find something that appeals. We were a group that spanned three generations and these were some of our favourites:
- A cooking (and eating!) class overlooking rice paddies
- A visit to Ubud to explore temples, markets and the Monkey Forest
- Sunset drinks on the beach at Seminyak under colourful umbrellas
- Luxurious spa treatments at a high-end resort outside of Ubud
- An early morning hike up Mt Batur to see the sunrise
- Exploring the nightlife of Kuta (no prizes for guessing which generation chose this option!)
Your party will be epic
Having the entire villa to ourselves meant that my birthday party was epic. We had delicious finger food and shared plates by the pool followed by a Dragon Fruit mousse cake. The highlight of the night was the traditional Balinese dance show performed by local villagers. It was truly magical, and one of the most memorable nights of my life. I was celebrating turning 50 in a very special place, full of gratitude for being healthy and happy and surrounded by people I loved.
However, parties weren’t limited to the night of my birthday. Every night was a party in the villa: a fancy dress night; a games night; and a music and dancing night. The only neighbours we had to worry about were the local roosters who made sure they got us back very early each morning!
Bali is good for your soul
Bali is the ideal destination for a 50th birthday celebration. What I wasn’t to know from my holiday planning and research is how good Bali is for your soul. It gets under your skin and draws you back. For me it’s the mix of the most gentle, tolerant and charming people I’ve ever met and the strong spiritual and cultural traditions that guide everyday life of the Balinese.
But those things just scratch the surface of what I love Bali. There’s also the vibrant street life, the delicious food, the offerings and ceremonies that take place on a daily basis, the lush green jungle scenery, the stylish hotels and restaurants, the architecture, the massages and spas … need I go on?
Since my 50th birthday celebration I’ve been back to Bali twice. This year I plan to go again – I just can’t keep away!
Have you been to Bali too? Are you hooked? Maybe you’re planning a special celebration and considering Bali as a destination? Leave me a comment as I’d love to hear!
If you’d like more information on Bali or Kembali on the River please get in touch.