I usually enjoy planning for a trip well in advance. But, just as well, I really don’t mind just to pick up and go. Unexpected vacations are so much more exciting!

After the winter holidays, my husband had a short vacation. We were planning to spend it around the house and catch up on chores when he mentioned something about the time he would spend in the office during these days off.

“Don’t make me get you on a plane to Bali”, I said over our morning coffee chat.

But then I checked the flights and accommodation prices and… off we went with two-day notice! I even forgot to check the weather forecast – who would ever care about the weather when on the heavenly island of Bali?

Rain was the first to greet us on arrival, with tropical showers whipping the aircraft windows and threatening stormy clouds on the horizon: “We are in luck: the rain is going away”, I thought full of hope, looking at the sky. Well, it didn’t. It rained for the entire week we spent in Bali, with short windows of sun in the morning.

In retrospect, I’m glad it did! This way, we had the chance to see and explore more of the island instead of spending time on the beach. We really had time to enjoy and appreciate our hotel – beyond its regular sleep and shower functions.

I always spend hours – sometimes days and weeks – to find the hotel that suites our – or rather my – taste and our family needs and budget. I turn the hotel booking platform inside out, until I find that hidden gem. And this time I was in luck again: within hours, Villa Bali Asri Batubelig popped into my search. My daughter and I were quick to make a decision and single it out from several good choices. And it turned out to be the perfect one, especially with the rainy weather.

I am an experience seeking traveller and my husband is always wary whenever we arrive at any hotel I ever book. I always avoid the familiarity of well-known brands and look for a piece of genuine hospitality that reflects the culture and heritage of our destination.

And this time it was not different. As we entered the narrow lane toward our hotel complex, I just glanced at my significant other and sensed the tension and the fear for expectations not to be met raising: the rather unkempt land on the side of the road did not go down well with him. And, as usual, I braced myself to fight his objections.

The welcome at the tiny reception hut was warm and genuine, without the fuss and pretense of a big brand hotel where hours of training are recognizable in a smile. When I was handed in a set of old fashioned keys bound together to a wooden pendant, I smiled and thought to myself: “This certainly was the right choice”. In the meantime, my husband’s eyebrows were raising with surprise and approval, while I was hoping for his mood to elevate at my level of enthusiasm.

As we were led towards our villa on a footpath tunneled by grown yet groomed vegetation, I felt he was somewhat curious on how yet another hotel experience will unfold – not that I ever made a wrong choice 😊

But when the gate opened, we found ourselves in heaven. Although I was familiar with the property having studied the images from all angles, the beauty of it all even took me by surprise. We just couldn’t wait for the butler to leave to discover and marvel at every detail.

The sleek bedroom felt as cosy as a nest, despite the minimalistic furniture. The curtained bed, the warm parquet and typical Balinese roof alongside well paired blinds and clever lighting must be the secret of this winning combo. And I’m sure the generous closet space in the adjacent dressing room made my husband hope that – for once!– I would keep the room tidy.

The outdoor space of the villa including the terrace, the garden and the bathroom, has been thoroughly designed to pamper us the Balinese style. We lounged on pillow cladded white sofas listening to the rain. We swam in our full-size pool nestled within the beautifully manicured garden and we happily showered outdoors. We marveled at the nature surrounding us, the lush vegetation buzzing in the rain. We admired the architecture, the interior design and woodwork that made us feel we were in… Bali?? Could anyone ask for more?

But wait! It did get better! Every morning, we had our breakfast on the terrace, freshly prepared by the chefs in our very own kitchen. While we didn’t try the traditional Indonesian breakfast option on offer, the omelets and pancakes whipped right in front of our eyes, freshly squeezed juices and crisp Danish assorted with butter and jams were sufficient to keep us happy for the entire week.

I cannot praise enough this hotel. With impeccable architecture, beautiful interior design and thoughtful decoration, the service we experienced was flawless as well. Discreet to allow us complete privacy, yet attentive enough to make us feel pampered and well taken care for.

Probably the utmost recognition came on a rainy afternoon, when my picky husband whispered: “Thank you for taking me to Bali”.

And then, vacation bliss aside, that nagging question reoccurs in my hotelier mind: “WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO CREATE A SUCCESSFUL HOSPITALITY CONCEPT?”

Note: A complex of twelve villas nestled within a green haven, Villa Bali Asri in Batubelig are away from the hustle and bustle of the mad traffic on the main street, yet walking distance to the beach and the happening places in Batubelig, Seminyac and Canggu. The complex also makes available a spa. Special dinners can be catered in the privacy of the villa when booked before 10.00am in the morning for the same day.