Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah – Ubud, Indonesia

Rates: $250 (Garden Villa) to $1,000+ (Two Bedroom Estate)
Room to book: Spa Villa or Pool Villa
Chain: GHM Hotels

From the moment you arrive through the customs hall at Denpasar Airport for your first visit, you are greeted as a friend of the Chedi Club at Tanah Gajah. A 45-minute drive to Ubud, and your van passes through an unassuming gate and a friendly security check, past which you are greeted by your butler – in my case, Yuni. Your check in is barely a thought as you chew on a welcome treat of soft fried bananas and sip a delightful ginger beverage. This tiny property, a member of the Small Leading Hotels of the World, features only 20 rooms. During my first visit with Ms. LTG, we loved the Spa villa – and enjoyed a daily private Yoga class and spa treatments in our room, as part of a package they were offering. At around $420 a night, it was barely more than a couples massage might cost in a top-tier spa in NYC, not to mention the spacious villa with its own sauna. Set amongst working rice fields, it’s easy to embrace the distance from crowded streets or beaches and just relax.

I returned for a second stay recently, booking a regular villa during low season and taking advantage of Leaders Club membership which assured me an upgrade to a Pool Villa if one was available, and it was! Again, Yuni was there to greet me when I arrived, and I enjoyed the best 36 hour stopover I could have imagined, during a weekend in transit between Australia and Europe. The restaurant is wonderful – when I visited the first time, we ate there for five nights straight without getting bored. The hotel arranged a wonderful tour of local temples for us, and white water rafting is also highly recommended, although for this short stop, I opted to lay by the pool and enjoy a spa treatment.

One of the best parts: In-room snacks, mini-bar (alcohol and sodas), afternoon tea and snacks, car service to Ubud, and breakfast are all included! No nickle-and-diming here.

Breakfast here would want in my top three anywhere in the world – the Bischer Muesli is fabulous, a healthy egg white omelette is expertly prepared, and a mango chocolate chip pancake finishes off the experience. Not to mention the freshly made jams – watermelon and banana – and light ginger tea that leaves you ready to pass the day away in gentle bliss and relaxation. I can’t wait to return!

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