Shangri-La Singapore: Iconic luxury on Orchard Road

Shangri-La is a brand known and loved around the world- the pinnacle of luxury accommodation and consistently one of the top names in the game when it comes to the 5-star experience. This world-renowned brand got it's start here at the Singapore property, so the famous Asian luxury hospitality that made Shangri-La the industry giant that it is today is on full display here at their magnificent hotel in the heart of Singapore's Orchard Neighborhood.

There are a few travel brands around the world that have become like family- it's such a relief when we're traveling all the time to come back to a property or a brand we know and love, and know exactly what level of service and and accommodation to expect. We've gotten quite familiar with the Shangri-La brand over the past few months, and we were so excited to be able to check out their Singapore property a few weeks ago. 

Singapore is one of our favorite cities in the world, and the Shangri-La Singapore was the perfect place to stay on our quick stop through. They are located just at the quiet end of Orchard road on an expansive property with several towers and wings. You can easily walk to the happening areas of Orchard or to the SMRT station to get around Singapore, but the property itself is a luxurious oasis that you can't help but love!

As we always do, we'll highlight some of the reasons we love the Shangri-La Singapore as well our favorite brand-signatures that make Shangri-La one of the most renowned names in luxury five star accommodation!

The Location

Shangri-La Singapore's location is in our very favorite part of the city- Orchard Road. Endless shopping, nightlife, dining for every budget and palette, central to all transport and never a dull moment. What sweetens the deal though is that the property is at the quiet end of Orchard Road. Still only a 5-10 minute walk to the middle of the action, but the tranquil, quiet immediate area tricks you into thinking you're far removed from the madness when you get home from a hectic day of shopping and fighting the crowds. 

The Property 

Shangri-La's singapore property is absolutely massive- 15 acres, to be exact- and every inch is beautifully manicured and meticulously maintained. The pool is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and there's numerous paths and areas to explore outside. Manmade waterfalls, ponds, rock formations covered in beautiful greenery and a stunning structure called "The Orchid" that can be rented for a romantic dinner are just a few of the outdoor elements that make the grounds unique and wonderful. The hotel boasts a grandiose lobby with live jazz in the evenings, three different wings, a plethora of dining options and a luxurious spa, so there's something for everyone. We stayed in the newly renovated tower wing and can't wait to return!

The Club Lounge 

We've talked about the club lounge at Hotel Jen before (another chain under the Shangri-La brand), and while we thought it couldn't be topped, Shangri-La brings the lounge to a new level. You'll have to pay extra for a club-level room and access, but it's worth every penny. 24-hour access to a beautiful space for working, meeting, or enjoying some peace and quiet in an exclusive setting is something that we've come to know and love about Shangri-La's family of brands. You'll have access to snacks and drinks around the clock, a beautiful breakfast buffet in the morning, afternoon tea, an extravagant cocktail hour with delicious hors d'oeuvres and a lovely selection of wines, beers and spirits- worth the upgrade alone. The top-floor view of the city through gigantic windows doesn't hurt, either!

Origins Grill + Bar

We had one of our favorite dining experiences in a long time at Origins Grill and Bar, one of Shangri-La Singapore's newest fine dining option. A mouth-watering selection of craft cocktails are categorized by theme and each tells a story from a different area of Singapore. They focus on sustainably sourced local seafood and some of the best beef in the world (I had the snow-aged Wagyu beef and it changed my life), and the service was exactly what you'd hope for- attentive and not a detail missed but warm and personal. The Chef de Cuisine, Heidi Flanagan came out to check on our food personally and it became immediately clear why the food had some much flavor and creativity- chef Heidi was a fireball of energy and attitude and she was absolutely delightful. We'd come back to Origins just to have a drink with her!

We loved our stay at Shangri-La Singapore, and it was so cool to see the birthplace of this iconic luxury brand. It's no surprise why Shangri-La has grown to become a household name and a pillar in the luxury travel space with this impressive property. We'll be back for sure!

**This post was sponsored by Shangri-La Singapore but our opinions, as always, are our own

Chapung Sebali

Ubud, Bali, Indonesia

Ubud has no shortage of incredible places to stay- this tranquil paradise in Bali’s jungle-y center is home to some of the most famous resorts in Bali. While this makes Ubud a wonderful holiday destination for any taste or budget, it can also be an overwhelming list to sort through when you're planning that perfect getaway.

A few weeks ago we took a trip up to Ubud for a stay at Chapung Sebali and we loved it so much that we had to share it with you! It was the perfect property in Ubud for people that are looking for a balanced mix of midcentury modern and traditional Balinese style. Don’t get us wrong, we love having a cultural experience when staying in Bali, but Chapung Sebali has designed a resort that seamlessly merges the ancient Balinese charm that we love with clean design and beautifully modern architecture. There’s so much to say about this property- so as usual we’ll just share some of the top reasons that we love Chapung Sebali!

The Design

From the moment you arrive on the property, Chapung Sebali’s distinct style and thoughtful design makes you feel right at home. Non-pretentious luxury and elevated traditional elements come together to create an environment that stays true to Balinese culture while maintaining a high level of modern comfort and service. Beautiful balinese gates stand alongside rice terraces and newly-constructed buildings without force, and the entire resort layout begets tranquility and relaxation.

We stayed in valley view suite, and our room was a spacious, wide-open loft with tons of room and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the jungle below. Two sliding doors opened to a giant balcony, and every detail from hardwood floors to gorgeous furniture and functional space was meticulously thought out. 

The Blind Pig Bar

One thing that we really miss from Brooklyn since we’ve been living in Bali is the cool craft-cocktail bar scene. Bali has a plethora of watering holes to choose from, but there seems to be quite a gap between the Bintang-centric bars and clubs of Kuta and the ultra-swanky, expensive hotel bars with equally as extravagant prices. But even more than price point or target demographic, Bali doesn't seem to have much by way of craft cocktails, solid old fashioned and smokey whiskey drinks and passionate bartenders who know their ingredients and stand behind their craft. The Blind Pig, however, fills that gap and offers (in our opinion) some of the best craft cocktails and speakeasy-turns-modern vibes we’ve found in Bali. Choose one of the smoked drinks for a really cool experience, order the meditteranean tapas plate and catch up with old friends around a game of pool- we promise you won’t regret it!

The Spa + Gym

As with any good resort in Bali, hotel and spa are pretty well synonymous terms. It seems that a resort can only be as good as their spa- in which case Chapung Sebali is a very, very good one. Beautiful treatment rooms and facilities are only the starting point for their wonderful spa offerings. Our couples Balinese massage finished with a fruit bowl and a flower bath in the open air with rainforest views… need we say more?!

Another of our favorite parts about this resort is the workout area overlooking the jungle! There is a nice weight room with mirrors with a large assortment of weights and lifting machines. But the really unique part about it was the 2 rowing machines that were literally on platforms over pools of water! It was the type of set up that you actually look forward to and makes you want to go to the gym! :) 

The Pool

Jungle Fish is the well known pool + bar connected to Chapung Sebali, and even if you don’t stay the night at the resort, you have to get a day pass to experience this stunning pool! We are sure once you see the property, you will be convinced to book a few nights at the hotel as well. Admission is free for hotel guests, and we found ourselves lounging and swimming our way well into the evening at Jungle Fish almost every night.

The Breakfast

The last thing we couldn't help but mention is the breakfast included in your stay! There is a wonderful buffet as well as an a la cart menu with so many different options. The dining room itself is decorated so nicely with the coolest tile floor. It’s an instagrammer’s heaven! If you can pull yourself away from snapping pics for your grid long enough to actually eat, the breakfast buffet has the most epic smoothie bowl station of all time- full of such an incredible array of fruits, nuts, and seeds to make the perfect power bowl. You know by now our special affinity for breakfast- and this one ranked way up there for us.

Chapung Sebali’s rooms start just north of $200 USD per night, and you’ll need to either hire transport or rent a motorbike to get around, as it is located about 20 minutes drive from Ubud’s center. In our opinion, it’s worth every penny and perfect for honeymooners, solo travelers and families alike. 

India's Best Airline

When you travel for a living, you learn quickly which airlines to book with and which to avoid. It can get a little bit tricky though when you're visiting a new part of the world and are unfamiliar with the most reliable and reputable local airlines- so when we booked with Jet Airways a few weeks ago for our trip to India, we were eager to see what the experience would be like. 

From the outset, were impressed that Jet flew through every destination we had in our pre-arranged itinerary to, from, and within India. Our India lag was 10 days smack in the middle of a 3 week content creation trip, so we were coming from Singapore and heading to Bangkok after India. We wanted to see Delhi and Jaipur and a few other drive-able areas in northern India, and we were so glad to be able to book all of our multiple routes and stops through Jet Airways! We flew from Singapore to New Delhi, New Delhi to Jaipur a few days later, back to Delhi and from Delhi to Bangkok. We use Singapore as a stopover all the time, and Jet Airways has daily flights from Singapore to Bombay, Bengaluru and Delhi- which pretty well covers your bases for the different areas of India with easy onward connectivity within the country.

Jet Airways won Tripadvisor's "Traveler's Choice" award for best airline in India, which is well worth its weight in our opinion coming from the word's largest travel site. We flew Première class on the international flights and economy for the domestic flights within India, and we were impressed with every class of service. The flight attendants were professional and warm, and even our short flights between Delhi and Jaipur served a boxed lunch with a meat and a veg option. That's a far cry from what most domestic flights in the US offer. The food in business class on our international flights was incredible, and Jet Airways' "Dine Anytime" feature in Première and First class made it so convenient to work, relax and eat at our own leisure. Who doesn't want to dine at their convenience mid-flight?! 

On the Première class lags, we were greeted with a cold towel right when we sat down, a choice of fresh juices, roasted nuts and a glass of champagne before we'd even taken off. The menus are destination-inspired, which meant amazing Indian meal options when flying into Delhi and Indian or Thai options when flying to Bangkok. The meals were excellent, beautifully presented and overall extremely impressive. Add in a free flow of champagne, and it made for a wonderfully pleasant international flight and the perfect breather between jobs and adventures!

India can be as challenging to navigate as it is beautiful- so our experience with Jet was a breath of fresh air and we'd happily Fly with Jet Airways again anywhere they have a route (which seems to be pretty well all over the planet!) You can even book seamless travel from North America to India via codeshare airlines Delta, KLM and AirFrance, and you can continue to earn skymiles flying with Jet- which is perfect for all of you Delta-flying Americans (or otherwise!)

We know there's a million options out there for air travel- but in our opinion, Jet Airways is the only way to go when you're headed to India. We haven't yet had a chance to check out their international flights outside of India, but we'l definitely hop on it at the first chance we get! 

**This post was sponsored by Jet Airways, but our opinions, as always, are our own

Hotel Jen Orchardgateway

We'd heard that Singapore was such a beautiful and clean city, and were happy to finally be able to experience it for ourselves! The fact that Singapore is both a city and a country is super intriguing, so we planned to stop through to experience it for a couple days last week after a trip to Thailand. Our time was super limited so we had only one night at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway, but felt like our short time here was maximized because of all that this hotel has to offer! We could go on and on about our time at this hotel, but we've decided to highlight our 3 favorite aspects of Hotel Jen Orchardgateway for you!

LOCATION

It doesn't take much research at all to know that one of the best places to be in Singapore is on Orchard Road! There is so much going on, amazing restaurants, and incredible shopping! There are malls for days in Singapore, but we found the shopping on Orchard Road to be unbeatable. Hotel Jen Orchardgateway is located right on Orchard Road and makes experiencing this area really convenient. It also sits right above the Somerset MRT station, which made exploring other areas of Singapore simple and strategic as well. The location was ideal, and we loved being so central for our first time visiting Singapore.

CLUB LOUNGE

One thing that all Hotel Jen properties offer is a club level lounge-- and let me tell you, it is totally worth the upgrade! With 24 hour drinks and snacks, we were in heaven! You can have breakfast in the club lounge to avoid the busier restaurant downstairs, there's an afternoon tea mid day, and starting at 5:30pm there's happy hour and light bites served as well. The food was incredible (more like a full-on buffet than light bites, actually), and it was so nice to be able to help ourselves to a glass or two of wine during happy hour while we worked from our laptops. The wifi in the lounge was unbeatable and we were able to be so productive editing and catching up on work! 

ROOFTOP POOL

The pool area at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway is located on the 20th floor rooftop deck, and had the most amazing views of Singapore! The rooftop vibes could not have been better, and the long infinity pool was gorgeous. The pool was lined with tons of beanbags that were perfect to lay back on, have a cocktail, and enjoy the pool or the stunning view. The roof offers tons of comfy seating either by the pool in the sun or away from the pool in the shade, so it's easy to find whatever makes you feel comfortable and have a place to work from or relax. We could have stayed by the pool for days! 

Our stay at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway was our first experience with any Hotel Jen property, and we were so impressed! If you're looking for a beautiful hotel in Singapore in a central location, look no further than this property. We'll definitely be back! 

Adventures away!

Zach and Tara

 

 

Hotel Jen Tanglin

As we mentioned in our previous post, we just got back from spending a couple days in Singapore and could not wait to share our first experiences with two Hotel Jen properties. After one night at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway, we had our last night in Singapore at Hotel Jen Tanglin! It was only about a 10 minute cab ride over, and in a slightly more residential area of the city at the start of Orchard road. We really felt like we had two different experiences at each property and wanted to share our top 3 favorite things about our stay with Hotel Jen Tanglin! 

THE DESIGN

The hotel's design in Tanglin was so unique and design savy. It felt very boutique-esque and we couldn't help but notice all the special details. For example, the hotel's lobby is designed to look almost like a baggage claim area at the airport, with the circular sofas mimicking a conveyer belt and the reception desks like a stack of suitcases. There is even a map in the lobby of SIngapore where guests can share their favorite spots to grab a bite, which provides so many hidden gems and local treasures to explore. Our room was perfectly set up for the modern traveler with a comfy sofa right by the window (with an amazing view btw) and a mobile marble table perfect for working from the laptop. 

CLUB LOUNGE

Just like in our previous post, we were so in love with having access to the club lounge 24/7. Even if you need a midnight snack, you are able to access the lounge with your room key and have a bite to eat or a drink. There was also a Christmas tree in the lounge that made us feel right at home, and the deep wood accents and dark tones make us feel so cozy and comfortable. For happy hour, the receptionist gave us a glass of sangria she made and it was spectacular. We were also there for sushi night, and had so many delicious rolls and sashimi to choose from! We filled up on appetizers and were way too full to even go to dinner, so we decided to take advantage of the hotel's amazing wifi and get some work done in the lounge instead.

THE STAFF

The staff at Hotel Jen Tanglin were all so friendly, helpful, and welcoming. We were blown away! We received a full tour of the hotel from the start and were able to learn so much about the hotel's design and signature characteristics because of it. Also, we couldn't help but notice the receptionist, Joy, in the club lounge was beyond gracious towards everyone she came in contact with, and she even gave us so many tips for our upcoming trip to the Philippines! It is always so nice when staff goes above and beyond to make their guests feel welcomed, and Hotel Jen Tanglin did just that. 

We loved our stay at the stylish Hotel Jen Tanglin and there are so many other reasons why we enjoyed it! Their hourly shuttle service that takes you to Orchard Road, the 24hr gym, gorgeous pool, and amazing coffee shop in the lobby are all reasons we know for sure we would never get tired of staying at this property! We hope you choose to experience it for your self sometime soon! 

Adventures away!

Zach + Tara

Alaya Resort Jembawan

We’ve all dreamed of one day experiencing a wellness retreat— a place to recharge and refocus your mind, body, and spirit. However, if you're anything like us when it comes down to it, you come up with at least 100 different reasons why you aren’t quite ready for something so intense. 

  • Will the food be gross or bland?
  • Will people judge me for not being healthy enough? 
  • Will the experience be uber spiritual and strange?

If any of these questions resonate with you, then you should seriously consider booking a stay with Alaya Resort Jembawan! It is the perfect wellness resort for someone who doesn't want to feel intimidated by all the health gurus out there. It is a great introduction to a wellness retreat, and makes anyone and everyone feel welcomed to join in! We wanted to highlight a few of our favorite parts of Alaya Jembawan and reasons we think this is a perfect hotel option for your next trip to Ubud!

RELAXATION

Alaya Jembawan is centrally located in the village of Ubud, but a little further away from the hectic tourist spots. Though it's just a few hundred feet off a main road, it's set in the middle of a beautiful urban jungle, and feels rejuvenating just to walk around and take in the gorgeous scenery surrounding you! If you have any health concerns or are even just curious about your well-being, you can meet with the onsite Ayurvedic doctor and have a consultation from an expert. Just knowing that you are being looked after and taken care of in more ways than one puts your mind at ease and helps to really relax and recharge. 

EXPERIENCES

There are countless experiences that are offered at Alaya Jembawan, starting with the most epic location to join a morning yoga class. Every morning yoga is offered in a gorgeous pavilion overlooking the jungle, and every evening meditation is offered in the same setting. You aren’t forced to join either experience, but they are so nice to be a part of in such a tranquil location like Ubud. There is no better way to recharge and rejuvenate. One very unique experience that Alaya offers is a mandala class. Learning about the meaning behind these beautiful floral decorations is something that is so unique to the balinese people. Their passion and creativity is like no other! They also offer an amazing cooking class with the chef from Herb Library. You can get a taste (literally) of traditional balinese foods and spices, and we couldn't recommend the cooking class any more highly! Our final night at Alaya, we got to experience a traditional Pekenan dinner. Amazing Balinese food and dance, as well as the chance to learn to play balinese instruments and craft balinese hindu offerings. 

HEALTHY EATING

You would expect the food at a wellness resort to be super healthy, but not necessarily be the tastiest or have many options. However, at Alaya Jembawan it is not only super healthy, but also incredibly delicious with tons of variety! The restaurant attached to the resort is called Herb Library, and everything is locally sourced, fresh, and delicious. It offers raw food, plant-based meals for herbivores, but also sustainably sourced fish and chicken for omnivores The list of juices and smoothies goes on and on, and the menu is full of unique dishes packed with tons of flavor. Herb Library makes healthy eating so easy, and the interior of the restaurant as well as the presentation with each dish makes mealtime even more special and fun! The resort allows you to dine wherever you please— at the restaurant, by the pool, or even in your room with a service they like to call “take me to your room.” Their goal is to really make you feel comfortable, relaxed, and at ease no matter what that looks like for each individual. 

Whether you’ve always loved the idea of trying out a wellness retreat or even if this type of experience has never even crossed your mind, Alaya Resort Jembawan is the perfect place to give it a shot! Be kind to your body, and notice how great you will feel in return! 

ADVENTURES AWAY!

ZACH AND TARA

You can book your stay at Alaya Resort Jembawan by clicking HERE!

Alaya Resort Ubud

As one of the most popular areas to visit in Bali, there are a limitless amount of amazing resorts and villas in Ubud. It can easily become overwhelming trying to pick where to stay when planning your trip, but we think that Alaya Hotels have it all! We recently stayed at Alaya Resort Ubud and were blown away by all this property had to offer.

LOCATION

The location of Alaya Ubud is ideal for those who want to be in the heart of Ubud town. It is located at a prime spot in the center of the village, but you still feel as if you are ‘off the beaten path’ when hanging around at the resort. Alaya sits right on Jalan Hanoman, which is among so many amazing restaurants and beautiful shops. It is also right next to the Sacred Monkey Forest— a must-see when visiting Ubud! It was our first time staying in such a central location in Ubud, and it was so nice to be able to walk around by foot rather than worrying about renting a car or motorbike during our stay. The location allows you to really experience the culture of Ubud, and was such an ideal area to be in. 

THE PROPERTY

Even though the location is so central, Alaya has managed to make you feel as if you are somewhere remote and tucked away from any hustle and bustle. The property includes a gorgeous rice field, and there is even a pathway right in the middle of it lined with lanterns that you can stroll down and enjoy a beautiful sunrise or sunset. It also makes for a great photo opp! The tropical jungle feel of the pool area alone is enough to make you think that there couldn’t possibly be any civilization nearby, and it is the perfect spot to wind down, read a book, or even have a meal. A bamboo bridge stretches across one of the pools as well as a bamboo bar that has delicious cocktails to make relaxing that much easier. The resort is is beautifully designed with a lush landscape, and there is even an epic 350+ year old joglo attached to the resort’s newest restaurant, called Manisan. It’s such a romantic spot to sit in and have dinner, overlooking the rice fields on one side and the pool on the other. It makes for a perfectly unique and memorable experience!

SPA

We thoroughly enjoy our spa days, and we've visited many spas in Bali - and we can honestly say  that the incredible experience we had at Dala Spa in Alaya Ubud was one of our all-time favorites. From the moment we walked in, we were enamored by the peaceful and relaxing setting. The decor is absolutely stunning and it is evident that not a single detail has been overlooked. The lemongrass welcome drink is a prefect welcome to the spa, and you might even find yourself asking for another glass or two before beginning your treatment! There are so many different options to choose from at Dala Spa- we went with the Island Cocoon, which was a 2.5 hour experience. Along with the usual consultation before a massage, (which areas to focus or give special attention to etc), you are actually able to choose which playlist you'd like playing during your treatment(s). The entire experience seems to really capture every one of the 5 senses! We even got to watch them create the corn and coconut body scrub that would be used during our treatment. We felt like royalty after walking into our room; from the perfect chandelier, gold accented curtains, and fluffy chairs, we were in heaven! Starting with washing our feet like most Balinese massages, to the massage itself, the body scrub, all the way until the final bath, every experience we shared topped the last. The bath at the end was relaxing and the perfect way to end our time at Dala Spa. We finished with tea and cookies, and secretly hoped we could start the entire process all over again! 

Alaya Ubud is really a full sensory experience from start to finish. These were some of our favorite aspects of Alaya Ubud, but we couldn't recommend this property any more highly for you to experience on your own. We had a perfectly romantic experience, but this resort would actually be perfect for friends or solo travelers as well! We wish you all the best during your time in Ubud and in booking your stay, and can't wait to hear what YOU have to say about your own experience at Alaya Resort Ubud!

Remember to tag #TheTravelLeague on your travel Insta posts to be a part of our League Travels Community!

ADVENTURES AWAY!

ZACH AND TARA

You can book your Alaya Resort Ubud stay by clicking HERE!

Samsara Ubud

Ubud is a magical place. Lush tropical jungles, vibrant rice paddies and stunning landscapes sprawl in every direction. Jungle swings and monkey forests are just a few of the Instagram-worthy attractions, and the yogi culture is as vibrant as the tiered green rice paddies adorning the hills. If you've heard of Bali, you've heard of Ubud. (It's also the location in Bali where Eat, Pray, Love was set!) In our opinion, no trip to this Indonesian Island paradise is complete with a stay in Ubud. 

Ubud is located in Bali's forested interior, approximately an hour and a half from Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International airport. If you're coming from Canggu, another popular destination for the Millennial crowd frequenting Bali (and where we live), it'll take you around an hour on a motorbike if you can beat rush hour traffic. It's a hotspot for digital nomads and has a thriving foodie scene, and the incredible artistry of the local Balinese Hindus translates into shop after shop of stunning art, wood carving and decor. 

Last week, we spent a few days in Ubud at the brand new Samsara Ubud resort- and we're excited to share our experience with you. Samsara officially opened just a few months ago, and the property is a fully functioning luxury resort. Samsara is located about 30 minutes north of Ubud's center in a perfectly tropical setting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact, it the location is so private and tranquil that you feel you've taken a few wrong turns as you make your way through the lush, winding roads that lead to Samsara. It's perfect! A quiet jungle road leads to the entrance, and as soon as you pull into the driveway you are greeted with the most grandiose view of the jungle from atop Samsara's hill. The lobby itself is perched at the top of the property, and the facilities cascade down the hill into the jungle below. First the lobby, then the restaurant, then the villas and the stunning infinity pool, followed by the spa and culminating with a rushing waterfall far down into the river below. 

Balinese hospitality is some of the finest and warmest hospitality in the world and you feel that from the moment you step foot on property. The spectacular team of butlers don't miss a beat when you arrive, and as soon as you've begun to check in a refreshing welcome drink arrives with some local snacks. It's the perfect touch after a muggy ride through the jungle! Once we got checked in, our lovely butler Harry had loaded our bags and was ready to bring us down to our villa. The descent to the villas is a bit steep, so if you don't want to take the stairs or the path, they'll escort you on golf carts to and from your room.

The Villas themselves are amazing. You enter through a beautiful wooded door and a tropical walkway before it opens up to your deck and front door. The perfect level of design, taste and luxury make every detail feel like home- We never wanted to leave! The villa layout is an open concept with every aspect meticulously thought out. The wardrobe, double vanity, toilet, shower (2 actually- one inside and one outside!) and gorgeous stone soaking tub complete the back of the villa, while the front is comprised of a luxurious canopy bed, desk, television and sitting area. Through a set of gigantic sliding glass doors is the deck with lounge chairs and an umbrella and private pool that looks out over the jungle and the massive infinity pool below. The floorpan is open and intimate, but if you want to create some privacy between the bedroom and the bathroom, 2 sliding wooden doors emerge from the wall and quickly separate the rooms from one another. No finishing is spared, and each detail from the surfaces and the furniture to the linens and bathroom amenities are luxurious and beautiful!

Another level down the hill from the villas sits the amazing infinity pool. There’s a gorgeous pool bar and lounge chairs with umbrellas, and the end of the pool seems to stretch straight out into the jungle. Swimming to the edge of the pool and looking down over the edge, however, you’ll find a rushing waterfall cascading to a river below creating the most magical sound. Combined with the birds and the sounds of the jungle, the entire property sounds like you’re in a stock sound created to emulate the rainforest- but it’s real life! 

Okay- one of our absolute favorite parts about Samsara Ubud (which is saying a lot since we pretty well loved everything)- is their on-property restaurant The Kelusa. Breakfast is included, which of course is our favorite. Their signature breakfast, eggs and lobster, is a non-negotiable. The coffee is excellent (Tara always goes for a long black and Zach a flat white), and the fresh juices are delicious. Try the mango juice if they have it, as the selections change from day to day- and in Bali, we have a fresh coconut with breakfast at every chance we get. Eat lunch in the restaurant or order to your villa- we loved the chicken club sandwich and the nasi goreng. For dinner, the setting is perfectly romantic on the balcony overlooking the jungle. The pork ribs and the fish were both superb and the cocktails were on par. Sometimes on-property restaurants leave room to be desired- The Kelusa, however, is not one of those places. We’d recommend it for every meal! 

Our stay at Samsara Ubud was perfection from start to finish. Our only regret is that we didn’t stay longer! Check this place out and book a villa for your next visit to Ubud!

Adventures Away!

Zach + Tara

You can book your stay at Samsara by clicking HERE. 

**Our stay was sponsored by Samsara Ubud- but our opinions, as always, are our own!

Awarta Nusa Dua - Bali's warmest welcome!

Hey guys!

So we've officially survived our first 3 weeks living in Bali! Though, let's be honest- "survive" is hardly the word to describe life on this island paradise. Having never been to Bali before we moved here, we were ready for anything- and with all the uncertainty with Bali's volcano becoming uber-active a few weeks before we made the move, we were ready to roll with the punches. What we weren't prepared for was the most incredibly warm welcome from the Siawarta family and their luxury villas, Awarta Nusa Dua. We were blown away by the property and the amazing staff, and we could not wait to share this place with you!

One of their taglines at Awarta is "welcome home"- and you feel that sentiment from the moment you step onto the property. In the week leading up to our stay, they contacted us to inquire about dietary restrictions and any other requests or food preferences. They have perfected every last detail of the process, and we couldn't have felt more comfortable or cared for during our transition into Balinese life. We loved everything about our stay at Awarta, so we've decided to share with you our favorite aspects of this incredible property and a photo journal to go along with it!

1. The Vibe

Awarta is the perfect place to stay for a romantic, relaxing holiday in Bali. The architecture is intricate and rich, full Indonesian and Chinese influences with a luxurious flare. Dark woods and gorgeous stone surfaces are outdone only by the lush, tropical landscaping that brings you away to a tropical fantasy world. Awarta has 14 individual villas (though they are opening an additional 60-some suites in an expansion sometime in 2018), but the layout and construction is expertly designed to make you feel like you're the only people in the entire resort. There is traditional balinese music played live each morning during breakfast, the staff is warm and personal yet incredibly professional, and you feel that famous balinese hospitality from everyone you encounter. 

2. The Food

You don't have to know us for long to know our love for breakfast (well, food in general)- so the fact that Awarta includes the most extravagant breakfast in your stay made this already-perfect property even more appealing. You can choose to dine at the restaurant or in your villa for breakfast, and we loved both experiences. Breakfast, coffee, and fresh coconuts by the pool first thing in the morning? Yes please! The lifestyle breakfast was Zach's favorite, while Tara normally opted for the eggs Benedict on gluten free bread. The coffee is perfect, the orange juice is to die for, and the warm croissants with a local jam assortment was the perfect touch. There is also an incredible fine-dining chinese restaurant called Ru Yi on property that is open for dinner, and it can't be missed! Try the eggplant (you can thank us later). 

3. The Villa 

Ok... the villas at Awarta are among some of the finest, most beautiful accommodations we've ever stayed in. We stayed in a 2 bedroom villa (which was actually 3 bedrooms- they don't count the spacious kid's room that has 2 twin beds as a room- clearly they've never been to NYC and seen what New Yorkers can pass for a bedroom!!). You enter the villa from the tropical walkway through a beautiful wooden door that opens to your private pool courtyard. A stone waterfall cascades into the pool, and a set of wooden pool chairs sat in the perfect sunny patch of deck. through any number of  glass double doors, or the main entrance, you enter the villa itself. The master was on the main floor and had an amazing bed, several sitting areas and a great desk, a massive walk-in wardrobe, a master bathroom with a 2-person tub, an indoor AND an outdoor shower, as well as a separate vanity area. It's extravagant, lightly put. The upstairs bedroom is very similar, though it has a balcony and skips the additional wardrobe, tub and outdoor shower. Through a hallway with another half bath, you can get to the dining + living room. This room alone would be the Taj Mahal of NYC apartments, complete with a gorgeous wood dining table for 6-8 people, a bar (complimentary and stocked daily with soft drinks, beers and snacks), and a separate couch and sitting area with a big-screen TV. The ceilings are vaulted with intricate, beautiful woods, and every aspect of the villa is masterfully designed.  We. Loved. It. 

4. The Location

Nusa Dua is on the southeast corner of the island, and Awarta is in a beautiful, safe, gated compound of hotels properties, parks and shopping. It's close to the airport (20 minutes or so), a short 10 minute walk from the beach, and in a perfect setting for honeymooners or families who want to steer clear of the crowds and the hectic party scene more common in Kuta and Seminyak. Uluwatu is less than an hours drive away and makes for a stunning evening trip to watch the sunset and the Kecak fire dance in the Uluwatu Temple. 

5. The Staff

The people you encounter when staying at a hotel or resort can make or break your entire experience. At Awarta, every single person we met was amazing! The Siawarta family, who built, own and operate the hotel are as lovely as any family we have ever met. Naomi, who runs the day-to-day operations of Awarta, is next-level amazing. Make sure to meet her when you visit Awarta- she notices every single detail, knows all the best places to visit, restaurants to eat at, and things to do in Bali, and she impressed us with her warmth and kindness from the moment we met.

All in all, Awarta Nusa Dua is the perfect place to stay for a romantic, relaxing vacation in Bali, and we could not recommend it more highly. If you're in Bali to party, you should probably look closer to the Kuta area- but if you're anything like us and you prefer the tranquil comfort of a luxury property to come back to after a day's adventures, then Awarta is the place to stay next time you're in Nusa Dua (or anywhere in Bali!)

You can book your stay at Awarta Nusa Dua by clicking HERE!

Here's to the adventure!

-Zach + Tara

**Our stay was sponsored by Awarta, but our opinions, as always, remain our own. 

Clean Water for Bali!

Hey guys! 

It's hard to believe that we've already been in Bali for nearly 2 weeks! So much to update everyone on about our move and transition into life in Bali, but today we wanted to share something really special with you, and ask for your help.

As we travel more and more, something that we are really passionate about is placing value on the people and the places that we encounter. Our hope is that our experiences can bring light and awareness not only to amazing places, but also to amazing people and organizations around the world that are making a difference! We're continually finding that travel has this brilliant way of opening our hearts to people different than us and connecting our souls to the humanity that we all share.

As you may know, Bali's largest volcano, Mount Agung, has gone into the highest alert for volcanic activity. That basically means that a massive volcanic eruption could happen any day now, and the Indonesian government has evacuated all of the red zones on and around the mountain to keep people out of harms way, if the volcano were the to erupt. What that has translated to is nearly 140,000 displaced people from Bali's poorest and most fragile communities, now forced to live in makeshift camps while they wait for a possible disaster to strike.

Numerous humanitarian aid organizations are on the ground and bringing support to the evacuee camps, but a major problem is the lack of access to safe drinking water. According to the World Health Organization, "Some 842 000 people are estimated to die each year from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation, and hand hygiene. Yet diarrhoea is largely preventable, and the deaths of 361 000 children aged under 5 years could be avoided each year if these risk factors were addressed." Many of these evacuees live in rural villages without access to clean drinking water under normal circumstances, and that problem is only compounded in the camps. 

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to spend the day with an organization here in Bali called Social Impakt- and it was the most incredible thing to see. Social Impakt is based in Bali and sells water filtering jugs to provide safe access to drinkable water and to make an impact on the environmental consequences of plastic waste from water bottles and the resulting CO2 emissions. They are doing amazing work, and were in the middle of a crowd-funding campaign to raise $60,000 for clean water in Bali when the volcano crisis started. Since they were already on the ground and working in the affected areas, they shifted their campaign to prioritize the filters for the 140,000 displaced people in camps instead. We traveled with the founder, Jeroem, to 5 different camps in the village of Selumbung on Bali's east side as he installed the filters and and educated the people on their proper use. It's quite incredible- for $35, one filter can provide safe water for an entire family for 4 years. 4 years!! 

Social Impakt has 2 days left in their campaign to reach $60,000 for clean water. Since it's a crowd-funding campaign, they only receive the pledged funding if they match or surpass their goal- and we want to help! Imagine you or your children or your grandparents without access to clean water, susceptible to water-borne illness at any time. For half the cost of one month's cable bill, the price of a new shirt or one dinner out, you can provide clean water for an entire family in Bali for 4 years. 

Guys, the power we all possess to change the world is mind-blowing. So we're asking for your help today to change the world in a simple way- would you consider joining us in donating to Social Impakt to help them meet their goal by Saturday?

We want to be the type of people who put our money where our mouth is, and place value on everyone we have the honor of meeting- and we know that together, we can all change the world.

Here's to the adventure!

Zach + Tara 

Mohonk Mountain House + Drive Maven

Hey all! 

We always say that our secret to surviving NYC is getting away often- and what better way to do that than a weekend road trip! A few weeks ago we partnered with Thrillist and Drive Maven and picked up a car for a road trip up to Mohonk Mountain House.

This luxurious mountain lodge is just a few hours north of NYC in upstate New York's stunning Hudson Valley. We were blown away by the service, beauty and everything there was to do on their nearly 40,000 acre property, and we can't wait to go back for a proper weekend trip!

We picked up the car in the morning and got back late that night after an amazing day of outdoor adventures. There's nothing like the lake, the woods, and miles of open road to leave your souls refreshed and ready to tackle New York City again!

PS- if you need some more ideas for day trips from NYC, we love this amazing guide from Thrillist!

Adventures away!

-Zach + Tara

This trip was sponsored by Drive Mavenbut our commitment, as always, is to our readers and our opinions, as always, are our own!