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