An art-filled Bali beauty
Endless rice fields and tasteful artwork combine to create a sense of harmony and balance at The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah in the foothills of Bali. This hidden luxury retreat, which has 20 individual villas dotted around its lush sprawling grounds, is nestled in the jungle just eight minutes outside of Ubud.
Elegant black Australian and white Dutch swans glide gracefully in the lotus ponds on the property. In the middle of one of the ponds, there is a small island with a tiny bamboo house — the place they go to give birth. All the swans have names and are attended to by a full-time caretaker.
The Chedi Club feels like a grand home and is, in fact, the former residence of Bapak Hendra Hadiprana, one of Indonesia’s most respected art collectors. Wandering around the 12 acres of manicured gardens and grounds, you’ll feel like you are walking through an art gallery.
Stone statues greet you at every corner, huge sculptures regally wave you by and each private villa features original Balinese artworks from Hadiprana’s collection. Even the beds, carved by local Ubud artisans, are works of art.
Taking in the breathtaking sunrise views of Mount Agung, Bali’s highest and holiest mountain, from your private villa’s balcony is a great way to start the day. Choose among a variety of villas to suite your mood (we recommend the large, luxurious Hadiprana Villa).
All the villas come with a personal butler, who may be requested by name on a return stay. The service is highly professional but also warm and personal.
Your butler is an adviser and concierge who is happy to help you to plan outings or to talk and share stories about Balinese culture, if you are interested. He can fill you in on the latest Ubud happenings and arrange a driving service. And he will even play football on the expansive lawns with the children or teach them to fly a Balinese kite while you relax and have adult time-out.
Another nice thing about the Bali hotel is that it is all-inclusive. The laundry is free, evening cocktails are free, morning yoga is free, and you even get a local mobile phone to use when you are out — yes, that’s also free.
One defining feature of The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah is the romantic dinner for two at the Rice Paddy Platform, which is perched on the edge of rice fields that stretch as far as the eye can see.
The Platform can also cater special events and intimate private weddings and is a spectacular venue for small group dinners.
As you wine and dine, you are also very much in the company of nature. Many different species of birds and butterflies can be found there, and at dusk, the fireflies appear. Moonlight and candles make this a dinner setting you will never forget.
The luxury hotel stages an outdoor kecak fire dance twice weekly in front of a magnificent split gate adorned with hundreds of tiny carved elephants.
This is no ordinary performance. The dancers are all from the local village, and they perform an authentic, traditional number, which is a proud expression of the local culture.
During the day, you may recognize one or two of the performers, as they thresh rice or attend to farming duties right there at the Chedi Club. In this and other ways, the Bali hotel provides a wonderful example of how it works side-by-side with the villagers to preserve the local way of life.
Tanah Gajah means “Land of Elephant,” and images of pachyderms abound there. At last count, the Chedi had more than 100 elephant statues and figurines onsite. Beyond that, the Ubud hotel is also right next door to the unique 9th-century Goa Gajah Temple (Elephant Cave), the site of many magical local ceremonies.
Article published March 2017, Forbes Travel Guide