In January 2024, I checked into the One Bedroom Ocean Pool Villa at Umana Bali, which opened its doors in November 2023. Set within the scenic and exclusive clifftop Ungasan area which occupies the southernmost tip of Bali island, the 72-villa property was formerly a Banyan Tree property before it underwent an extensive renovation and became managed by LXR Hotels & Resorts, an emerging brand under the Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programme. Umana Bali bears the distinction of being the first LXR property in Southeast Asia as well as the second LXR property in Asia after Roku Kyoto in Japan.
The property is 30 minutes away from Ngurah Rai International Airport. Nearby attractions include the famed Uluwatu Temple and Melasti Beach which features a stretch of beach clubs. Nearby resorts include Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali, Six Senses Uluwatu, Jumeirah Bali and Bulgari Resort Bali.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Clifftop, Romantic All-Villa Resort with Fantastic Villas in Bali.
The must-dos (if any): Spend quality time in your villa’s whirlpool and private pool, enjoy a la minute breakfast at Commune, have dinner and drinks at Oliverra as you take in glorious sunset views.
Formerly a Banyan Tree property, the rebranded resort now boasts a refreshed design courtesy of design firm WATG and Wimberly Interiors (JW Marriott Jeju; Rissai Valley, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; Atlantis, The Palm; W Singapore Sentosa Cove and the upcoming Regent Bali Canggu). Set atop Ungasan’s limestone cliffs amidst cascading terraces reminiscent of uma (rice paddy fields in Balinese), the villa-only resort draws inspirations from traditional Balinese culture, not just in terms of guest experiences but also its design elements. Two sculptures of Balinese dancers at the lobby are coated with ancient Balinese coins; the metal and handblown glass chandelier in the lobby is inspired by the fan-like movements of the legong kraton, a traditional Balinese dance which used to be performed only within closed palace walls in front of the royal family; your in-room slippers are made using pandan and mendong (Javanese water grass) fibres, while the vanity kits are created using recycled banana leaf paper.
In terms of activities and wellness, The Lohma Spa offers an extensive selection of treatments, including group-based sound healing and holotropic breathwork therapies, with their signature treatment being an Indonesian massage that incorporates the use of energised gemstones. Elsewhere, the resort offers a private spa pool, a main infinity pool overlooking the Indian Ocean, a fitness centre and even a dynamic kids’ club to occupy the ‘ickle ones during their stay. The hotel’s clifftop chapel is particularly stunning, reminding me of Final Fantasy VII’s One Winged Angel, Sephiroth. (The picture and reference is pretty self-explanatory).
ONE BEDROOM OCEAN POOL VILLA
Offering soaring ceilings and soothing views of the Indian Ocean from a distance, the 403sqm One Bedroom Ocean Pool Villa was spectacular in so many ways. My favourite part of the villa was the outdoor terrace which features sun loungers, a gazebo with daybed a private infinity-edge pool (very swimmable, not just plunge) and, most impressively, an outdoor hot-tub. Because of the terraced layout of the resort, you enjoy maximum visual privacy even during your moments of outdoor aquatic frolic (in contrast to the villas of, say, Capella Singapore or Jumeirah Bali where your outdoor activities are fairly visible to other guests from certain vantage points). You can access the pool directly from the bedroom, and a stone path from the pool connects you to the outdoor shower space and the bathroom should you wish not to introduce dampness to the bedroom area. The fact that the hot tub is heated means that, even after nightfall, the pool area remains very useable indeed, and post-dinner I had a magical time thrashing in the waters whilst reading about stargazing and trying to locate Orion’s Belt in the shimmering Bali sky.
The living area features a sofa seating area with direct access to the outdoor terrace, a kitchenette with a dining table, a pantry offering Nespresso coffee and teas from local brand Brew Me and an extensive minibar comprising a variety of snacks, beverages, wines and liquor, including health tonics from Balinese wellness brand JWU Botanicals, Citadelle Gin No Mistake Old Tom, Johnnie Walker Black Label as well as a stocked wine fridge (!). A portable and wireless Sonos speaker is available for you to soundtrack your stay.
The bedroom features smart control panels, wireless charging and a dresser with hairdryer, while the cavernous bathroom is fitted with double vanities, a wardrobe area and an enclosed rainfall shower space with shower amenities courtesy of Botanical Essentials. Set against glass walls and a stone wall backdrop with plenty of natural light for that photogenic pensive/sultry bathtub moment, and with incense sticks, bath salts and even bath bombs provided for that extra pampering soak, the free-standing bathtub is one of the villa’s key attractions.
Breakfast is served at Commune, the poolside all-day restaurant which showcases Southeast Asian cuisine. The buffet comprises pastries, cold cuts, American breakfast staples as well as local specialties like Ayam Betutu and the sensational Balinese Sausage which may just turn you off meat rods from other locations permanently given just how memorably juicy and fatty it is. Aside from the buffet, guests can order whatever they like from the a la carte menu, which offers dishes such as Avocado Toast (smashed avo, sour dough, feta, semi dried dried tomato), Chia Berry Bowl (chia seed, Bedugul strawberry, banana, yoghurt, granola served in young coconut bowl), Khmer Porridge (Cambodian porridge with braised beef served with boiled egg, chakwe, bean sprouts, crispy soya bean, chili paste), Bubur Moreng (Ungasan-style rice porridge with chicken), Bali Egg Benedict with Sambal Matah (poached egg, smoked salmon, sambal matah, wilted spinach, sambal hollandaise, Balinese pork sausage), Thai Beef and Eggs (charcoal grilled beef loin marinated with krapao reduction, sous-vide eggs, tater tots), Ungasan Rice Bowl (Balinese chicken curry served with steamed rice and local garden greens), Umana Breakfast (flame grilled sour dough bread, baby lobster, truffle scramble eggs, avocado mashed, water cress salad, caviar), French Toast (served with exotic local fruit and vanilla bean ice cream) and Pandanus Waffle (Balinese waffle served with northern palm sugar, jack fruit compote, Kemangi ice cream).
The Beef Shank Fried Rice (braised Tokusen beef served with kesuna cekuh fried rice) was particularly scrumptious, and I also loved the Nasi Campur Rayunan (sate lilit, ayam sisit, telur kuah pindang, lawar kacang, sambel matah, sambal mbe, nasi putih).
Cliffside Mediterranean restaurant Oliverra offers dining experiences across three distinct spaces – restaurant, bar, and patio. We started our evening with at the bar with an Oliverra Spritz and a Mezcal Negroni, moving to the outdoor deck briefly during sunset to admire the glorious purplish-pink ombre sky. Thereafter, we retreated to the restaurant for dinner, with highlights including the Burnt Barramundi (braised fennel, mandarin confit, citrus puree), the very al dente Pasta Vongole (handmade pasta, local clams, white wine, garlic), the oceanically sweet Lobster Catalan (heirloom tomato, capers, fennel, lemon) and the dreamily buttery Japanese IGA-GYU Rib Eye A5 Marble 9++ (mushroom ragout, truffle mash, parmesan foam, grilled asparagus, morel mushrooms, truffle jus).
Pad Pool Bar serves refreshing tipples such as Lavender Sour (lemon vodka, triple sec, lavender syrup, soursop, citrus, aromatic bitter, foamee), Kintamani (Bali Pomelo Gin, tangerine & cinnamon cordial, Kintamani espresso, tonic water) and Melasti Sangria (white wine, peach schnapps, orange & cinnamon cordial, tropical fruit, club soda). The poolside bar also offers a dining menu should you wish to pair your drinks with more substantial fare (I had a Nasi Goreng along with my bespoke Old Fashioned).
Rounding up the dining concepts at the property is Mer Lounge, a cosy space near the lobby where guests can curate their own minibar, purchase to-go snacks and beverages and, in the future, attend curated events such as wine tastings.
The soon-to-be-unveiled Uma Beach House – to be set along Melasti Beach alongside other beach clubs, and accessible via shuttle service from the hotel lobby – will feature Miami-inspired design influences and fresh Peruvian flavours.
I have had my fair share of one-bedroom villas in Bali, and Umana Bali certainly offers one of the best ones with their well-sized pools and outdoor hot-tubs. Highly recommended, and I would definitely return once Uma Beach House launches and when the resort’s guest experience programme is more fully realised.
LXR Hotels & Resorts
Jl. Melasti Banjar Kelod
Ungasan, Bali, 80364, Indonesia