Tepi Laut Villas

Unlike a great percentage of Australians (according to Redgum in 1984), we never had a desire to visit Bali. We don’t cope very well with heat and humidity and weren’t too enthused about the crowds. When our friends from Darwin said they were going with the family and renting a private villa with room for two more, it was the perfect opportunity to spend time with them and experience the culture across the sea. After a long day of travel (it’s a fair distance from Tasmania), we landed at Denpasar airport along with, it seemed, every other flight from across the globe, just before midnight. After obtaining a visa (that’s another story), we stepped outside into the stifling heat and, just before we were overcome with secondhand cigarette smoke, we spied our friends. They had come to rescue us in the villa car which was, thankfully, air-conditioned. Sitting in the middle of the back seat of the SUV, I had a perfect view of the chaos that is Bali traffic. I closed my eyes to prevent my heart from stopping and we eventually arrived, dazed and disheveled, at the villa. It was Nirvana. Awakened at 6am by the chanting from the temple in the neighbouring village, I peered over the balcony

1.from balcony2.from balcony

and made my way downstairs. The open living area was beautiful, there was no doubt we were in Bali.

3.living area4.living area

Our room was upstairs on the right,

5.outside

an air-conditioned sanctuary from the heat of the day.

The bathroom was exquisite, every amenity catered for.

There was plenty of space for lounging around the pool,

and the secluded bale was inviting on a hot afternoon.

The edge of the water feature at the entrance (or exit, depending on whether you are coming or going), was dotted with fresh frangipani blossoms.

17.entrance

There were five villas in the group at Tepi Laut surrounded by rice fields, away from the madding crowd, at Seseh Beach.

18.exterior

Our villa, Villa Sungai, was on the edge of the complex overlooking a river and the small fishing village of Seseh.

19.exterior

It was a pleasure to return to the tranquility after a day out,

the villa dog was probably the luckiest dog in Bali.

22.villa dog

The night lights were cute, like someone hiding in the foliage wearing a hat.

23.exterior

A relaxing dip in the pool was always welcome

24.view from the pool

and offered a different perspective of the garden.

We were well looked after by the wonderful villa staff and enjoyed some fabulous meals

28.dining table

prepared and cooked in our own kitchen.

29.kitchen30.our villa staff

We experienced a spectacular monsoonal downpour one day, a brief respite from the heat.

31.rain32.rain

It was fun to return after a day out to find a new menagerie awaiting us. Apparently, it is known as towel origami.

Harrogate

One of the advantages of travelling off season is the availability of accommodation. We stayed at the St. George Hotel, a magnificent Edwardian building right in the heart of Harrogate.

1.St. George Hotel2.St. George Hotel

It was like stepping back in time, with elegant furnishings in the lobby

and a very welcoming, comfortable room.

5.St. George Hotel

Not only had we found a fabulous place to stay, a three-course dinner each night was included in the price. The dining room had a huge central dome with stunning leadlight.

6.cupola in dining room

This pic isn’t very clear but it shows the intricate detail in the ceiling and cornices.

7.dining room detail

On a sunny autumn morning, we strolled the streets of Harrogate and soaked up the history of this beautiful North Yorkshire town. Known as ‘The English Spa’ after healing waters were discovered in the 16th century, the wealthy flocked to the town for treatments. The Royal Baths, considered to be the most advanced centre for hydrotherapy in the world, opened in 1897.

8.The Royal Baths

The Kursaal opened six years later, the German word translates as ‘Cure Hall’. At the beginning of World War I, the theatre was renamed the Royal Hall and is now a venue for events and entertainment.

9.Royal Hall Kursaal10.Royal Hall Kursaal

The architecture throughout the town was spectacular and the multitude of shops were housed in fantastic buildings.

11.Westminster Arcade12.Harrogate

A walk through the park

13.Montpellier Hill14.Montpellier Hill

brought us to the Montpellier Quarter, home to exclusive shops, cafés and art galleries.

15.Montpellier Quarter

Too early in the day to visit the Royal Pump Room Museum, it sounded like a fascinating journey into the bygone era of weird and wonderful spa treatments. Built in 1842, the octagonal structure is quite distinctive.

21.Royal Pump Room Museum20.Royal Pump Room Museum

The Majestic Hotel certainly lives up to its name. Set in eight acres of landscaped gardens, the palatial Victorian hotel sits on a hill overlooking the town. Built in 1899, it has an interesting past with many celebrity guests, a fire in 1924, three bombings in 1940 and the subsequent loss of the massive glass Winter Garden that earned it the nickname the ‘Yorkshire Crystal Palace’.

22.The Majestic Hotel

Next time, I would like to stay at the Majestic Hotel.

Al Vecchio Fontanile

For our last night in Italy, I had found a B&B situated in the rural outskirts of Rome, only a half hour drive to the airport. We had a few issues with the GPS, it seemed some of the road names were different to the directions we had been given. After a few trips up and down the same stretch of road, we eventually arrived at Al Vecchio Fontanile. The stone farmhouse was only a few years old

1.the farmhouse

and was surrounded by fruit trees and olive trees.

2.the orchard

The younger family members were very welcoming and well behaved.

Our room was comfortable and beautifully finished, it felt like we were in a much older house.

5.our room

I love the detail in the curtains.

9.curtains

The quality and style continued in the bathroom.

10.bathroom

After relaxing with a restorative beverage or two, we drove to a nearby ristorante, Il Sogna and enjoyed delicious ravioli, gnocchi and panna cotta. We were bestowed with complimentary biscotti and homemade grappa before wending our way back, without the help of the GPS. The breakfast spread the next morning was sensational.

11.breakfast

Served in a lovely sunny room it was the perfect way to start the day.

15.breakfast

Il Castagno

When looking for a place to stay for the week after the guitar course, I found a 700 year old farmhouse near Cortona. Seeing it on the internet I thought there was no way it could possibly be as good as it appeared. I was right. It was even better!

1-il-castagno

The owners live in Colorado and bought the villa to restore in 1999. It was absolutely perfect and, as it was their part time home, it felt very welcoming. The living room,

2-living-room3-living-room

main bedroom

4-bedroom5-bedroom

and bathroom

6-bathroom

were upstairs and the natural beauty of the house was complemented by tasteful furnishings.

Some fine meals were created in the ground floor kitchen

16-kitchen

which opened on to the sunny courtyard.

17-outside

The original features outside had been retained

and the small front garden was colourful.

We enjoyed relaxing in the shade with a beverage after long days exploring,

25-tree

admiring the view

of Cortona, only a 10 minute drive away.

28-cortona

The shafts of sunlight on this stormy evening lent a spectacular display.

29-stormy-sunset30-stormy-sunset

On other nights, the sinking sun set the sky on fire.

31-sunset32-sunset33-sunset34-sunset

We knew from the moment we arrived, it was going to be very hard to leave.

35-michael-and-corinna

Sails in the Desert

We knew our trip to Uluru would be a ‘once in a lifetime,’ so we decided to indulge ourselves with a three night stay at a luxury 5 star resort. We arrived at our oasis, ‘Sails in the Desert’ on a rather warm afternoon,

1.entrance

the majestic Casuarinas eagerly awaiting sundown.

Welcomed at reception with a refreshing lemon myrtle drink, we surveyed the stylish lobby.

Our room décor was stunning, the mystery of local Anangu creation stories splashed across the carpet,

6.our room

dotted along cushions

and revealed in artefacts. The Punu (wood carved animals) are hand carved by the Anangu people and decorated with walka (burnt patterns).

9.our room

Our balcony was small but we really didn’t have time to make use of it. We had a lovely, leafy view across the grounds

11.view from balcony

and along the balconies of the Terrace Rooms.

12.view from balcony

We couldn’t resist a closer look at how the other half live.

13.Terrace Room balcony

The grounds were beautifully kept

14.grounds

and a serpent path snaked its way through the trees.

The Ilkari Restaurant had an amazing buffet and a central grill station that cooked to order. At breakfast, the grill station offered freshly cooked eggs, pancakes and omelettes.

17.Ilkari Restaurant

For a casual meal or relaxing beverage, The Walpa Lobby Bar

and Pira Pool Bar were enticing options.

After spending a morning exploring The Olgas, the boys went in search of a beer while we girls chose some well earned pampering at the Red Ochre Spa.

22.Red Ochre Spa

After a cooling glass of lemon myrtle infused water,

23.spa

we were ushered to a double room, forced to endure a skin softening foot bath, followed by an invigorating Sea Salt exfoliation, ending with a decadent foot massage.

I enjoyed a relaxing herbal tea in comfort while Kay tortured herself further with a pedicure.

27.spa

We had a wonderful escape at ‘Sails in the Desert’,

a lifestyle I could definitely get used to.