Bendega is Balinese for ‘Fisherman’, a fitting name for this villa which sits on the perimeter of the small fishing village of Nelayan (which also means Fisherman – but this time in Indonesian) in the district of Canggu. A five-minute walk down a country lane brings you to a beautiful black-volcanic-sand beach (not safe for swimming but great for walking and surfing). Walking past the colourful fishing boats and along the beach to your right you will soon come to a beach temple, popular new beach venue ‘Old Mans’ and the glorious Tugu Hotel, a stunning boutique hotel-museum stacked with antiques and a ‘must visit’ during your stay. Many new and exciting spots for drinks and dining are popping up just inland too, so make sure to have a wander along these fascinating little roads.
Canggu has become the collective name for a number of villages (including Berawa, Tegal Gundul, Tiyingtukul, Pererenan, Nelayan and Babakan), which, until very recently, could still be described as a sleepy coastal locale. It's now one of Bali's coolest districts.
Here, amongst the rice fields which extend all the way down to the beach, you will not only find some of the most luxurious private residences on the island, but also a great selection of eclectic restaurants, cafes, bakeries, boutiques and beach bars – especially along Jalan Batu Bolong, which runs right down to the beach. Popular spots include Finns Beach Club, Old Mans, La Laguna, The Lawn and Ji @ Bale Sutra.
Canggu is also an area that most surfers will know about, with reef swells that are larger than those you will find further south in Kuta and Seminyak. Swimming isn’t advisable however as the rips can be dangerous, but there are plenty of other things to do from horseback riding to cooking classes. Finns Recreation Club (for which many holiday villas in the area include guest membership) offers social and leisure amenities, including Splash waterpark, Bounce trampoline centre, Strike bowling, a state-of-the art gym, a 25m swimming pool and a tennis and squash centre.
Along the coast to the north of Canggu is Pura Tanah Lot; a sea temple perched high on a craggy wave-lashed rock and probably the most photographed sight in Bali. Sophisticated Seminyak, a few kilometres south of Canggu, lays claim to the highest concentration of independent fine-dining restaurants on the island, including Sarong, La Lucciola and Ku Dé Ta, together with a wide choice of chic cocktail bars, exciting nightclubs, lavish spas and elegant boutiques.
Bali is Indonesia’s most popular tourist location and is considered one of Asia's premier tropical island destinations. Steeped in history and renowned for its artistic way of life, Bali is a peaceful contrast to some of the more frantic destinations Asia has to offer.
The inner peace and creative talents of the Balinese has attracted artists the world over fascinated by local dancers, silversmiths, wood carvers, potters and painters that seem to pervade throughout the island. The abundant verdant fields and surrounding sea have long supplied Bali with an easy surplus of food leaving time for life’s more artistic past times. As a result everything in Bali has a creative and religious element centred around the local Banjar (residents association) – little, adorned temples are everywhere, doors are covered in intricate carvings, huge kites ward off evil spirits and colourful roadside ceremonies bring traffic to a standstill.
Bali is a popular destination principally from Australia and Asia but also from all over Europe. The island welcomes thousands of visitors each year to a relaxing lifestyle, stunning beaches, world class surf, vibrant villages, and spectacular scenery all with an exquisite tropical climate. Located approximately two hours’ flying time from Singapore the island is serviced by an international airport at Denpasar with direct flights to and from many major cities in Asia, Europe and Australia and many more via Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital.
The island offers an impressive range of leisure and lifestyle amenities including world-class golf courses, wonderful seascapes for surfing, diving and snorkelling as well as luxurious spas, chic boutiques, tropical forests, towering volcanoes and international cuisine.
Staying at Bendega Nui is a wonderful way to experience Bali. The neighbouring paddy fields scattered with colourful flags and tinkling bells to scare the birds away from the ripening rice; the crowing cockerels; clear blue skies and amazing sunsets were a delight in themselves, but to enjoy all of this from the luxurious surroundings of this stunning new villa (completed end 2009) was a real privilege.
The super-comfortable beds (I felt like Alice in Wonderland climbing up onto the deep mattress of the canopied four-poster in our bedroom!), bold colourful fabrics, tasteful pieces of art, impressive sound system and blissful swimming pool were just some of the features that made a very clear statement about how much care and thought Bendega Nui's owners (who regularly stay there themselves) have put into the design and finish of their tropical holiday home.
In recent years, the Canggu area has sprouted some exciting new venues for drinks and/or dinner – several of which you can walk to from the villa. That said, we felt no desire to eat out after sampling the chef's culinary creations: From roasted vegetable salads, to steak and chips, to chicken curry, cheesecakes and crème brulée – everything was beautifully presented, absolutely delicious, and served with a smile.
Bendega Nui is a peaceful retreat; breezes from the nearby coast kept things cool wherever we chose to relax – and there was no shortage of options, from the hidden deck beyond the pool, to the shady reading pavilion next to one of the pretty ponds, to the bedroom balconies with their lovely views. And what better way to round off the day than with a glass of wine and a good movie on the big-screen plasma TV, or a social game of pool over a couple of beers – listening to whatever takes your fancy from the vast selection on the Sonos sound system (or bring your own – iPod docks in every bedroom). We felt that Bendega has something to please everyone in the family and would also make a great place for a group of friends to get together for a holiday, as well as (especially if you rent the one-bedroom suite and three-bedroom Bendega Rato next door) an exceptional and truly memorable wedding venue.
A solid wood gate slides open to reveal a 2m-high black stone Buddha head serenely welcoming you to Bendega Nui. On the far side of a large cobbled and grassed courtyard stepping stones guide you over soothing, fish-filled water into the villa itself. Symmetrically designed in a broad H-shape, with the main living areas and three of the 5 double bedrooms housed in the two-storey horizontal bar of the H, and the fourth and fifth bedrooms, pool pavilion and, - staff quarters forming its four vertical prongs, Bendega Nui sits among frangipani, jasmine, palms and tropical fruit trees. Next to the pool pavilion (furnished with a huge L-shaped daybed, a round dining table and chairs, water-resistant bean bags and a recessed kitchenette, the stone-lined pool features a wide, shallow shelf – perfect for sipping evening cocktails at sunset.
Across the lawn, the bright air conditioned dining room is dominated by a solid marbau-wood table (seating up to 20). A door to the back of the dining room leads to the modern kitchen, which is a chef's dream, superbly equipped with Jura Impressa coffee machine, two fridges, extra large oven, even waffle and ice cream makers and a wood-fired pizza oven!
At the opposite end of the living pavilion the TV and games rooms offer air conditioned comfort on soft sofas, or bar-style seating around the full-size pool table. DVDs, books, games, or music from the Sonos sound system (controlled remotely from anywhere within the villa) provide entertainment.
Between the dining room and TV room is the semi-open, double-height living area. Here, comfortable black sofas offset with bold fabrics, form a dramatic contrast against the pale sandstone floor. A staircase at the back of the living area leads up to a mezzanine corridor, off which are three of the five bedrooms. All bedrooms are spacious, air conditioned, tastefully furnished with Asian pieces, colourful ikat (traditionally woven) textiles and have French doors leading to breezy balconies or private garden areas. Three of the bedrooms feature super-comfortable, four-poster, king-size beds; the two remaining rooms have generous twin beds (which can be joined to make a king). With the exception of one of the twin room (whose ensuite is shower only) the bathrooms all feature large bathtubs, travertine vanities with double washbasins, sandstone floors, and very spacious rain showers. In the open-air, walled bathroom behind the fifth bedroom is a massive bathtub carved from a single piece of black river-rock.