Plataran Menjangan Resort & Spa, a luxury eco-lodge in West Bali’s lesser-known National Park, is where holidays of note happen. Families with Wild Thornberrys aspirations can awake their inner Doolittle; question-poppers can pick from a bevy of forested beauty spots; and divers can explore coral patches of a crazed palette and see lichen-pocked stone heads sunk off the coast of Menjangan Island. But, this charmer also welcomes flop-and-droppers, moon-eyed minibreakers, and those who want an Indonesian massage, a pic of teeny resident pudu deers and a fiery plate of nasi goreng, into its joglo-style villas.
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A welcome basket of tropical fruit and a bottle of locally made wine
17 villas built in the local joglo style, including a two-bedroom villa that’s set up for family stays.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm, both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £186.25 (IDR3,630,000), including tax at 21 per cent.
Rates usually include an American- or Indonesian-style breakfast. Choose between eggs Benedict, pancakes and French toast, or local picks of nasi goreng (fried rice) and mie goreng (spicy fried noodles).
From 4pm to 5pm, free afternoon tea is served on the Wantilan deck, which overhangs the water. For a take-me-now-or-maybe-when-we’re-back-at-the-villa meal, there are a rom-com’s worth of lovey-dovey settings to dine in. Take to the Ocean Tower deck, have a table laid in the forest or picnic on the beach: the butler will do the rest. Families can also book a private barbecue.
At the hotel
Private beach and club, Menjangan Spa, private jetty, watersports centre, expansive grounds to roam, 360-degree ocean observation deck, free WiFi throughout and laundry services. In rooms: Flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar, tea- and coffee-making kit, free bottled water, air-conditioning, Toto bath products and torches.
Our favourite rooms
The deer grazing peacefully beside the One-Bedroom Forest Villas may not sing chirpy tunes or engage in household chores, but they’ll make you feel like true Disney royalty nonetheless. Within, gauzily veiled four-posters and bath tubs fit for a duo of derrières, below a glazed roof – perfect for stargazing – are assuredly romantic. Families will enjoy the oodles of extra space, privacy, and colourfully painted panels of the Two-Bedroom Forest Villa. Ocean Villas are the only stays to have their own – small yet serviceable – private plunge pool.
There’s little disjoin between the brilliant blue stretch of Bali Sea and the hotel’s sizeable, unheated infinity pool, set beside the Ocean Beach Club. Arrive early in the day to see herds of deer daintily trotting through the mangroves, or rock up after a leisurely lie-in to make use of the sunken bar.
Ocean-facing, Padma Spa by Plataran is set amid the mangroves to ensure treatments are carried out in peace and privacy. Their highly-trained specialists offer a range of facials, such as the anti-ageing Black Tea or the revitalising Sundara Radiance facials, body wraps and scrubs, and massages using all natural products. If a few of the therapies take your fancy, book one of their signature experiences that combine a few tempting treatments; the Padma Matcha Paramita experience includes a tension-releasing massage followed by a facial, green tea full-body exfoliation and soothing green tea and citrus bath.
Binoculars to spy animals in hiding, a camera that works above and below water and something snuggly to keep nighttime chills at bay. Besides your fellow Smith, of course…
Artefacts from the owners collection – model ships, vibrantly coloured kites, antique typewriters – are liberally sprinkled through the property.
All ages are welcome. Each villa sleeps up to four guests; the Two-Bed Villa up to six (baby cots available on request). Kids will love exploring the wilds and playing on the beach or in the pool. Activities by land and sea are legion, so take your pick.
Older children will be able to make the best of the adventurous terrain.
The One-Bedroom Forest Villas are likely big enough for a small family with the addition of an extra bed; however, the Two-Bedroom Villa brings with it peace and privacy.
It’s a thrill for all the family to see wildlife skip past their villa, listen to the starlings chirp away merrily in the sanctuary, and to hike into the surrounding verdure. Bikes can be borrowed for family outings, staff will help smaller Smiths plant a tree in the park, and cruises can be booked to the surrounding islands. Menjangan Island has superlative snorkelling (and diving for Padi-trained little’uns).
Keep an eye on kids if staying in the Ocean-View Villas, even if the plunge pool is petite. The Octagon Club pool is child-welcoming, but lifeguard-free.
There are highchairs, but not much in the way of baby kit otherwise. There are plenty of meals that will appeal to kids, from simple burgers and pastas to more complex Indonesian fare. A range of smoothie blends with fresh juices make a nice alternative to cocktails for the underage.
Babysitters can be booked for IDR70,000 an hour, must be booked in advance.
There are no baby monitors to borrow, and the remote nature of the site means there’s probably little use in packing one.
The hotel has a Cupid’s quiver of romantic dining experiences, but for family feasting, secure the four-person table at Wantilan open kitchen.
Easy, breezy, Balinese-y.
Guests dine on the Wantilan Deck which overhangs the water and gazes towards Menjangan Island, or at the Octagon Beach Club, where the eight-sided restaurant ensures views for all. The former serves both Indonesian and international dishes, but the caramelly Balinese suckling pig with braised plantain; grouper liberally sprinkled with local herbs; and sticky rice with jackfruit are stand-out picks. Spread over three storeys, the Octagon has a menu that skews towards seafood and flavourful rendangs and gorengs. There’s a hearty pasta list, and we could continually nibble from the poolside menu: panko-crusted, sambal-smeared calamari; fried, herb-y aubergine slices; and crispy bean cakes will lure you from the water.
There’s no standalone bar, but the Octagon Beach Club’s top tier is a sociable gathering space for cocktail sipping and post-swim meets. The classic cocktail edit is solid, but we’re sold on the fanciful tropicana of the signature cocktail and mocktail list (abstainers are well catered for). The Blazing Kecak is a fragrant lime, lemongrass and mint mix; the Octagon Sunset blends rum with rich apricot brandy; and the arrack-sozzled cinnamon colada is a cheeky remix of the original.
Breakfast runs from 7am to 10pm; Octagon Beach Club is open for lunch and snacking from 5.30am to 11pm.
During restaurant hours, guests can have a feast set up in or outside of their villa. The menu has pasta dishes, locally inspired salads and soups, and a decadent dessert of flambéed bananas with palm sugar and coconut.
West Bali National Park, Jl. Raya Seririt – Gilimanuk, Gerokgak,
You need a transfer to reach this hotel. For approximate costs, see location information
This eco-retreat is set in a pocket of the protected wilds in West Bali National Park, a captivating spread of savanna, rainforest, mangrove clusters and extinct volcanoes at the island’s edge.
International flights arrive at Ngurah Rai airport, a four-hour drive south of the resort. Alternatively, hop on a local flight to Blimbingsari Airport (aka Banyuwangi), set by East Java’s coast (around a five-hour flight); from here the hotel can be reached by ferry and car within two hours. On request, the Smith24 team can arrange flights and work with the hotel to organise transfers (for an extra charge); call anytime, day or night.
Driving in Bali is often a white-knuckled experience; the faint of heart should opt for a transfer or secure a private driver (talk to the Smith24 team to arrange this). The drive north from Ngurah Rai to the resort offers a glimpse of Bali’s beauty spots: Bedugul’s mountains and rice paddies, Lake Bratan and Ulundanu Temple, the highlands of Munduk, and triplet temples Pulaki, Melanting, and Pabean.
Arrive on a high by asking the resort to arrange a chopper ride from a private helipad in Denpasar. Alongside glimpsing breath-snatching bird’s eye views of the countryside, guests can choose to land in Menjangan and sail the last leg of the journey by private yacht. Otherwise, touch down at Lieutenant Colonel Wisnu Airfield, where a driver will be waiting.
Worth getting out of bed for
Guests have 19,000 hectares of West Bali National Park to explore; it’s a biodiverse spot with rainforest, savanna, scrubland, beach and mountain to roam. A vibrant population of furred and feathered beasts make it a rough-and-ready version of Sylvanian Families. Free daily tours let you spot muntjacs and macaques, flying foxes and leopard cats, and an array of colourful birds (kingfishers, dollarbirds, red-rumped swallows) The park’s star-turn is the dinky pudu deer, the smallest – and cutest – of the species. Visits to a nearby turtle sanctuary can be arranged, too. The park offers the chance to kayak the waterways; trek, bike and climb. Explore by day, then meet the nocturnal residents on an after-dark safari. Guests can also play ranger for the day, help to plant trees or listen to starling song in the bird sanctuary. Full-day, sunset and private-dining cruises through the park can be booked for an extra charge. A short boat ride from the hotel, Menjangan Island is renowned for dramatic diving opportunities, and superlative snorkelling for those PADI untrained; the resort’s Jetty is a good place to don a scuba mask too. Ijen Crater cradles a glittering turquoise lake amid rocky peaks. Sulfur deposits within often create the famed ‘blue fire’ effect, when luminous streams of lava flow. Temple-hop through local villages, see a traditional salt farm, and (if visiting from July to November), catch one of the frequent, rambunctious Makepung Buffalo Races. If local flavour is your aim, ask the chef to accompany you to the fish market, before showing you the best way to cook your haul. Or have staff pack you a picnic and take a tasting trip to Sababay vineyard.
Constructed from a quintet of 33-metre-long logs, Bali Tower Resto has a dining deck that floats over the greenery below, and a menu of Med-Indonesian specials. Pantai Restaurant is more down to earth and a little out to sea, with a deck hovering over the water. A short boat ride away is Pasir Putih Beach Club, a flip-flop and sarong kinda joint with picnic tables under a bamboo roof.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this luxurious eco-friendly lodge in Bali and unpacked their binoculars and made an Attenborough doc of a picture slideshow, a full account of their rainforest break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Plataran Menjangan in West Bali National Park…
The West Bali National Park, and its offshore compadre Menjangan island are a bit magical: craters spit blue fire, birds of vari-hued feathers flock – well, everywhere really – and the frills and fronds of thriving submerged coral gardens house tiny clown fish. They’re home to the pudu, a deer species so small and kawaii, it makes a chihuahua look like a doberman. Aspiring Disney princesses and divers with a penchant for deep drops, sunken wrecks and intense bioluminescent beauty can stay amid these natural wonders at family-welcoming retreat Plataran Menjangan Resort & Spa. This earth-cherishing stay has romantic villas, each with a four-poster and a bath tub you can stargaze from, hidden in the forest where deer frequently graze. A beach club nearby let’s you meet fellow pudu-enthusiasts, but you may prefer to ditch your sweetheart/children/life back home to take residence in the spa’s sea-facing suites, where therapists’ fingers are as nimble as diminutive deer hooves. Where were we now? Ah yes, paradise…
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