Bali-Viceroy-Hotel

Viceroy Bali

Arriving in Bali is like arriving in an island paradise. However, being greeted by the warm and genuine hospitality of Indonesian guest relations staff at the Viceroy Bali makes you feel right at home. This is exactly how it felt like when I was given the chance to stay for 3 days, 2 nights at the famed Balinese boutique hotel.

While the hotel is situated a few kilometers from the white, sandy beaches that have made this part of the world almost as iconic as the marbled beaches of Tahiti, I learned that it is actually a favorite among travelers who prefer to be a lot closer to the bosom of Mother Nature and slightly far from the crowd that flood the nightlife streets of Bali. It’s a simple hotel that has all the makings of a 5-star, making you never want to leave its warm embrace.

Set in Bali’s famed Valley of the Kings amidst lush greenery and providing a stunning view of the turquoise sea, Viceroy Bali is perfect for couples, honeymooners, and small families who prefer a more intimate experience. Good thing I was treating my partner to an exotic experience of a lifetime.

It’s a boutique hotel that offers more than what five-star accommodations I know of can with its array of 25 elegantly designed, meticulously adorned, and beautifully curated private pool villas that provide a breathtaking view of a jungle ravine. It’s a view that is worth posting on Instagram.

One of the best things I about the Viceroy Bali is its location. You get this feeling that you are actually being treated to the unique sound of Mother Nature. There’s the chime of a gently rolling river that magnificently rises from the verdant valley floor. It’s something that I vividly recall as the one sound that greeted me in the morning and shushed me back to sleep.

Getting to Viceroy was never a problem since the accommodation gave us a ride. The view along the way is simply marvelous, taking us to a pleasant transport all the way from the airport through fascinating Balinese countryside and greeted by the smell of freshly-made Pisang Goreng or the more sumptuous Babi Guling. It’s not centrally located, yet the heart of the action is right within walking distance. I believe the hotel can arrange a ride just for you, too.

The thing about Viceroy Bali is that we’ve been given the chance to be just like royalty throughout the entire duration of our stay. With the staff always eager to please us, it’s like partaking in the royal traditions of the local kingdom.

The CasCades Restaurant is truly something. The alfresco dining it provides is quite a blessing since I got to renew my passion with my partner over several orders of Sate Babi while looking at the vast expanse of the blue Pacific.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay at Viceroy Bali. Now I know how the King and His Royal Court felt like when they were served with such dedication and commitment. It may be far from Bali’s center of attraction, yet it lies much closer to my heart.

For information on travel to Bali visit http://www.balitourismboard.org/

The-Boulders-Hotel-Arizona

The Boulders Resort and Spa

I was in search of a perfect place to unwind in America and I found myself in the comfort of the Boulders Resort and Spa, a 1,300-acre richness of the Sonoran Desert foothills. I did not only spend quiet moments at the Boulders, but even had an adventurous experience with the different outdoor activities they offered. My energy is refreshed, my soul is renewed.

The Natural Beauty of the Resort

Located in the state of Arizona, The Boulders is set on a strategic location where over 12-million-year-old boulder formations are found filling the panorama. The vastness of the space and the magnificence of the natural architecture altogether create a picturesque view of the hotel. If you ask me, it is the resort’s natural sprawling beauty complemented by cabin-like design that sets the Boulders apart from the high-rise hotels with manmade landscapes.

Ultimately, I appreciated the Boulders because of its friendliness to the environment. The concept of the place is vintage as evident in the deep wood furnishings used and the native furniture pieces and indoor accessories displayed. They filled the spaces with cacti, to stay true to the Arizona scenery. It is indeed a confirmation of what they say about the relevance of details. Even in the selection of their cleaning products, the hotel is very conscious, according to the room attendant I randomly asked. They only choose those that have green seals; some toiletries are organic. This information was consistent with their website profile. I double-checked and indeed the resort has earned the Environmental Award of Excellence from the Urban Land Institute for good reasons. More so, if you are also craving for healthy delicious meals, you will find them at the Grill.

Outdoor Adventures

While my room offers a relaxing ambiance that is conducive to sleeping, I spent my time mostly outdoors. I couldn’t resist the activities offered, particularly the horseback riding and hot air balloon. Naturally, I love horses and the thought of galloping in the foothills excites me. The staff are friendly and the safety gears are provided. The hot air balloon was a scary idea at first since I am used to ground and water adventures, yet the staff are better able to orient and debrief us. Thus, I was able to conquer my fear and truly enjoy the desert view. I was even able to catch a view of the infamous Grand Canyon.

For golf lovers, the Boulders is also a perfect venue to test your precision. They have a wide 18-hole field and a fantastic view of the desert. If golfing isn’t your sport, you have the option to swim your heart out or play tennis with friends or newly-found friends. I also had the amazing wildlife encounters with bunnies, birds, turtles and fishes. You may traverse to the Downtown Cave Creek to experience more of the wildlife.

On my third and last day at the hotel, I availed of their deep tissue massage and dozed off in the process. My stay in Arizona is truly one for the books because I had a taste of the Boulders service. For first timers, I suggest you to bring comfortable shoes as the property is so expansive you may do a lot of walking. Overall, my Boulders experience was a rewarding one.

bela-kula-hotel

Bela Kuka Hotel

On my first trip to Macedonia, I was given the choice to head to Skopje or Bitola instead. Knowing that Bitola is the famed ancient Ottoman City of the Consuls and besides the fact that I’ve never been there before, I knew I had to skip the northern city and head south. Thankfully, a guide directed me to the Bela Kuka Hotel where I was instantly drawn by the warmth and cordiality of the people running the establishment. It’s not much, but it’s definitely where the heart is.

I later found out that there are plenty of hotels with more luxurious amenities, grander designs, and more robust services on offer in this part of the country. However, I was deeply intrigued by the throngs of travelers lining up to book a room at Bela Kuka. It’s the friendliness and genuine hospitality of the staff that’s something that no other accommodation can ever replicate. It captures the very essence of a hotel being a home away from home.

Deciding to dig even further, locals say that the Bela Kuka has consistently been rated by travelers as the best place to be in this side of Macedonia, not because of the accommodation and the various services that the hotel provides but rather because of the warm greetings, genuine smiles, and general helpfulness of every single member of the staff.

It is a place where you’d have someone readily showing you the ins and outs of the city, arranging transportation when needed, and all that stuff that all hotel staff are trained to do. However, I did get the sense that Bela Kuka staff don’t just do it because it’s expected of them; they do it because they love seeing their guests happy and content. Now that is really something unexpected.

Bela Kuka Hotel is situated right in the center of the city, just several minutes’ walk towards the Main Square where I got to see the city come to life. The ever-busy Shirok Sokak Street with its many shops and cafes serving piping hot drinks is just right outside the doors of Bela Kuka.

The suite I stayed in is very homey complete with a private bath and shower that I thought I would never find in this part of the world. There’s a mini bar, although I find it quite unnecessary as I’d rather have more time chatting with the staff who are so knowledgeable about the history of the hotel and the city. On hindsight, I think I can ditch my traveler’s guide and just spend 30 minutes or so with these real-life talking historians and story-tellers. They’d definitely bring me up to speed with all that’s happening in the city.

With its central location, a very friendly atmosphere, and hotel accommodation that are quite commendable by themselves, it’s the perfect den for lovers everywhere. Too bad I was traveling alone.

I could have always gone to a classier, chicer hotel and be treated like any other guest. But I’m sure glad I stayed at the Bela Kuka Hotel where I got to become part of a big family, even for a short while.