We only plan on marrying once so it is important to make things perfect. With destination we chose to be married in Bali; an island I love with charm unlikely to disappoint Fanfan. With Fanfan’s background in interior design and our constant nitpicking as travellers we chose the wedding at Alila Ubud a boutique and design hotel brand which not only suits our (desired) lifestyle but has strong roots in Indonesia. Alila Ubud’s sculpture garden the ideal location; a beautiful yet simple spot with no overbearing background or venue to shift focus from the bride and groom. Our wedding was to be simple and the Alila Simply for 2 wedding package proved the perfect fit.
Planning was simple. A few emails back and forth and our wedding was set in place. We put full faith in Alila Ubud as the month previous to the wedding we travel in Europe and Asia. Our intention was to turn up on the wedding day and hope for the best (25 April 2013). On the day, after a quick change of flowers on the bridal hand bouquet, everything is perfect. The sculpture garden dressed in traditional Balinese decoration; with bamboo pergola, white linen and tropical flowers. White satin Umbul Umbul flags and Balinese traditional wedding umbrellas line the aisle and the path leading to the altar is spread with tropical flower petals. Next to the Sculpture Garden gamelan musicians play Balinese rindik and flute and two young Balinese girls in traditional dress join us for photographs. For the hour prior to the wedding we take photos around the resort and in the Sculpture Garden before the start of the ceremony at 16:15.
We arrive on our wedding day clueless to Balinese wedding traditions. Before the ceremony begins we are guided through rituals and ceremony and when the priest arrives we follow instructions. We walk side by side down the aisle, the two Balinese girls showering us with flowers before arriving at the altar. Here the priest blesses our wedding rings and holy water. We drink the holy water from cupped hands (3 times), grains of rice are pressed to our foreheads and we exchange rings. We toast the ceremony with Alila sparkling wine. A huge bonus was wifi at the Sculpture Garden and my dad in the UK joining us over Skype.
On arrival at Alila Ubud we are immediately upgraded from Deluxe Room to Valley Villa with unmatched balcony views of the surrounding canopy over Ayung River Valley. Our two night stay was idyllic; breakfast visits from (friendly) local monkeys, sipping wine in our outdoor bathtub, the abundance of wildlife from tropical song birds to Draco (flying lizards). As a liquor lover a welcome box of two infused cocktails was the perfect gift. One with a sprig of lemongrass, flavours of passion fruit and kick of local Arak liquor and the next infused with a stick of cinnamon and tasting of liquid brandy balls. Everything at Alila Ubud was top notch. Even morning coffee tasted better than ever.
The setting is perfect. Night views over the canopy, candle lamps, the beam of a full moon and occasional visits from fireflies above the surrounding canopy. Hard to ask for more. For the menu I took a slight risk. When meeting the Alila chef earlier in the day I choose the Indonesian menu over the international menu (without Fanfan’s input). Thankfully Fanfan loved it, many dishes and ingredients not so different from Thai menus. Admittedly the first course had me concerned, a cold cucumber soup which with the use of coconut milk, was a winner. The second course a spicy tuna salad and another win. Third course Indonesian pork sausage in a tomato sambal, Fanfan’s overall favourite. The main course again a familiar dish with beef cooked similar to a Rendang in a peanut sauce similar to sate. Added bonus; slow cooked chicken. Having put away four courses we order dessert to the Villa. Dessert arrives with a designed wedding cake and an impressive selection of ice creams and sorbets. Ice cream flavours (i think) include lemon basil, lemongrass, passion fruit sorbet, chocolate and galangal, vanilla, kaffir lime and finally a strawberry sorbet. All made by Alila a brand of many talents.
A 2-hour “Beauty & Balance” treatment for the two of us. Massage, body scrub and body wrap. Again risky with Fanfan who was brought up with massage in Thailand. The Spa area was simple and soothing with no unnecessary window dressing. I prefer this. The real difference in a spa experience is in the less tangible qualities; natural light, air and surroundings, and the expertise in massage and product. Spa decor makes little difference when lying face down on a massage table. Within minutes I disappear to imagination land and drool in the flower bowl below. Fanfan now wants body wraps once a month. Thanks Alila.