When most people hear “Indonesia,” they immediately think Bali. But the sprawling equatorial nation of 17,000-plus islands goes well beyond that one surfer-swarmed island. Indonesia is particularly special because of its place on the Coral Triangle marine area; Harrison Ford and Nina Dobrev are among stars who have ventured out to take in the Raja Ampat archipelago in the eastern part of the country, home to more than 1,500 species of fish.
Indonesia by Yacht
In January, Dobrev, along with friends including Abigail Spencer, Julianne Hough and Adam Devine, chartered Prana by Atzaró (from $14,000 a night inclusive), an uberluxe version of a traditional Indonesian phinisi yacht, to explore Raja Ampat.
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These yachts offer access to strikingly diverse landscapes and seascapes. “The most amazing experience I’ve had in Indonesia was aboard the Seven Seas, a traditional Indonesian schooner (from $665 per person a night) where we shot the short doc Behind the Seen in the remote Forgotten Islands of eastern Indonesia,” says SAVEarth Studios CEO Robin Gurney, a former Showtime senior vp who flew to Bali three years ago for a sabbatical turned permanent move.
Other elegant phinisis include the custom-built 164-foot Vela (from $14,905 a night, inclusive), offering six plush cabins and bespoke diving and snorkeling itineraries around Raja Ampat, the Spice Islands and Komodo island, and the hand-built Celestia (from $11,000 a night, inclusive), with seven cabins, a crew of 14 and a gourmet focus courtesy of executive chef Wayan Kresna Yasa.
Rascal Voyages’ Rebel phinisi (from $12,000 a night, inclusive) sleeps 10 and has a fine wine cellar onboard, while Alexa Private Cruises’ Alexa (from $5,495 per night) is the world’s largest yacht designed for just two lucky passengers at 98 feet on deck. The latter company also has launched an ultimate Robinson Crusoe–style off-the-grid experience ($7,500 per night, all inclusive, for two people) on uninhabited Alfuros Island near Komodo — think breezy white tents with cloud-like beds but also survival training in things like collecting firewood, fishing and roasting coffee beans with guidance from a seven-person staff.
Ancient-feeling Sumba was until recently most known for Nihi Sumba (from $1,075, full board), a luxury surf resort of lavish, one-of-a-kind villas and beyond-indulgent spa experiences where Jennifer Lawrence and Cooke Maroney honeymooned in late 2019. But Sumba — about an hour and a half east of Bali by plane — has become a destination of note thanks to new environmentally sensitive resorts delivering luxury alongside social responsibility and support for struggling local communities.
The Sanubari (from $329; more booking options at Mr. & Mrs. Smith) opened on 247 acres in 2022. In addition to nine lustrous beachfront villas, the resort offers activities like riding and ocean swimming on the bare backs of saltwater-loving horses.
On the western end of Sumba, Cap Karoso (from $304; more booking options at Booking.com and Mr. & Mrs. Smith) is a 47-room, 20-villa beach resort that promises rich cultural explorations by day — plus a spa with shaman-inspired treatments and a kids club — and a friendly dining scene each night, with a menu created with ingredients from its 7-acre farm. (Luxury travel company Red Savannah offers an $8,997 per person trip, based on 12 people, comprising five nights at Cap Karoso and six nights in Komodo — part of the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Komodo National Park — on its newly built Ocean Pure phinisi.)
Bali’s Beach Resorts
Bali, of course, remains the country’s tourism epicenter. It has seen a slew of new resorts open on its dazzling coastline, such as Potato Head Studios (from $215; more booking options at Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia), a sustainable, nearly zero-waste contemporary hotel designed with Balinese references and reclaimed materials by Rem Koolhaas’ OMA. Snoop Dogg and Mark Ronson have performed at the adjacent Potato Head Beach Club, and this sprawling complex in Seminyak in southern Bali also contains the recently reopened Potato Head Suites (from $315 a night); Tanaman, a seed-to-stem restaurant; monumental art installations made from recycled materials.
In late 2021, the five-star Raffles Bali (raffles.com, from $1,413) bowed its uber-exclusive escape of only 32 pool villas on 57 expansive oceanfront acres, including a secluded beach in the Jimbaran area (south of the island’s main airport). The resort’s new all-encompassing Retreat by Raffles programming ranges from Balinese blessing ceremonies and meditation in a secret limestone cave to energy-healing reiki and cooking classes, all organized by private butlers. In the same area, the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (from $824) hosts a visiting masters program that includes a current stint by Marco Della Valle, an evidential psychic medium. The seaside resort also recently launched a zero-waste speakeasy-esque bar called Telu, built entirely of repurposed and recycled materials, and a new plastic-free, sustainably minded kids club called Umah Rare.
Just south on Dreamland Beach, the graceful Jumeirah Bali (from $862; more booking options at Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity) debuted in 2022, offering private pools for each of its 123 villas; personalized spa experiences including Bali’s first Turkish hammam; and over-the-top private dining.
Nearby, the clifftop resort and surfer haven Uluwatu Surf Villas (from $220) — where Kelly Slater often stays — recently completed an expansion with seven unique teak and ironwood villas that are temples of tropical modernism, and added a skatepark to boot. Nearby, Bulgari Resort Bali (from $1,350) is a destination for pure decadence via multicourse prix fixe dinners at Il Ristorante — Luca Fantin. Make sure to try the resort’s stunningly crafted Il Cioccolato chocolate gems.
Alongside recently upgraded accommodations, a new restaurant, and fresh beachfront bar concept, Luxury Collection’s The Laguna Nusa Dua (from $230) offers exclusive guided day trips to rare corners of Bali, such as through the mystical Goa Maya cave’s subterranean network of tunnels (from $695, including two nights).
Bali’s Jungle Resorts
“Looking over the pool from the hotel down inside the jungle you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve never seen anything like that!’ ” says Chelsea Handler of hilly Ubud, her favorite region in Bali. “I loved the jungle so much.”
In Ubud, Capella Ubud (from $942) has debuted its lavish tented two-bedroom The Lodge, complete with a heated indoor pool — plus a new multi-sensory Deep Sleep Therapy spa treatment — while Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (from $1,891; more booking options at Booking.com) recently launched its Sokasi Farmer’s Brunch, which draws on Bali’s agricultural heritage. It’s the perfect precursor to a chakra treatment at the resort’s The Sacred River Spa, where Barack Obama tried the cleansing Muladhara ritual in 2017.
“My favorite spot in Bali is Bambu Indah (from $250) for luxury overnights in wild bamboo structures in the jungle overlooking rice fields,” says Gurney of the distinctive resort that recently reopened. She enjoys exploring the property’s riverside spring water pools, where Adrian Grenier once tried the rope swing, and calls the elevator ride, carved through rock, “unforgettable.”
In coming weeks, Anantara Ubud (from $488) is expected to open with 85 guest rooms and pool villas plus 15 residences, sustainable cuisine, and healthy wellness offerings. And Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (from $1,000), has unveiled Ambar, a new golden hour hanging bar, serving a mashup of Japanese-Indonesian mixology and cuisine as well as an authentic Indonesian Sunday brunch featuring herbs from the boutique-y resort’s organic garden.
Located north of Ubud in a jurassic-feeling mountain area, Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape (from $1,550; more booking options at Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia and Hotels.com), bowed last summer. The adults-only retreat feels far from civilization with only 16 villas that are so open to nature they have no walls or doors. The zero-waste kitchen turns out mouthwatering multi-course meals that lean plant-based and are made with 90 percent ingredients sourced within 43 miles, including many grown on property.
Bali Camps for Kids
Bali’s acclaimed Green School — which actor Josh Lucas’ son attended for an immersive year — now offers a year-round, nature-immersive Green Camp Bali for kids 7-12 years at Ayana Estate (from $230), a sprawling clifftop property of four resorts and the famed Rock Bar overlooking Jimbaran. Meanwhile, littler ones can join Guidepost Montessori’s weeklong camps at Ayana while parents relax at one of 14 swimming pools, indulge with a multi-hour Spa on the Rocks treatment or take the Traditional Herbal Remedies workshop at the organic farm.
City Stays and a Jungle Getaway on Java
The Indonesian capital of Jakarta, on the island of Java, has new hospitality attractions as well. Last year saw the debuts of the Bill Bensley–designed The Orient Jakarta, a Royal Hideaway Hotel (from $185; more booking options at Agoda, Booking.com and Hotels.com); Park Hyatt Jakarta (from $200; more booking options at Agoda, Booking.com and Expedia), with a modern and luxurious approach to Indonesian hospitality; and The St. Regis Jakarta (from $210; more booking options at Agoda and Booking.com), where experiences, eight culinary concepts and design draw from Indonesian dance, music and art.
Also on Java, there’s a new three- to six-night Aman Resorts package that includes a visit to the Amanjiwo resort (from $880; more booking options at Mr. & Mrs. Smith) — where David Beckham and Richard Gere have reportedly stayed — which features views of the world’s largest Buddhist temple, Borobudur, and rice paddy trekking. The offering also includes stays at Bali’s Amankila (from $900; more booking options at Mr. & Mrs. Smith), with a sunrise cruise on the Lombok Strait, and at Amandari (from $750; more booking options at Mr. & Mrs. Smith) in Ubud for herbal baths and a visit with a local seer.
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 23 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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