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Thursday, March 3, 2005

We head for the hills in Bali to an artists retreat which just happens to be the culture capital of the entire island.

It seems that wherever you travel in the world, you come across an artists' colony. This is certainly the case in Ubud, a quaint mountain village about an hour's drive north of Denpasar, Bali's capital. It offers serene village life with fewer late nightspots than around Bali, but it is where you will find the island's best cuisine and, of course, the mountain climate is cooler than that on the coast.

Ubud became a centre for artisans more than 70 years ago when the king invited western artists to his palace and the culture thrived and survived. Galleries, studios and art and craft stalls line the streets and fine examples of stone, wood and silver creations can be found.

The king's son, His Serene Highness Tjokorda Gde Putra Sukawati, Prince of Ubud and head of the Sukawati royal family, proudly continues the tradition of encouraging artistic talent. (Even though Indonesia is now a republic, locals still acknowledge royal blood and the prince and his family are treated with great respect).

Part of the king's legacy is the Hotel Tjampuhan & Spa, which he had built in 1928 for guest. In 1934 it became the starting point for Pita Maha, an artists' association founded by Tjokorda Gde Agung Sukawati and the noted western artists Walter Spies and Rudolf Bonnet. The heart of the hotel is the former home of German artist Walter Spies — he also designed the hotel's pool.

It is set into the natural beauty of two river valleys where centuries ago the holy man Rçi Markandya was inspired to complete the building of the Mother Temple, Besakih.

Recently renovated and extended under the supervision of the royal family, the 67 cottages overlook the Ubud valley, monkey forest, the Puri Lukisan Museum of Balinese Art, the former king's palace, traditional former market, verdant rice terraces and coconut groves. There are small villages where families produce craft for the tourist trade.

All dwellings are built in traditional Balinese style, with thatched roofs, and are scattered among the landscaped terraces and gardens, offering private views of the tropical river valleys and the 900-year-old Gunung Lembah temple complex, which marks the meeting of the sacred Oos and Tjampuhan rivers below. Agung and Raja rooms each have a verandah or balcony, private bath and can be cooled by ceiling fans or air conditioning. There are two swimming pools and fish ponds. A carved grotto is set into the river valley and offers hot and cold whirlpool baths, sauna and steam rooms.

The Terrace Bar and Restaurant seats 60 and serves western, Indonesian and Balinese cuisine. Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 11am and dinner from 6.30pm to midnight. The Spa Café is always open for snacks while cocktails and afternoon tea are served in the main Pool Bar. Drinks and refreshments can be taken at the Spring Poolside bar from 10am.

The Movie House opens at 10am and room service is available from 7.30am until 11pm. There is also a library and spa — what would a hotel in Bali be without a range of body and facial treatments and Swedish massage.


One hour north of Denpasar on the island of Bali.


Air Paradise flies five times a week to Denpasar.

Flight Centre has four-night packages including return economy airfares and twin-share accommodation staying at Tjampuhan Resort & Spa, transfers and breakfast starting at $889 ex Perth, $1015 ex Brisbane, $1025 ex Adelaide, $1065 ex Melbourne and $1089 ex Sydney, per person.
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.

More information

Tjampuhan Hotel & Spa
Jalan Raya Campuhan
Ubud Indonesia 80571
Ph: 62 361 975 368

Many Australians are tempted to buy furniture to ship home while on holidays in Bali. For information on what you need to do, contact the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
Ph: 1800 020 504

BALI: It is recommended travellers to Bali see their doctor at least six weeks before departure. Travellers should be "in date" with vaccinations for polio, hepatitis A and B and tetanus. Depending on the time of year and exact destination, other precautions and preventions are recommended and best discussed with your doctor. For further information, visit

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