A visit to Bali can be a journey of discovery, a journey through time where you learn that Hinduism was introduced to the area from India and adopted by the Majapahit Javanese, the dominant force of the time. Bali was conquered in the 9th century and fell under the influence of the Majapahit empire. In the 14th and 15th centuries the influence of the Javanese began to wane and in 1540, Bali was united under Dewa Agungk, a powerful and charismatic ruler.
In 1597 the Dutch came and went as they were unable to exert any influence on the defiantly individual Balinese and didn't return for 250 years. Sir Stamford Raffles visited but his plans for a trading station came to nothing and in 1817 it was all handed back to the Dutch.
There are many influences of this mixed past to be seen on the Indonesian island today, adding to its popularity as a holiday spot.
Jim Elliott is an Australian painter and nine years ago built a villa for himself, incorporating traditional Balinese architecture with modern, western conveniences for his creative needs. Friends who were impressed by the simple elegance and comfort of Jim's efforts encouraged him to build villas for them.
The formula is a simple one a private villa that is a world within a world, four walls holding lush gardens, individual thatched roofed bungalows centred around a deep water swimming pool and touched off with the latest audio visual equipment.
As many of the villas were built purely as holiday getaways, the owners decided to rent them out, originally to family and friends, but when word spread and the demand grew, Villas Bali Hotel & Spa was born.
Each villa has its own kitchen where guests can prepare meals or have a chef prepare a private dinner for two or a barbecue dinner for a group. Full breakfast is provided each day and can be taken in your villa or in the courtyard of Prana restaurant.
Each of the 16, one-bedroom villas has a private entrance and garden, separate dining area, air-conditioned bedrooms and mosquito nets, en suite bathrooms, television, internet, maxi bar and housekeeper.
There are seven two-bedroom villas with identical bedrooms opening onto a large pool, sunbathing area and beautiful gardens. They have fully equipped kitchens and separate dining and lounge areas.
The 25 three-bedroom villas have two identical bedrooms and the third is a separate round villa, located across the garden from the other two. All three open onto a large pool and have all the facilities of the other villas.
Prana Spa, a riot of colours with décor inspired by the legendary moguls of 16th century Rajistan, takes you into a world of amazing opulence. It is relaxed and exotic at the same time with arches and corridors, turrets, carved elephant heads and walls resembling palace battlements. There are lavish carpets, hand-painted ceilings, mosaics and carvings and dreams of pampering by skilled therapists in elaborate treatment rooms and plunge pools.
Prana Restaurant uses organic vegetables, as well as special herbal ingredients and cleansing drinks. For those with more conventional tastes, they also offer traditional Balinese and western meals.
Seminyak is a favourite with locals and expats and is alive with up-market shopping, international-standard eating places, lively bars and a long stretch of golden beach.