This post is brought to you by The Ritz-Carlton
I have been asked many times a rather simple question: why do I travel? It seems simple enough, but the answer is not as straightforward. I travel for many reasons – to search for the sun, to have some down time, to spend quality time with friends, family and my better half. I also travel to discover wonderful destinations and learn about their culture, history and food. And I always try to get away to celebrate my birthday or Mr. O’s. Or our anniversary, of course. Oh, and I also travel to shop – and that qualifies as an important milestone in my book.
But this time around, we travelled for a very different reason. We travelled all the way to Bali, in Indonesia (obviously to do a bit of everything I mentioned earlier), but for something different: to prepare for a medical operation.
My husband Simon has many good qualities, but his knees aren’t his best feature. For the past 6 years, we have been through 3 knee arthroscopies which meant a 3-week recuperation period but after the last one, we knew the big op was coming. The big op was a partial knee replacement. Which meant at least 8 weeks away from the office, planes, beaches and any driving.
Scheduling 8 weeks off our diaries, namely my husband’s wasn’t easy, and due to the nature of his work and my day time job (as a marketing consultant), the best time to do it was during the Summer, in early July. So in March we made that decision and decided to book a very special trip: we were going all the way to Bali, in Indonesia.
We spent some time in Seminyak, which we really liked, but the ultimate destination was Ubud, and more precisely, the Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which promised to be the perfect place to get a final hurrah before the op. We did manage to squeeze in a long weekend in Spain and a weekend in Scotland just before the big day, but this was *the* trip.
So why was Bali our chosen destination to prepare for this operation?
I tell no lies. Every now and then, a hotel can be a destination (I unashamedly have plenty of those in my life), and in this case, we knew we were in for something pretty special. It was exceptional and we felt that 4 days were not enough. From incredible decor to impeccable grounds, it really had it all.
We had never been to Indonesia and it was always on our list. It wasn’t a hop and a skip from London – we flew to Paris, then on to Doha (6h) and then onwards to Denpasar (9h) and it kind of took us 24 hours, with the time difference and transfers to get there. Whilst we really enjoyed Seminyak, the destination of the trip was, without a doubt, Ubud, also known as the cultural capital of Bali. We really got into it, and enjoyed plenty of time outside the hotel – we went to the town for some meals, for shopping and what not. But our favourite moment was a private tour on a vintage VW organised by the hotel that took us to the key temples around us. I loved its simplicity and how much we got from a 5-hour trip.
We fell madly in love with Indonesian food. The meat skewers, the soups, the mango sticky rice – you name it, we had it. We enjoyed a variety of meals at the hotel – from a picnic by the river, to a candlelit dinner on the rice fields, to a fabulously simple spring roll feast by the pool.
We loved the options we had – and how the hotel was not afraid to proudly serve local cuisine, and not ‘just a little bit’ for show. We also loved asking those who worked there to help us navigate the menus as we had no idea – we also got them to pick their local favourite dishes for us. Service was exceptional – some of the best we have experienced, yet so friendly.
I also loved how the hotel was not afraid to send us to simple places in town for lunch – because quality is what matters and we really had some exceptional meals. Some for $150 a head, others for $15. Because who cares?
The peace and quiet
We really needed some of this and that is why we chose Ubud was our destination. We had a private villa with a pool, which was perfect. We did not have to see anyone when we did not want to – and gin & tonics made their way to our villa pretty quickly.
At times, yes, we wanted to see others but nothing was forced – and that is what I loved about it. We had time to sleep, to go to the spa, to talk to each other and also not to talk at all and just be together. And this was the perfect place to do so.
The operation went very well and so has the recovery. But having been on a big trip before the operation really made it special for us – we picked somewhere different from where we normally go, and there could have been a closer option, but we surely celebrated and cherished this moment.
Travel is about celebrating whatever matters to you – what have you celebrated recently?
Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton, who has asked me to share a special moment of my recent travels. Opinions are, as always, my own.