Luxury Villas: On the coast of Bali, Indonesia just inland from Seminyak, a short distance away from

the scars of development, the familiarity of commercialism and the chaos of transport is

the village Cepaka. Here, time slows down, the impact of western society dissipates and

sprawling rice paddies (which have supported families for generations) are defined by a

slow meandering river. And by this river sits Sungai Gold. A luxury Villa, laced with

tangible indulgent luxury, generous spaces and an acute attention to detail. All things are

hand made, hand chosen and custom designed, from the thatched rooves made from

dried alang alang grass, to the furniture made from local teak finished in chalky lime

wash and covered in batik fabric, to the fresh cut flowers. The hand of the craftsman is

time honoured and this element impregnates your psyche - it is part of the slowing down

and mending we crave in our busy lives. Oh, and the smell of the linen is heavenly.

A recent addition to the village Sungai Gold is a sanctuary for couples, honeymooners

and small families (it is the younger sister of the larger adjoining Villa Sungai and part of

the Bali Luxury Villa Collection -, The layout of the

villa is open, generous and well thought through. The neutral textured palette is so

pleasing on the eye and everything is done simply and well. You can't even imagine that

all this space is yours for your time here. Made up of 4 pavilions, the simple daily rituals

of sleeping, eating, relaxing and bathing create the pattern of your day. Time here is a

totally recuperating experience for your relationship, family, the soul and the senses.

Though close to many of the attractions, world class restaurants, shops and interests

Bali has to offer there is really no reason to leave the Villa or the village. In fact if you

don't want to see another Westerner I suggest you don't leave. Everything is at your

fingertips. Between dips in the 10m private plunge pool where darting white butterflies,

tiny birds and dragonflies skim down the river corridor, providing a constant visual

parade of activity, massage and yoga specialists are on call. If the sun gets too hot,

retreat to the 4-poster daybed or inside to the air-conditioned pavilion to catch up on a

movie. Three meals a day, snacks and an extensive selection of wine are available.

Food is sourced and cooked daily with local produce for both the western and

Indonesian menu, at an exceptionally high standard. It is obvious that time has been

taken to train the local staff to 5 star western standards. And the service is exceptional.

There is a staff member available for your every whim (including a car and driver for your

entire stay) and their sense of loyalty and pride for the Villa is apparent. The villa

supports 10 families locally and is integral to the local trade. However, careful attention

is given to ensure you don't feel overwhelmed by the service but are encouraged to

make the villa feel like home. And this is the difference between the luxury hotels and

villas in Bali.

Step outside the villa and it is not uncommon to see a cremation ceremony or rice husks

drying on the side of the narrow road lined by the lush wet rice terraces. Flustered

chooks, disgruntled pigs and bossy roosters keep the village lively in the down time

when the smiling faces of the kids are hidden behind the school gates. If it weren't for

the relentless call of the rooster marking the day, time would just dissipate. You could be

a million miles away from civilisation. It is comforting to feel that there is still something

sacred about this place. The Villa is a welcome retreat and sanctuary from the frenzy of

the other well-beaten tourist areas and within days here you find your centre. In this

heavenly tactile home away from home you really appreciate the ultimate luxury - time

and space.