With a big age milestone looming, I've been pondering the many forms of celebration. A low key dinner with lots of Shanghai dumplings, drinks with friends at an old reliable or a family holiday. In reality, my vanity has decided on none of these, ignoring the event entirely, but I have also found my back-up option for a group getaway.
Villa The Sanctuary is a unique exclusive-booking property that boasts enough villas to sleep up to 16 adults (ask about their bunk bed set-up to accommodate a further 20 children).
A master sanctuary (for the star of the trip perhaps?) is a retreat in itself, with an outdoor rain shower, deep tub, verandah and pool overlooking the resort river.
Complete tranquility and privacy is guaranteed. The Sanctuary owns the surrounding land and across the river.
An entertainment hut with open air lounging and pool table allows your group to relax in the evening. For parties, this can be turned in to a bar and dance floor, with DJ facilities available.
The villa is centred by the infinity pool, leading up to the main dining area. Perched overlooking the pool and river, you are served by attentive staff on a long polished table with warm lighting.
Cuisine is changed daily and is at your request. Want Mexican? No problem. Can't get in to Mama San? Don't worry, the chef here has red curry perfected. If you're in the mood for something, he can make it for you. The produce is all sourced locally and on the day, so it's fresh.
The villas are dabbled around the grounds, giving you space just enough space from your other guests. It makes you feel like you've booked out a resort just for yourselves.
Bali weddings, a thing so common these days, can avoid the stigma by using The Sanctuary as an intimate setting for nuptials. You and your guests feel like you're on your own island here, surrounded by the river and private grounds.
Furnished in a distinctly Balinese aesthetic, you still get the amenities you'd expect from a hotel. Turn down service is prompt and the king beds are spread with silky sheets and mosquito nets.
Waking up to this view each morning, I really didn't miss the hustle of Seminyak. I had come to a sanctuary and still had the best of what the towns could offer. That said, you have your own driver provided to you as part of the booking and you're only minutes away from Canggu or 20 minutes from Seminyak. The best part is that you could do all this with your friends.
The Sanctuary is flooded with bookings for the year, as the Belgian owner, Frank, tells me. And it's no surprise. You could easily spoil your staff for a yearly retreat, celebrate your nuptials, have an annual family get together or embrace that not-so-flattering birthday number. In fact, if I was visiting Bali with a large group, I'd skip Seminyak altogether and just book The Sanctuary. The driver at your disposal will take you to the markets in the day, the town at night and the beach when you need. And if you feel like none of those things you've got your own resort with chef to enjoy with your loved ones in complete privacy.
ROOM PICK: Master sanctuary (if you're the guest of honour).
WIFI: Yes, included in the booking throughout the grounds.
CHECKING: Organised upon booking - driver provided.
BREAKFAST: Up to you.
RATES: On request.
CHILDREN: Yes, welcome. Bring lawn games for their enjoyment.
IN-ROOM: TV, air con, shower, fridge.
MINI BAR: Yes, plenty of bottled water provided.