Located at less-traversed side of Bali, the Karma Kandara resort is a getaway tailor-made for those looking for a true sanctuary from a hectic urbanite existence. Its hushed ambience resting between serene beaches and a tropical setting, the resort balances the traditional — Bali-style vast villas — and the modern with its premium amenities. Also, there are lots of friendly monkeys roaming about — that's always a fun sight.
As part of the Karma Royal Group — which has more than 20 resorts all over the world — Karma Kandara finds its delicate location at Ungasan, relatively close to the well-known Uluwatu area, and perched between a dramatic view of the Indian Ocean and the tropical jungle area of Bali's southern Bukit Peninsula region.
The resort boasts a good deal of versatile entertainment, fit for families, couples, younger and older groups. On our visit, we saw a good balance of local and international tourists and visitors — with a healthy dose of local celebrities roaming around.
There's a Kids Club which provides a slew of activities from kite-making, face painting, to pot coloring to keep younger kids busy. Maintained by a couple of friendly assistants, the club also offers a baby-sitting service (though this needs to be booked in advance) for parents who may wish for a few hours of alone time sans-random-yelps.
Those parents — or any visitor, actually — may wish to relax with the help of the island's spa service, which offers massages or various kinds, facial, sauna-on-the-literal-hill, and a whirl pool — all while facing the ocean. It's an undoubtedly premium-class delight.
Karma Kandara serves up its culinary delight through its restaurants and bars. Di Mare, which serves both Western and Asian menus, lives up to its name (“Of the ocean” in Italian) with particularly splendid breakfast offerings (the poached egg and fresh salmon combination is a must-try). The restaurant's wine collection is also welcome, as is its pairing of cheeses and pastries. Di Mare also serves up a good dose of sweet desserts and fruits for those with sweeter tooth. Perhaps best of all, the restaurant provides the best view of the sea, from 85 meter “above the surf on a rocky outcrop” as the resort's official description aptly puts it.
Those wanting a more-casual dine and snack experience would do well hanging at the Temple Lounge and Bar, which provides the resort's best view of the beach and ocean.
As its official description says, the Temple Lounge “evokes a North African ambience. Plush, colorful banquettes, Shisa pipes and giant Moroccan stained glass lanterns create a Kasbah-like setting where guests enjoy custom cocktails and Mideast-inspired tapas-style dishes served at a whimsical market stall.” It is indeed the most pleasurable place on the resort for some fresh sea cocktail dining and beverages.
From there on, visitors could — and should — take the hill tram, which glides down the 85-meter slope to the beach. It's quiet a ride, like a slow-descending roller coaster — though interestingly, it seems that visitors used to jog down a long flight of stairs to get to the beach as a signage near the tram's entrance show.
In any case, the tram leads to one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali, with crystal-clear water and white sands. The tides do get pretty rough, with corals and rocks sometimes getting swept strongly with each wave. Younger children, in particular, should be accompanied by adults.
On the beach, visitors will also be able to dine and wine inside the Beach Bar, located right at the beach, delighting in some of the fine items on the menu while looking out towards the beach, and — if the weather's right — enjoy the sunset or sundown.
Founded somewhat on rock'n'roll principles, the Karma group began as a project by one John Spence, who, in his youth, thought he had found his calling as a musician. Alas, it was not meant to be because, as he puts it “I thought I was the best guitar player in the world; turns out I was the worst.”
Moving on to be a booking agent for some of the world's biggest names — even if they were not yet so back then — such as Boy George's Culture Club, Bananarama, and the Eurythmics, the UK-born Spence then discovered, again, that he was not exactly the best booking agent there was.
Soon enough, however, Spence emptied out his savings to dive deep into the property business. With marketing skills to boot, he finally discovered his true calling. He founded the Karma Royal Group, which has grown to host an impressive portfolio of brands including Royal Resorts, Karma Resorts, Karma Estates, Beach Clubs International and Karma Spa. More recently, the Karma Royal Group has acquired locations in Europe and Japan in order to spearhead the upcoming launch of Karma Ski.
More recently, Spence and his group have acquired new projects including the Karma St. Martin’s on the Isles of Scilly in the UK; Karma Reef on Gili Meno in Lombok; Karma Bavaria ski resort in Germany; and the Karma Rottnest on Rottnest Island, Western Australia. There is also the development of Karma Bahamas on Little Harbour Island in the Bahamas. The group is also undertaking purchases of iconic estates — such as the magnificent former country home of Laura Ashley “Le Preverger” on France's Cote D’Azur, and the “Final Release” at flagship property Karma Kandara in Bali.
His success means that Spence knows his luck, and as his brand's moniker suggests — he feels compelled to give back.
“Whatever you give to the universe comes back. That’s where the whole ‘karma’ thing comes from. We support many hundreds of children in Bangalore and in Bali. I believe it’s everyone’s duty to do what they can to help the world. ”