IN A CLASS OF ITS OWN
WITH THE GRAND OPENING OF YANIE AND NIGEL MASON’S MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR UBUD ADVENTURE CENTRE, SITUATED ALONG THE BANKS OF UBUD’S STUNNING AYUNG RIVER, RELAXED FINE DINING, A WORLD-CLASS JAPANESE SPA AND THE MOST EXCITING ENTERTAINMENT VENUE TO BLESS THE ISLAND’S LIVELY CULTURAL CENTRE IS NOW A REALITY.
With breathtaking views along a pristine river valley located in the charming village of Kedewatan, just a few minutes from the Ubud Palace, the Mason’s white-water rafting headquarters for Bali Adventure Tours has been re-energised into a four-storey architectural showpiece, a testament to the direction of where Bali’s tourism industry is heading and it’s top-class all the way. With a grand opening that attracted the island’s who’s who, guests were treated to a taste of epicurean delights, live musical performances and an impressive art exhibition presented by Jun Inoue, one of Japan’s hottest young artists.
As soon as you enter through the main entry’s floor-to-ceiling glass doors, every sense is catered to. Fresh European pastries and succulent Australian pies tempt you in the impeccably modern bakery and gourmet market, perfect for early morning rafters who didn’t have time to catch breakfast. Vivid, eye-catching paint strokes capture your attention as you ascend the grand staircase, the result of Inoue’s internationally recognised talent. The Masons have not only created a premier tourist destination, one that is certainly in a class of its own in Ubud, but also a spectacular attraction for Bali’s full-time families, couples and groups of friends who are looking for something new and different to try.
All expats realise that Bali offers a peerless lifestyle, and there’s no better way to appreciate our charmed existence than to leave every now and then, reminding us of all the wonderful aspects of island life. Thanks to Shinto Spa, Yanie’s artful conceptualisation of an authentic Japanese spa experience, there’s no need to book a ticket to Kyoto or Tokyo. Just head straight up to Kedewatan for a half-day getaway as soothing bamboo water features, delicate paper lanterns, collectible works of art, modern minimalist furnishings, richly appointment spa suites, and futuristic treatment pods take you on a magic carpet ride to the land of the rising sun.
Starting with a chilled shot glass of refreshing aloe vera juice and lasting all the way through to three delicate morsels of mochi served post-treatment, your experience at Shinto is revitalising down time. A tranquil wooden deck furnished with mocha brown Santai beanbag chairs looks out onto koi ponds and down to a stunning infinity edge swimming pool. The treatment rooms are designed to feel like an exquisite Japanese residence, with wooden framed sliding doors that resemble those made from rice paper. The therapist gently removes our sandals to replace them with signature bamboo print slippers and a matching cotton kimono. I can tell already that we aren’t going to be too happy giving these back at the end of the day.
The best part about enjoying a spa treatment at Shinto Spa is the sumptuous meal that will follow. Having operated one of Legian’s most popular restaurants in the 1980’s and 90’s, the Masons know how to spoil guests rotten, and they have raised the bar with their new dining venues to create a truly five-star experience. Yanie’s Restaurant keeps the Japanese fantasy going with a premier sushi bar and a la carte specialties. Having hired one of the most talented Indonesian chefs to helm the kitchen, Executive Chef Tiwie is refreshingly humble and inspiring as she talks about how she worked closely with the Masons to create each venue’s impressive menu.
The first dish to arrive is the chef’s white tomato soup. With an intense preparation process that starts two days in advance to attain the pure essence of the clear tomato juice, it is combined with a hint of garlic and a rich cream base. Complemented with a simple fried mussel served on its own half shell, this dish is perfect for a misty Ubud afternoon. Next, Chef Tiwie wows us with her opulent presentation style as what sounded like a simple salmon salad is artfully showcased on a glamourous platter, complemented with a wedge of Romaine lettuce drizzled in a pesto vinaigrette, a slice of crisp bacon, and of course, a hearty sliver of imported salmon cooked to perfection.
Introducing us to one of Nigel’s favourite dishes, a Chateaubriand steak prepared medium rare is served with a stylish flair upon a ceramic platter shaped like a painter’s palette. The meat is braised in vodka and sherry sauce and complemented with a dollop of mash that has been creatively spiced with just a hint of nutmeg and sprinkled with crushed pistachio nuts. Locally sourced Bedugul cherry tomatoes and king oyster mushrooms complete the show when dipped in a tantalising balsamic vinegar reduction. And if you have an ounce of room left, don’t pass up the chance to try Nigel’s beloved ‘vanilla slice’, a mille feuille that is available in the bakery. Chef Twie divulges that she had to go through four rounds of trials just to get it perfect.