TRAVEL & TOURISM

Inside the Bali villa where the Obamas stayed

In what was one of the world's worst kept secrets, the former US president Barack Obama and his family descended on Bali recently for a holiday. (Supplied)

This year, Bali was named the world's best tourist destination by TripAdvisor, taking out London and Paris to claim the top spot. Remarkably, users of the site ranked the unlikely underdog above New York and Rome in 2017, and tellingly, the Indonesian island remains the only Asian destination listed in the top five. With Bali's mix of cutting-edge cuisine, tropical urban vibes, golden beaches and dramatic natural landscape, it seems the world can't get enough of this volcanic island paradise.

Even the Obamas are hooked.

In what was one of the world's worst kept secrets, the former US president Barack Obama and his family descended on Bali recently for a holiday, where they were shuttled from the airport via police motorcade (Obama refused an offer from Bali's military airbase commander to shut down the airport) to the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan in Ubud. A peaceful luxury retreat set among lush jungle on the banks of the Ayung River, the constant hum of cicadas and chirping of birds would have made for a welcome respite from life in office.

Rumoured to have stayed in the hotel's luxe three-bedroom, riverfront Royal Villa, the Obamas would have been well looked after, with a private heated pool leading onto a spacious garden and a chef on hand to cook meals in-house. Guests to the Royal Villa are also treated to complimentary canapes in the outdoor dining pavillion every afternoon.

Set over two levels, with a discreet facade and a tasetful, understated interior, this is not the ostentatious abode ordinarily befitting American royalty, despite it's $7500-a-night price tag. But then, the Obamas have never been the typical First Family. A tranquil lily pond and shaded meditation area greets guests upon arrival to the villa, where stairs spiral down to the entry on the seond floor. Though he may be out of the top job, it seems work is still very much on the mind of the former US president, who was particularly taken with the teak writing desk in the master bedroom, a striking piece decorated with mother of pearl inlay.

According to one hotel guest, the Obamas were keen to keep calm and carry on as normal during their stay at the hotel, despite their public profile. Michelle attended yoga classes and booked in for regular spa treatments, while Barack was spotted joking with guests following a whitewater rafting trip, quick to make light of the large audience who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the former US president as he alighted from the vessel.

The Obamas may be gone, but their legacy lives on, even in Bali. The former US president's visit is predicted to boost tourism to the island and the Indonesian government is actively encouraging local tour companies to offer 'Obama Bali Tour' packages four tourists keen to follow in the former First Family's footsteps. This would include visits to attractions such as the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Jatiluwih rice terraces and a whitewater rafting trip on the Ayung River.

 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 16 August 2017 KSA 11:02 - GMT 08:02
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