Puri Ganesha

Ganesha is a hindu deity, the Elephant-God, Remover of Obstacles. And at this northern Balinese beachfront retreat, obstacles are certainly removed as the stress of modern life is gently, invisibly sloughed away.

Puri Ganesha is not really a hotel, a resort, a bed and breakfast, or a private villa. It’s really a little of all of these, and in a class of its own. Four traditional thatched roof villas stand side by side (with plenty of lovely lawned garden in between) on the beachfront at the tiny village of Pemuteran, which is something of a diver’s paradise. The villas are large and airy, decorated with teak furniture, antiques sourced from around Indonesia, and traditional textiles. The smooth warm timber underfoot, voile-tented beds big enough for you to semaphore your partner goodnight, and open air rock-garden bathrooms are impossibly romantic. However Puri Ganesha is also perfectly suited to groups of friends or family getaways.

During our stay, the other guests comprised two young English sisters treated to a few days’ luxury by their mother before beginning their backpacking trip around Australia, some ebullient Eurotrash dancing around their pool, and some Japanese honeymooners who might have been an endangered species, so rarely were they glimpsed.

Each villa has its own beachside pool and bale just metres from the white coral sand beach. A small outdoor pavilion serves as a private dining room where incredibly fresh, delicious, organic meals are served to order by your two personal staff who also act as housekeepers, concierges, and babysitters as required. One of the main draws at Puri Ganesha is its food – all locally sourced and cooked to owner Diana Von Cranach’s demanding specifications. There is a new menu every day, from salads and wraps through to Indonesian feasts and although you are of course free to eat out, it’s hard to see why. You know you’re in for a good thing when your bar snacks comprise fresh tempeh, outrageously perfumed exotic fruits and chocolate handmade by a renegade Belgian on neighbouring Java.

If you don’t want to dine in your own villa, there is a small “warung” style dining house and library to one end of the grounds, decorated in Puri Ganesha’s bright colours and perfect for a sundowner and a couple of spicy satay overlooking the beach. Just next door is a tiny saffron coloured building inlaid with coloured glass. This is the Lilliputian spa, just big enough for one person at a time to have a scented massage to the sound of the waves, and bathe in a flower filled bath before drowsily retracing their steps back to the villa.

Diana is a gregarious, knowledgeable and generous host who will basically organise anything you want: a shopping spree in Java across the strait, a wander through the local food market, a visit to neighbouring temples or some exceptional local diving in the clear and colourful waters off Pemuteran. Her husband Gusti is equally welcoming and has the warmest, widest smile I’ve ever seen. Both they and their staff have the knack of knowing when to step in and offer suggestions, advice, or just chat, and when to leave you in peace to laze amidst the gorgeous tropical surrounds.

Our staff, Budi and Illu were perfect. At first reserved, they quickly picked up our routines and needs. Best of all, our baby was soon whisked away at every opportunity, leaving us to read or sleep or swim, occasionally hearing a gurgling laugh or catching a glimpse of him, frangipani behind his ear, on his way to the staff kitchen to be fussed over and given treats.

Actually all the staff were all quite good at multi tasking. I noticed with a start that the gardener was in fact the same man who had given me a full body massage the evening before. He waved breezily at me.

If you want polish and glitter, or Disneyland Bali, Puri Ganesha is not it. Nobody cares if you’re wearing Gucci and the lobby is not going to be a marvel of sandstone architecture. Actually there is no lobby. But it’s telling that the day before we were due to fly out, I ran to Diana, made a few focussed phone calls and managed to extend our stay for 3 more days.


TEL. +61 (0) 459 990 459

Truant Travel Design

Specialising in exquisite lodgings and creating personalised itineraries throughout Australia and the world, Truant Travel Design is a private travel design firm based in Australia.