Beach Republic: a lesson in boozin’ it up

There are two things Beach Republic, located in the northern part of Lamai on Koh Samui, makes very clear:

You’re on holiday (!) — drink, drink and drink some more.

And, you, too, can own your own little slice of paradise on the island.

The exterior of Samui's Beach Republic

There is no escaping either of these two messages. Even in the hotel room, a daily “Manifesto” arrives each night, detailing what’s up for tomorrow. A brilliant little piece of marketing to reinforce the brand, the newsletter includes reminders of the Happy Hour special, a featured drink of the day, and a reminder that visitors can own their own spot (or share) in the property.

When I arrive to Beach Republic, it’s late in the afternoon on Sunday, and the daytime revelers seeking out one of the island’s best brunches (or so it is noted) have already departed as the clouds begin to roll through and the wind picks up.

Suite Style

I head to my suite, a spacious room on the second floor, ready to unwind.

A room at Beach Republic on Samui

The room is nice, it is sleek and modern with few accessories. But, it is also lacking a certain warmth I expect from a luxury resort on a tropical island — namely a view. My large patio overlooks, well, nothing really. There are palm trees to remind me I’m in a tropical place, but there are also power lines. When I sit outside on the patio, I can hear them buzzing.

Then, there’s the bed. It’s nice, although the pillows are far too squishy for my taste. (Note: the afternoon I leave, I notice on a table at reception that there is a pillow menu (!), something I would have loved to indulge in had I known about it.)

Instead of hanging around my room, I decide to explore the property.

I leave the main building, which houses the hotel rooms, and head down the paved path to the beach, passing large, white walls with wooden doors masking the posh villas with private pools from the view of the public and guests.

Passing the villas at Beach Republic

I can only imagine the luxury oozing in those rooms.

Signs at Beach Republic

The signage en route to the beach and pool is kitschy. The property has created the “Ministry of Information” and encourages readers to go, chill, drink and dine in the self-contained party environment.

Pool parties

The pool at Samui's Beach Republic

The pool area is gorgeous. Outfitted with plenty of plush lounge chairs, couches and large, canopied beds, it’s easy to see why people would flock here for a Sunday brunch party.

When I arrive, there are a few stragglers, but it is close to sunset, and most of them have likely partied enough for the day and headed to their rooms.

The pool at Beach Republic on Samui

In between the two pools, a DJ continues to spin chill tunes.

At first glance, it reminds me a lot of the Vegas pool scene, just void of the scantily clad, gorgeous bodies and drunken antics which seem to be out of control in the City of Sin. Here, it is far more relaxed. At least on this evening.

And then, of course, there is the beach.

Beach at Beach Republic

I settle into a seat at the restaurant and order a veggie burger and a Singha. It’s two-for-one beers, so the 120 baht price tag for one doesn’t hurt me as much as it would if it wasn’t a special.

Staff is friendly enough, they come up to me, chat, smile and make sure I get my beer and food.

Al fresco dining

Dining and chilling at Beach Republic

The food is another story. Dinner is OK. It’s a veggie burger, and you can’t really mess up veggie burgers (unless you go to one place by my house in Chiang Mai which contends a veggie burger is merely a fried hunk of mashed potatoes), and I love that there are pickles on the sandwich. Is it anything to write home about? Not really.

Breakfast the next day is similar. The morning buffet, which runs from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. has heaps of a la carte offerings and a selection of fruit, cereal and cheese, plus fresh-squeezed juices. I order poached eggs and sauteed potatoes. The eggs are fine, but the potatoes are served in a little pot and smothered in … cheese? I can’t tell. But, being someone who isn’t a huge fan of cheese, I try a little and decide to just sip my coffee and take in the killer view of the pool and sun-soaked white sand below.

The next day, I try out the french toast which boasts a sweet scattering of cinnamon, honey and other tasty ingredients. Again, it is just OK. I can’t really taste any of the sweet.

Spaghetti at Beach Republic

Lunch my last day was the best — a simple spaghetti aglio y olio with heaps of garlic and soaked in olive oil.

Location, location, location

Because of its location at the north end of town, there isn’t much to do in the area other than hang out at the pool and beach. So, that is exactly what I do. My last night, I head out of the property and into town. In the late afternoon, songthaews are scarce and the price taxis want to drive me 10 minutes down the road makes me roll my eyes. I opt to hop on a motorbike taxi for more than I would pay for a tuk tuk in Chiang Mai, and meet my friend for dinner and drinks at Black Pearl Restaurant.

The following day, the person at the front desk gives me a gorgeous little treat — a late check out to the tune of 4 p.m. But, not before telling me I can book a taxi back to the airport for a whopping 700 baht. I decide to skip the taxi and try my luck on the main street (which grants me a savings of 300 baht).

The bottom line

Would I stay here again? Yes —  if I had friends at the property and a wallet stuffed with baht to indulge in the boozing beachside. But, as a solo traveler who isn’t going to rage it up alone? Not likely. It just isn’t close enough to the city for me. Then again, I don’t think Beach Republic is made for those traveling solo looking to simply chill. It fosters an environment of true holiday spirit — fun and sun. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Hell, I almost want to go and scoop up my friends in Chiang Mai and whisk them down south with me for a sweet weekend of debauchery.

It is nice? Absolutely. The staff, the rooms, the property itself are gorgeous and presented well. I always felt comfortable and welcome. I would have liked to check out the spa, but I didn’t even find it until the last day of my stay, tucked behind the restaurant with a lone sign pointing somewhere.

Editor’s Note: My time stay was courtesy of Beach Republic, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

Dining Resorts Reviews

Rejuvenation at Breeze Spa

The Breeze Spa at Koh Samui's Amari

Joy, my massage therapist, rolls the hot rocks gently over the back of my legs, sending a jolt of electricity through my body.

I’m laying, face down, staring at a bowl full of flowers, breathing the aromatic scent of lavendar and other essential oils, as she slowly works the stones into my muscles, using them as a replacement for the kneading her hands would normally do.

Amari's Breeze Spa

Deciding to try the hot stone massage was easy. The day before my appointment at Amari’s Breeze Spa, I took a few minutes to sip a sugar-rimmed tropical drink, sit with a spa consultant and fill out a quick form to narrow down what treatment would be best for me.

After less than five minutes, it is decided: I want to relax (naturally, I’m on vacation) and come away from my treatment feeling rejuvenated. She gave me two choices for a massage, and I opted for this one.

Unwinding at Amari's Breeze Spa on Koh Samui

As an expat living in Thailand, I get massages all of the time. I’m not exaggerating. During lunch breaks at the office, I’m known to skip lunch and head to a local massage joint to get an hour-long head, neck, back, shoulder and arm pit stop. At night, you can find me at the open-air massage shop on Loi Kroh. I live for these massages.

Breeze isn’t like these though, it is a true spa versus a place where you go and lie down on a mat and put your head on a pillow.

As relaxing music fills the dimly lit room, I let myself go. I clear my mind of everything — elephants, Chiang Mai, America, you name it — and I give in to the overwhelming calm that begins to envelop my body.

The massage isn’t all hot stone. A good portion of it utilizes just Joy’s powerful hands.

Towards the end of my treatment, the stones go away and she begins to work on my head. Applying just enough pressure, she provides the best head massage I have ever gotten. To say it is the crowning glory of my treatment is an understatement. It is perfection.

The after-massage goodie at Amari's Breeze Spa

At the end of the treatment, I head back down to the reception area of the spa and am handed some hot water lilly tea and a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut.

A sweet ending to an even sweeter treatment.

Editor’s Note: My time stay was courtesy of Amari Palm Reef, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

Reviews Spas

Ahh, Amari

I have a checklist for what constitutes my version of paradise:

1. A gorgeous location

2. Something gorgeous to view

3. Someplace gorgeous to stay

4. The ability to tune out the real world and relish all of the gorgeous

Amari Palm Reef in Koh Samui is one example of my paradise. Located in the town of Chewang, it is far enough from the main drag, yet close enough to get to where the action is.

After taking my 130 baht taxi — which really isn’t a taxi at all but a van that shoves as many bums in the vehicle as there are seats and then heads to whatever section of the island the group is going, dropping them off at their respective hotels — and arriving to Amari, I know immediately I am in for a true vacation.

Reception at Amari Palm Reef

The open-air reception and lobby is outfitted with comfortable, beach-y lounges  topped with fresh-cut flowers, and staff with smiles on their faces.

I sit and fill out my reservation form and am handed a sweet fruit drink and scented, cold towel to refresh before I am taken to my room.

And, what a room it is.

The room

A junior suite at Amari Palm Reef

With 188 rooms, split between two areas (the main road intersects the property), I have the prime spot — an airy 45 meter junior suite on the second floor.The wall-to-wall sliding glass door opens out to a magical view of the pool, and beyond that the soft, white sand beach and glistening water.

The view from my junior suite at Amari

Of course, the first thing I ever do when I check into a hotel is try out the bed. Living in Thailand, the beds tend to be a bit harder than I am used to (or would like), but the bed in my room is about as perfect as they come. It’s soft, covered in lush sheets, topped with a crisp blanket and four pillows. I snuggle my head into the pillow.


It’s the best pillow I’ve ever rested my head on.


The decorations in the room are quiet, but evoke an Asian vibe, and its the little details that really bring the room to life — fresh flowers in a sleek glass vase, a sculpture above the bed, decoration pillows on the couch.



And then, there is the bathroom. A nice-sized tub is situated next to the vanity (which is stocked with my absolute favorite line, Elemis), and then a separate shower and private bathroom on the other side.

My favorite product, Elemis, in the room at Amari

In the closet, there is a beach bag, an amazingly plush robe, slippers and an umbrella for when it rains in paradise.

I glimpse out the window and look at the clear blue sky as the sun begins to cast that warming golden our glow, then head down to the Bar@C for a quick cocktail before heading out for the night.

When I return home to my room, and for the next two days, I struggle with the choice of staying in my room or heading down to the pool and beach.

I swear, it is actually a hard choice given how in love I am with the bright room, and, of course, my delicious bed.

My last night at Amari, I don’t do anything but relish the calm the room is able to evoke from me. I tuck myself into the soft robe and sit out on my balcony, watching as lanterns float into the sky, stars twinkle, and in the distance, a lightening storm erupts, casting blue streaks through the clouds.

The pool

There are two pools at Amari — one on each side of the road. Because my room is beachside, I stick to that pool. Here, there are plenty of lounge chairs and quick poolside service. One corner of the pool has a whirlpool to sit and relax in the sun. There is also a “water fall” of sorts separating the two main areas of the pool.

 The pool at Amari

The crowd is diverse — kids, couples, friends — and a few balls float in the pool, beckoning vacationers for a quick game.

I spend most of my time at the pool, but that’s only because the water in the pool is far cooler than that of the beach.

The beach

It’s beautiful.

The beach at Amari

It’s got incredibly soft sand, heaps of lounge chairs to lay on, but it’s the water that’s the problem.

The shore at Amari Palm Reef

Because it is so shallow in this part of Chewang, the water is warmer than a bath. I walk out a good distance, and it still doesn’t come up to my calves. The sea isn’t the best for swimming, but the view truly is spectacular.


Beds, couches and cozy tables create an idea of an alternative reality. While the booze is a bit pricey for my Chiang Mai standards, the luxurious lounge immediately gives way to a relaxation I haven’t felt in a long time. Sitting, sipping a cocktail and looking out as the sky turns to night over the water is a fantastic way to start my first night in Koh Samui, and more important, my first vacation in ages.

Beds at bar@c at Amari

During the day, I snack on fish and chips (OK, not fantastic), and by night I meet one of my closest friends in Thailand for a cold, albeit pricey by Chiang Mai standards, beer.


Chiang Mai has ruined me in regards to wine. The typical wine I can order up north is the Mont Clare box crap. So, when I sit down to dinner and see a multi-page wine list boasting wines from all over the world (hand selected by the hotel’s general manager, Martin Kunzmann), my eyes nearly pop out of my head. Wine! Sweet! Delicious! Wine! In bottles!

The extensive wine selection at Amari's Prego

That’s enough to make me fall in love.

The atmosphere at Amari's Prego on Koh Samui

But, there is more to Prego than just the wine. The open air restaurant situated across the street from the beachside half of Amari, has a chill vibe. And, gorgeous menu packed with Italian selections.

Sure, when in Thailand, eat Thai food. But, when there’s an Italian restaurant with items like Waygu on the menu, damn. Order. It. Up.

Even as a non-meat-eater, there are plenty of options. For my main course, the chef actually whips up a sensational sea bass served with grilled veggies and truffled, yes, truffled mashed potatoes. I haven’t had anything this divine since my Vegas days.

Since I’m so stuffed on the mashed potatoes (plus the smoked salmon app and main course), I can’t try any of the desserts, like the limoncello sorbet — even if my tastebuds say yes. Instead, I get a little glass of grappa to wash everything down.

I walk out feeling delighted, stuffed and blissfully happy.

Pizza at Amari's Prego on Koh Samui

The next day, I return to Prego to try one of the wood-fired pizzas. Perfectly crisp and delicious.

The breakfast buffet

Most breakfast buffets I encounter tend to lack veggie options. Not Amari.

The selection is huge and includes fresh-baked breads, an omelette station, cheese, fruit, pancakes, french toast and more — all served on the second floor of the resort’s other restaurant, Merante. With a view of the pool and sea, it is a great place to sip a morning cup of coffee, nosh on better-than-normal buffet items and prepare for a day in Koh Samui.

Breeze Spa

The Breeze Spa at Koh Samui's Amari

The spa offers a wide-range of treatments, including massage (naturally), scrubs and wraps, facials and more. While staying at Amari, I got a hot stone massage and loved it. Consultants meet with each person individually to determine what treatment would suit them best based on their needs, and then from there, it’s game on.

The customer service

I mentioned that everyone at reception had smiles. But, the customer service at Amari goes beyond that. When I want to book a trip off the island, the GM is the one to whip out a map and suggest places to check out. When I decided I want to head to a little island for the morning, his staff actually book me the trip, arrange a private car for me to explore other island goodies, and then slip an itinerary under my door that night with all of the details.

And, when my friend loses her phone, the front desk is the one to get on the phone and speak Thai to places she could have left it. Above and beyond the normal call of customer service, and something we are both grateful for, even if the phone never turns up.

The bottom line

Amari is luxurious without being pretentious; posh without being exclusive.  It’s a place where couples, families and friends can all feel comfortable. The spa, with specials during the low season, is great value for the treatments. Prego is a fantastic spot for a fancy dinner, laid back lunch or just to sip wine (my favorite!). The property is close enough to the party of Chewang without being in the party, and given that transportation on the island can cost a good bit, its nice to know you don’t have to hop in a cab to experience something other than the property. For those in need of wifi, it is fast and log-in is easy. Plus, the entire resort is outfitted with it so you can make all of your friends jealous with those feet-in-the-sand pics on Facebook. Would I stay here again? Absolutely.

Editor’s Note: My time stay was courtesy of Amari Palm Reef, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

Resorts Reviews

Life is a dream at Dream Hotel

For someone that has only stayed in one hotel in Bangkok, and no idea where anything is, deciding on a hotel to find in the massive city can be … oh … just a tad overwhelming.

So, I simply go to Agoda to research hotels.

Given that this trip to BKK — and my escaping Chiang Mai —  is a must for my sanity, I decide my sanity is also in need of some posh indulgence.

That’s when I see the listing for Dream Hotel. Five stars. Excellent reviews. In the neighborhood I want.

Sold. Booked.

And, what a dream the hotel is.

Bangkok's Dream Hotel

The room

After breezing into Bangkok and hopping into a cab, my driver turns down Soi 15 in Sukhumvit and immediately I know Dream isn’t going to let me down. The sparkly, spin-y disco ball cube spinning in the middle of the driveway makes me smile. And, in this moment, I need to smile.

The lobby is swank, sleek … hip. And then, there’s the room.

My oh-so gorgeous room with blue mood lighting under the bed and on the wall. It oozes sexy.

Then, there’s the bed.

It speaks to me.

“D,” the fluffy white duvet whispers, “don’t I look amazing?”

“Put your head on me,” tease the pillows.

Compared to my apartment at Smith, this bed simply looks like heaven.

I toss my carry-on onto the little stand and immediately jump into the bed.


This bed is heaven. Soft. Perfect. If I didn’t have a hair cut/color in two hours, and work to get done, I’d skip the entire day and just pass out.

Which I do later that night after dinner with friends.

Needless to say, the sleep I have is incredibly restful … and incredibly comfortable.

Dtravelsround at Dream Hotel in Bangkok

In the morning, I head down to breakfast in the restaurant and grab some food. While it’s lacking in vegetarian options, what I do manage to grab is good.

Then, it is off to the spa for some more ahhhh.

The spa

Because I book in early (before noon), I get a 1000 baht discount, which means the honey body scrub, oil massage and facial is only around 2000 baht AKA highway robbery in America.

In the spa, I disrobe and let my practitioner work the scrub into my dull skin. While it is super sticky (it is honey), the shower at the end of it leaves my skin feeling softer than a baby’s. Super soft. And, yeah, glowing.

Then, time for the massage.

I love massages in Thailand. LOVE. But, this? This isn’t a Thai massage. It is akin to my treatment in Bali at Grand Mirage … gorgeous.

I lay there as she rubs my muscles and try to get over my funk. To get over my rut. I repeat a mantra in my head for more than an hour as she massages my body and gives me a facial.

When the treatment is over, I feel like a new person. And, far happier than I was before. There’s something to be said for just letting yourself breathe.

The pool

Relaxed, I head across the street to Dream’s other location and up to the top floor to get some pool time on the roof deck. Immediately, I head to the bar and grab a white wine and sit back, getting lost in my own thoughts for a bit before I jump into the chilly waters. Once the initial shock of the cold subsides, I refuse to move another inch and just soak as I sit and laugh with my friends.

The bottom line

For the $74 I paid for a king bed each night, this place is perfect. Staff are great. Facilities are nice. Restaurant is a bit overpriced, but I didn’t even mind. This was my mini-vacation. As I leave back to Chiang Mai, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I’m ready to go back home. At least for now.

Asia Blog Hotel Reviews Spas Thailand

Hip and hot: LA’s Hotel Wilshire

Travel always exhausts me. So, when I had a chance to break up my trip from Maryland to Las Vegas to Los Angeles to Narita to Bangkok to Chiang Mai courtesy of some weird overnight stop over in LA, I jumped at spending the night in luxury.

After flying across the country to Las Vegas, having drinks in Vegas with Abby (one of my favorite people in the world) and then hopping on another plane to LA, the tired seeping into my body is undeniable.

Photo courtesy Hotel Wilshire

Photo courtesy Hotel Wilshire

Thankfully, as soon as I pull up to the Hotel Wilshire, previously a medical center, some of that washes away as my eyes light up at the hip facade in front of me.

It just looks so … sleek. The tiny lobby of the hotel doesn’t do the property justice. It only teases with slick modern furniture and some art installations. Fortunately, as soon as I walk into my deluxe room, I am entirely satisfied.

Deluxe room at Hotel Wilshire

There’s a gorgeous bathroom with a shower that makes my mouth water — especially after my somewhat inadequate bathroom experiences in SE Asia (minus the Grand Mirage).

A plush robe at Hotel Wilshire

And, although the room isn’t that big, as soon as fling myself onto the bed, I am utterly happy. Plus, there is a fluffy bathrobe to wear. I decide quickly that little soft piece of goodness will be what I sleep in this evening.

The mattress is marshmallow soft, and the pillows … mmm … the pillows cave to my head and let me sink into another world. A world that I know will grant me a decadent sleep before a major trip across the Pacific.

Photo courtesy Hotel Wilshire

Photo courtesy Hotel Wilshire

But, first I have to head upstairs to The Roof on Wilshire. I sadly remove myself from the soft comfort of the bed, thrown on shoes and head up to the top of the hotel for dinner.

It’s night time and on this gorgeous deck with a pool and fire pits, the lights of LA twinkle and glitter on all sides. I breathe in the balmy air before I take a seat at a table with overstuffed cushions.

Other than the mass amounts of hipsters hanging out around fire pits and clogging my view of the city, it is beautiful. I can see why this is one of the hotter spots to go in LA for a pool scene. By day, I can only imagine what incognito celebrities would hang out here, donning their designer swimsuits and wide-brimmed hats.

For me, it is a perfect way to finish up my day of travel.

Over dinner and drinks with a friend, we soak up the evening. I’m a bit of a dining snob after spending time in Las Vegas and working in the restaurant industry, so when I learn Eric Greenspan, Food Network’s Iron Chef 2010, is at the helms of the restaurant, I can feel the drool form. Considered California/French food, my friend and I order little snacks to try — the fresh tuna Nori Nachos, a big bowl of greens (Wilshire Salad), and an apple tart for dessert.

The food is pretty good, minus the dessert, which is disappointingly bland and not worth the calories. And the wine the server recommends from Ojai to pair with our meal is smooth but probably not the best one to go with the food we chose. But still … not a bad dining experience.

Then, it is back down to bed. As I slip between the plush Italian Frette bedding  and snuggle into my pillows, sleep takes over and I am treated to a decadent night of peace before I head back out into the travel world.

Sadly, since I stayed there the property became a part of the Kimpton brand. I was a few weeks too early for many of the signature Kimpton goodies, like the nightly wine hour, bike rentals and morning coffee (I was up far too early). So, next time I head there, I have to spend a little more time enjoying the amenities and a little less time sleeping. I did love the free and super speedy wifi.

Getting there:  From LAX, you will need to either rent a car or take a cab. Located on Wilshire Blvd. straddling Hollywood and Beverly Hills, the cab costs about $50.

The bottom line:  The 74-room LEED-certified hotel (one of only two LEED-certified under the Kimpton brand) is a nice respite from the mad dash of the city surrounding me. The room is on the small side, but the creature comforts — like the delicious bed — are fantastic. The Rooftop on Wilshire is trendy and I can see why people flock to it — the view is spectacular. It would have been nice to see a more diverse crowd there, but it is still a cool scene. Bonus — it isn’t far from LAX and when you’ve got a flight to catch, even in traffic, you won’t have to leave hours before your flight.

Editor’s Note: My time stay was courtesy of Hotel Wilshire, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy


Hotel Reviews

Preview: Bali’s Five-Star Samabe Resort

A monkey guards the make-shift gate as we pull into Samabe Resort, Grand Mirage Resort’s sister property, located in Nusa Dua.

Right now, Samabe Resort isn’t quite there — it’s wrapping construction with an opening set for early 2013. But, even as we walk through the white sand and the still-under-construction villas and suites, I can tell one thing: this resort is going to give all of the others on this part of the exotic island a run for its money.

Perched high on a cliff, when Samabe Resort opens, the five-star resort will epitomize luxury.

It’s easy to imagine sitting on this villa’s terrace at twilight. Photo courtesy Samabe Resort.

I’m not kidding.

Think personal butlers, private pools for each villa, complimentary spa treatments, yoga, organic meals, a daily cocktail hour (which I can envision being a highlight for me) and more. All-inclusive.

A birds-eye-view of Samabe Resort. Rendering courtesy Samabe Resort.

Spread across 16 luscious acres of tropical land, Samabe Resort will offer 35 free-standing villas and 39 suites — one and two bedroom villas and suites — plus seven penthouse villas and the Royal Samabe Residence, essentially a two-bedroom home with infinity pool. Each and every one offering unobstructed ocean views.

The sales manager weaves Daniel and I through the grounds and buildings, explaining the little details, like the bamboo thatched roofing which will have to be replaced regularly, but  a “must” in order to echo the Balinese architecture the resort prides itself on presenting. Each room is decorated with culture in mind, tapping in to woods, colors, accents and more, giving guests more than just a typical hotel room.

A villa bedroom. Ahhh. Photo courtesy Samabe Resort.

We step into one of the suites, a gorgeous expanse of room with doors opening out onto a large balcony with a stunning view of the blue-green Indian Ocean. We’re high up, and looking down, down, down I immediately lust for the room to be complete and to be sitting out here on plush patio furniture, sipping a glass of champagne.

A suite bedroom at Samabe Resort. Photo courtesy Samabe Resort.

It’s that gorgeous.

At one point, standing on the balcony and letting the hot air gently tousle my hair, I close my eyes and imagine what it would be like to stay in the finished product. Only one word comes to mind — heaven.

The view from said suite.


Editor’s Note: My time in Bali was courtesy of Grand Mirage Resort, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy

Resorts Reviews

Devdan: a glimpse of Indonesian culture in Bali

The lights dim and then burn the eyes, a man and woman appear on opposite ends of the stage. Staring longingly at each other. What transpires next is a mix of sensuality, passion and dancing that leaves the audience entranced.


Photo courtesy of Devdan

The couple merges together, holding onto thick ribbons hung from the top of the stage. They intertwine, hold, lift into the air together, part and reunite, telling a story of forbidden love. The background: Borneo. But, on a stage far away … in Nusa Dua on the island of Bali.

After the dance, the lights dim once again. This time, a group of female dancers splash in the man-made river at the lip of the stage. There’s fire. There’s rain. It’s an all-out production and visually stunning.


Photo courtesy of Devdan

Tonight, we’ve taken a break from the all-inlcusive paradise at Bali’s Grand Mirage and headed into the tourist enclave on the island to see “Devdan — the treasure of the Archipelago.”

It’s a far cry from all-you-can-eat-and-drink. In this moment, we’re soaking in the culture of Indonesia. And it is beautiful.


Photo courtesy Devdan

This stage performance, which has only been around for a little more than a year, is one way to learn more about the rich cultures that make up Indonesia. Part-Cirque and all dance, the 90-minute show takes audience members through traditional dances and more of Bali, Sumatra, Java, Borneo and Papua.

The show begins when two children separate themselves from a tour group and find a treasure chest which transports them to different cultures of Indonesia. With exotic costumes, traditional dances, whimsical performances that include rain, fire and even a boat ride, the children’s eyes are opened to more than they ever expected.

“Devdan” exposes audience members to quite the spectacle, merging history, love and contemporary themes into an entertaining show.

The bottom line: I really enjoyed this performance. Each cultural performance spans about 20 minutes or so. My favorite was Borneo, which plays out a gorgeous love story that is sexy and took me back to Cirque and Las Vegas. The dancers are ridiculously talented and the production value — other than the tracked dialogue of the children — is high quality, complete with breathtaking special effects. However, the one part that left me scratching my head was the hip hop dance that was awkwardly stuck into the show. Yes, the dancing was great, but it just didn’t seem to fit the rest of the show, which is designed to highlight some of the many cultures of Indonesia. 

Editor’s Note: I was a guest of Devdan, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy


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