Photographer Laura Grier is always on the move — be it shooting destination weddings and engagement shoots around the world with her company Beautiful Day Photography, or capturing the work of indigenous craftspeople in developing countries with NOVICA/National Geographic. As much as she likes to go someplace new, she also keeps returning to one special place: Bali, Indonesia. Here is her take from her most recent trip there, and the honeymoon-perfect hotel she fell in love with.
Bali always feels like home, every time I land here. There is something nostalgic and romantic about being here. It’s like how a certain smell or song can bring you right back in the moment you were as a child and make you smile; Bali has that effect on me.
I think it has to do with how all your senses go into overload — from the mixture of frangipanis and incense that fills your nose, to the gamelan music in your ears, and the colorful flowers and sarongs that people wear in everyday life. And then there’s the landscape itself — lush, timeless and beautiful.
People still live simply here, and spirituality is just part of everyday life. You’ll see women weaving prayer offerings out of palm fronds, men placing offerings of incense and rice in Hindu temples, and ceremonial parades taking place throughout the year.
Seminyak has been called the “Beverly Hills of Bali” because of its western-style boutiques, hotels and night life. I live in LA, and I don’t want to travel to the other side of the Earth and stay at a resort that could be at home. Which is why I love The Oberoi, Bali — it feels like a whole different world. When you walk through the gates, it’s like you’ve walked into the Balinese Garden of Eden, filled with birds chirping and water rushing into koi-filled ponds.
The villas here are gorgeous, and in keeping with the natural vibe. The walls are all made of coral rock and have traditional thatched roofs, with stunning, simple interiors using local materials that adds to the sense of place.
They’re also very romantic. Each bathroom has a sunken tub opening up into a private garden, the perfect place to relax — especially if you’re with someone you love.
As you walk down the stone pathways, you pass landscaped gardens and carved statues. Everything about the design of this place is meant to surround you with a feeling of peace, safety and tranquility.
The pool area is gorgeous; I felt like I was in a luxurious garden, and just wanted to walk barefoot through the grass everywhere. My favorite color is green, because that color is about balancing yourself, slowing down, and reenergizing and reinspiring yourself — something I desperately crave and need in my life. Being in Bali, surrounded by green and vibrant accents everywhere, was like giving my body a dose of color therapy.
Oberoi Bali has a long stretch of beach and guests do swim here. But I think the beach is made more for strolling and flying kites, which the locals do a lot.
To be honest, being at their pool in the gardens and listening to traditional Indonesian music with cocktails was where I wanted to be most — and seeing and hearing the waves from there was amazing.
Luxury to me doesn’t mean ostentatiousness; it can be simple and understated, like being able to order whatever food I want by the pool, but having it wrapped in a banana leaf as part of the presentation. The small details are what make an experience memorable, and Oberoi Hotels understands that. It is like they are purposefully filling up your senses while you are here, planting the seeds for that nostalgic moment later on in life that will hit you unexpectedly and bring you right back to the time you were at home in Bali.