Bali beckons

Bali beckons

Who: Sean Lee, 42, chief executive of the hu'u Group of hotels, bars and restaurant.

Favourite destination: Bali, Indonesia

Why: Bali has become my second home and most of my work is there. More importantly, Bali still captures my heart. To me, Bali is about friendship and meeting people from different corners of the world. It's refreshing, especially because everyone is relaxed.

The island has a lot to offer, from spirituality to spas, sports and socialising. It forces you to drop gears and slow down.

Favourite place to stay

Two years ago, I realised my dream of owning a villa estate when the hu'u Group opened hu'u Villas Seminyak (www.huuvillasbali.com). Rooms start at about US$300 (S$395) a night for a one-bedroom loft.

For travellers who budget to spend under US$100 a night in Seminyak, I would suggest the boutique Brown Feather hotel (www.brownfeather.com, rates from 487,500 rupiah or S$48.75).

Favourite restaurants

There are many restaurants I love in Bali. Which I choose depends on my mood.

If I am looking for Indonesian Nasi Campur, I go to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant called Warung Kolega (Jalan Petitenget No. 98A, Kerobokan; open: 8am to 4pm, or when food runs out). Try the rawon soup, which is similar to ayam buah keluak, but made with beef.

It also serves an Indonesian version of economy rice which costs about 45,000 rupiah a plate.

For Spanish food, there is a restaurant called La Sal (Jalan Drupadi No. 100, Seminyak, Bali, 80361; tel: +62-3-6173-8321; www.lasalbali.com).

It has the best paella (100,000 rupiah) on the island. I love that it burns the rice to a crisp so it tastes like a Spanish version of our Singapore claypot rice. It is sublime.

For traditional Balinese roast pig, go to Babi Guling (Jalan Sunset Road No. 5, Seminyak, Kuta, Bali). It costs about 40,000 rupiah for a plate.

If you make it to Ubud, there is Bebek Tepi Sawah (Jalan Raya Goa Gajah, Br Teges, Peliatan, Ubud 80571; tel: +62-3-6197-5656; www.bebektepisawahrestaurant.com), a nice restaurant amid the rice fields which serves the best Balinese crispy duck. A meal there is about S$10 a person.

Favourite gallery

The Komaneka Fine Art Gallery (Jalan Monkey Forest, Kedewatan, Ubud, Bali, 80571; tel: +62-3-6197-6090; gallery.komaneka.com) in Ubud represents many up- and-coming Balinese artists who have a modern approach to their art while still remaining true to their traditional Bali culture. Prices for the artwork range from US$500 to US$5,000.

Favourite tourist site

I am interested in Bali's unique culture and traditions and a visit to Tanah Lot temple (Tabanan, Bali 82171; tel: +62-3-6188-0361; www.tanahlot.net) on the West Coast beach can be quite inspirational when a ceremony is happening.

The best way to discover Bali is to get lost in the villages. Bali is pretty commercialised down south, but an hour's drive away from Seminyak, you will see pristine rice fields. Take a walk through the villages and observe the Balinese going about their daily lives.

Best retail therapy

Bathe Store(Jalan Raya Batubelig No. 88, Seminyak, Bali 80361; tel: +62-36-1792-9779; bathestore.com) specialises in natural skin care products made by hand.

All the body lotions, soaps and bath gels are formulated in Bali. It is like a Balinese version of Kiehl's Apothecary, at half the price. Prices vary from US$10 to US$50.

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