The pandemic had played havoc with Aoife’s wedding plans, and she was kindly recommended to me by a colleague when looking for some help organising a post-wedding honeymoon.
With her husband Kevan’s school teaching and her own busy work schedule as an NHS physio, maximising their nine available days around the right dates and ensuring a smooth trip was essential. I was happy to step up to the plate…
After a tumultuous wedding organising experience last summer, we needed the opposite for our belated honeymoon.
Fortunately, we were introduced to Gillian, and I can't even describe the faultless job she did. Highly organised, informative, and communicating so effectively, she thought of everything and created the least stressful and most tremendous experience of my life.
We didn't know what we were looking for outside of somewhere far-flung and a love of visiting places with distinct cultures, history and natural beauty, preferably being able to support tourism and local businesses.
Kevan had never been to Asia, but I had visited southeast Asia and loved everything about it, so Gillian proceeded to create the most phenomenal trip of a lifetime, experiencing beautiful authentic Balinese culture in the most luxurious and unique resorts.
We flew with Qatar Airways from Edinburgh to Doha, then after a short transit, on to Denpasar, Indonesia, the gateway to Bali.
In conjunction with the tour operator, Destination Asia, Gillian had organised private transfers in modern 4x4 air-conditioned vehicles to and from the three different places on our itinerary.
A fantastic chaperone, Gusti, accompanied us alongside various drivers and kept contact throughout the entire trip, even sorting an extra tour for us.
The kindness of these gentlemen was unparalleled and reflective of the general warmth of the locals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people smile and be so genuinely happy to engage or assist.
The island is Hindu, unlike the majority of Indonesia, and they are incredibly gracious and welcoming people living quite simple lifestyles.
Our first stay was three nights at the Adiwana Dara Ayu, outside Ubud, in a quite beautiful setting with nature intertwined in all aspects and a traditional Balinese interior design.
The resort is clean with exquisite design details and has been well maintained despite the difficulties of the last couple of years.
Service is exceptional, with friendly, happy staff on hand to help as required, like the outstanding Adi, who kindly stepped in and drove us on a spectacular alternative route to a temple after our original tour was cancelled due to torrential rain and unprecedented landslides blocking roads.
En route to Tirta Empel, he took us to a fabulous plantation, where the kindest local volunteer took us through the wonderful experience of a traditional Hindu blessing and an educational guide to cultural history.
Waking up immersed in nature and the sound of the jungle was such a serene break from reality and we couldn’t recommend our stay here any higher.
A boat ride took us to Nusa Lembongan for a three-night stay at the Acala Shri Sedana, a hidden gem of a resort with the most spectacular ocean views across to Cenigan.
Rooms are spotless and beautifully designed; the restaurant had a tasty, varied menu plus an excellent daily breakfast and the pool was phenomenal.
The service was outstanding throughout, with staff members Ameillia, Eka, and Parta in particular, going over and above to add to our holiday experience at any opportunity, and the superb, flexible hotel shuttle providing a great service.
Sitting in the basket swing with a book or floating in the infinity pool feeling the sea breeze and enjoying the magical views of Nusa Penida was just the best relaxation.
The staff seamlessly organised us a great value day boat trip with a local captain to the island’s major snorkelling points. I’m a water baby at heart and this was such an amazing experience. His knowledge was invaluable, ensuring we saw the most colourful coral plus manta rays, sea turtles and a pod of dolphins.
Our final stay was a stopover at The Mahagiri Villas Sanur, a charming complex of 17 gorgeous, luxury villas, designed to capture the essence of a traditional Balinese community.
It was a tiny little haven within a relatively urban area, and you would never have guessed we were so close to the bars and restaurants.
Again, the staff were professional, hospitable and happy to accommodate all requests. We would have loved to have been able to spend longer here but are so pleased to have managed to squeeze it in.
We would return to Bali in a heartbeat. The Balinese were some of the most kind, welcoming and hospitable people we have ever come across; the food was varied and delicious and the scenery is incredible.
Each resort was unique and special in its own way and the level of service was beyond expectation. I've never been so devastated to remove towels and flower petals from my bed!
It was the best trip away ever, totally relaxing and worth the long journey. Even the rain at the start was somewhat expected with us staying up high in the rainforest.
After the hassle of the wedding, I couldn’t face organising anything else and I can’t thank Gillian enough for doing it so brilliantly and creating the most perfect memories.