Nothing to Disclose
Santi Mandala Villa & Spa Gianyar, Bali
Perched on the side of a mountain north of popular (and touristy) Kuta and south of traveler-loved Ubud, Santi Mandala Villa & Spa offers a warm, Balinese village atmosphere mixed with peaceful luxury. Across a river from a temple and adjacent to rice paddies, there is so much to explore right outside your beautifully carved villa door. Villas range from 1-bedroom garden villas to 2-bedrom luxury villas with private pools and amenities including a spa, beautiful elevated pool and on-site restaurant.
We booked a stay with Santi Mandala between hosted stays so that we’d have some downtime. Believe it or not, it’s actually quite a lot of work to review the destinations we visit in such depth, so if we don’t book some downtime we end up completely exhausted! We were originally drawn to Santi Mandala because of its location and unique setup. We loved that it was located adjacent to a Balinese village and rice paddies. We also loved that they offered larger villas with private pools that looked perfect for a family of four to really spread out in–you can never have too much room with active ADHDers!
It’s worth noting that Santi Mandala was in the middle of completing some renovation projects, which looked like they were going to be quite impressive once finished! As a result, we didn’t take pictures of the areas being worked on, but look forward to seeing their progress in the future.
Family Type Recommendation
We recommend the setup of the 2-bedroom luxury pool villa we stayed in for families that either have older, independent and safety-conscious kiddos (a tall order, I know) or co-sleepers due to the fact the master bedroom and second bedroom were actually in separate little bungalows. Additionally, the bathrooms were “open” in design and therefore the doors between the bedrooms and bathrooms had to be locked at night as well as when leaving the villa. We were a little nervous our first night about having the boys in a completely separate little bungalow from us (this was early on in our trip and prior to our stay at another resort that had a somewhat similar setup), so to keep them safe at night we locked their main door and bathroom door and gave them one of our cell phones so they could call us if they needed anything or needed to go to the bathroom (we escorted them to the bathroom at night just to be safe). We strongly suggest you evaluate whether or not this setup would work for your family prior to booking. There was another 2-bedroom villa setup with a private pool that was stacked 2-levels high versus separate bungalows, however, it was booked when we booked our room so we didn’t consider it. We recommend contacting Santi Mandala directly to discuss their layout options and availability!
We had a great experience in ours and while it did take a few extra steps for us to feel like the boys were safe and secure at night, they loved it and did really well. We’d definitely stay in this layout again ourselves on a future visit.
Water & Ice Note
We only used bottled water during our trip for drinking, brushing our teeth and washing our faces, which is a precaution recommended for American travelers. We only drank drinks with ice that was brought in from other companies (neat to see it being delivered at different destinations) and not made with tap water as per American travel recommendations.
Security at Santi Mandala was carefully thought out and conducted with a stop upon arrival (guards, gate, etc.), high walls around the perimeter of each villa with barbed wire/glass at the top, etc. It is quite typical at safe resorts and businesses to have your car inspected with vehicle inspection mirrors and a visual check inside and out before being allowed to enter (you will often be asked to open car doors and your rear hatch). While we didn’t have to open our car for inspection, the guards at Santi Mandala did look at our car from the outside and ask us about why we were there when we first arrived. They knew our car after that and simply showed us where to park each time we returned. It is common to have barbed wire and pieces of broken glass embedded in the tops of tall security walls in some Balinese villas. Santi Mandala clearly took their security measures seriously and as a result we felt quite safe. All of this is done for your safety and the safety of other guests, it’s nothing to be concerned over.
Santi Mandala Villa & Spa at a Glance:
- Mountainside Balinese villa resort
- Located 20/25 minutes south of Ubud and about an hour north of Kuta (from our experience depending on traffic)
- Close to Sukawati Art Market (more on this later, but definitely worth a stop)
- 12 Garden villas
- 2 Family Garden villas
- 1 Family Pavilion
- 1 1-Bedroom Private Pool Villa
- 1 2-Bedroom Private Pool Villa
- 5 1-Bedroom Luxury Pool Villas
- 2 2-Bedroom Luxury Pool Villas
- Daily breakfast in villa or restaurant included
- Fruit basket upon arrival
- Welcome drink and cold towel upon arrival
- Spa on-site
- Yoga classes available
- Large pool on property
- Across river from temple
- Security at front gate with some parking
Location of Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Being mountainside, we had the most beautiful views as we walked up and down the mountainside each day (we were located at the northernmost part of the resort). We loved checking out the adjacent rice paddies and on a clear morning we were able to see a far off mountain in the distance at sunrise–hazy humidity limited that view as the day progressed. While some may enjoy the buzz of the more touristy areas of Bali, we personally prefer the quieter, more “local” feeling areas. Santi Mandala was surrounded by villages and within close driving distance to local businesses. This was exactly our speed and we immediately fell in love with the area. If you’re okay with being away from familiar surroundings and businesses and you don’t mind being in the minority as a tourist rather than being surrounded by them, this is the place for you!
Layout at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Santi Mandala was perched on a mountainside and as a result the resort was tiered in layout. The parking area was across a river, next to a temple and could be reached by golf cart across a stone bridge. It was impressive to see how easily they maneuvered that golf cart over the bridge, which was barely wider than the cart itself! On the first level of the resort were several main buildings such as the lobby, restaurant, etc. On the next several levels there were rows of private villas with beautiful rice paddies to either side. The large pool meant for all guests was elevated above the side of the river (on the same side as the main entrance and temple) and could be accessed by a second bridge.
2-Bedroom Luxury Pool Villa at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
We stayed in a 2-bedroom luxury pool villa. At the time we booked we knew we wanted a private pool (who doesn’t in Bali?) and needed (okay, wanted and could afford with the exchange rate) 2 bedrooms so we’d have enough room to really spread out—this was our only real downtime during the trip. The 2-Bedroom Luxury Pool Villa gave us all that and more! Our villa was spread out in a large square with essentially 3 buildings in it—one bungalow for each bedroom and then another structure for the kitchen/dining area/sitting pavilion. The private pool was located in the center of the villa, framed by the buildings. There was an outdoor shower and plenty of seating. We could have easily fit another small family in our villa with us if we wanted, but we were happy to have so much extra room on our own!
Our room did have a decent sized in-room safe, which worked well for storing some of our electronics and meds during our stay.
Master Bedroom at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
As we mentioned above, each bedroom was located in its own bungalow. The master bedroom was massive with a large bed, some furnishings and plenty of room to spread out! This really came in handy when it came to reorganizing our suitcases, which we tend to do with each stop while traveling.
The bed was one of the most comfortable we slept on while in Bali and the pillows were huge and plush. The bedding was very comfortable and we slept very well overall. The AC in our unit worked like a dream and the atmosphere stayed super pleasant as long a we didn’t leave doors to the outside open. Our bed did have mosquito netting around it, though we tended not to use it as we didn’t leave our doors open during the day or night.
There was one main slider in our bungalow and then a second sliding door on the side to the semi-open bathroom. The floor was made of tile and could get a bit slippery with wet feet, so make sure you dry your feet and don’t let little guys run on it after getting out of the pool—because what child doesn’t want to give that a try?
Master Bath at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Bathrooms connected to each of our bungalows were essentially identical and had a large vanity, closet, water closet, standing shower and tub. They were stocked with toiletries including toothbrushes/toothpaste, q-tips and shampoo, conditioner/bath foam in the most adorable clay pots that I could never find anywhere to purchase. Obviously they’re still calling to me even now that we’re home. Next time I will find them!
Toilets in both bathrooms were western style.
Second Bedroom at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
The boys’ bungalow had 2 twins that were snuggled into a large frame (very similar to ours) with a platform between the mattresses. The boys loved this because it was easy to settle in at night and watch a show together before bed. Their bed was such as comfortable and their pillows just as plush as ours. They slept very well in their beds all 3 nights of our stay–can’t ask for more than that when traveling with kiddos!
The boys’ beds had mosquito netting around theirs and we used this for them each night because they occasionally tended to leave their slider cracked open when they went in and out and our youngest HATES bugs. This did the trick and while there weren’t many bugs in there to begin with thanks to our constant reminders to shut the slider (I can still hear myself reminding them repeatedly), they didn’t have any issues with the few that managed to find their way in.
Again, tile floors plus wet little feet equals a slippery disaster waiting to happen so remember remind the kiddos to dry their feet before going in their room after showers and pool time! Each boy took one minor (thank goodness) spill—shocking, I know. 😉 All par the course with these two!
We mentioned above that due to the fact the kids were in a separate bungalow (several feet from ours), we locked all their doors at night and gave them a phone to call us if they needed anything or needed to go to the bathroom (since the bathroom was semi-open). It’s really up to your discretion as to how you want to handle the setup if you stay in a villa like the one we stayed in, but we found this worked best for everyone in our family.
After all, traveling is all about growth, right? *she asks with a slightly anxious smile* (Don’t be fooled, I literally played out every possible scenario of what could happen in my mind the first night we stayed in this layout, but thankfully Patrick was far less concerned and it worked out beautifully!)
Second Bathroom at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
The boys’ bathroom was identical to ours. As we mentioned above, it was semi-open and the large door between the bathroom and bedroom locked from the inside, so we kept this locked while we were gone (as instructed by the resort) and at night. We kept it closed to keep the AC in all the time.
The bathroom was large enough that the four of us could easily maneuver around one another when we helped the boys with their night time routines before bed.
Kitchenette at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
The kitchenette in our villa included a fridge, sink, some kitchenware, etc. When we ordered meals up to our villa we were instructed to leave the dishes in the sink as they took care of them when they turned over our room each day.
We didn’t use the kitchenette much with the exception of the fridge which we used to store anything we needed to keep refrigerated. The fridge came stocked with a few drinks, but as we were told they weren’t complimentary and we’d brought our own we didn’t drink any of them.
Dining Area at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
We ate all of our dinners at this dining area and we could have easily fit a couple more people at the table with us. We kept a mosquito coil burning in the dining area so we didn’t get bit while sitting still for such a long period and it seemed to do the trick!
Open Family Room at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
We spent a little time here and there in the sitting area hanging out between dips in the pool and outings into surrounding areas for shopping and exploring. It was very comfortable and could have fit more than our family of 4 with ease.
If you’ve never experienced the luxury of having a private pool, Bali is the place to do it! Having a private pool was a luxury we knew we’d enjoy before heading to Bali and it was everything we hoped for and more. Anytime there was downtime the boys were in the pool and Patrick and I were happy to cool off in there as well. It was so pleasant and peaceful–no crowds, no rambunctious guests to maneuver around (except my own) and no need to worry about whether or not we should have had that extra dish of nasi goreng the day before. It was also the perfect opportunity for our youngest, who struggles with swimming due to trouble with coordination, low muscle tone and sensory issues, to get in some practice. Definitely worth booking a villa with a private pool in our opinions!
One thing we’d like to note for families is that the stones used on the ledge under the water where you could sit in the water without being fully submerged in our pool were a bit rough, so make sure you warn kiddos (and remember for yourself) not to jump onto them and land on their shins. Worth mentioning from experience. 😉
Breakfast at Boga Mandala Restaurant at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Breakfast was included and could be served in your villa or in the on-site restaurant (which is where we ate each morning). It was served buffet style and included a selection of cereals, a bunch of pastries, pancakes, fruit, coffee, some juices and then several hot dishes and eggs could be ordered upon arrival. While I couldn’t eat any of the pastries, the boys and Patrick really enjoyed everything. The fruit was fresh and the juices were quite good. The hot dishes ranged from rice dishes to pasta dishes and varied daily. While we didn’t order any of the pasta dishes, we ordered the rice dishes and eggs each day and they were always very good!
Service was super warm and accommodating. Amy (whose name I’m using the English spelling of because I’m not sure how she spelled it) was a friendly face we enjoyed seeing each morning when she greeted us–we still miss her!
In-Villa Dining at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
We ordered dinner to our room each evening because we found after a full day of swimming and exploring that we were too tired to head down to the restaurant. Dinner was brought up and laid out for us in a timely fashion. Everything was delicious—especially the nasi goreng and pizza! It was also reasonably priced compared to other resorts we stayed at with the average dish priced around 90,000 to 120,000 rupiah each (which seemed about average from our experience at high-end resorts).
Now this was definitely something to see! Each day Santi Mandala tried to work the housekeeping schedule around times we were out, which was very nice. When they came to turn everything over for the day an entire team of people arrived and they meant business, cleaning and organizing everything from top to bottom. It was really impressive to see them come in and start one day before heading off!
Note that when the housekeeping team would come in they would shut off the ACs and open up the sliders of both bungalows to really clean everything thoroughly (they locked everything back up when they left), which meant that when we returned the rooms were fairly warm and we had to turn the ACs back up. Just something to remember if you stay so that you’re not surprised on your return and you can plan accordingly.
Rice Paddies & Sunrises
When most tourists visit Bali they want to see the rice paddies and sunrises/sunsets for which they’ve become so popular (beaches as well, but we weren’t on the coast here). Santi Mandala offered both and they were awesome! There were rice paddies to either side of the main are where the villas were and the sunrises on the clearer mornings were spectacular. We visited shortly after the rainy season ended so everything was very lush and green, which was cool to see, but this also meant that some of our days were still overcast. However, we managed to see a handful of absolutely stunning sunrises and sunsets that were definitely worth writing home about … or in our case photographing and mentioning to you guys!
And the combination of rice paddies and sunrises? Spectacular!
Mosquitos at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Mosquitos weren’t too bad despite being next to rice paddies and a river! We kept mosquito coils burning in our outdoor dining space and used DEET-based repellant. While some still found our youngest and me (we tend to get bit no matter what we do) they weren’t overwhelming and didn’t ruin our time at all. In fact, Patrick and I even went outside one morning to photograph the sunrise while the boys were still sleeping and even though I stood still for 5+ minutes at a time to snap pictures I only walked away with a few bites.
Mosquitos are a part of visiting Bali (and most tropical climates) and it was recommended by the CDC as of the time of our visit that we use DEET-based mosquito repellant and take malaria meds if in more mountainous regions—we did both.
Temple at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
We loved seeing all the temples around Bali and we happened to be there during a couple holidays (there are quite a few we were told), so it was really cool to see everyone dressed up and visiting the temple right next to our resort on our way in and out. We tried to remain respectful and didn’t want to get in the way so we didn’t take any photographs, but I believe we did get a little video. It was really cool to see the temple from across the river even when it wasn’t a holiday!
The River at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
The river between the parking area, temple and pool side and the resort added another dimension to our stay as locals fished in it, which made for a really unique experience! We enjoyed watching on our way to breakfast and in and out of the resort. Just another reason we fell in love with Santi Mandala.
Photography Opportunities at Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Bali is incredibly photogenic as a country, but finding really unique and interesting things to photograph right in your resort depends on where you stay. Santi Mandala was definitely one of the best resorts we stayed at in terms of photo opportunities! Aside from the stunning sunrises, I snapped a lot of pictures of the nearby farm and the grounds themselves. We had so many truly awesome moments, but one special one for me in particular happened one morning when I went to photograph the sunrise alone. I started taking pics of the adjacent field (which was huge) and saw that the farmer that tended the cows was out so I began snapping pics like a creeper. He noticed me (I nearly had a mini heart attack because I’d just been caught doing the one thing I normally try to avoid–taking pics of non-family) , waved towards himself and stood incredibly still for five minutes while I snapped away. When I finished we were so far from each other that we couldn’t hear one another, but I waved frantically back to thank him and he waved again. Photos from that moment still bring me such joy!
You can see below how inspiring this Balinese resort was to photograph…
Final Thoughts on Santi Mandala Villa & Spa
Santi Mandala holds a special place in our hearts and while we enjoyed every destination we stayed at, Santi Mandala gave us the unique opportunity to enjoy a lot of downtime both in our villa and in the surrounding areas–which we really came to love! From here we explored Sukawati, Ubud and more. We shopped in local art markets, purchased from small shops owned by local artisans, got snacks in local grocery stores, drove up and down the coast and got to know the area around us fairly well.
Our villa was very comfortable and offered more than enough space for a family of four with a 9- and 11-year-old. We slept well and spent plenty of time splashing in our private pool, which was an awesome luxury to have.
Food at breakfast and at dinner was delicious and well priced when compared to other high-end resorts. Everyone we met was super courteous and warm, which made our stay all the more positive.
As you can see above, the boys had a great time during our stay and even made a special friend. Eny was so sweet and greeted us every morning at breakfast and around the resort. We promised we’d come back to stay and see her someday in the future and we definitely plan on it. <3
While we did have to use extra caution in our villa due to the age of our boys and our personal comfort levels regarding the fact we were in separate (but extremely close) bungalows, we found the experience was a really positive one! The boys got a bit more trust and independence than they normally get at home and we saw them rise to the occasion. One of the many reasons we like to encourage other families to travel, even when kids are young, is because we’ve seen tremendous growth in our boys as a result of it. Sometimes when you’re out of your comfort zone you have no choice but to nudge them to mature and grow and they do it beautifully! I think it’s often more difficult for the parents than for the kids, personally. 😉
While we didn’t do any of the spa treatments, though I’d definitely like to on a future visit, we’ve read they’re really wonderful.
All in all our stay at Santi Mandala was absolutely fantastic and super memorable. We loved everything about it and can’t wait to stay again in the future. If both the 2-bedroom Luxury Pool Villa and the 2-Bedroom Pool Villa (the one with a multi-level villa) are available in the future I’m not sure if we’d try the latter or stick with the one we already stayed in. We can see benefits to both (we loved being at the highest point of the resort), so it would really be a toss-up as to whether or not we’d prefer more outdoor space offered by the villa we stayed in versus the multi-level one we didn’t stay in, but that would put all four of us in one building. I guess we’ll see in the future!
We whole-heartedly recommend Santi Mandala Villa & Spa and would love to know if any of you stay there in the future what you think of it!
Note: We paid for this stay. All opinions are our own.