Above: The pool and view from Alila Villas Uluwatu

Bali is one of the magical names in travel. It conjures up visions of a place that is remote, sensual and exquisite, a land with gracious people and a refined and complex culture. This is the Bali that painter, writer and ethnologist Miguel Covarrubias described in his classic book, “Island of Bali,” published in 1937. Thirty years ago, much of the idyll remained intact. Then the Australians discovered that their winter was an ideal time to go surfing off Bali’s Kuta Beach and that the flight time from Sydney was less than seven hours. Next, Europeans began to arrive in ever-greater numbers. Finally, the newly wealthy countries of Asia began to spend their money on vacations. Last year, nearly 20 percent of foreign tourists to Bali were from China, a total of roughly 1.4 million visitors. (And this was the year that the eruption of Bali’s biggest volcano, Mount Agung, became a fixture on cable-television news.) Nowadays travel sophisticates tend to sniff, “Bali’s finished,” before turning their attention to the other 17,507 islands in the Indonesian archipelago.

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