Alison Bone

Alison Bone has 13 articles published.

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A well seasoned travel writer, Alison arrived in Bali in 2008 and never got around to leaving. Trading global nomadic journeys for explorations of a culinary kind, she now writes about the island's ever-evolving dining scene. Alison also returns regularly to Fiji and has just completed her first book, Kava, Cannibals and Curses, about her time living with a traditional community in the remote Yasawa Islands.

How To Get To The Home of Powder Snow, Niseko

in Destinations/Tips by

Famed for prolific white powder snow, fabulous accommodation and apres-ski scene, Niseko lures winter sports enthusiasts from around the globe.  Yet this beautiful region in the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan, has more to offer than topnotch skiing and snowboarding, with stunning alpine scenery making it a popular year-round destination. Here are some insider tips on how to get to Niseko.

By Plane

Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport is just 110 km from Niseko and is well serviced by domestic and international flights from many parts of Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and Hawaii. Those travelling from further afield can easily connect through Tokyo Narita International airport, with a two-hour flight time to Sapporo. Book as early as possible to get the best rates.

Ski season runs from late November to early May and if you fly into New Chitose, the quickest way to hit the ski slopes is by taxi or private transfer. Catching a bus is also cheap and easy and takes approximately 2 – 2.5 hours.

For a private door to door service try Sky Express otherwise White Liner Ski Bus, Hokkaido Resort Liner  and NGS Big Runs all have various drop off points in Niseko.  

By Land

Driving yourself is another option, but while rental cars are fitted with snow tires, it is not recommended unless you are experienced driving in wintery conditions.

Parking in Niseko is also limited in the busy winter months, so  its  better to save the car-hiring option for the summer months when you can enjoy a leisurely cruise up to the mountains, stopping to enjoy the glorious scenery along the way.

Trains also depart directly from the airport to JR Kutchan Station (a 10 minute taxi ride from Niseko), but you will need to change at Otaru station for a total travel time of around 3 hours. Japan has one of the best developed rail networks in the world which is something to consider when travelling from other regions.

If coming from Tokyo, you can experience the famous Shinkansen bullet train, which travels up to 320 km an hour and hurtles through an undersea tunnel that connects the main island of Honshu with Hokkaido.

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The One and Only Lombok

in Destinations/Families/Recreation by
The Anandita - Bale on the beach

Lombok is often overshadowed by its sassier neighbour Bali, but those in search of an exotic getaway will be thrilled to discover the magic of this pristine tropical island. Picture mountains blanketed in lush rainforest, thundering waterfalls, vibrant traditional villages and stunning, often-deserted beaches.

The Anandita - Mountain views

With an increasing number of direct international flights, and the recent announcement by Air Asia of two soon-to-be launched international flight routes – from Singapore and Perth, the island is more accessible than ever before.

Blissful Beaches

If you are dreaming of an uncrowded, sun-drenched tropical beach escape look no further than the glorious Sira Peninsula – an idyllic stretch of dazzling white sand lapped by crystal clear waters and fringed by coconut palms.

The Anandita - Pristine private beach

The three famed isles known collectively as the Gillis, are just a short boat trip away, and the sea here is dotted with vibrant coral reefs perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving. Take a fishing trip, explore the coast by sea kayak, or play a round of golf at the wonderfully scenic 18-hole Sire Beach Golf Club. If you’re looking for a bit of ‘Bali-style’ action, Senggigi – the island’s main tourist town is just 40 minutes away via a fabulous coastal road and offers reggae bars, good restaurants and boutiques.

coral_reef_gili_meno

Sira Beach is best enjoyed from the comfort of a luxury beachfront villa and Elite has an inspired selection.

Tropical perfection awaits at 4-bedroomed The Anandita.

The Anandita - Elevated view of the villa

Families will find plenty of space to spread out at 6-bedroomed Villa Sepoi Sepoi.

Sepoi Sepoi - View of pool bale & garden through to the sea.

Stunning contemporary design awaits at 5-bedroomed Villa Sapi.

Villa Sapi - Pool and beach view

While 6-bedroomed Sira Beach House nestles into a coconut grove and makes an atmospheric new addition to the Elite portfolio.

Sira Beach House - Beautiful getaway

Sira Beach is the perfect base for exploring the charms of this ‘undiscovered’ island paradise, and your villa manager will be happy to organise a driver and customize an itinerary for an exhilarating day trip. 

Hinterland Highlights

If you can bare to drag yourself away from the coast, head to the hinterland to discover picture-perfect tropical scenery,

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Summer in Niseko

in Destinations by
Mount Yotei

Summer fun in Niseko

Niseko is best known as Japan’s powder playground, but you don’t need to be a winter sports enthusiast to enjoy the charms of this beautiful region located in the mountainous north of Hokkaido. The alpine scenery makes a sensational backdrop for all kinds of summer activities from hiking to kayaking to horse riding to hot air ballooning.

Plum trees and Lake Toya and Mt.Yotei

Soak up the scenery

As the snow melts the landscape explodes with wild flowers making Niseko a perfect base for hiking and biking. Enjoy the crisp clean air as you ramble across the moors or climb Mount Yotei to enjoy a 360 degree panorama from the trail that winds around the caldera.

Sekka Ni 3 - Fabulous view of the living and dining area

Quiet country lanes are ideal for family biking, while cycling enthusiasts can access exhilarating downhill mountain trails via gondola. Golfers will be thrilled to know that Niskeo has some renowned courses to choose from, including Niseko Village Golf Course, which was named Japan’s Best Golf Course at the World Golf Awards in 2014.  For those who like to enjoy the scenery in a more prone position, and enjoy a touch of Japanese culture in the process, Niseko has some beautiful onsen (hot springs) in various scenic locations.

Japanese onsen

Fun on the water

Picturesque lakes and rivers make fresh water fishing, kayaking, canyoning and rafting popular summer pastimes. Shiribetsu River offers some of the best rafting in Asia and you can expect stunning alpine scenery and crystal clear water. Alternatively, head to the nearby Shaoktan Peninsula where sea kayaking reveals a magical ocean colour known as “Shakotan blue.”

kayaking background

Fun for all the family

Tree top adventures and the longest zip line in Japan are just one of the draw cards at Pure at Niseko Village – a  nature activity centre and great all-round family destination. This is also the place for horse riding, exhilarating hot air balloons rides and cycling. ‘Pure’ Adventure is the parks newest attraction and has proved a huge hit thanks to its inflatable playground filled with mazes and slides. 

Family experiencing horse riding

Food and festivals

Niseko has grown a formidable dining scene in recent years, with the  paddock to plate philosophy embraced by restaurants and cafes. Head to Niseko Green Farm to pick your own vegetables and build a pizza which will be cooked in the woodfire oven.

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The Magic of Nyepi: Bali’s Unique Day of Silence

in Culture by
Villa Zelie - Staff praying

While most cultures celebrate the new year with rowdy celebrations, revelry and fireworks, in Bali the dawning of a new year is ushered in with a unique day of silence, known as Nyepi.

This year Nyepi falls on 7 March and for 24 hours shops and restaurants will stay closed, the streets and markets will remain empty, the beaches will be deserted and the waves un-surfed. Even the airport is shut down as Bali falls under a magnificent cloak of silence.

Ocean Temple - Tanah Lot

In order to understand Nyepi, is it necessary to briefly dip into the dualistic world of Balinese Hinduism which is woven into the very fabric of life on the island. Imagine a cosmic dance in which the forces of good and evil are in constant play. Order is represented by the gods, known as dewa and dewi, while disorder is represented by the earth demons known as bhutas and kalas.

Balance must be maintained so that evil doesn’t get the upper hand. Through a myriad of religious offerings and rituals, the gods are thanked and asked for blessings, while the forces of darkness who seek to upset the equilibrium are appeased. Of all the ceremonial days on the island, Nyepi is one of the most important.

Des Indes I

Why the silence?

Theological explanations vary. Some say that by staying hidden the evil spirits will think the island has been abandoned and will pass by, thus bringing an auspicious start to the new year. But Hindu scholars say that the noise and revelry of the preceding evening, Nyepi Eve, wakes up the demons so that they will see the offerings, including blood sacrifice that have been laid out for them. In this view, the silence is a symbol of contentment and gratitude that the demons have been appeased for another year. Regardless of theological explanations, Nyepi is a day reserved for quiet contemplation and self-reflection and Balinese Hindus are prohibited from work, entertainment, travel and lighting fires. Priests and those with a higher spiritual calling will also fast, observe total silence and pass the day in prayer.

nyepi ogoh ogoh bali art

How does Nyepi effect visitors to the island?

Even tourists must respect Nyepi and stay within the grounds of their accommodation and keep noise and lights to a minimum.

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8 Bali Villas for Corporate Groups and Wellness Retreats

in Destinations/Tips/Wellness by
Sanur villas for groups

Mix business with pleasure at your next corporate meeting, training or wellness retreat and lap up the luxury of one of Bali’s fabulous villa estates.  Let’s face it, nowhere does villas like Bali does, and unlike large, impersonal resorts, a villa grants you absolute privacy and exclusivity, with your own state-of-the-art facilities. Best of all, service is highly personalized with a round-the-clock team of butlers, housekeepers and security at your beck and call– not to mention highly skilled chefs who can cook exactly what you want when you want it. Healthy meeting snacks? Canapés and cocktails at sunset? Seafood barbecue by the pool? Balinese themed dinner with live dance performance?  You name it and villa staff will provide it, all with the smiles and warmth of hospitality that Bali is famous for.

Expansive, fully-staffed villas in fabulous locations around the island are well set up for groups, with large capacity common areas for group activities and special events. Most offer all the mod cons, from Satellite TV to high speed WiFi and business centre facilities, alongside generous en suite bedrooms, stunning pools set in lush gardens, sensational spa services, and plenty of space for everyone to spread out.

Sound good? Here are our top ten villa picks for your next corporate event, training or wellness retreat.

If you like the idea of being slightly more remote, a Pabean Beach villa near Sanur is an inspired choice. Located just to the north, Pabean Beach is reached by a sun-dappled lane that meanders through tobacco plantations, emerald rice fields and banana groves. Four-bedroomed Villa Pushpapuri has absolute beach frontage, and an abundance of outdoor areas and lawn space ideal for events with a seating capacity up to 70 (standing 100.) Mobile telephones are conveniently supplied to guests here, while a pool table and home theatre room provide extra entertainment options.

Those that like to be right in the thick of Bali’s most popular tourist towns, will love these next two options, each in easy walk of great restaurants, boutiques and spas. Seminyak is the buzzing cosmopolitan heart of Bali, perfect for those who want a slice of the action. Villa Kalimaya is a cluster of four exclusive villas tucked down a peaceful lane, just a stone’s throw from Bali’s most iconic beach clubs, Ku De Ta and Potato Head.

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