Review of Places In Mahamaya, Gili Meno, Bali

Stylish eco-hotel Mahamaya is one of the newest properties on the relaxed, relatively unspoiled Indonesian island of Gilo Meno, a 90-minute boat ride from bustling Bali. Anna Smith checks in.

First impressions

Mahamaya may be an affordable eco resort, but arriving there by speedboat we feel like a million dollars. Staff line up on the pure white coral beach to meet us and carry our luggage while we marvel at the sight of this glistening white modern hotel with its silver sign reading, in Indonesian, ‘Ultimate Paradise’.

Maya is also the name of the owner’s niece: this boutique hotel was set up by Brit entrepreneur David, whose sister Ali married a talented Indonesian chef who heads up the kitchen. This family affair launched just a couple of years ago and has quickly become a favourite with honeymooners. Check-in is smiley and efficient, containing an important briefing on conserving the water and electricity in this very environmentally conscious hotel.

Ideal for…

Couples on a romantic break looking to get away from it all. Those with young children are also well served.

The room

Rooms are either spacious pool suites just off from the beach, or two beachfront villas either side of the main building. Décor is relaxed and modern with original art adorning the walls. The pleasant bathrooms feature an outdoor shower and a fresh drinking water dispenser with a small minibar fridge.

Best room?

Candy Villa is a favourite with many returning guests. Set next to the restaurant, the self-contained villa overlooks the stunning beach yet enjoys it own sandy terrace with a table and chairs as well as two boat-shaped sun loungers and umbrella. Only the occasional horse and cart, jewellery seller or other guest is likely to wander past. Attentive but unobtrusive staff regularly smooth down the sand.

Eating and drinking

Breakfast is a classy but casual affair in the beachside restaurant, with doors flung open onto the beach. Staff quickly serve up coffee, tea and freshly squeezed juices from the funky bar – our orange juice arrived in a Martini glass clinking with ice (made from fresh water, so no need to worry about tummy upsets). A buffet bar offers cornflakes, muesli and a selection of tasty local treats that vary from day to day – we enjoyed the pink coconut and brown sugar pancakes. Order from a good selection for your cooked dish, including cinnamon French toast, Eggs Benedict and the local dish,nasi goreng (fried rice dish).

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Dinner is when Mahamaya comes alive. Couples sit overlooking the sea at a discreet distance from each other, while round wicker lamps hang harmoniously from trees. Post happy hour (two-for-one cocktails), the scene is perfectly set for romance, with many a successful proposal taking place here. Heart-shaped petals lead the happy couple to a table squared off with yet more petals – staff ask for permission to enter the hallowed ground while serving up sparkling wine and a delicious three-course meal including spring rolls, beef rendang and home-baked cake with ice cream. No creaky violins here: we were treated to a fire poi performane featuring fiery twirling circus balls.

Extras

Snorkelling equipment of varying qualities is available to borrow freely by the pool, as are kayaks, weather depending. Other excursions can be arranged with reception. Plans are afoot for a small spa as well as additional rooms, which will take the room total to 18. There’s a small boutique selling jewellery and general supplies.

Room for improvement

You’ll need to bring your own toiletries as the bathroom isn’t fully stocked. And due to the remote location, the internet is sporadic. But who wants to look online when the outdoor views are this magical anyway?

Out and about

You can wander around the island of Gili Meno in an hour or so, enjoying the sight of locals painting their boats, feeding their chickens or ushering you into their beachfront bars for a cool Bintang beer. Take a left down the path from Mahamaya and you’ll find a warm welcome at the relaxed, ramshackle reggae bar Sasak. Take a boat over to nearby Gili Trawangan for more lively nightlife.