SET on the higher planes of the Indonesian island destination, Ubud is the artistic center of Bali. A short distance from its bustling city center, the scene is greener and more serene making it an ideal place for connecting with nature and reconnecting with oneself.

I did just that in one of the best spots to escape to- The Lokha Ubud Resort Villas and Spa.

The Lokha is a 15-minute drive from central Ubud. The short ride displayed two opposite worlds, crossing from busyness to tranquillity, as my ride wove through villages and rice paddies on a winding road.

Off the main road, we descended on steeply sloping and narrow driveway that led to a small rotunda at the end of the path. On it are elephants with its trunks pointed skyward as if trumpeting a welcome.

The size of the hotel's entrance is deceiving. Its relatively small size and does not do justice to what opens up beyond it-a vast and verdant paradise.

The Lokha Ubud, located in the rural village of Keliki, is a postcard-perfect mountain resort hotel nestled in the bosom of productive rice terraces and tropical scenery. The resort embraces a sizeable elephant-shaped patch of natural landscape that descends to a gently flowing tributary of the Wos River.

The hotel was conceptualized to celebrate local artistry, and embrace and respect the natural beauty of the surrounding environment. The result-a collection of stylish 16 luxury villas, 52 guest rooms and lifestyle facilities designed to anticipate the needs of seasoned travellers, all built along one side of the natural terrain and brilliantly positioned to overlook the opposite side of the scenic ridge known as Bukit Cinta, once a secluded courting spot for young Balinese lovers.

A Luxury Pool Villa was my home in Ubud. The villa was my own private sanctuary accessible through a wooden door. A pathway through a garden patch leads to a cabana or Bale Bengnong (a traditional Balinese Lodge), a perfect spot to catch the setting sun while lounging and dining at any time of day and night, and across it, an infinity-edge swimming pool.

These open up from the dreamy bedroom suite in white, which holds a queen sized four-poster bed romantically draped with thin, loosely woven cloth of cotton, and an adjoining spacious bathroom with a his and hers vanity area and bathtub that can fit two.

From the comforts of the bed, the relaxing scenery, seen through the large glass doors and windows, is a pretty picture to wake up to. Lokha is successful in designing the villas to blend seamlessly into the outdoors with an uplifting view of Ubud's terrain. Waking up to a picture like this is invigorating.

Needless to say, taking a dip at the hotel pool, dining at the Bukit Cinta Restaurant & Bar, enjoying a therapy at the Wos Spa or deepening your practice of yoga, is as exciting an experience with its spaces built embracing the ridge as well. The panorama is the slope's foliage revealed in detail by the daylight while the moon gives its deep emerald hue an ethereal glow at night, a gift of nature untouched by the hands of time.

In this verdurous oasis, the local and international cuisine prepared with market-fresh ingredients and seasonal delicacies are more flavorsome.

Ubud calls for an adventure and The Lokha will take you several - a walk in the neighboring village or a trek through the surrounding rice terraces and tropical terrain, and the Elephant Safari Park in Taro is not too far.

Take a trip to the town center charged with both visual and culinary excitement. Museums, temples, small quaint shops to the huge market, organic cafes to local food specialty restaurants, it's all there for taking. The hotel's complimentary shuttle service runs at scheduled intervals throughout the day to and from central Ubud.

If you ask me if two nights is enough in Ubud, I will say stay longer. Enjoy Ubud's two worlds at a slow pace. Dive into the thrills of the bustling city center and go to the opposite pole away from the touristy path and inhale the calmness the mountains. You can have both at The Lokha Ubud. I did.

The Lokha Ubud is at Br. Bangkiangsidem, Desa Keliki Tegallalang - Gianyar.

Visit their website at http://thelokhaubud.com

For great deals on this hotel, visit http://www.agoda.com/the-lokha-ubud-resort/hotel/bali-id.html

*****

[For more photos about this story & other travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/]