Accumulating a wealth of experience spanning three decades which primarily focused on top hotels in Asia, multi-lingual Munich born Stephan Winkler brought his passion and expertise to Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa two years ago.
Moving to the blissful sanctuary on Bali’s secluded southern coast, steeped in ingenious design and rugged natural beauty, Stephan fell in love with the Island of the Gods and its people. His interest in local culture and enthusiasm for his new home has motivated his entire team of dedicated staff.
The Island of the Gods uncovered by Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa GM
With a strong belief in teamwork that has been contagious around the resort, Stephan has helped create holiday experiences at Anantara Bali Uluwatu Resort & Spa that are unbeatably genuine, memorable and truly unique.
How many years have you worked with Anantara and how long have you been working in Bali?
I have been with Anantara for two years, all of which have been in Bali.
What surprised you most about Bali?
What surprised me most was the depth of culture and the extent to which religion is imbedded into the daily lives of the locals. It’s a very different and fascinating way of life.
Name three things everyone visiting Bali should experience.
Definitely a Kecak Dance at the seaside Uluwatu Temple for sunset. It’s a magical experience, watching tribal dancers in traditional costumes as the colours change across the sky and the sun dips into the sea on the horizon.
I would also recommend a day touring the stunning Balinese countryside, exploring Ubud and beyond, towards Tampak Siring and Kintamani. It’s the perfect combination of culture and nature.
And lastly, watching the waves and surfers at Impossible Beach is completely mesmerising and a very relaxing way to while away an hour or two.
What aspect of the culture and people here do you enjoy the most?
I am completely captivated by the friendliness and easiness of the Balinese people. Their genuine and laid-back nature spreads into every element of their daily lives. I also love their sense of humour, because life shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
What signature resort experience showcases the region’s indigenous culture?
Learning a Balinese dance! Guests at the resort have the opportunity to learn traditional dances, which I believe give a real insight into, and appreciation of, the island’s culture and history.
Is there a local expression or cultural tradition that you like or think is the most interesting?
Yes indeed! My favourite expression is ‘gotong royong’, which means ‘neighbourhood help and care’. We practise this at the resort, mostly by making our neighbourhood a safe place to be and by keeping our environment in pristine condition.
What is your favourite Balinese dish and why?
My favourite dish is ‘pepes ikan’ which is fresh fish wrapped in banana leaves with aromatic Balinese bumbu (spices). I like kurkuma in particular, which is the local word for turmeric.
Uluwatu is one of the best spots for surfers. Have you ever surfed in Bali? Where would you recommend “wave newbies” go?
I haven’t surfed yet, but I love to watch the talented surfers out on Impossible Beach. And I like to talk about it with those with a passion for the art. My kids surf and I take pride in watching them too. For newcomers, Nusa Dua at the ‘mushroom rock’ is good. It’s a local beach where lifeguards give lessons.
What would be your top three travel tips for those who visit Bali?
My first tip is that people visit in April or September – those are the best months.
I also suggest to travel as light as possible, you don’t need many clothes. Bali is easy-going, the whole country is laid-back and there’s a real chill-out culture.
I suggest coming with just shorts and t-shirts, booking into a relaxing resort like ours, and spending time exploring the beautiful island at a leisurely pace.
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