Why spend your entire holiday at one enchanting resort if you can hotel-hop and stay at three stunning and distinctive establishments during your trip to the Island of the Gods? Bali has three Aman resorts, each unique, each with its own aura and beauty, and each in a different part of the island. Delving into and learning the culture that permeates each resort is an unforgettable experience. Bali is an oasis of spirituality and tradition, married with awe-inspiring landscapes of tropical jungle and white sand beaches. The island yearns to be discovered.
Start your Amanjunkie pilgrimage at Amanusa in Nusa Dua. You will soon realise that you, too, have fallen under the Aman spell, which so few of us can escape. Amanusa, which means peaceful isle, is on the south coast of Bali, set back from the beach in a secluded hillside garden with breathtaking vistas of the sea. It was a favourite of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. The resort still attracts its fair share of her Hollywood friends, who can be seen loitering in the lobby or chilling poolside.
Landscaped gardens fringe the Bali National Golf Club next door, making an utterly relaxing and serene backdrop while you sip sundowners and admire the pink evening sky. The 35 thatched villas are hidden behind moss-covered walls of stone, giving privacy yet offering you the comforting feeling that you are staying in a stately home. Each suite has a Balinese wooden four-poster bed, a sunken bathtub and a terrace with an oversize daybed.
The resort’s most striking feature, however, is the vast swimming pool set at the foot of a stone wall, giving views over Nusa Dua and the ocean. The resort is surrounded by lush bougainvillea and the greenery, together with the sea breeze and the calmness that pervades this place, is reminiscent of southern Europe. The romantic sunsets and al fresco dining by the pool or in the Terrace restaurant complete the picture.
For beach lovers, a pristine, postcard-perfect stretch of powdery white sand, backed by the Aman Beach Club, is a quick jeep ride away. The club’s recliners are great for tanning. Pavilions built in the traditional style are tucked away among the palm trees. They are shaded hideaways, yet give magnificent views of the turquoise sea, and supply chilled water, scented cold towels, fruit platters, sun cream and water sprays. The beach club can cater to 150 people. Firework displays, traditional Kecak bonfire dance shows and musical performances are also staged here.
For anyone looking for a place for a wedding, Amanusa has it all. Guests can indulge in spa treatments, take cycling excursions and go island-hopping to Nusa Penida or Nusa Lembongan on board a luxuriously appointed catamaran. Within easy reach of Amanusa, at the end of a one-and-a-half-hour drive that takes you past temples and through villages, is Amandari, which means peaceful spirits. The resort is perched high above the Ayung River Gorge, the instrument that plays the natural background music during your stay, and is set among paddy fields, yet is only a five-minute drive from Ubud.
The design of the open-air lobby was inspired by a wantilan, the meeting place in a Balinese village. Each of the 30 suites has a private garden and a terrace. Some have private swimming pools. The restaurant, which serves Balinese and Western food, sits above the curved, saltwater infinity pool, a beautiful interpretation of the rice paddies nearby.
Bali has deep respect for all living things. The valleys and villages around Amandari are renowned for their healing qualities. Purification rituals are part of day-to-day life, harmonising relationships among humans, their environment and the gods. Put aside any bashfulness and ask the Amandari staff to arrange a trip to a healer to receive treatment, which may include a potion, hands-on energy healing or a purification ceremony.
The Amandari Village Spa Journey offers a softer version. A spa therapist performs a holy water ritual with a full-body exfoliation, followed by a body wrap of mineral volcanic clay and a head massage. If you’re looking to exercise, opt for an Ayung Valley hike, which is a gentle walk through the rice fields and forests of the Ayung River Gorge that culminates in breakfast in a pavilion with sweeping views of the valley.
Amankila, the last stop on this culture-filled trip, means peaceful hill. Amankila is jaw-droppingly situated on a cliff top on the east coast of the island. Mount Agung, a volcano that last erupted in 1964, forms part of the backdrop and a dreamily endless seascape the rest. Waves crashing on the shore provide the soundtrack. Amankila is the most stunning Aman resort on Bali. That is largely because of the signature three-tier pool and the raised walkways that lead to the 33 suites hidden in the verdant foliage, floating on rafts of frangipani and bougainvillea.
The rooms contain huge canopied beds with carved supporting posts. All boast outdoor showers and private verandas with loungers and a dining table. Amankila is another great spot for a big gathering such as an anniversary celebration or a wedding. Guests can reserve the entire Beach Club, which sits among dizzyingly lofty coconut palms and emerald-green lawns. Imagine a bonfire or a romantic candlelit dinner for two on the beach of black, volcanic sand. A personal chef and waiter will attend to your every whim.
If whiling away your holiday time poolside sounds unappealing, the eastern side of Bali, often referred to as “the old Bali”, is steeped in history and tradition waiting to be discovered by the visitor. The eastern side is less overrun by tourists than the rest of the island and the way of life there is much closer to the original. It is well worth a look.
Opt for Amankila’s three-hour tour, which will take you first to the ancient village of Tenganan, famous for its ikat fabric. From there, you drive up the coast, drinking in the wide-open views of the paddies to the Tirta Gangga water palace, the Puri Agung royal palace and the Ujung water palace, which give fascinating insights into Bali’s past.
An island-hopping cruise, complete with a champagne breakfast, is an even easier way to satisfy your curiosity and your palate. Amankila boasts a pavilion high in the foothills of Mount Agung, where a picnic prepared by the resort and glasses of wine will set the mood as you admire the changing colours of the sky. A mountain-biking adventure beforehand will give you an appetite.
Each Aman resort on Bali is different from the other but they have common features, in accordance with Aman’s winning formula: privacy, understatement and quiet, no-fuss, no-excess, barefoot luxury. These features are combined in the finest manner, thanks to the impeccable design of the establishments, their top-notch service and the memorable insights into Bali’s colourful culture. Aman is a master at orchestrating tailor-made experiences such as arriving by helicopter, dining privately tête-à-tête and spa treatments for a romancing couple, thereby making memories that will last a lifetime.