Destination: Indonesia: Bali
Vibe: Classic, sense of place, crowd-pleaser
At a glance: Perched on the edge of a river gorge just outside of Ubud, Amandari was inspired by the layout of a traditional Balinese village, with river-stone walkways, thatched public spaces and high stonewalls.
Review: Bali has seen its share of glamorous resorts since Amandari opened in the village of Kedewatan, just outside Ubud, in 1989, but this pioneer still reigns as the island’s true landmark property. Perched on the edge of a river gorge and designed by architect Peter Muller, Amandari was inspired by the layout of a traditional Balinese village, with river-stone walkways, thatched public spaces and high stonewalls. Guests may choose from thirty freestanding suites outfitted in local teak and coconut wood, a number of which overlook the verdant valley and offer private pools. Families should consider the Amandari Villa, a three-bedroom complex that includes a separate living room and kitchen.
While small, the charming hotel spa boasts two open-air bales, a beauty room, sauna and marble steam room. Couples should not miss enjoying a traditional Balinese massage side-by-side overlooking the Auyung River gorge. Travelers not staying at Amandari should be sure to stop by for lunch. The hotel’s restaurant serves an array of Indonesian and international dishes, with most of the ingredients sourced from local organic farmers, and the views are exceptional.
One of the main reasons to choose Amandari is the plethora of activities and special experiences that the hotel can arrange. These include trekking and biking in the rice fields (which always end with a masterfully arranged Aman-picnic), white-water rafting and a private lunch at John Hardy’s studio, oftentimes with the jewelry designers themselves.
Who Should Stay: Couples or families with older children (younger ones during the holiday periods) looking for a boutique, traditional Balinese experience.
- Authentic sense of place of village layout and traditional accommodations
- The Amandari Villa for groups or families.
- Jungle activities and special experiences the hotel can arrange.
Vibe: Dramatic, romantic, cliff-top
At a glance: Aptly named “peaceful hill,” Amankila is perched high above the Sea of Bali in the island’s remote and picturesque eastern corridor.
Review: Aptly named “peaceful hill,” Amankila is perched high above the Sea of Bali in the island’s remote and picturesque eastern corridor. Located just over an hour’s drive from the crowded and touristy capital of Denpassar (where flights arrive), Amankila offers a glimpse into Bali’s history, with its landscape of mountains and rice terraces dotted with ramshackle villages and fishing communities.
A guest’s arrival at Amankila is dramatic, beginning with its open-air lobby at the top of a cliff, followed by a nearly vertical drop down to its iconic three-tiered infinity pool that seems to cascade into the sea below. Next, you wander through a labyrinth of stepped walkways that connect Amankila’s thirty-four freestanding pavilions, which are modeled to reflect their surroundings (most notably the royal water palace outside Amlapura in East Bali).
Each pavilion comes with traditional Balinese alang alang roof thatching and interiors that offer canopied king-size beds, sunken tubs and sumptuous mother-of-pearl vanities. The most indulgent accommodations are the Ocean View Suites, especially those that have private swimming pools. Families should take advantage of Amankila’s four connecting suites or the two-bedroom Amankila Suite, which includes butler service.
Below the resort sits a private black-sand beach, where guests can enjoy the calm surf and embark upon one of the many boating excursions Amankila has to offer. The best spot to unwind, however, is on a chaise lounge by the 135-foot lap pool at the adjacent Beach Club. Steps away from the sand, the Club offers lunch service and can also be reserved for a romantic meal under the stars.
Plans to create a full-service spa and gym are in the works, but in the meantime guests enjoy treatments in the privacy of their suites, the Massage Pavilion or by the beach.
Who Should Stay: Couples for the romance-factor. Families should keep in mind the cantilever hotel grounds are not conducive to smaller children.
Editor’s Note: As beautiful a setting as Amankila has, the view is slightly marred by oil tankers that park offshore.
- Ocean View Suites, especially those that have private swimming pools.
- Eastern Bali, a remote and picturesque part of the island.
- The Beach Club and lap pool, located near the private volcanic beach.
Vibe: Beach & golf resort, tropical, authentic twist
At a glance: Located in the gated community of Nusa Dua, Amanusa has thirty-five suites with sea and golf course views and the best beach club in Bali.
Review: It’s not easy to compete with the resorts on Bali’s southern coast, like the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, St. Regis and the Bulgari, but fifteen-year-old Amanusa, in the resort area of Nusa Dua, manages to outshine the best of them.
The hotel’s thirty-five suites incorporate neutral-toned tropical woods and marble in a series of stone buildings that have thatched roofs and are framed by manicured lawns, trees and reflecting pools. Each unit has a four-poster bed romantically draped in white netting, private terrace and bathroom outfitted with a sunken tub and indulgent outdoor shower. Eight offer over-sized swimming pools, and many overlook the nearby golf course and ocean.
While Amanusa is often thought of as a golf destination – it does happen to be surrounded by some of Southeast Asia’s top courses – the communal pool area and beach club are the resort’s true draws. The thirty-meter-long swimming pool is bordered by authentic Balinese stone walls, bougainvillea and flowering frangipani trees and comes alive particularly in the evening when the staff lines it with candles and fire torches. Amanusa also boasts one of the few white-sand beaches on Bali. With a private strip only a seven-minute buggy-ride from the main house, the beach club is equipped with traditional bales serviced by smiling beach boys and is perfect for lunch or an afternoon massage.
Who Should Stay: Amanusa is good stop for couples or families looking for some rest and relaxation. Given its proximity to the airport it is often used as the starting or ending point of any trip to Bali.
- Private white-sand beach and full-service beach club.
- Dramatic pool enclosed in Balinese stone walls and lit with fire torches at night.
- Sumptuous outdoor showers in each of the suites.
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