By Rosemarie John – There are times a person feels a need to escape from the confines of the maddening and irritating world of cities and retreat perhaps with a loved one in more tranquil surroundings. Some amongst us enjoy the sounds of the ocean; others like to sit by the grandeur of a cliff top. There are those who experience nirvana when surrounded by dense green surroundings whilst some thorough bred city types would like a slice of night life peppered with music and wine to soothe tired nerves albeit in natural surroundings. You can’t have everything, so goes the popular adage. Well whoever coined it hasn’t visited Ayana Resort & Spa in Bali.
Perched atop a cliff alongside the vast Indian ocean in the mystical land of Bali lies Ayana. Those interested to know what the resort offers may visit their website as this post is not intended to market this place. I shall therefore only recount about my own experiences there.
The Bali experience began when my husband decided to usher in my birthday in a special way. Bali was a place I had never visited and he felt that my gift should be special in every way and therefore chose one of the best and well known resorts of current times. Greeting us outside the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar with a placard in hand and a gentle smile on his lips was Pak Made. Our driver, guide and advisor. He even insisted on carrying my heavy camera and finally gifted me a small stem of Frangipani that now grows in my house. During our entire stay, not once did this Balinese gentleman ever expect a tip or a gift from us. His services were first class.
As soon as we sat in the car that was provided by Ayana to pick us up, our Ayana experience started. Pak Made pulled out cold towels that were dipped in Frangipani essence. As we wiped our sweaty brows and necks, out came chilled mineral water. Once all belted and tucked in, the car headed to Ayana.
The island actually stuns you like an initiation rite. As you look out of the car window, the place is mythical and incredible. The only ungainly and out of place scenery is everything that’s modern. You pass huge statues of gods and demigods of Hindu myth and folklore. You pass houses that have gateways with sculptures of mythical guardians. Black volcano rock and reddish orange hues are the colours that hit you immediately. Local Balinese folk with flowers in their hair and traditional clothes walk by busy with their daily chores.
A mere 10 kilometres from the airport, Ayana Resort & Spa is set atop 77 hectares of tropical gardens above the Jimbaran Bay. It has a 1.3km coastline and is acclaimed as one of the most spacious and luxurious hotels in present day Bali. The cliffs south of the resort house some of the most magnificent private villas designed to give you the feel of living in your own private resort within a resort setting. Picture this, you walk into a magnificent resort and inside that resort you have another resort – your own! When you see it and experience it you are left speechless!
The resort had arrived and I stepped off only to be greeted with a garland of Frangipani flowers. I confess it’s the first time I even saw these flowers and boy they smelt great! But let me pause here a bit and clarify that on this trip we didn’t choose those magnificent villas I spoke about briefly. I prefer lively surroundings and love to see fellow tourists like me prancing around excitedly and hence choose the Ocean view Suites.
It’s a proven fact that when you give importance to minute details, the grander things take care of themselves. During my stay I noticed the speed at which the staff operated when I noticed a few stray ants on my table, or the fact that they all knew my name and each time I passed them by they greeted me with a pleasant smile. Very rarely have I met a bunch of dedicated professionals who are genuinely friendly and take the effort to learn your needs and remember them for the rest of your stay. And you don’t even have to teach them, they just seem to observe and learn automatically. Says a lot about the effort of the management and the way they impart training.
The Ayana Resort and Spa houses some of the best restaurants in Bali. The dining experience ranges from fresh seafood, to trattoria styled Italian, traditional Indonesia, modern European cuisine to some popular Indian fare. My personal favourite was the Kisik Bar and Grill that also sits on the edge of the cliff. To get there you need to take an inclinator along the face of the cliff. The view is breathtaking. The tables are laid out on sand. The seafood is fresh off the fisherman’s boat. The chef’s cook you a meal to perfection. As you sit on those dining tables overlooking the ocean with waves crashing into the cliff far below while watching the sun set, you only wonder how difficult it is going to be when its time to leave.
Let me retrace my steps a bit and take you a few paces back to the spot when the inclinator stops at its destination, prepare to get your senses blown away with the view of the Ocean Beach pool. In my opinion it offers the most spectacular views as a short swim takes you to the edge of the pool overlooking the the majestic ocean.
But I must retrace a few more steps again. Memories are like that, you live them backwards. But its time now to take you to the Rock Bar Ayana’s 360 degrees of sheer glamour on the rocks. For any guest or traveller, the experience is nothing short of magical. I heard myself saying “wow”, for a want of a better expression. You just cannot help but gaze at the open air bar with amazement. It’s built right on the top of a rocky surface and almost looks suspended in space. The waves of the Jimbaran Bay dash into the cliffs below and almost seem to churn and froth beneath this fantastic piece of modern architecture.
With relaxed and chill out beats, the Rock Bar amalgamates the sound of the ocean at sunset with sensual beats and music. The drinks are fantastic. Groove away under a canopy of a starry sky with the wind from the ocean blowing away your blues. It’s truly a tremendous experience as you feel you skin glow in the sun’s radiant glimmer or the moon’s luminous light. It somehow eases in a sense of calmness and tantalizing pleasure, both at the same time.
Each time I adjourned to my room, I let out a huge sigh…. a sigh of contentment as I enjoyed its cosy confines, most of the time lazying on one of the most comfortable four poster beds I have ever slept on. At times, I found it hard to even leave the room, it had such a seductive feel. The only thing that got me out of the room, was my husband’s amazing itinerary that he had planned for me.
Ayana Resort & Spa was my inner sanctum… as it can be for anyone who visits it.
Ayana is located at Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali 80364, Indonesia. The published rate for the Club Room which I stayed in starts at USD360 per night while the One Bedroom Ocean View Cliff Villas starts at USD660 per night. Visit Ayana Resort and Spa Bali for more information on reservations and rates.
Text & Photography by Rosemarie John © All Rights Reserved