JUST AS THE HOTELIERS OF BALI STARTED TO SMILE AGAIN, THE TSUNAMI HIT MUCH OF THE INDIAN OCEAN. BUT NOT MANY PEOPLE REALISE THAT THE DAMAGE WAS VERY REGIONAL, AND BALI, SHELTERED FROM THE TIDAL WAVE BY OTHER ISLANDS, WAS COMPLETELY UNDAMAGED. SO THOSE WHO WANT TO GO FOR THE HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME CANNOT DO BETTER THAN TO HEAD FOR BALI. AND IF YOU CAN AFFORD THE VERY BEST, THIS IS WHERE YOU WILL FIND A SMALL COTERIE OF LUXURY RESORTS THAT CATER TO AN EXCLUSIVE CLIENTELE OF THE WORLD’S ‘MOVERS AND SHAKERS’.
Since the turn of the Century, painters, writers and poets have been drawn to Bali's unique charm and culture. This island is predominantly Hindu, the only such enclave in a primarily Moslem part of South-East Asia. Over the centuries the Hindu religion, with its stone and wood Temple carvings and its paintings has honed the natural artistic talents of the Balinese. Eventually these have reached an apex in which religion, village life, the Balinese Arts, along with the religion-based dances have become inseparable and important facets of the Balinese lifestyle.
This remarkably artistic culture is set in a tropical paradise of smouldering volcanoes, emerald-green terraced rice fields, brilliantly-hued flowers and villages where smiling Balinese live a community-based lifestyle little changed from that of their ancestors.
And there's so much to do and see on this island. Catch the surf along Bali's pristine beaches. Shop for magnificent wood-carvings, silverware or traditional paintings and masks. Go hiking in the West Bali National Park or climb to Pura Besakih, the closest spot to the 3000 meter Mt. Agung. Watch Bali's legendary woodcarvers in the village of Mas. Listen to a gamelan orchestra and see the traditional dancing in the village of Peliatan. Visit the artists' village of Pengosekan, buy a Barong mask at Ubud market, walk down Monkey Forest Road at Ubud and look at the extraordinary handicrafts. When it comes to Art as well as relaxation, Bali has it all.
But where to stay is also important. The Indonesian government is now encouraging tourism development to take place in designated sites in areas least suitable for farming, where the impact of tourists on the Balinese lifestyle will be minimized. Apart from the large, attractive resorts constructed on these sites, there is also another group and one which the average tourist never sees. It is a select coterie of small, elegant and very private resorts that cater to those who demand the very best. Here you find the sort of accommodation, luxury and service that one can only dream about in many other destinations. These are not for the average tourist. They are designed for the world’s most discerning travellers who want the very best and are prepared to pay for it – and here you will rub elbows with top executives, doctors, lawyers, affluent honeymooners, entrepreneurs, royalty, entertainers and others who are leaders in their field. If you want to join these international connoisseurs, you may wish to head for these places that they know to be the very best.
On The Mountain
Ubud is a mountainside village and the centre for the arts for which Bali is so famous. Woodcarving, handloom-weaving, painting, mask-making, silversmithing and stone-carving all absolutely thrive here. These crafts are an integral part of the Balinese tradition and Hindu religion and anyone staying in Ubud – usually 4 or 5 days in conjunction with 6 to 8 days at a beach resort – will find the natural way in which all of these people practice their crafts quite fantastic. Here you will find Amandari, a very special mountain-side hideaway in Bali.
Amandari. Built on a ridge overlooking a gorge that plunges down the hill-side past layered rice-fields to the white-water Ayung River, Amandari seems to rest on the steep mountain slope.
It was the first luxury Bali hideaway built by Adrian Zecha, the creator of the Asian super-luxury boutique resort concept, and is constructed in the style of a Balinese walled village.
Located off a private lane just wide enough to take a car, its 29 Balinese style garden suites/villas have thatched roofs and cathedral-ceilings of woven reeds. Villas are linked to each other and to public areas by walkways.
Polished marble floors, Balinese paintings and windows that frame lush foliage enhanced by sweet smelling yellow and white plumeria trees set the stage here. Open-air bathrooms in walled courtyards include exotic plantings that bring nature's greenery to each end of the sunken marble bath. Some of the villas have views across the valley and down to the Ayung River below. There are a small number of duplex suites suitable for families.
A special feature of Amandari is its swimming pool that seems to hang on the edge of the precipice. The Verandah Restaurant which serves gourmet European and Indonesian cuisine has a superb view of the gorge and the emerald‑green rice terraces that contrast with swaying coconut palms. This is a view that most people can only dream about.
Amandari has made a tremendous name for itself amongst the most fastidious international jetsetters. Management will never reveal guest names, but local residents tell us that John F. Kennedy Jnr, fashion designer Issey Miyake, super-model Claudia Schiffer, magician David Copperfield, and John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, are just a few in the constant flow of VIPs that have stayed here.
Away from the madding throng:
AMANKILA. The name means 'peaceful hill' and here, not far from the villages of Manggis and Karangasem on Bali's east coast, is Amankila. The Resort, a luxurious hideaway complex of 35 thatch-roofed suites scattered around the hillside, provides the usual excellent Amanresort’s high standards. This is the most secluded of the Amanresorts and perhaps the reason why it is the favourite of the Duchess of York
. For great deals on rooms guests may search the Amanresorts. Guests never worry about its relatively remote location, as by prior arrangement, the hotel will pick them up at the airport and whisk them back there at the end of their holiday.
Located in a coconut grove, the resort's special hallmark is a huge 3-tiered rectangular swimming pool which follows the contours of the resort. It parallels the beach located further down the hillside and supplements the seven individual pools that are part of the top villas. The Reception areas, dining-room and library are also structures of local Balinese materials – timber, rattan and coconut leaf that enhance the generous use of hand-printed cottons, tropical flower displays and shrubs in tubs. Adjoining the pool, the open-sided bar has ceiling fans that give it further tropical ambiance. The dining-room is as elegant as it is relaxed, soft lights caress the walls and shine up into the vaulted cathedral ceiling illuminating the hand-woven under-side of the roof-thatching. Views across to the water and along the coast create an open and relaxed atmosphere.
The stylish terrazzo-floored suites, as in the other Amanresorts, are spacious, imaginative, and luxuriously furnished. Woven matting, timber panels, huge-canopied beds with carved supporting posts accent the very exotic concept. Each suite has a large veranda with stunning ocean views.
s not hard to understand why this charming boutique resort, one of the Amanresort group, was a favourite of Princess Diana’s or why it attracts so many keen golfers!
No rooms here, just 35 superb Balinese thatch-roofed, one-or-two-bedroom villas, each accessed through its own private walled courtyard. The large bedrooms, each with their canopied 4-poster bed, polished floor, a bathroom located in an outdoor annex with a walled sunken bath that appears to float within a reflecting pool, and private patios are everything one could wish for in this island paradise. As with all the other Bali Amanresorts, these bungalow/suites are connected by walkways to the restaurants, bar and main lobby.
Fine dining options at this Resort's restaurant offer Italian home-style cuisine or superb Thai as well as Balinese food. The dining room has the bonus of splendid views overlooking the grounds of the Bali Golf and Country Club which features a par-72 championship course designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright. This private golf course is naturally available to guests and has creeks, waterfalls and gently sculptured fairways. Some of the holes look over Nusa Dua, some over a 16-acre lake and yet others to the distant mt. Agung, Bali's landmark volcano.
All of these venues are exclusive and priced accordingly. But for those who have deep purses and are planning the trip of a lifetime, these very elegant Balinese resorts will provide lifelong memories.
Manggis, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: (62 363) 41333
Fax: (62 363) 41555
Kedewatan, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: (62 361) 975 333
Fax: (62 361) 975 335
Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: (62 361) 772 333
Fax: (62 361) 772 335
Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.