Amanusa means “peaceful isle” and that’s how many travelers would describe the island of Bali and the Amanusa resort which was the first of the three Aman Resorts we stayed at during last month’s honeymoon. Here’s 10 things we loved about Amanusa:
We landed at midnight and I was surprised how busy the airport was at that late hour. We still needed to get an Indonesia visa on arrival (cost $25 USD) so when I saw passengers from other flights heading towards immigration I picked up the pace. Not very “Bali,” eh?
The lines didn’t look too long and all of my rushing came to a stop when we spotted a representative from Amanusa holding a placard with our names on it. I thought the hotel driver would be picking us up outside of baggage claim – not before immigration. It turns out it’s a service Aman Resorts in Bali offers each of their guests so arrivals can’t get any easier.
The man took our passports and money and went to a special visa line. A few minutes later he was back with everything and took our bags (we had carry-on only) while escorting us out where handed us off to another Aman Resorts employee who walked us to our driver. Once inside the car we were offered cold drinks, snacks and chilled scented towels for the 20-minute ride.
Good to know: The Indonesia visa officials don’t take credit — only cash but US Dollars and other foreign currency are welcome.
Amanusa has 35 thatched-roof suites. They all have wooden four-poster beds draped in white mosquito netting. There’s free Wi-Fi, a flat screen TV, Bose sound systems, phones and ceiling fans. The bathrooms have a sunken bath and an indoor and outdoor shower. The latter is built into a high paras-stone wall with pink bougainvillea hanging down.
Every room has an outdoor terrace with a comfortable daybed beneath a protective canopy. We were in one of the eight pool suites so we had our own private swimming pool – how rad is that?! Of course, the first thing we did after dropping our bags off was go for a late-night skinny dip. Woo-hoo! We are finally in Bali!
I love arriving at night to first-time destinations because when you wake up it’s like Christmas morning. Even though we went to bed late we were awake at 6:20 am thanks to all the birds, roosters and geckos singing. Natalie seriously thought someone was playing a nature CD but it was just Bali.
The sun was popping its head out so we stumbled outside onto the day bed and witnessed our first Bali sunrise. As you can see from the photo above it was just breathtaking. The hotel’s golf course was undergoing a huge renovation so the view wasn’t even as spectacular as normal. We went for another swim and then walked to breakfast where we were the first guests to arrive. Amanusa felt just like the resort’s brochure made it seem: the property’s design is influenced by ancient Hindu poetry. It’s enclosed as a secluded self-contained retreat and is a relaxing microcosm of all things Balinese.
The hotel’s centerpiece is their gigantic pool which is partly surrounded by castle-like walls. I must’ve taken 100 photos of it because it was that amazing and there was never anyone around it except one a couple having a private dinner with Balinese musicians.
The food is not cheap at any of the Aman Resorts but it sure is delicious and convenient. Amanusa has two restaurants: The Terrace which serves Thai and Indonesian cuisine along with Continental fare and The Restaurant that has Italian cuisine in an elegant room overlooking the pool. We love Italian food but we weren’t going to be eating it in Bali so we ate all of our meals at The Terrace, not only for its local Indo food but its sweeping views. Our favorite dish was Mie Goreng and the plate of exotic fruits. It was the first time I’ve ever had Salak which I must’ve eaten over a dozen of and Mangosteens (my favorite).
6. Friendly workers
I always heard the Balinese people are some of the friendliest on earth and the hotel staff was a good representative. The staff kept addressing me “bapak” and Natalie “ibu”. It was so cute until I later heard them calling another couple the same names. It turns out “bapak” means ”Mister” and “ibu” is the word for “Mrs.” Too funny.
Amanusa is located close to the town of Nusa Dua on a garden hillside overlooking the Indian Ocean coastline. We could walk or bike to the beach or get a free ride from the hotel to either go there or the outdoor shopping mall called Bali Collection.
8. Free Rides
You have to love a resort that provides free rides to the nearby beach and shopping. We went to check out Bali Collection and were a bit disappointed because it didn’t feel very Balinese. The nice part about it is that it had a huge shopping center where you could get souvenirs and groceries for cheap. There were a bunch of restaurants too; nice to try something different and save some money. Amanusa charges $22 for Pad Thai so we ate at The Paon where food was a quarter of the price. But definitely not as good.
Good to know: Taxis are cheap in Bali and the Aman Resorts offer their cars and drivers on demand for just $35 USD an hour which is a fantastic deal.
9. The Beach Club
Amanusa has a Beach Club which consists of nine bales, each with two lounge chairs. There’s no extra charge and the beach boys provide you with water and sunscreen. You can also get drinks and light meals while soaking up the rays or resting in the shade. The beaches are wide and not crowded with people but they weren’t as nice as I pictured them. The water is nothing like French Polynesia or the Maldives.
Good to know: Amanuca can arrange for candlelit barbecues and/or sunrise breakfast at the Beach Club. There are also showers and bathrooms available.
10. In room massages
Like all good lodges Amanusa offers guests massages, which are available in a specially-designated Spa Suite, in one of the Beach bales, or in the privacy of your suite. We had a couples massage in our room which is the most popular choice. Amanusa’s masseuses mix traditional Balinese massage with Swedish massage and acupressure.
My masseuse was a gentle giant and I learned his strength because I signed up for a deep tissue massage. Luckily when he asked me what type of pressure I would like I said medium because I can’t imagine what anything tougher would be like. He was so strong I was thinking there’s a good chance I might die on the massage table and if I did it’s not a bad way to go. I know my friends would have a ball with my eulogy.
This Balinese God of a masseuse massaged me places no one ever has: the backs of my hands, crevices of my feet and pulled each toe. The most impressive part is he was able to get the knot out of my left shoulder that 100 masseuses before him couldn’t and this one was at it’s tightest ever since I had all the stress of a wedding.
Other Amanusa notables:
-We heard through the grapevine that many celebrities have stayed at Amanusa — from Princess Diana to Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis who there a month earlier.
-A variety of restaurants, nightclubs, bars, antiques, and handicrafts can be found throughout nearby Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Sanur.
-The Amanusa library has a selection of books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs and board games. There’s also a laptop computer available for email and Internet access.
-There’s a Balinese boutique on property and two tennis courts for day or night play. What’s really sweet is that workers are available as playing partners or ball boys.