If you are following along with me on Facebook or Twitter then you know I got married in Toronto, flew 13 hours to Korea on Korean Air and spent the night in Seoul before flying six hours to Bali for an amazing honeymoon. The first three nights we spent at Amanusa and the next two were at Amandari and the final three at Amankila.
Amandari is just 21 miles (35km) from the airport but since Bali’s traffic is so bad (I know, huge disappointment) it takes about 90 minutes during the day. The drive is interesting as you get to see everyday life on this tropical island including how trucks use Bougainvillea instead of a red flag for an extended load.
The word Amandari translates to “peaceful spirits” and the resort is located just outside of the town of Ubud which is Bali’s cultural capital. It’s an amazing place and here are my 10 reasons you would want to stay there:
1. Balinese village
What makes this place so special is the resort is designed like a traditional Balinese village, with pebbled walkways linking thatched-roof villas that are mostly made of local teak and coconut wood.
There are 30 free-standing suites that are like no place I’ve ever seen which is probably why the readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine rated Amandari as the “Top Resort in Southeast Asia” in the publication’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards.
Each villa is fronted with a Balinese-style gateway and they all have a garden courtyard, living area and wall-sized sliding glass doors that open on three sides to the lush surroundings. The bathroom features two sinks and dressing areas, a separate shower and toilet. Note: There are no TV’s but they all have free Wi-Fi, ceiling fans and remote controlled air conditioning.
We were in one of their 11 two-level duplexes so our queen-size four-poster bed was on a mezzanine level. The best part was we also had a private pool that was to die for. What’s also amazing is that the cleaning crew came in three times a day to clean and we never saw them – they are like magical elves.
3. The views
Ubud is 1,200 feet (400 meters) above sea level so the topography is completely different than Amanusa. Instead of looking out at the Indian Ocean you have sweeping views of rice paddy fields and the Ayung River gorge. It’s beautiful and relaxing.
Amandari has one place to eat called The Restaurant. It’s open air, crafted mostly of teak wood and overlooks the swimming pool and the valley. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and specializes in Western and local Indonesian cuisine. What I love about Amandari and the two other Aman hotels that we stayed at is you never need to sign or see your check. They just add it to your bill.
Each day at 4pm near the pool a couple of Amandari staff members serve afternoon tea with a choice of fresh ginger tea or Balinese coffee and local treats. The day we attended we they served delicious banana fritters with syrup.
5. Proximity to Ubud
Amandari is only 10 minutes by car to Bali’s cultural center of Ubud. During the day it’s filled with tourists who come up from the beach for a few hours to get some culture. But at night it’s much less crowded so perusing the shops, art galleries and restaurants is a much more pleasant experience. To save money and experience the area we had dinner one night at Batan Waru Café which the hotel concierge recommended. It was really good and inexpensive as we had two main courses, bottled water, banana juice, two cookies and gelato for just $22.10 USD.
Amandari provides guests with free on call transportation to and from town. They dropped us off where and when we wanted and when we were ready to be picked up all we had to do was have a restaurant call them and ten minutes later a driver would be out front. If you want to hire a driver and explore Bali the Aman hotels only charge $35 an hour which is a very reasonable deal. As a bonus the drivers supply cold towels, drinks and snacks.
7. Rice Terraces of Tegalalang
Our villa at Amandari was so plush we just wanted to hang out in it all day but we forced ourselves out. One day we hired a driver for an hour and ten minutes ($35) and he took us out to Bali’s world famous rice terraces in Tegalalang. We went early in the morning so there wasn’t any traffic (took 20 minutes in both directions) and wasn’t filled with tons of tourists. Along the way we passed many verdant flat rice fields so when we arrived in Tegalalang we were taken aback by their size and beauty. They look like they took inspiration from the Maya’s and our driver paid either an entrance or parking fee (5,000 IDR = $0.52US cents). We walked by the touristy coffee shops all waiting for the bus loads of people to arrive while we walked with our driver through the fields. I asked if we needed to worry about snakes but he and a little kid selling postcards said there aren’t any. Just harmless eels. Next time we will go even earlier and walk all around them and bring a picnic lunch.
8. Friendly workers
No surprise here as pretty much all the Balinese are friendly but the workers at Amandari are just ridiculously sweet. What’s interesting is that one of our Balinese drivers had never been outside of Indonesia and when I asked him if he could go anywhere in the world he said Hawaii! I wasn’t expecting that.
9. Amandari Spa
I’ve been to many of spas in my day and the spa at Amandari is jaw dropping and it’s not because of its appearance. Thanks to the open-air treatment rooms being surrounded by a lotus pond and having a rain fountain, it was the most relaxing treatment I’ve ever had. My talented masseuse didn’t hurt either.
Body treatments include massages and scrubs using local Balinese ingredients chosen for their soothing and healing properties. Facials, manicures and pedicures are also available.
For those feeling active there’s private yoga classes, a tennis court where balls, rackets and tennis shoes are complimentary (the resort can arrange playing partners) and a small gym.
10. Plenty of activities including white water rafting
Besides what’s listed above the area is also full of activities so you will never get bored. You can hike, cycle or play golf. One of the most fun looking and best ways of seeing Bali’s exotic flora and fauna is to go white water rafting down the Ayung River (category 2) and the tours finish right by the resort so you can walk to your room. It costs $65 and the whole excursion takes three hours. Unfortunately, Natalie didn’t want to do it so like a good husband I chose another activity.
Random Amandari notes
- Amandari was built in 1989 and was the second Aman resort. The original one is in Phuket, Thailand.
- The resort’s library has a wide selection of books, newspapers, CDs, DVDs and games.
- Locals pass through the resort to get to one of the temples near the river. It’s a nice little workout.
- You can hear roosters all day long. You can also hear dogs barking and some motor bikes as it’s not far from the main road.
- Although it appears they grow a lot of rice on Bali they import most of their rice from Vietnam.
- When you depart the hotel they give you a wrapped gift box with the absolute best brownies in the world. I don’t know where they were hiding them since they don’t offer them on the dessert menu.More on our Bali Honeymoon