A smiling concierge greets me with a garland of fresh frangipani, ‘welcome to Ayana’.
REMNANTS of the in-flight bug killer that airlines like to spray about the cabin prior to landing in foreign countries these days is flushed as the cool beverage drains into the back of my throat.
And so sets the scene for an imminent journey to ultimate indulgence and one where the path back will prove difficult to navigate. A personal 24-hour butler awaits in a golf buggy and off we go through undulating pathways until we arrive at the clifftop villa a few minutes later.
Ayana Resort & Spa is indeed a treat for the senses. Meaning a ‘place of refuge’ in Sanskrit, Ayana is perched on limestone cliffs up to 30m above the Indian Ocean near Jimbaran Bay on Bali’s south-western peninsula.
The property enjoys majestic views and a secluded location across its 1.3km coastline, yet is just 15 minutes from Bali’s airport. The 368 guest rooms comprise 78 private pool villas and a 290-room hotel.
The resort’s spa, the Thermes Marins Bali Spa is the world’s No.1 Spa as voted by the Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Spa Awards 2010.
It is the latest accolade bestowed upon Ayana since it was rebranded from the Ritz Carlton in April last year. In January the resort received further global recognition when it was announced by World Travel Award as Asia’s Leading Luxury Resort. It has also been awarded the No.2 Best Hotel in Bali by Destination magazine.
Cliff top villa guests enjoy a 24-hour butler service – just call on your personalised mobile phone – private pool and deluxe room with spa, king-sized four poster bed and of course – that view, sweeping across the bay in all its magnificence.
The revamped Rock Bar located on natural rocks abutting the ocean has become the choice de jour for those wanting a close up encounter while sipping cocktails under a setting sun.
By far one of the best degustation menus in Bali, it’s essential to sample the food at restaurant Dava, where king fish sashimi will set the pace for the culinary delight ahead.
New accommodation options are popping up everywhere in Bali and while Ayana offers all the opulence in the world, the beauty of this popular island lies within its diversity to cater to all tastes and budgets, each offering its own unique slant.
If absolute beach front is more to your liking, around 30 minutes away from Jimbaran Bay you will find The Laguna, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa.
Guests here also enjoy a 24-hour butler service. It includes personalised services including the delivery of complimentary tea or coffee, packing and unpacking your luggage as well as offering advice and assistance in regards to dining, shopping, excursions and car rental to remove the hassle and allow visitors to concentrate on their holiday.
Located on one of Bali’s most stunning beaches, a tranquil haven of tropical gardens and sparkling lagoons, the resort features 271 guest rooms and suites reflect a contemporary Balinese style.
Lagoon access rooms entice guests to step from their private balcony directly into crystal-clear lagoon waters.
The spa also has three restaurants and bars, meeting facilities and spa. The nearby Nusa Dua Beach Bar & Grill serves a delicious array of local fish including Mahi Mahi.
I cut my feet on a coral shelf while surfing at the famed Uluwatu. I then had to wear thongs almost to the water’s edge so as the hot cement and sand and grit did not get into the cuts. This morning I asked a Balinese lady to mind them along with my towel while I surfed out at Nusa. When I came in she was wearing them and so I gave them to her. I hobbled back to the Laguna as the sand and grit burned deep into the wounds. Before long I was smiling, knowing that she needed them more than I.
Closer towards Kuta, the refurbished Holiday Inn Resort Baruna Bali has a relaxed vibe and caters to families with a kids facility while babysitters are available to allow mum and dad some downtime.
To alleviate the discomfort of late check outs, the beach front resort has developed a departure lounge concept that provides a relaxing area complete with shower and all hotel facilities and sofas for guests as they await their flights.
No more hanging around at the airport waiting for a 9pm flight after a 12noon checkout.
The Holiday Inn is just minutes to the airport and its absolute beach front location makes it a favourite among families and surfers with access to the outer reefs just a quick boat ride away.
Sitting and taking in the Kuta evening air after tropical rain irrigates a humidity that sticks to you but cannot dampen the beauty of the Balinese culture. Hindu appears to be a wonderful underlying aspect to the karma-oriented Balinese people.
My taxi driver is very upbeat about the future, despite having to undergo an endoscopy to determine problems he is having with reflux and his oesophagus. I tell him that my brother has a similar problem.
When I hop out of the cab around 30 minutes later, he says that he hopes my brother will be OK. Compassion is universal, it helps to listen.
Bali has transcended barriers and emerged from the global downturn stronger and more spirited than ever.
A resilience generated by the warm culture and climate, close proximity to Asia and Australia and those consistent broad Balinese smiles has in many ways sheltered the island escape from the severity of repercussions and cushioned the global blow following a significant decrease in international travel.
Even when presented with challenges beyond their control, the Balinese people have a way of focusing on the positive, displaying elements of the good karma principles entrenched in their Hindu religion.
Its a key driver in ensuring continued Australian investment into our closest tropical holiday destination.
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