Bali in Blue
Diana Plater discovers rich cultural traditions and delves into a world of pure indulgence and relaxation during a blissful stay at Bali’s world-class destination resorts.
I feel as if I’m floating as I stand on my balcony overlooking a sea of trees all the way down to the ocean. I can understand why this resort, RIMBA Jimbaran BALI by AYANA, has been named after the Indonesian word for forest.
There’s no shortage of stunning liquid panoramas at RIMBA and its sister resort, AYANA, with a combined 12 swimming pools, Kubu Beach Club, RIMBA’s lobby with its sunken lounges and the world’s largest Aquatonic Seawater Jet Pool.
The resorts are spectacularly beautiful places to stay for my five days of relaxation, indulgence and culture.
A perfect balance
With a design based on the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, the harmonious balance between God, humans and nature, AYANA and RIMBA pay homage to Bali’s sublime but complex Hindu heritage. It’s what really makes this holiday island unique. As part of this, cultural packages and activities are on offer, including a cooking school and visits to the nearby markets.
I sashay down to the lobby, based on the design of a boat, to be taken to Kampoeng Bali, one of 19 restaurants across the resorts. The smell of beef, chicken and pork satays cooking over burning coals mixes with the sweet scent of incense as I watch the Kecak dance from the Ramayana Hindu epic. As the chant of male dancers during the battle scene crescendoes, I am swept away by the magic of the performance.
The next morning, to get a further taste of Balinese culture, assistant guest recognition manager, Yeli Pratiwi, takes me to visit the nearby Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park, named after its giant statue of Wisnu on Garuda, the eagle. She tells me the partly built statue will be the highest in the world when it’s completed.
Here again I watch as local dancers incorporate subtle movements – froma dart of the eye to a flick of the wrist – perform Tari Sekar Jepun, which describes the colourful frangipani. It is the mascot dance of Badung Regency, where the resorts are located.
Offerings and spices
Another day I visit the Jimbaran market before my cooking lesson. It’s a holiday in Bali, and children and parents in their finest ceremonial attire are piled high on motorbikes travelling to temples.
I stop at a stall where offerings are sold. The Balinese place these in shrines twice a day, lighting incense to send the essence skyward, as a way to pay respect to good spirits. Others are thrown on the ground to placate evil ones. I am shown how to make the leaf tray offerings: the canang, made from young coconut leaves and decorated with flowers, and the ketupats, woven containers filled with cooked white rice and shaped like a bird, turtle or gong.
At the RIMBA Cooking School I follow the chefs to pick herbs and vegetables from the resort’s own spice garden and receive a multi-sensory introduction to Balinese cuisine, rich with the flavours of turmeric, lemongrass, palm sugar, chilli and salam leaves.
The Villas at AYANA
I move to The Villas at AYANA for the last two nights. My butler explains he is at my beck and call, handing me a special mobile phone so that I can call him to pick me up in his golf buggy and whisk me away to wherever I desire. At sunset he takes me to the inclinator to ride down to the Rock Bar, where again I feel as if I’m floating as I watch small jukung boats head out for a night of fishing. I sip a cocktail and the orange sun melts into the Indian Ocean.
I’m overwhelmed by my butler’s attentiveness, returning to petal-filled baths, and flowers in the shape of a heart. One day he arranges a “floating brunch”: champagne, strawberries and canapés on a basket in my plunge pool. I spend my last morning learning about Indonesia’s legacy as the Spice Islands at a perfume-making class at L’Atelier Parfums and Creations studio in AYANA’s new shopping arcade.
Perfumer Nora Gasparini tells me Indonesia is a world leader in producing key essential oils, such as ylang-ylang, cloves, vanilla and sandalwood. She then helps me to discover which scents from among these intoxicating essential oils best reflect my personality. I have always loved the delirious fragrance of the champaca flower and it forms the base of the perfume I make, ‘Isle of the Gods’.
Every time I wear it I will be taken back to that feeling of floating high above the forest, looking out towards the sea.
This article originally appeared in volume 30 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.