Put Bali's Amankila at the top of your list when Indonesia re-opens its doors to tourists in July.
On my first morning at Amankila, I woke up at dawn to the sound of gentle knocking at the door. My guide Rudi was outside. He led me along a trail and up Tamansari hill, carrying breakfast in a cool box. At the top, I climbed up into a ‘bale’ – a flat, square day bed – and sipped on my Javanese mountain coffee. All I could see behind me were the rolling mists of the Lombok Strait, sliding their way over the sea. In front were foothills covered with the dewy morning glaze, waiting for the first rays of the sun.
And then there it was, rising up and through the clouds, Mount Agung. This is no ordinary mountain but one of Bali’s most active volcanoes. It does occasionally erupt. Fortunately, it is a safe distance away but not so far that its magnificence cannot be appreciated. It was but another apparent reason why the Aman group has chosen this spot for Amankila.
One of the aspects of the Aman properties is that they are all united by what you would expect: fine dining, experiences, and ultra-luxurious suites. But what is so impressively skillful is the way the properties blend into their surroundings not just physically – as Amankila does with the suites elevated above the ground, encompassed by gardens, flowers and trees – but culturally and spiritually. They are unique in that respect.
And what of the surroundings? Amankila is situated only one hour’s drive along the coast eastwards from Bali’s main airport Ngurah Rai. Coming to Bali, going South to Uluwatu, or North to Ubud, West to Seminyak are the usual routes. But heading East feels quite adventurous. The road quickly narrows to a single carriageway that hugs the coastline, passing fishing villages and small ‘warungs’ – roadside shops selling refreshments.
Reaching Amankila, the road turns sharply up a hill and winds itself down to the lobby which greets you with an expansive vista over the ocean. A cascade of three infinity pool edge their way down the hillside. Down below, following a pathway through the trees, lies a well-kept lawn and another long pool at the Beach Club, a private beach. Along the coast are the suites, some with pools, most with ocean views, and then some exceptional ones with everything.
Amans have perhaps unfairly missed out on the family market. Of course, no stay is anything short of romantic, but what struck me this time was how much there was to do for the children. Perhaps it is because I am a father now that I pay attention to these details. I was lucky to spend a morning with Sous Chef Jati who led me through the trees to the vegetable garden to start my day. We then filled a bowl with cinnamon, cumin, galangal, turmeric and ginger and I then slowly worked it into an orange paste. I was a little slow in fact but fortunately there was help at hand. Next to me some children were being taught how to make croissants. The attention to detail was what made it so special. To actually make the spicy powders myself was something that added depth to what could be an ordinary experience.
Of course, there is plenty to do for the more active such as sailing, SUP, bodyboarding, volleyball and swimming. The blue lagoon of Manggis Bay is but five minutes by boat for scuba divers or snorkelers. On land there are treks, cycle rides, ATV tracks, yoga, a gym, and even bootcamp classes at the outdoor fitness course, or you could just sit back in the private cinema and relax.
The food was exceptional (particularly if I hadn’t cooked it) and one meal we had at one of the three restaurants was the ‘mixed rijsttafel’ – a dish coming from the Dutch word mean ‘rice table’, served in a particularly elegant way on a long platter laden with lots of different portions, an array of dishes to tease and tantalize. All delicious. Favorites were the Lulur Panggang – a chargrilled beef fillet – and the Ikan Bakar (grilled Mahi Mahi). The homemade sorbet was pure joy, served in a beautiful frozen globe.
Bapak Ernst is not only the GM of Amankila but also Aman Indonesia’s regional director. His experience shows. Aman is rightly known for curating an entire in-country experience from Amanjiwo in Borobudur, to the 3 properties in Bali (Amandari, Aman Villas at Nusa dua, and Amankila) and Amanwana – a luxury tented experience on a remote island – to Amandira a two masted Phinsi sailing yacht, perfect for exploring far flung islands of the Indonesian archipelago Flores, Komodo, and Raja Ampat.
There is no one way to visit Bali, but if you are looking to connect with nature, your loved ones, the island’s culture, and who knows maybe even enjoy a little me time, then there is no better resort than an Aman.
Suites starting from: £538++/night
- Privately curated Indonesia / Bali country packages in multiple properties also available
- Getting there/away: Qatar Airways/ Cathay Pacific/ Singapore Airlines to Denpasar Bali. Then car ride to Amankila.