Head to the resort’s Rock Bar for cocktails, live music and a gorgeous view. // © 2016 Ayana Resort and Spa and Rimba Jimbaran Bali
Feature image (above): Ayana Resort and Spa’s 78 newly renovated villas have private pools and butler service. // © 2016 Ayana Resort and Spa and Rimba Jimbaran Bali
Overlooking Jimbaran Bay on the Indian Ocean, Ayana Resort and Spa and Rimba Jimbaran Bali are adjacent sister properties making up a retreat that is simultaneously luxurious, contemporary and Balinese. Originally opened in 1996 (as a Ritz-Carlton), the resort was rebranded in 2009. Since then, it has been enhanced in a multitude of ways and continues to be invigorated and refurbished regularly.
Sitting on the 220-acre Karang Mas Estate, the resort is massive. Yet, with its exquisite gardens, meandering pathways, a variety of swimming pools, delightful water features and tropical scenery, it still emanates a tranquil, lush and intimate ambiance. A complimentary shuttle provides access to all areas of the resort 24 hours a day. What’s more, the resort is situated only 6 miles (about 10 kilometers) from the Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport, providing quick, easy access to paradise of the resort when travelers arrive.
With an array of luxury accommodations in diverse configurations, Ayana offers 290 rooms and suites, as well as 78 newly renovated villas with private pools and butlers. There are an additional 282 rooms and suites at Rimba. Room and suite decor is modern, while still reflecting the Indonesian style, accented with splashes of vibrant color. Views are spectacular, with choices of ocean, pool, mountain and garden options. All of the accommodations have luxury amenities, such as high-quality cotton bathrobes featuring a uniquely Balinese floral design. Wi-Fi access is complimentary in rooms and throughout the resort.
Offering an extensive choice of dining options, the resort has 15 restaurants and bars located all over the property, each with a professional culinary team and menus that encompass a variety of cuisines, including Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, seafood and more. The design of each restaurant is as inventive as its menu, with upscale settings overlooking the beach, perched in a treetop or strategically situated among the infinity pools. For avid foodies, the recently launched, state-of-the-art Cooking School is led by chefs who demonstrate local specialties and provide students with hands-on practice time.
Another place to while away the time is the resort’s award-winning Rock Bar. Perched nearly 50 feet atop a cliff with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, this outdoor club is a chic spot for sunset cocktails and late-night live music. Locals and tourists from around the island line up every evening for entrance via an incline elevator that descends down the mountainside. Resort guests are granted priority access.
In addition to the bars and restaurants, the resort offers a private, inventive dining experience that I personally found to be the ultimate in whimsical luxury. For my personal “floating brunch” adventure, my butler arrived in the morning and set up a beautifully arranged, delectable tray of gourmet breakfast treats in an oversized floating “basket” that was placed in my villa’s shallow plunge pool. I nibbled from the tray while lounging in the pool or relaxing on the outdoor mattress. (The “floating brunch” must be arranged in advance.)
For even more unwinding, the property’s 11 stunning swimming pools provide a number of options for relaxation without the crowds. I jumped at the chance to pool hop around the resort, as each one features jaw-dropping architecture and diverse landscaping. Pools vary, from the salt-water Ocean Beach pool to the infinity-edged Main Upper Pool with a cascading waterfall. Both resorts feature children’s pools with waterslides as well.
The resort’s Kobu beach is situated in a secluded cove, with lounge chairs, umbrellas and food offerings. It does require a bit of extra energy, however, as it can only be accessed via a 197-step staircase.
For spa-goers, the resort offers extensive spa facilities, including the only Thermes Marins Spa in Southeast Asia, with a comprehensive selection of both traditional Eastern and modern treatments. The spa’s highlight is one of the world’s largest Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pools, containing more than 700 million liters of Indian Ocean seawater that provides natural curative properties through thalassotherapy. I participated in this unique spa experience and discovered it to be extremely therapeutic — I had a great deal of time to properly soak in and around the 12 different hydromassage stations and more than 60 individual therapeutic jet streams. (Advance reservations required; be sure to allow two to three hours for optimal relaxation.)
Ayana and Rimba offer something for all family members, with multiple kids’ clubs, as well as Kampoeng Bali, an onsite cultural center with a restaurant and a new outdoor world-class amphitheater featuring traditional entertainment. Nearby are golf courses, shopping, surfing and the famous and sacred Uluwatu Temple.
Not surprisingly, the resort is a popular destination for couples to say “I do,” as it offers eight wedding venues for ceremonies and receptions, including chapels atop the cliff overlooking the ocean.