PHOTO BY Amandari doc.
Aman Resorts International was founded by Indonesian hotelier Adrian Zecha in 1998. It was named after the word ‘aman’, which translates as ‘peaceful’ or ‘safe’ in the Indonesian language and a few others that stemmed from Sanskrit.
The hotel chain now has 31 destinations in 20 countries, one of the first being Amandari in Ubud, Bali. Sitting 129 steps above a 7th-century Hindu shrine and tiger statue, Amandari enjoys a verdant vista of Ubud’s valleys and rice terraces. The five-star luxury resort was designed by Australian architect Peter Muller to reflect a traditional Balinese village, from the alang-alang-thatched roofs to narrow pathways and stone gateways. “The village concept in Bali is of highly defined ideas of the private and the public. Each family retains its own privacy with a wall to defend the house,” Peter explains. It’s about living outdoors and enjoying Ubud’s fresh air, without forgoing the privacy of the enclosures.
In the indoor property, the villa and suite use locally sourced teak wood, rattan, bamboos and coconut trunks. When the sun is up, the open-air rooms are drenched in golden sunlight that warms the surfaces inside. The clever selection of materials and respect to the tropics means you’ll never forget where you are.
What better group of people to show guests the Balinese way of life than the incredibly accommodating hotel crew, which is almost entirely made up of locals. Decked in traditional kebaya and songket ensemble, Amandari staff live and breathe the popular Balinese warmth and hospitality. They stop to greet guests by name, ask how their afternoon is going, and check in on each suite at the right moments.
Amandari shares a connection to its community that’s just as deep and genuine. The resort grounds serve as a venue for children from the nearby villages to rehearse their daily dance routines. Amandari also welcomes those who wish to observe and carry out their religious rituals. Some evenings, seats are provided for guests who wish to watch the children perform a complex traditional choreography to the tune of gamelans and drums, played none other than by the little dancers’ fathers.
While Amandari brings some entertainment to its guests, Ubud is the centre of cultural scene in Bali with a variety of festivals, ceremonies, and other festivities happening on a daily basis. Guests can request to be escorted to one of these special events during their stay. Having grown up in the villages surrounding Amandari, the staff members are the perfect tour guides for these excursions.
Cooking classes are also offered on site. Guests are invited to learn how to cook authentic Indonesian dishes from scratch at a villager’s house. But first, a visit to a traditional market to bargain for ingredients is imperative. Introducing new flavours to the palette is an experience, but having an immersive, hands-on backstage pass brings a whole new meaning.
A select few members of staff have also been trained to guide guests on different hiking trips, tailoring each trek to suit each hiker’s available time and endurance level. Expect to be completely smitten by views of cascading rice fields and streams flowing along the Ayung Valley.
Leave it to the Amandari staff to anticipate the subsequent need for relaxation and book a session at the resort’s al-fresco spa. Therapists approach each treatment like a holistic, spiritual journey that transcends any typical spa experience. Leave the spa bale feeling rejuvenated inside and out.
Amandari redefines luxury through its people and the irreplaceable opportunities to experience life like a local. Like other Aman venues, Amandari is a place that eliminates the need to ask for a check after a session at the spa, or a meal at the restaurant, because the staff know exactly who you are. In fact, Aman ‘junkies’, or loyal guests who have stayed at multiple properties, have a dedicated record filled with their preferences – including information such as their preferred pillow type, spa treatment, breakfast dish, and any other detail that would make an Aman junkie’s stay perfect.
It’s not difficult to see why Aman remains a trailblazer in tourism and hospitality, with a loyal following around the world like no other.