I have never visited Bali before as it has a reputation of being a tacky touristy resort island. However, I decided to make my first visit and after a lot of research, I settled on staying at Ayana Resort & Spa.
The resort is located on over 200 acres of lush tropical gardens on the edge of Jimbaran Bay. There are three separate resorts on the property, Ayana (which has beautiful sea views and is closer to the ocean), Rimba (which is set on eight hectares of lush gardens) and The Villas (which more secluded with private pools and located on the cliffs). I stayed at Ayana but to be honest, it doesn’t really matter, guests have access to all the 12 pools and 19 restaurants and bars in the resort, with regular shuttles (every 10 minutes) carrying guests between the different locations.
One of the highlights of the resort is the Rock Bar, (perfect for viewing the sunset). Visitors from all over Bali pay a visit to this bar and restaurant perched on top of a limestone rock below the resort on the shores of the bay. Guests at the resort have priority and are given the best tables.
If relaxation is the name of the game, then you can visit the resort’s rooftop spa with 45 treatment rooms and an Aquatonic seawater therapy pool (it’s the largest in the world) with 12 hydro-massage stations. If you’re more fitness-minded then the resort offers a private golf putting course, a couple of full-sized tennis courts (you can have an instructor thrown in if required) and two 24 hour access gyms. Guests have access to the private white-sandy Kubu Beach with an attached club which serves wonderful cocktails and Balinese cuisine.
The resort entrance has majestic lion fountains and a traditional Balinese thatched roof canopy where the hotel reception is based. The check-in experience was perfect with a welcome drink, luggage was seamlessly delivered to the room and I got to access my room earlier than the standard check-in time.
Next to the entrance is PADI where you can have your daily breakfast and surrounding it is a series of lovely Koi ponds with a range of exotic fishes.
Next to the Koi ponds and fountains runs the beautifully crafted stone path to the Main Pool, Ocean Beach Pool, Rock Bar, and the bay. It’s quite picturesque in itself.
The walk to the room is directly above some of the lush tropical gardens which are so beautiful.
The rooms are wonderful, which is kind of a pity given I spent most of the time outside by the pool area. The decor is elegant, with beautiful hand-carved wood furnishings (some with tasteful gold plating), plush bedding and batik cushions, pillows and spreads with lovely tones of purple and cream. The room has a high definition TV with plenty of channels (although I have no idea why anyone would stay in to watch TV) and an array of flowers, wooden mirrors, and floral paintings. Standard amenities such as minibars, tea, and coffeemakers, ironing equipment, robes/kimonos, and slippers are also provided to complete your stay.
The bathroom is impressive, with full marble floors, walls and bench tops, delicate wooden carved frames and mirrors. There was a deep soaking tub and a separate rainforest shower. In addition to the standard shampoo and bath gel type amenities (not that these were standard, they were luxe), there were dental kits, mouthwash, combs, and a full bubble bath mix.
The terrace is stunning. There is a beautiful lounge to relax and it has views of the lush greenery across the resort and the ocean. It’s a lovely spot to sit and enjoy some late afternoon room service or a cocktail in the afternoon.
The Ocean Beach Pool
My favourite spot in the whole resort was the Ocean Beach Pool. This is a unique pool which is actually built into the limestone cliffs of Jimbaran Bay just above the shores of the Indian Ocean.
The walkway to the pool is just after the Main Pool and across the plains which border the cliff. The flat grass planes are often used for morning yoga and the steps are to the right of the plane. The road to the pool is quite something with full views of the expansive Indian Ocean for one to enjoy.
At the Ocean Beach Pool there are a handful of cabanas which are available on a first come first served basis. The friendly attendants will set them up for you and provide with towels and other amenities.
The view’s from the cabana’s are simply spectacular.
The thing I loved about pool was the cafe which is a limited menu of snacks and meals (burgers, Balinese staples and side snacks) and beverages. All you had to do was place your order and then these were brought directly to your cabana.
I absolutely loved the Pina Coldas and the attendants actually remembered me from my frequent orderings of said drink.
I’ll describe this pina colada moment as did on my instagram post: “The tropical sun casts a shimmering glow across the surface of the pool. The morning is spent swimming to the edge and gazing at the waves as they meet their foamy end on the shores below. The hosts arrive with the pina coladas and they are sensuous sipped as the melody of waves intermingles with the hit of rum, pineapple and coconut which flood the senses – it’s a many-splendoured moment.”
The food was pretty decent and I tried a variety of dishes including the coconut prawns and satay (pictured below).
The beautiful burger with curly fries and a Cabernet Sauvignon. I did ask myself why I traveled all the way to Bali to have an Australian beef burger with an Australian wine!
And of course, no visit to Bali would be complete with a lovely Nasi Goreng with a Mojito.
The pool is oh so idyllic, its got beautiful views of the beach, friendly staff, a more relaxed atmosphere (given its an adults only pool) and it’s pretty secluded so you can actually unwind and hear yourself think.
The Main Pool
Above the Ocean Beach Pool, there is the Main Pool at Ayana. This is a wonderful and much larger infinity pool. There are stone dragons water fountains at the front of the pool and there is also a jacuzzi at either end of the pool. The pool has a cafe menu and day beds for your relaxation as well.
The view at the edge of the Main Pool overlooking the ocean is pretty spectacular.
There are so many restaurants at the resort and to be honest given the standard of this place I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them. The resort features 19 restaurants and bars with a diverse range of world cuisines from traditional Balinese to Mexican. As I primarily dined at the pool cafes / bars I didn’t visit most of the other restaurants.
One night I did try out Kisik Dining. This is an beautiful oceanfront dining venue which has tables right on the sand next to the beach with glowing tiki torches, sunset views, and a thatched roof canopy. Unfortunately that day it was raining in the afternoon so the tables right next to the ocean were unable to be used, but I did get an excellent seat.
It’s a good concept, you have an Indonesian salad and soup to start then you can wander up to the kitchen front and select a piece of seafood (most of it is live) and they weigh it for you and give you the price and if you agree just head to your table and wait for it to be cooked.
The Mud Crab was cooked in Singaporean Chilli style and was succulent and full of its natural flavours while the sauce did have some zest and spice which carried it nicely.
Ayana is famed for the Rock Bar, which is a bar located on natural limestone rocks about 14 metres above the Indian Ocean on Jimbaran Bay. It is at the base of Ayana Resort has an open-top structure which is the main bar. Around the rock there is plenty of seating and cabanas to enjoy drinks and the sunset too. The overall capacity of the bar is over 800 guests.
To enjoy the sunset I was given a cabana along the cliff face. I chose the Assorted Dim Sum (prawn dumpling, bean curd skin roll with prawn and spring roll of cheese and shrimp) and the California Maki (spiced pineapple and marinated tuna sushi roll). I also some spritzers to go with them and enjoy the tantalising sunset.
The sunset views are simply breathtaking – couldn’t of a better way to spend the evening in Bali.
Kubu Beach Club
The resort also has a private white sandy beach hidden in a little cove on the property. The beach club is accessible either through a c.200 step winding stairs or a short inclinator ride. The beach is perfect those who wish to swim away the afternoon while there is the beach club on the other side with cabanas and traditional Balinese style food. The actual club styled with traditional wood, bamboo, coconuts, shells and stone with a lovely “openish” bamboo rooftop.
Here is the view from the top of the inclinator.
The inclinator stands right on the cliff above the beach.
Here are views of the ocean from the inclinator.
The Beach Club has a traditional beach shack vibe and I just loved those coconut cocktails on the edge.
Overall I would have to say I enjoyed myself immensely at Ayana Resort. There is an abundance of things to do such that I never left the resort during my stay. Whether its a quiet day beside the pool, a relaxed afternoon in the room or a rigorous jog across the resort or just a chilled pampering moment in the spa – there is something for everyone. I especially enjoyed the pools, the dining options and the expansive nature of resort which allows you to keep fit while indulging.
The seclusion and privacy of the resort are pretty important – Kubu Beach Club and all the pools are only accessible to guests and even with respect to the Rock Bar which is open to the public, the staff cordon off private areas in the resort meant for the guests to protect from any unwanted intrusion.
The service levels are second to none, with regular shuttles to the different areas of the resort, attentive staff which means you’re cocktail glasses aren’t empty for too long and consistent care in dealing with all matters. I arrived early and was given a room, and asked for a later check-out which was also obliged. Even after checking out I was allowed to use the resorts facilities and was provided with a shower in the spa area to get fresh before I left for the airport.
The resort is pretty extensive and unfortunately, pictures can only do so much to the tell the story. So here is a short video diary of my time at Ayana Resort.
The background tune is “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. I do not own any rights to the song