Scent and relaxation
Cinnamon spices the air at a Bali villa estate
Cinnamon is an evocative spice, one that spans centuries, coupling exotic Asia with chilly Europe. It reminds me of Christmas and hot afternoons in dusty carpet shops in India, where the scent of cardamom or cinnamon-flavoured tea often scents the mote-flecked air.
One of several spices to fuel a lively trade dominated by the Dutch in the 17th century, cinnamon, or kayumanis, gives its name to a pretty resort in Bali’s seaside Jimbaran district, where the architecture recalls Indonesia’s colonial past and at breakfast in the lovely Resto, a delightful replica of a Javanese joglo, cinnamon tea accompanied by delicious cinnamon toast makes the perfect way to start the day.
I, however, am adhering to an all-nasi goreng diet at Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa.
So at breakfast, an open-ended and very quiet affair, strictly a la carte, with only the sound of whirring ceiling fans and a chorus of neighbourhood cockerels to disturb the morning reverie, I am presented with a delicious, artfully constructed version of the dish on a palm leaf disk, a tomato and cucumber butterfly attendant (a mere bagatelle at six bucks).
This very smart Resto is a recent addition to the allvilla Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa. The resort’s 20 accommodation compounds are hidden in sprawling gardens behind another resort, Belmond Jimbaran Puri, a five-minute walk from the beach.
Almost as soon as our taxi enters Kayumanis’s serene, green haven, the noisy hubbub of Bali’s streets fall away; we tiptoe across steps over a pond and into the light and airy reception bale from where a smiling young butler dispenses chilled towels and drinks before whisking us to our villa, called Bungkak. Every compound has a botanical moniker; bungkak is a young coconut, not exceeding a diameter of 10cm, to be precise.
Our small coconut turns out to be very commodious, tucked away behind high walls in its own garden dominated by a good-sized pool and large thatched open-air living bale complete with kitchen.
The decor has an oriental flavour, celebrating the influence of Chinese merchants who settled across Indonesia during the Dutch colonial period. The look sits very well in this little slice of cultivated Bali, where sweetly scented frangipani flowers drop into the pool seemingly on cue and a soundtrack of birdsong (and roosters) is on high rotation.
The master bedroom is air-conditioned with canopied bed; there’s a study (that doubles as another bedroom) and large outdoor bathroom. A free minibar, stocked with soft drinks and Bintang beer, is complemented by coffee machine, magically replenished fruit bowl and a large jar stuffed with cinnamon biscuits.
Seriously sultry weather that causes palm fronds and hairdos to sadly wilt is no impediment to outdoor living in this compound, a quick togs-optional dip (one of the ad- vantages of a private villa) and it’s into that outdoor shower with a gushing spout (very “Me Tarzan” and terribly good for knotted shoulders).
A late afternoon downpour lightens the sweltering mood so it’s off to the beach. From the resort’s front gate, a stroll of barely three minutes down a narrow laneway, past the Belmond’s back door, and we’re on the beach where night-time barbecue eateries make this a lively after-dark destination (sunset is spectacular).
Mid afternoon and vendors are dozing beneath little thatched huts beside signs advertising massage, cold drinks, and surf and “boggi” board rental. The sea is choppy and the broad beach busy with women collecting rubbish and loading it onto a tractor and trailer careening along the sand; a task without end, it would seem.
The Kayumanis gardens are an instant balm, minimalist in design dominated by great swaths of immaculate lawn (clipped with precision by a team of 15), and coconut palm groves set about with large glazed urns. Banks of spider lilies and stone troughs filled with rose petals and frangipani flowers add a splash of colour.
A stroll from our villa to Resto or pretty day spa is a kind of meditation in itself. If you’re feeling more energetic drop by reception and pick up a bicycle to explore the village (with a butler in tow if the traffic makes you
Kayumanis Jimbaran Private Estate and Spa living area, top left; guestroom, top; lobby, left; and in-villa dining service, above