BALI

In­dulge in rich cul­tural tra­di­tions and pure re­lax­ation at two world-class des­ti­na­tion re­sorts

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Ifeel as if I’m float­ing as I stand on my bal­cony over­look­ing a sea of trees all the way down to the ocean.

I can un­der­stand why this re­sort, RIMBA Jim­baran BALI by AYANA, has been named af­ter the In­done­sian word for for­est.

There’s no short­age of stun­ning liq­uid panora­mas at RIMBA and its sis­ter re­sort, AYANA, with a com­bined 12 swim­ming pools, Kubu Beach Club, RIMBA’s lobby with its sunken lounges and the world’s largest Aqua­tonic Seawa­ter Jet Pool.

The re­sorts are spec­tac­u­larly beau­ti­ful places to stay for my five days of re­lax­ation, in­dul­gence and cul­ture.

A per­fect bal­ance

With a de­sign based on the Ba­li­nese phi­los­o­phy of Tri Hita Karana, the har­mo­nious bal­ance be­tween God, hu­mans and na­ture, AYANA and RIMBA pay homage to Bali’s sub­lime but com­plex Hindu her­itage. It’s what re­ally makes this hol­i­day is­land unique. As part of this, cul­tural pack­ages and ac­tiv­i­ties are on of­fer, in­clud­ing a cook­ing school and vis­its to the nearby mar­kets.

I sashay down to the lobby, based on the de­sign of a boat, to be taken to Kam­po­eng Bali, one of 19 restau­rants across the re­sorts.

The smell of beef, chicken and pork sa­tays cook­ing over burn­ing coals mixes with the sweet scent of in­cense as I watch the Ke­cak dance from the Ra­mayana Hindu epic. As the chant of male dancers dur­ing the bat­tle scene crescen­does, I am swept away by the magic of the per­for­mance.

The next morn­ing, to get a fur­ther taste of Ba­li­nese cul­ture, as­sis­tant guest recog­ni­tion man­ager, Yeli Pratiwi, takes me to visit the nearby Garuda Wisnu Ken­cana Cul­tural Park, named af­ter its gi­ant statue of Wisnu on Garuda, the ea­gle. She tells me the partly built statue will be the high­est in the world when it’s com­pleted.

Here again I watch as lo­cal dancers in­cor­po­rate sub­tle move­ments – from

a dart of the eye to a flick of the wrist – per­form Tari Sekar Jepun, which de­scribes the colour­ful frangi­pani. It is the mas­cot dance of Badung Regency, where the re­sorts are lo­cated.

Of­fer­ings and spices

An­other day I visit the Jim­baran mar­ket be­fore my cook­ing les­son. It’s a hol­i­day in Bali, and chil­dren and par­ents in their finest cer­e­mo­nial at­tire are piled high on mo­tor­bikes trav­el­ling to tem­ples.

I stop at a stall where of­fer­ings are sold. The Ba­li­nese place these in shrines twice a day, light­ing in­cense to send the essence sky­ward, as a way to pay re­spect to good spir­its. Oth­ers are thrown on the ground to pla­cate evil ones.

I am shown how to make the leaf tray of­fer­ings: the canang, made from young co­conut leaves and dec­o­rated with flow­ers, and the ke­tu­pats, wo­ven con­tain­ers filled with cooked white rice and shaped like a bird, tur­tle or gong.

At the RIMBA Cook­ing School I fol­low the chefs to pick herbs and veg­eta­bles from the re­sort’s own spice gar­den and re­ceive a multi-sen­sory in­tro­duc­tion to Ba­li­nese cui­sine, rich with the flavours of turmeric, lemon­grass, palm sugar, chilli and salam leaves.

I move to The Vil­las at AYANA for the last two nights. My butler ex­plains he is at my beck and call, hand­ing me a spe­cial mo­bile phone so that I can call him to pick me up in his golf buggy and whisk me away to wher­ever I de­sire.

At sun­set he takes me to the in­cli­na­tor to ride down to the Rock Bar, where again I feel as if I’m float­ing as I watch small jukung boats head out for a night of fish­ing. I sip a cock­tail and the or­ange sun melts into the In­dian Ocean.

I’m over­whelmed by my butler’s at­ten­tive­ness, re­turn­ing to petal-filled baths, and flow­ers in the shape of a heart. One day he ar­ranges a “float­ing brunch”: cham­pagne, straw­ber­ries and canapés on a bas­ket in my plunge pool.

I spend my last morn­ing learn­ing about In­done­sia’s legacy as the Spice Is­lands at a per­fume-mak­ing class at L’Ate­lier Par­fums and Cre­ations stu­dio in AYANA’s new shopping ar­cade.

Per­fumer Nora Gas­parini tells me In­done­sia is a world leader in pro­duc­ing key es­sen­tial oils, such as ylang-ylang, cloves, vanilla and san­dal­wood. She then helps me to dis­cover which scents from among these in­tox­i­cat­ing es­sen­tial oils best re­flect my per­son­al­ity. I have al­ways loved the deliri­ous fra­grance of the cham­paca flower and it forms the base of the per­fume I make, ‘Isle of the Gods’.

Ev­ery time I wear it I will be taken back to that feel­ing of float­ing high above the for­est, look­ing out to­wards the sea.

01 AYANA’s River Pool 02 A world of wa­ter at AYANA’s Ocean Beach Pool 03 Sooth­ing spa treat­ments 04 RIMBA Jim­baran BALI’s sunken lounges 05 Deluxe ac­com­mo­da­tions at AYANA Re­sort and Spa

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