Without contest, Ayana Resort and Spa in Bali, is the very best resort I have ever been to.
Located in Jimbaran and just a 30-minute drive from Denpasar airport, Ayana is set on around 80 hectares of pristine land, high above a cliff over the Indian Ocean.
Formally known as the Ritz Carlton, Ayana is now owned by an Indonesian gentleman who has given the resort a multi-million dollar renovation. Today there are seven swimming pools, 15 restaurants, a world famous Rock Bar, a health spa, conference rooms, a wedding chapel, landscaped grounds and more water features than I was able to count.
Before you arrive at the entrance of the resort, you need to go through security. This is taken very seriously and every vehicle is checked prior to entry. This is the first resort I’ve stayed in where there is a man with a serious-looking weapon standing on guard at the entry.
When you drive up to the entry foyer at Ayana you are warmly greeted by staff wearing traditional Balinese dress who present you with a fragrant garland of frangipani flowers. Your luggage is whisked away to your room and you’re escorted to reception where you’re handed a fragranced ice-cold towel and given a chilled tropical juice. A lovely welcome after a long journey.
Ayana has a wide range of accommodation options from garden-view rooms, oceanfront rooms, studios, villas and beachfront villas. If I do have a negative comment to make about Ayana, it would be its website. As someone who had never been to Ayana, I found it very difficult to find out enough information about the accommodation options to make an informed decision; it was quite confusing.
I decided to book an oceanfront room but if there’s a next-time, I’ll definitely be booking a villa. Our oceanfront room was on the top floor of the three-storey complex. It was right at the end of the open corridor so there was no traffic marching past our room making it whisper quiet.
As soon as we entered the room I was immediately impressed by the size of it. We had an entry foyer, a very large bedroom with a sitting room and office area, a balcony running the length of the room, a stunning ocean view, and an enormous bathroom.
The bath was filled with rose and frangipani petals that were very fragrant and there were bath salts, bubble bath and an aromatherapy oil-burning candle beside the bath. The bathroom was supplied with large, thick fluffy white towels of every shape and size and there was a generous variety of toiletries and necessities.
Because you can’t drink the water in Bali, the room was stocked with six bottles of clean water with a note advising if more water is required additional bottles would be supplied complimentary. A small basket of fruit was delivered every day along with a couple of containers of snacks like chilli peas and salted nuts.
The king-sized bed was turned down every evening and there was a pillow menu if the four pillows on the bed weren’t what you’re used to. They were fine by us.
If there was a negative about the room it’s that while the room was incredibly spacious, there weren’t any drawers. As soon as I arrive in a hotel I like to unpack and I found it difficult because while there were a few open shelves, there weren’t any drawers and the hanging space was also very narrow. I don’t think that’s standard throughout the oceanfront rooms because I met a woman who was in the same accommodation and she said she had plenty of drawers as well as a chaise lounge on her balcony that we didn’t have either. Never mind.
After our arrival we changed and went down to the bar next to Sami Sami Restaurant where you can sit on a level lawn and enjoy a drink looking out over the ocean. The weather in June is perfect with lovely night time temperatures where you can wear one layer and feel perfectly comfortable. Drinks at Ayana are reasonably priced except when it comes to wine and champagne. An ordinary glass of wine is around $22.00 with a ‘plus-plus’ tax of 21% to be added and as for the champagne, I’m still staggered.
Cocktails seem to be what people drink but I chose the tropical gin and tonic that came with thin slices of cucumber and little white and red berries that exploded in your mouth. This drink was so much more than a G&T.
Breakfast was included in our package and that was a hot and cold buffet at Sami Sami Restaurant. However, we found the breakfast very ordinary and quite a mish-mash of cuisines and cultures and with some oversights of all the things I enjoy like hash browns, sauteed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and eggs benedict.
If you stay in a villa, the breakfast included in your package is at Dava, a restaurant where you order from a menu rather than negotiating your way around a buffet. Those who aren’t staying in a villa are not excluded however it costs and additional US$5.00/person. That sounded like good value to us so every morning we hopped in a golf buggy and were driven up to Dava.
The breakfast at Dava was incredible with all my favourites provided as well as traditional Indonesian fare.
Ayana has a world-famous Rock Bar that I’ll tell you about in another post, but also down on the water’s edge near the Rock Bar is the adults only Ocean Beach Pool. You get there by inclinator or you can walk down to it. Drew and I loved this saltwater pool; it’s in a very beautiful setting, there are no crowds, it’s very peaceful, you have the view of the ocean and there are day beds to lie on.
All pools are well-staffed and the staff are nearby should you require bottled water, a snack from the bar menu, shade cloth or additional towels. They even walk around asking if you’d like your sunglasses cleaned which you hand to them and they come back sparkling. At the Ocean Beach Pool we had a perfect day of relaxing with swimming, eating burgers, drinking G&Ts, reading and looking out at the view through sparkling sunglasses.
When we picked ourselves up from the day beds, we headed to Aqua Tonic, a pool with 16 stations of massage jets. The pool is the largest of its kind in the world and the water is pumped direct from the Indian Ocean and then heated to a comfortable temperature. It takes around two hours to get around all the stations and every part of you is massaged by very powerful jets. And when I say ‘powerful’, I mean it. You have to remove all your jewellery so it doesn’t get removed for you and a friend of mine hopped in wearing a two-piece swimsuit and afterwards said she was sure she had no elastic left in her pants. You need a tight-fitting one-piece maillot and a measure of strength to withstand the jets.
Drew and I loved the Aqua Tonic experience but the next day I could feel every one of my muscles – they’d all been thoroughly pummelled. Aqua Tonic will work wonders for you if you’re recovering from a flight or if you’re feeling fatigued.
The villas are situated in a separate part of Ayana and away from the main reception; it’s either a 15-minute walk or a few minutes in a golf buggy. Whether or not you are in a beachfront villa, they all have amazing views and you can book either a one-bedroom or two-bedroom villa. They all have private swimming pools however, if you do feel like leaving your villa there is also the communal river pool. Central to the villas is the Martini Bar and Dava Restaurant.
But that’s not all! Ayana Resort also incorporates the newly-opened Rimba Resort which is situated on eight hectares and is a sister resort of Ayana. Rimba has been designed based on the Balinese philosophy of ‘tri hita karana’ which means the harmonious balance between God, people and nature. We took a shuttle bus up to Rimba and had a drink at the Oxygen bar on the top floor where there is also a pool you can swim in.
Rimba has hotel-style accommodation with rooms with balconies overlooking the many swimming pools.
Whether you arrive at Ayana for a conference, wedding, honeymoon or family vacation, Ayana has something for you that will exceed your expectations. With a staff of over 1000 people to meet your needs, 80 hectares of landscaped grounds, 15 restaurants and seven swimming pools, I’m sure you’ll be like me and never want to leave.
Verdict: Out of this world.
Ayana Resort and Spa: Jimbaran, Bali