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LUXURY RESORTS: Aman in Indonesia

Some people just fall in love with a luxury hotels brand and after they succumb it is hard to check-in anywhere else. This is what happened to one of The Luxury Travel Bible 's correspondents when she first encountered Adrian Zecha's babies. She has been an Aman Fan now for more years than she cares to remember and the love affair continues. Many of the resorts have seen her luggage in their villas at some point.

Luckily for our smitten correspondent new Aman Resorts are always opening. From China to the US desert there is plenty more to explore.

Here The Luxury Travel Bible AF (Aman Fan) waxes lyrical about the resorts she rates in Indonesia.

BALI and JAVA

The locals call Bali The Island of the Gods - They're not wrong, especially if, in a secular, worldly sense, your idea of Heaven is azure waters, sandy beaches, jungles, temples and a culture reaching back into a long and dramatic past;

When all these enticements are coupled to the comforts of an Aman Resort, a group recognised as one of the finest in the world, by the world, one is truly blessed.

AMANDARI:
 The first of the Bali resorts, is a pavillioned Paradise in the heart of the artists village of Ubud. Planned in traditional village Balinese style, Amandari melds a fine blend of coconut wood, cool Javanese marble, teak and stone into wondrous villas set amidst tropical gardens on a high terrace above the Ayung Valley.
 

amandari bale dining
amandari bale dining
amandari pool and restaurant
amandari open air bar
amandari suite bedroom
amandari villa
amandari gamelan pavilion

Balinese gateways front each of the 30 guest suites, which feature high walls for privacy, charming courtyard gardens, and thatched roofs. Interiors are downright luxurious and showcase many examples of local artworks. Some suites have their own pools, but the main pool also has wonderful views of the surrounding rice paddies and the singing river below. Here, in the evenings one enjoys music from the gamelan players, and traditional Balinese dancing is regularly performed. Also overlooking the pool, The Restaurant offers both local and Western cuisine and is open day long for both casual or more formal eating.

Tennis, library, gym and spa facilities are all available, and if you can manage to tear yourself from these enticements, the delights of the Village are just a stroll away.
 
AMANKILA:
Heading East towards the coast from Ubud, further Aman pleasures await you at Amankila - my most favourite destination in the world. Set high on a cliff edge above the Lombok Strait, in the ancient Karangasem Regency, the cream pavillioned resort steps down the hillside to the tropical waters below. Its three terraced pools also follow the line of the land, and must be amongst the most photographed pools in the world of Travel Magazines - they're superb.
 

amankila suite pool
amankila suite pool
amankila signature three tiered pool
amankila suite
amankila suite interior
amankila terrace restaurant
kila aman xii boating

 
Amankila has just 43 free-standing suites, each furnished with local materials - including classic ikat fabrics. Elevated walkways link each suit to the pools, the beach club, restaurant and other public areas which include a splendid library. Amankila also has suites with private pools, some of which can be interconnected with other pool suites if you want to ask along your chums for a seriously luxurious knees-up. Kila also has gamelan recitals and opportunities to see the local dancers performing by the pool in the evenings. And because Amankila is sited in the midst of one of Bali's most ancient Royal Kingdoms, there's a feast of temples, traditional villages - even a water palace - for you to visit. Of course you can also go snorkelling on Amankila's decorative private boat, or drift along the coast for your own site-seeing pleasure ,You can also indulge yourself with a traditional Bali massage, or a visit to the spa or just loll about doing nothing very much. And when the moon comes out and the scent of tuberoses drifts on the night air, there's nowhere else on earth I'd rather be. I think you'll feel the same.
 
AMANJIWO:
Looking Northward, Aman has chosen the lush countryside of central Java as the site for the majestic Amanjiwo, a resort David Tang, among others, calls the finest in the world. It is certainly spectacular. The splendour begins at the tiny airport of Solo when guests are scooped up for an extraordinary drive to the resort. In Java they worship a different God to those of Hindu Bali, and on your 1 ½ hour journey to the resort, you'll find many mosques as well as temples, mountains, active volcanos and lush green jungle climaxing in your first glimpse of Borobudur itself, framed by the superb entrance of Amanjiwo . Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, a marvellous terraced huddle of bell shaped chattrys rising from the plains of Java's cultural heart. It is set between two volcanos, one of which, Merapi, is constantly puffing and grunting and generally making itself heard. Many of the Amanjiwo suites have views of the ancient monument, which you'll want to visit, probably at dawn when the clouded tropical sun is rising.
 

amanjiwo lobby
amanjiwo lobby
amanjiwo dalem private pool
amanjiwo pool club
amanjiwo spa
amanjiwo suite bedroom
amanjiwo terrace

 
Amanjiwo itself resembles an imposing fortress, but its high walls, spilling cascading bougainvillaea, soften its imposing façade. Suites are spacious and comfortable opening onto gardens and picture-perfect views of the surrounding paddy fields. Bathrooms are enormous and have sunken outdoor tubs where one can discover the joys of bathing in the moonlight, and all suites have outdoor bales with a comfortable daybed where you can while away the day with a good book or perhaps enjoy fine dining without having to get up! In the Aman way, great use of local materials has been used in the construction of Amajiwo - everywhere you go, from the enormous main pool to the entrance rotunda and within your own rooms, local materials and artworks are on show. Outside, there are traditional Javanese villages to be explored,or perhaps you might like to take a long walk through the rice paddies or visit a local market. At certain times of the year, there's even the possibility of elephant excursions .

Tennis court, boutique. Library and art gallery, spa and traditional Javanese beauty treatments are all on hand.

Our luxury Insider says: 
After a stay at an Amankila, Bali, writer Eric Van Lustbader borrowed the names of Chrissie Lincoln Sales Manager at Aman Bali and Tracy Atherton, Manager Amankila for characters in his Jason Bourne series.  Asked by the estate of Robert Ludlum to continue writing  the series after Ludlum's death , Lustbader  has now written five Bourne novels (Robert Ludlum wrote the first three) and is   author of over 25 international best sellers.  Eric Van Lustbader  tells us " I used Tracy Atherton  in both The Bourne Sanction and The Bourne Objective. Chrissie Lincoln is a character in The Bourne Objective, along with Tracy's daughter, Scarlett. I used Amankila as a setting for the beginning of The Bourne Sanction. " Clearly he is another Aman Fan.

.

Ultimate Luxury: Being a cosseted guest of Aman is a luxury devoutedly to be wished in any country, any time - but for an aging Esther Williams, the 50 feet (15 metres), Javanese-stone swimming pool within the walls of Amanjiwo's Dalem Jiwo Suite is ridiculously, wonderfully glamorous - and it's all your own.

Most Indulgent Moment: A private dinner for 2 while lolling in a sumptuous bale in the middle of the rice paddies of eastern Bali. Our Amankila chef conjured a virtual feast for us while the gamelan music drifted on the evening air and the moon rose from a darkening sea. Bliss.

Insider Secrets: Room light switches and power points can be tricky to locate in Amanland - most are out of sight! Insiders know to listen carefully when staff explain where to find them - saves bumbling around in the tropical darkness even if you do have an Aman torch beside your bed.

The Little Things: The green tiles of Amandari's swimming pool echoing the colour of the rice terraces below, the water colour brushes and paints we found in our suite at Amanjiwo, the great baskets of tuberoses of the terraces of Amankila.

Dress code: Bare feet and sarong at Amankila during the day - casual glamourpuss at night. At Amanjiwo you'll want to take some comfortable walking shoes so you can explore the local countryside as well as visiting mighty Borobudur. Best to choose a reasonably respectful dress sense outside the resort here as villagers can be a tad conservative in rural Java. At Amandari, take a sarong with you when visiting the temples - (no shorts) and always a light shawl for evenings - Even Indonesian nights can often spring breezy surprises on you.

Perfect luggage: As little as possible - preferably a light-weight tote, and a book bag stashed with your favourite titles for a re-read - Amans are that sort of place - but you'll find their libraries have a good selection too.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Resorts Link: www.amanresorts.com
Jill Mullens 19/7/10
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