When I was 18, I flew to Bali with a girlfriend for a holiday...
We ended up staying in Kuta (awful choice, I know, but we were young) before making our way to Bali’s artistic heart, Ubud. Full of galleries and home to many artists, surrounded by rainforest and terraced rice paddies, and dotted with Hindu temples and shrines, we fell in love with the beauty and serenity of this beautiful town. Your mind slows down here and suddenly, it feels as if there’s no rush to do anything. Partly because there isn’t, but also because a sense of stillness overtakes your body and you can’t help but feel more connected to your spiritual side (I’d recommend booking in for a ‘personalised healing session’ ahead of time). I still remember this quietness from when I was 18, and two decades later, and I’m making my way back to Ubud, this time carrying a little more baggage in the form of two children. My mother has also come along for the trip (sorry mum, I know I promised you that despite being with children you’d get a relaxing break – it might be a little louder than expected).
Despite the fact that children don’t automatically become really well-behaved robots when they’re on holidays – shame, really – it’s hard to feel any anything but calmness when we arrive at Amandari. Floating above Ayung River Gorge in rich surrounds, the resort is only 15 minutes by car from Ubud (75 minutes by car from Bali’s Denpasar Airport), yet you feel miles away from anywhere once you enter the property (I wonder if the Beckhams, Christine Aguilera and Mick Jagger felt this way – they’ve all stayed here). We’re welcomed by local girls dressed in traditional colourful costume who cheerfully throw flower petals at us. We walk through the open-air reception area featuring high ceilings with thatched roofs, past the library and bar (is it time for a cocktail yet?) to discover the property’s renowned green-tiled infinity pool. It’s just as I’d imagined – paradise.
Inspired by a traditional Balinese village – or as Aman puts it “evoking village life between paddy and jungle in Bali’s cultural hub”, Amandari is world’s away from the hustle and bustle of Ubud. All we can see are rolling rice paddies and lush green rainforest.
We are led along a winding pathway, past tall, majestic moss-covered stone walls. These walls wrap each of the freestanding along-alang thatched guest houses, meaning every suite is incredibly private (designed to frame their natural settings, Aman destinations are renowned for space and privacy). Each of the spacious suites feature traditional Balinese interiors of coconut, teak and bamboo. We stay in one of the duplex Ayung Suites, which comes with an upstairs bedroom and downstairs living area (meaning my mum can escape the children and read quietly in the afternoon or enjoy a lie-in without being interrupted). The privacy also means you can holiday with children without feeling self-conscious that they’re interrupting everyone else’s break.
On our first night, we’re treated to a family dinner at Amandari Bale – a secluded and private hut overlooking the Ayung River Valley. I stop, trying to freeze the moment because it feels so perfect. We enjoy local Indonesian cuisine as the sun goes down over the river. The following day, we book a babysitter and mum and I head into Ubud. After purchasing some woven baskets and cute childrenswear, we escape the hordes of tourists and return home to the peacefulness of Amandari. In our suite, there’s a private pool and we spend the afternoon wrapped up in books and in and out of the water.