Located on a lush hillside beneath sacred Mount Agung, Amankila is the kind of place you arrive at and want to scream with delight. Obviously, I don’t do that, but it’s hard to contain my excitement. It’s the spectacular view that gets you first. I walk into an open-air lobby and the tropical sea-breeze hits me. The lobby looks out to a three-tiered infinity swimming pool, resembling terraced fields, which have been built into a cliff edge and overlook the waters of Lombok Strait and a 500m private black-sand beach. Next, I spot the large daybeds which surround the pool and have been covered in the most heavenly Indonesia traditional checkerboard fabric.
With the dramatic backdrop of Mount Agung, I quickly discover the magic of Amankila goes on and on. Each of the 34 free-standing suites – designed as Balinese beach houses with private outdoor terraces – are connected by stone walkways which are lined with fragrant frangipani trees, bougainvillea and palms (architect Ed Tuttle looked to the Ujung Water Palace, which inspired the walkways through the treetops). The suites are elevated on stilts and we have an outdoor bale next to the swimming pool with two treatment beds for couples’ massages (it’s at this point I decide that I’m officially in heaven).
Given Amankila is located in East Bali (one of the island’s remote and exotic areas), it’s not surprising that Amankila’s name is derived from Aman (meaning peace in Sanskrit) and Kila (hill in Balinese). Being so remote, there’s an instant air of peace that hits you on arrival. And that’s even with two young children at my feet. The idea is that you feel as relaxed at Amankila as if you were staying at the home of a good friend (there are even nightly bedtime stories educating children on Balinese culture which are delivered to our suite each night).
On our first night, we are driven to the top of Tamandari Hill where we follow a candlelit pathway to Amankila’s private bale, where we enjoy an authentic Balinese satay feast. The following morning, we explore the local villages which showcase a way of life little changed over the centuries. East Bali feels world’s away from the Bali I’m used to – it’s far more peaceful and serene.
We spend the morning on a Jukung, a traditional Balinese outrigger, and my seven-year-old has the time of her life snorkeling. Amankila owns two traditional outriggers – Aman XII and Aman XVI – which are available for guests to explore the beauty of the Lombok Strait. Guests can enjoy half-day cruises to explore the local coast or explore a little further afield to experience some of the best snorkeling and diving sites in East Bali, including Manta Point and Crystal Bay. With two children, the half-day cruise was perfect.
Wellness is a big focus at Amankila which is probably why we left feeling so rested and revived despite the fact that children still want to wake up at 6am, even on holidays (my morning chia pudding and green juice also helped). There are holistic practitioners who offer treatments ranging from hypnotherapy to reiki. There are complimentary group yoga classes that take place in a beautiful wooden pavilion on the beach at Amankila’s Beach Club or you can also book in for private classes which is what we did. We’re taught by a wonderful yoga teacher who has an infectious laugh and tells us we look happy (I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t look happy at Amankila – the place ignites joy in everyone). Meanwhile, the lifeguards supervised the girls while they made sandcastles. If yoga isn’t your thing, there’s also surfing and stand-up paddleboarding, cycling, and trekking. Or for something more culture-focused, a tour of East Bali which includes the highlights of the region from the ancient village of Tenganan to the temples and royal palaces of the area.
There’s so much to do, yet, you’re also welcome to do nothing at all but relax. Or head to the private outdoor cinema. Or indulge in the sensational dining options. I expected paradise, but I wasn’t ready for one of the best dining experiences of my life. Whether you favour Indonesian or Continental cuisine, this is a foodie’s paradise and even the girls’ nightly scoop of ice cream comes encased in an ice balloon. Local boats deliver daily fresh fish from the surrounding seas. Suckling pigs are locally reared. There’s even homemade ginger beer. And you’ll love the jar of chocolate chip biscuits and prawn crackers which are refreshed in your room each day.
There are three dining venues, with much of the herbs, fruit, and vegetables coming from Amankila’s own kitchen garden (sustainablity is a big focus for Amankila). The main restaurant is located in an open-walled pavilion above the pool. For lunch, there’s the Terrace restaurant or the restaurant at the beach club. There’s also daily complimentary afternoon tea where staff in traditional dress offer Indonesian ginger tea, Bali kopi, and cakes.