The gal went from one pool to another… 75 minutes’ drive north, and up, from Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, Bali, you find its sibling luxury hotel, Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, near Ubud (this was opened four years after Jimbaran Bay as its owner, B.S. Ong, wanted his own hideaway where Jimbaran Bay guests could go on to without defecting to another brand). So, from the beach experience of Jimbaran Bay, here you have the natural beauty, the rainforest of Sayan. You are considerably higher up and it is much cooler, especially at night. There are 18 suites in the main block but the savvy go for one of the 42 secluded villas, all of which have their own pools. Here is the pool of villa 14.
As you can see it looks down to the Ayung River and it is so secluded that it is yet again skinny-dip time (good thing as I am flying out tonight and I do want a wet bikini to enter the beloved Porsche Rimowa). The villa has just been redecorated, by Spin (who did the restaurant block at Jimbaran Bay). The fascinating thing about this whole layout, here, is that architect George Hsieh designed it so that from above-ground you do not see any villas at all. From villa 42, for instance, you climb stone steps up to the ground level. See the photo.
Emerge from villa 14 and you look across to part of the resort’s working vegetable garden: to the far right is a designer bench made from a rather extraordinary tree trunk. Sculptures here are natural, with lots of wood. I take a hike, down to the river, where the Riverside Café, right by the water’s edge, offers a range of health drinks, including coconut water with lime, fresh mint and honey, which apparently calms the nerves (question, how can one have even an iota of a nerve in this place, the epitome of calm?). I would go, instead, for avocado, banana, cacao and honey, high in minerals and essential fatty acids.
Also on my walk, I look up, far up to the main block, where the suites are. At its top is the Ayung Terrace, a full 95 feet above the water. There I try Indonesia’s top comfort food, nasi goreng, wok-fried rice with chicken satay, deep-fried prawn, deep-fried chicken wing, and oat and prawn crackers (actually, to be honest, my favourite is bahmi goreng, the same but with noodles instead of rice). I am glad I have chosen a simple salad to go with it – it comes with an orange nasturtium as hat. You smile the whole time here.
You can even laugh, with others. Every Friday there is ‘laughter yoga’, for a full hour from seven a.m. I ask the boss here, Uday Rao, what laughter yoga is about. His omnipresent smile actually breaks into a laugh so I still do not know. There is lots going on. There are sunset sip nights, and suckling pig nights, and a barbeque by the river. Many guests simply want, says Uday, to lie by the main pool, by the river bank, and read and unwind. Many single women, travelling alone, come here to spa, and de-stress. Ah the spa. I take a 90-foot long boardwalk over lily ponds to the Melati room, for a soothing face-something-or-other before my next flight. As I walk back home I pass housekeeping maids, carrying their necessities on their heads.
But you do not have to be adult and alone to enjoy being here, I think. This is a luxury hotel that has taken kids seriously. There are two kids clubs, a Pici Pici (snail) house and a tree house. I am nearly home, but I see 20-foot bamboo poles with white lanterns hanging from them. This is udong udong, to guide ancestors back down to earth at festival time. I fear I am going to come back down to earth with a bump: 90 minutes later I am back at Bali’s international airport. BUMP.