The Four Seasons has not one, but two resorts on the Indonesian island of Bali.
Sayan captures the mystical, enchanting part of the island, while Jimbaran Bay is an oceanfront indulgence. Fans of Julia Roberts may recognise Sayan as the resort the actress stayed at while filming “Eat, Pray, Love.”
Travel writer and tea expert Kathy YL Chan recently experienced both of these luxurious hotels for herself.
The best way to fly to Bali is via Doha on Qatar Airways. The newly renovated Hamad International Airport and Qatar Business lounge is a destination within itself. The lounge offers multiple options for full-service dining, business amenities, and even quiet rooms and family rooms for those travelling with kids. Once you land in Bali, Jimabaran Bay is quick 15-minute drive from the airport, while Sayan is 90 minutes away.
Many guests will recognise Four Seasons Sayan as the hotel Julia Roberts chose to stay at while filming 'Eat, Pray, Love.' It's hidden but centrally located, a short 10-minute drive to Ubud, the hub of Bali's cultural and spiritual life. The villas here are simultaneously decadent and cosy, with giant canopy beds.
Welcome treats always feature a classic Indonesian sweet and are not to be missed. These little nuggets are called Klepon, pounded rice cakes scented with pandan (which is like the vanilla of Southeast Asia). It's stuffed with liquid gula jawa (palm sugar), and rolled in grated coconut. Perfect at room temperature, and straight-up amazing when devoured hot.
But don't eat too many before heading to the spa villas. Pass on the ordinary massage -- healing rituals and chakra ceremonies are the thing to do here.
Each treatment is finished with local watermelon and a spicy house-made concoction of young ginger tea.
Get up early in the morning for a stroll around the property. It's lush, and rich with earth and nature. People often say that this property radiates a strong sense of spiritual energy. You feel it most in the early hours of the day.
Jamu is a traditional medicine in Indonesia. Think of it as a tonic shot, with many different flavours and variations. The classic combines turmeric, honey, and tamarind. The resorts serve a different type of Jamu each morning, but the classic was by far the best.
Breakfast is a feast here -- a meal worth getting very excited about. It's done buffet-style and a la carte, with a wild selection of exotic fruits that include rambutan tosalak gula (also called snake skin fruit) and tamarillo. Hot noodle soups are prepared to order, and the fresh juices include watermelons and the sweetest mangoes.
Look out for the daily rotating local specials. You just might be lucky enough to score bubur injin, a sweet forbidden rice porridge. It's served hot with generous ladles of coconut milk.
Afternoon tea is also a special treat, especially when it's served at Jati Bar. Ask for one of the open seats that face the Ayung River Valley. You won't find an afternoon tea view like this anywhere else in the world.
Perhaps a nap before dinner? All villas have private pools and outdoor showers. Couple that with efficient room service, and you might never need to leave the villa.
The property has a number of dining options, and desserts happen to be a strong point in the kitchen ... save room. There's the classic coconut and tapioca, along with rolled pandan crepes and steamed pumpkin cakes. There's also lapis legit, a multi-layered Indonesian cake scented with cinnamon. This place is bliss for anyone with a sweet tooth.
For your last night (or two), head over to Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay for an oceanfront treat. Whereas Four Seasons Sayan was the ideal retreat tucked away in the forest, Jimbaran is all about the sun and surf.
While many resorts offer cooking classes, few get it right and Jimabaran Bay is one of those places. The class starts with a morning tour of the largest local fish and vegetable market in town -- it's a good way to get a glimpse of local living and food culture. Head back to the property for breakfast, and then get started cooking. This is a classic Balinese lunch for one, the results of a morning behind the stove.
The beach beckons, but the villas are indulgent enough to warrant an afternoon in with a good book. Guests can reserve either the Villas or Residence Villas (which are essentially grand homes fitting for families or groups of friends). Pictured above is the living room of a three-bedroom garden villas
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