If your definition of a vacation is access to an otherworldly tropical fantasy, Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, located on the roaring Ayung River, delivers.
The adventure begins as soon as you cross the entryway sky-bridge. At the end of it, stop a moment for the lush rainforest views just beyond the expansive lily pond that appears to be suspended in mid-air.
From this point, you’ll be escorted down to the heart of the property, where you’ll find the open-air lobby and Ayung Terrace restaurant perched on the crest of a gorge.
On your way to your room — the resort has 18 suites and 42 villas — you’ll notice that the grounds are sprinkled with the exact greenery you’d imagine for an Indonesian paradise: pink frangipani trees, red palms, magenta-colored bougainvillea, yellow plumeria trees, white jasmine and even rice fields. Vegetable and herb gardens that supply the hotel’s two restaurants with fresh, organic produce dot the grounds, too.
It’s no wonder Julia Roberts chose to stay here when she was filming the movie Eat, Pray, Love.
Simply put, the property is stunning. Around each corner is another gasp-inducing bit of beauty. From the infinity pool overlooking the river to the island-style tree house for kids, no detail is left askew.
Among the many amenities of the 18-acre campus, here are our absolute favorites:
Start your stay with a dramatic entrance as you descend a flight of stairs from the roof of your villa to the inside. Recently remodeled, each unit features an expansive patio, a private plunge pool and views of the rainforest, rice terrace or the river.
Inside, you’ll find a blend of traditional Balinese accents (see: carved wood furnishings and ikat fabric drapings) mixed with modern luxuries such as a massive marble tub, a top-shelf mini-bar and quality bedding.
The largest villa (three bedrooms and 22,000 square feet) is impressive, but all suites and villas are extremely spacious and private. For the best views of Sayan, request villa number 60.
Spa treatments for the soul
Don’t expect the usual Swedish massage at the hotel’s Four-Star Sacred River Spa at Sayan. Instead, treatments here are geared toward healing the body as well as the soul. For example, the signature service — the Chakra Ceremony — is customized to your personal and emotional goals, be it love, creativity, success or healing. It takes place in your own bale or hut and includes myriad options, from a massage to a mud wrap to a cleansing ritual.
Activities with purpose
Since you’re roughly 10 minutes away from the town of Ubud, Bali’s heart of spirituality, it’s no surprise Four Seasons Sayan offers plenty of activities to mirror this energy. Whether you want to visit an authentic Balinese healer, listen to talks on happiness or take a class by a resident world-renowned yoga teacher, there’s plenty to do to recharge and refocus.
Our favorite onsite activity is the Sacred Nap. Here, a former Buddhist nun rocks you to sleep in an aerial silk with a guided meditation and soft singing, just like mom used to do.
Rice bowl architecture
UFO-shaped. Aerial sculpture. A descent into paradise. These are just a few ways the hotel’s design has been described. And yet, the resort is still as modern and arresting as when it was first built nearly 20 years ago.
The recently added architectural tours available for you to discover architect John Heah’s true inspiration. (Spoiler alert: the concept has a lot to do with a giant rice bowl.)
It doesn’t matter if you’re on your honeymoon or not, the scene will almost certainly call for you to treat your loved one to a private four-course dinner.
You have your pick of romantic settings for a candle-lit, Western- or Balinese-themed affair — enjoy the sunset as you dine on the rooftop terrace serenaded by traditional native music; have a memorable meal on the edge of the spiritual Ayung River; or opt for a more private setting in your villa with your own personal server.