Those of you who know me personally know how infrequently I find myself without words. It’s not really my thing. But the Four Seasons Bali at Sayan will do that to a girl.
On our recent trip to Bali, we had limited time (as usual — sigh), and decided to spend it in the jungle area around Ubud, versus hustling to also see the beach at Nusa Dua, for instance. We loved Ubud (read: I’m obsessed with it) and spending our days there was the right choice. One thing we did do for variety, however, was to split our time between the Viceroy Bali and the Four Seasons. We’d drooled over the Viceroy and had to be pried away from it — and then when we saw the Four Seasons, we felt we’d died and gone to heaven a second time.
We arrived at night, and as we crossed from the porta-cochere into the open reception area, we knew we’d be in for an amazing treat when the sun came up. The hotel is built 30 meters, 90 feet, above not one but two rushing rivers, and all you can hear is the water below and the rustle of palm trees. The combo bar and reception area is open to the vast jungle atmosphere, with sweeping views in all directions.
We were shown to our villa, number 53, and we were dumbstruck. The outdoor living space is less a patio and more like an entire living room and bar, with sofas, a dining table and chairs, and a stocked bar with coffee and tea service. Of course, the large private infinity pool was magic.
Inside was just about the most gorgeous bed I’ve ever seen, with a detailed carved headboard, backlit in ambient amber, and embroidered drapery all around. There was a walk-in closet approximately the size of the New York apartment I lived in as a journalism student. A massive soaking tub was so tempting, though we wouldn’t ever use it — too many options between the gracious indoor shower, exotic outdoor shower, and the pools, both private and open to all guests. I’m a sucker for details, and I was sort of obsessed with the gorgeous unisex black-and-white batik robes and coordinating slippers.
When the porter finished showing us around, he asked, “Do you have any other questions?” Because we were impressed to the core (and because we’re both descending into dad humor in our 30s) my husband and I both said in unison, “When can we move in?” Seriously, though. When can we.
During our stay, we enjoyed amazing breakfasts worth noting. I had what was known as the American breakfast, and my husband chose the Korean. Mine came with multiple courses of exotic fruits, granola, yogurt, beautiful pastries, eggs, potatoes — it was seemingly never-ending. The Korean breakfast was miso-marinated beef, fried fish, kimchi, rice, soup — he was thrilled. We both enjoyed several glasses of spectacular watermelon juice.
For a taste of where those ingredients came from — so to speak — we joined the hotel’s chief gardener on a tour of the property’s edible gardens, flowers, and rice terraces (offered free every morning, as far as I could tell). It was a treat, and the gardener was an excellent host for the experience, exceedingly positive, energetic, and proud of his work.
Overall, in fact, the staff created a personalized experience that could not be beat. Everyone on property offered impeccable service, and although subtle and out of sight unless needed, the team seemed to know where we were at all times and was available to provide assistance or a gracious salutation. The driver of the shuttle (complimentary several times per day) into the center of Ubud was kind to offer a bottle of water or umbrella (we traveled in the rainy season) when dropping us off in town.
On our last day, we signed up for a meditation class (not included, but about $10 USD equivalent), which was billed as a 30-minute program at the spa. It turned out to be an incredible hour-long session outdoors, on the deck above the main building, surrounded by infinity ponds filled with lotus flowers, and the sounds of the rushing Ayun river below. While we focused on our breathing in the shade on a gorgeous day in the low 80s F, I kept thinking: This is paradise. (So much for quieting my thoughts.)
Our airport transfer was included (a very gracious amenity, given it was about 90 minutes to DPS in Kuta), and our driver was very friendly and even happy to stop along the way for us so that we might buy the stone buddha for our garden that we’d been thinking about the whole trip (but didn’t want to lug around). He even helped us bargain for the right price.
On the plane back to the United States (EVA Air through Taipei) I watched a travel segment offered through the airline’s in-flight entertainment system. It was about incredible Balinese architecture and style that flows in harmony with the natural environment — and guess what property was the star of the show?
I felt honored and privileged to have seen it with my own eyes.
Four Seasons Bali at Sayan, Indonesia
Location: 4 out of a possible 4
Sleep quality: ZZZZ out of a possible ZZZZ
Service: **** out of a possible ****
Overall grade: A+
Date of visit: January, 2013
Top photo: Copyright by Sven Goelles