AYANA Zeitgeist

Translated from German, Zeitgeist means "the spirit of the moment", and is the key principle underpinning AYANA's service philosophy. Here, we share our inside tips and favorite haunts to help you experience the AYANA Zeitgeist.

Rooms & Villas



Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world. Along the way, he has ducked gunfire in Libya, raced camels along the beach in Kenya, and entered the eternal home of the Dalai Lama. Of all the places he has visited, Bali is one of his favorites, and he has called AYANA the best resort he has ever stayed in. Originally from New York, Lee now calls himself a ‘citizen of the earth’. He spoke to AYANA about what drives him to explore far beyond guide book hit lists

So you are known as ‘The youngest American to visit every country in the world’, how does that feel?

I feel honored for sure. I am doing what I love and it just so happens that the world is taking note about it and recognizing it.

You must have a few passports?

Yes! I have changed my passport 10 times.

How many years did it take you to travel to every country in the world?

It took me about 13 years. The last country I visited was Libya, in August 2011 just months after war had broken out. It was an extraordinary one
as I got mixed up in a shoot-out between Libyan border control and cigarette smugglers from Egypt trying to cross the border at the same time as me. Ironically, it had nothing to do with the war! I ducked down inside the car and the driver put the car into reverse and got us out of the firing line, and we waited for it to ease for about three hours. I then spent three days in Libya and felt completely comfortable the whole time I was there, no issues at all.

How many places have you visited in Indonesia?

I have visited most of the cities from all of the 33 provinces in all five major islands: Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Irian Jaya.
The first place I visited in Indonesia was Batam, via boat from Singapore. Now, I have nearly 15,000 fans from Indonesia on my Facebook page, and most of them also follow my blog.

Is this your first time in Bali?

This is my second time on the island. I was here four years ago and I loved it so much. I adore the people, the beauty of its nature, the beaches, and the culture. That is why I have come back.

What do you think about Indonesian people? Or, to be specific, your fans or readers from Indonesia?

They are very warm and kind. They invite me to come to their hometowns, their villages, which I would love to do someday. It would be very interesting to stay with them, being so close with the local community.

Has it always been your dream, to visit every country in the world?

Not at all, it just happened this way. I did have a target to visit 100 countries, and I had achieved that by the age of 25. And I just kept on going. I love traveling and meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, and I am going to keep doing it.

What about in your own country? Have you visited all the 50 states?

I crossed 49 out of 50. I am only missing Michigan! But I will go there soon to watch a hockey championship. Sports are also one of my interests when I visit new places, other than the culture, food and of course the nature of each place.

Do you always travel alone?

I have some regular travel companions who join me for some trips, but people need not only money, but also time to be able to travel, and they may not always have it. So most of the time, I travel alone. Company is good but can be tricky too. I mean, nothing is worse than being stuck with someone who you are not comfortable with on the road. I had a bad experience once, when a girl I barely knew joined me for a trip. It was not her thing, let’s just put it that way. She found it hard to adjust to new places, kept complaining and was easily annoyed by things that I was already used to or prepared for.

What inspires you to travel?

What gets me started is my passion. But what keeps me going is actually my ‘biggest fear’. Fear of not knowing. Fear of being limited to education,
fear of not knowing the world that you are living in. And though information can now be obtained from anywhere, I feel a different satisfaction if I can see, touch, and am in it. The way to combat my fear is by going places.

What is the biggest influence you get from travelling so much?

I feel that it affects not only my knowledge, but my perspective towards life. I can see and understand why people think the way they think, be it political, cultural or otherwise. I may have different opinions from them but I can always find room in me to understand, by learning about the place where they came from.

How many days in a year do you spend traveling?

It really depends on a lot of things but in general, I can spend from four to eight months away from my home in New York City. I keep writing and posting images to my blog in between places which keeps me busy.

And how do you stay fit on the road?

It is not easy as I do enjoy trying new foods. I try to be disciplined with exercise and I walk a lot too.

Are there any other projects you are working on?

I am doing a TV program; it is called “Top Spot”. It will launch on October 18th on Discovery Network’s Travel Channel. It is a
review of hotels and places I have visited, and the local activities I got to experience.

“When you hit rock bottom, the only place you can go is up!” Ahyani – ROLE Models trainee as a therapist at Thermes Marins Bali Spa”

Where are you from? Situbondo, East Java.

What do you think about this R.O.L.E program and how did you get the opportunity?
I know R.O.L.E from a friend. I am a single mother, I used to work in a small warung, trying to make ends meet for my 10-year-old-son. I only graduated from elementary school so it is a bit hard for me to even imagine I can make a better living. But after I found R.O.L.E, trained with F&B skills, English, gardening and cooking at their training center in Nusa Dua, and getting this training opportunity at AYANA, I am confident I will do better for myself and my son.

What gets you excited about being a R.O.L.E student? And what makes you nervous?
I love the trainers at R.O.L.E . They care about the development of each student. And I love being part of a hotel that is as great as AYANA. Even though AYANA’s guests have high expectations and that makes me nervous, the hotel trainers are incredibly supportive and patient of me and the rest of my friends.

Has a career in the hotel industry always been your passion? If so, in which area specifically?
Yes. I specifically love being in the Spa department.

What is your message to friends?
If you think you are at your lowest, cry for help. Do not keep it for yourself because it will drain you and bring you to even a lower level. R.O.LE is a form of help that I am getting.

What do you want to achieve?
Working here at AYANA, and making a better future for my son.

As long as you do not settle, you will get yourself to the top.” YUNI MARIYANI – ROLE Models trainee as a waiter at Padi restaurant

Where are you from? Gilimanuk, Bali.

What do you think about this R.O.L.E program and how did you get the opportunity?
I heard about R.O.L.E from my neighbor. It gives me education about basic F&B?skills, basic working skills, English, gardening and cooking whilst at the same time giving me an income.

What gets you excited about being a R.O.L.E student? And what makes you nervous?
The chance to practice English in everyday life is the thing I enjoy best about R.O.L.E . Not to forget, that it brings me to AYANA. A resort with a name so grand that I almost could not believe it is happening to me, this opportunity! On another note, I am nervous about being trained by the
professionals at AYANA. But their kind support is really comforting and inspiring.

Has a career in the hotel industry always been your passion? If so, in which area specifically?
Yes. Always. It is always been about Food and Beverage. I love to treat people special; I love to know habits and manners or service expectations of guests from different countries.

What is your message to friends?
Do not be shy if you have to start something from the lowest level. I am not ashamed if I have to do all the dirty and hard jobs to get to where I want to be, as long as I can learn something and never settle for second best.

What do you want to achieve?
I dream of being a restaurant manager.


Formula 1 mania is about to descend upon Singapore yet again, but noise, stench and stress are not everyone’s dea of a good time. Some Singaporeans like Willin Low, acclaimed lawyer who changed his business suit for a white jacket and tall hat, are escaping to Bali.

Before building a reputation as one of Singapore’s most awarded and dynamic Chef – Restaurateurs, Willin Low led a life as a corporate lawyer from Mondays to Fridays. In the last two years of his full-time legal career, he would shed his corporate suit to become a private chef-for-hire on weekends.

In October 2004, Willin decided to make the bold move of switching careers. Though he had achieved much success as a law practitioner, Willin took up a trainee position with the Garibaldi Group. As the stars aligned, he officially hung the sharp tailored suit and changed into a white jacket, opening his signature restaurant Wild Rocket at Mount Emily a year later.

At Wild Rocket, Chef Willin applied his culinary philosophy of serving food that he himself would love to eat – Western food with a local twist. As a self-taught chef, one advantage Chef Willin has is that he possess a style that is unique and perhaps even quirky. Most of his dishes are inspired by hawker fare; his childhood craves; or by an interesting ingredient discovered while travelling. “Cooking is about providing happiness. Providing good food and service is the most basic need anyone requires. I think that is why I love cooking – and eating – so much ” says Willin.

It is safe to say that during the F1 season, there will be a noticeable absence of engine oil as Chef Willin brings his Wild Rocket recipes to Dava 21-23 September as guest chef, invited by fellow Singaporean, Dava chef de cuisine Jusman So – founder-chef of Singapore’ much-lauded Sage
restaurant (2010/2011 Miele List). Jusman will lend his kitchen to Chef Willin for three nights to serve up a special degustation menu, giving Dava guests the opportunity to experience another of Singapore’s culinary gems.

The F1 Fatigue menu by the guest chef, Willin Low from Wild Rocket in Singapore, will run from Friday, 21st September, till Sunday, 23rd September.

The prices for the menu are as follows:

4 courses @ Rp490,000 / 6 courses @ Rp650,000 / 8 courses @Rp790,000


Fourteen underprivileged Indonesian women have begun three months of on-the-job training at AYANA Resort and Spa Bali as part of the second annual ‘ROLE Models’ program in partnership with R.O.L.E Foundation.The women are training as either Food &Beverage servers, Cooks or Spa Therapists.

Here’s another up close interview with one of them, Nunu Windarwati.

“Age should never stop you. That’s laziness, not age.”- Nunu Windarwati, R.O.L.E trainee with Padi restaurant’s culinary team.

Where are you from?
Malang, East Java, but I have lived in Bali with my husband and children for more than 15 years.

What do you think about this R.O.L.E program and how did you get the opportunity?
R.O.L.E is like a bridge to my dream. And I am in my 40s! I got the information from the social division at my home church. Basically, we were informed that R.O.L.E can provide education, training programs and job opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged. I immediately signed up to study English, cooking, gardening, basic F&B service, and other skills at R.O.L.E’s Nusa Dua training facility, and earn a small allowance working at the Foundation’s non-profit cafe.

What gets you excited about being a R.O.L.E student? And what makes you nervous?
The training program is not as easy as people would think. We work really hard. To have this opportunity of a training program at AYANA is ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’. It is like a reward for my hard work in learning new things, the fruit from pushing myself to the limit considering my background and my age. That excites me. But I am at the same time nervous about working with people who are so talented in this big resort.

Has a career in the hotel industry always been your passion? If so, in which area specifically?
To me, yes. Truth be told, I was about to give up considering my age and knowing the competition out there. Now I feel fortunate that I am doing my training at AYANA… and especially in the kitchen! I love to cook. And I now can dream about doing it not only for family but as a profession. Career begins at 40? Why not?

What is your message to friends?
Do not let your age or your past stop you from becoming the person that you want to become.

What do you want to achieve?
To work as a professional cook in a hotel. Many hotels are opening in Bali and I am confident to give it a serious shot once both R.O.L.E and AYANA certificates are earned.

Well-Placed Insider is starting to get all giddy about the next performer at Rock Bar . If you also have been eyeing the high tide chart of this ‘must see’ bar in Bali, do not forget to save the date to be part of the crowd this 20-21 July 2012, with Kristian Hernandez!

Not only did his fame come from his talent as a turntablist, but also from his uncanny ability to stir up a dance floor all across the globe from Sydney to Paris, London, New York, Japan and many other places in between. Kristian Hernandez is a big believer of universality in music. The
result is a multi-genre style of Afro Latin rhythms, funk meters, jazz, soul and hip hop blended into a harmony that only Kristian can live up to.

Get ready to dance!


Kristian Hernandez


Top five tips and tricks from your Well-Placed Insider to make the most of your holiday in Bali:

Know your destination. Better yet, your hotel.
Read online reviews, browse through the hotel website so you can get to know the facilities and places of interests around the area. What is the best way to get there, which local attractions to visit, the must-see experiences… The smartest move is to reserve a holiday packagewhich includes transfer services, dining, tours and spa experiences. Hassle free!

Get to the airport on time.
Even though it seems reasonable to run or even sprint through the airport in your newly purchased espadrilles to get to the check in counter just before check-in closes, a better option is to keep in shape around your beach resort, not the airport. Time and place, people. So, leave the house early and do not risk an airport meltdown.

Mums and Dads: Reserve a hotel with a Kids Club is on site.
Yes, if you are with family, you are there to make your children happy. But never forget that you too deserve some time off. So, spare a day where you can pamper yourself and your spouse at the Spa while your little ones are occupied and stimulated with fun activities at the Kids Club. Both the children and you will be in a better holiday mood when reunited, and you may be surprised to hear them begging to go back to the Kids Club for more.

Never miss an opportunity to do physical activity.
Find a hotel or resort with a wide selection of guest activities, be it trekking, cycling tour along the beach , yoga session or even perfume-making. Not only will this help you stay fit but also save you from that ‘seems to stick forever’ holiday weight.

Be Adventurous!
Challenge your appetite, try the authentic cuisine, join a cooking class, get your picture taken in a traditional costume, and watch a cultural performance you will never find in your hometown. AYANA even provides a perfume making class for guests wanting to bring a bottle of a ‘Bali Essence’ to their home.

Sir Norman Jay, who performed for President Obama’s inauguration and received a medal from the Queen of England for his services to music, opened Bali’s high season at Rock Bar on 23 June. Over 500 guests came to enjoy sunset before dancing the night away to classic soul, reggae, hip hop, and house beats under the starry sky. Enjoy these snapshots of the event.

Audio Flirt warmed up the crowd, along with Jack McCord (Hed Kandi), Martin East and Joe White.

Hula hoops lit up the dance floor


Dancing under - and with- the stars

Sir Norman Jay in action. Doing what he does best.

Ride my bike!

Ready to swim away at Bali International Triathlon 2012

The runners getting closer to finish line


Top 3 Olympic Distance Male: 1 Stephane Vander Bruggen 2. Bryan Hoare 3.Tim Green Photo


Top 3 Olympic Distance Female: 1. Stef Puszka 2. Michelle Boyes 3. Sherry Coons-Mueller


(Photo courtessy : Femina Group and Biznet )

AYANA’s management team spent a day ‘on the floor’ yesterday doing jobs such as dishwashing, housekeeping, pool duty, cooking and guest check-in, in a bid to analyse service processes and further improve guest experience.

A divine way to practice ” A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell, writer.

In action here is Clive Edwards, Rooms Executive, washing dishes in Padi's kitchen and seeming to quite enjoy the change from his office scenery!

This is what you get when you are being checked-in by our Human Resources Director; Cynthia de Mesa Jendra... an obvious gesture of a sincere heart! A key requirement for all staff at AYANA.

Here, Michi Sonoda, AYANA's Japanese Business Development Director is trying to make the perfect sunny side up for our guests at breakfast time. Or... make that a scrambled egg instead...

Esti Haryono our Director of Engineering is having a full day at the pool area taking care of towels and not cables

Athor Budiono, AYANA's Financial Director is used to dealing with numbers... Here, he is trying hard to make the cushions sit perfectly -- perhaps like a 'balance sheet'-- as he spends a day working as a Housekeeper.

" Well this one can go directly into my kitchen" says Giordano Faggioli, AYANA's Executive Chef who is acting as a Receiving Officer.