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.
We are all still drying off after annual training with a Thermes Marins Hydrotherapy trainer this month! Nine of our therapists took part in 6 days of intensive training to review techniques, skills, products and facilities for our hydrotherapy treatments, including Underwater Massage, Aqua Exercise, Sea Breeze Massage and Oceanic Ritual package (my personal favorite). The trainer, who is based at Thermes Marins headquarters in St Malo, France – nice spot to be living but then Bali’s not too bad either! – also checked and approved the temperature and water quality in the Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pool, which contains 700 million liters of seawater pumped in from the Indian Ocean. Everybody raves about Rock Bar, but personally I think sunset in the Aquatonic Pool is not-to-be-missed ;-) It’s even better if you follow it up with a Rock Bar cocktail afterwards – when the crowds have died down a bit and you can enjoy your beverage under a star-lit sky listening to the waves of the spot-lit ocean. That’s why we call this package the Perfectonic! Sundowner anyone?
PS – Happy Second Anniversary for AYANA! It’s now been 2 years since we rebranded as an independent resort. Another reason to celebrate :-)
D’Agisna Ramdhani (known as Dadan) has traveled the world working for cruise liners and resorts from Africa to Australia, the Middle East, Philippines and his native Indonesia. Some of his most memorable experiences include building an underwater wedding chapel in Vanuatu. As AYANA’s new Beverage Manager, Dadan is responsible for all beverage operations including at the iconic Rock Bar where he has introduced new signature cocktails, and the Martini Bar adjacent to Dava which has launched a new 101 Martinis menu. No scuba weddings but still a close connection to the ocean!
AYANA: How long have you been at AYANA?
DADAN: Just three months now.
A: Where are you from?
D: Bandung, West Java, about two hours from Jakarta if you drive fast.
A: We heard you built an underwater wedding chapel, can you tell us about that?
D: I worked for a resort in Vanuatu where I built an underwater wedding chapel so couples could get married 15 feet (5 meters) beneath the ocean’s surface in a heart-shaped coral garden, complete with a tropical coral archway.
A: What gave you the idea for this?
D: I love the ocean, I am a certified National Geographic Diver which means we are more concerned with underwater conservation, education to local communities, respect for the sea and marine life, and not exploiting the animals that live in the sea. I thought a natural chapel made from coral would be a unique experience for guests.
A: How do they say ‘I do’?
D: The priest conducts the ceremony using scuba sign language. The wedding rings are kept inside an oyster shell and the couple shares one scuba tank with two regulators, to signify their new life together.? The couple say ‘I do’ by doing the scuba sign for ‘OK’. To announce they are husband and wife, the priest points to each of them, draws a love heart in the air with his finger and then puts his hands back together, before tracing a line across his throat to indicate ‘until death do you part’.? Then the couple takes out their regulators to kiss each other.
A: Did anyone ever do the scuba sign for an emergency exit?
D: Luckily, no (laughing).
A: What’s the biggest wedding you had there?
D: A German couple who had 15 guests and did everything underwater including signing the marriage certificate on waterproof paper. Their guests were snorkeling on the surface.
A: What brought you to AYANA?
D: It’s nice to be back home to share my training and experience with other Indonesians, and I had heard about the Rock Bar and wanted to work here. I also like to explore the dive sites around Bali.
A: Have you had a chance to do any diving since starting at AYANA?
D: Yes, at the USS Liberty ship wreck in Tulamben and a Japanese wreck in Amed on the East Coast.? But my favorite dive was a secret spot near Tulamben, where I went on my own and saw a school of 38 bumphead parrot fish as big as 20kgs, as well as the hippocampus pigmy ? a small seahorse the size of a sewing needle, and a black-tipped shark about 2.5 meters long.
A: You have introduced new cocktails at Rock Bar ? what is the concept behind them?
D: Our concept was to create refreshing drinks with local fruits, herbs and spices to add a more Balinese touch to the experience. For example the AYANA Passion features papaya (pawpaw), markissa (local passionfruit), strawberries and red pepper syrup with vodka. We are also mixing drinks the authentic way; for example our caipirinha is made with the original liquor cachaca, a Brazilian sugarcane brandy, while most places in Bali make it with rum, which is actually meant to be used for a caipirisimma.
A: Which is your favorite Rock Bar cocktail?
D: The Jimbaran Express, which has a tropical flavor with rum, chili, lemongrass, ginger, kaffir leaves and coconut. It is also available at Kisik restaurant, because it suits the seafood menu there.
A: Finally, we can’t help but ask, would you ever get married underwater and is it considered a legal wedding?
D: I would love to get married underwater but there is no underwater wedding chapel in Bali. And yes in Vanuatu it’s a civil ceremony legalized by the government, so it’s a serious commitment!
March 5 is Balinese New Year, otherwise known as Nyepi, or the ‘Day of Silence’. This is a very important date on our Balinese Hindu calendar, as it involves an island-wide purification. Some tourists avoid Bali at Nyepi time because of the restrictions placed on movement around the island during the 24-hours of silence, but I think it is a fantastic time to be here, an opportunity to experience many colorful festivals and ceremonies and learn a lot about our culture.
Nyepi is marked by 24 hours of silence, a day of introspection when everyone in Bali must stay inside their residence and keep quiet. No vehicle or machinery is allowed to operate (which also means Bali airport closes down on this day each year), no fire or electricity may be used, no work may be done. All shops and businesses will close and the whole island will literally ‘play dead’ from dawn on March 5 until dawn on March 6. The idea is that the demons who inhabit Bali will be fooled into thinking the island has been abandoned, and will go elsewhere, like Lombok or Java. A little sneaky of us perhaps!
For tourists, the rules are more relaxed, as long as you do not leave your hotel. AYANA minimizes use of lighting and power, halts its shuttle service, and asks guests not to wander around outside or leave the property. However, otherwise guests are welcome to use the resort grounds and facilities as normal, while keeping noise to a minimum.?
It is an interesting time to be in Bali, because in the days leading up to Nyepi, you will have the opportunity to witness some unique aspects of Balinese culture. These include the preparation and parade of ‘ogoh-ogoh’, large papier mache statues of various things, ranging from skeletons to monsters.
The night before Nyepi, you will see villagers all over the island parading ‘ogoh-ogoh’ through the streets and making a lot of noise with a marching rhythm band, as they spin the monsters around in circles. This is like the last ‘hurrah’ before the island shuts down on the following day, for the period of silence.
At AYANA, our Guest Activities team is busy creating two ogoh-ogoh dolls: one is a 2.5-meter-high figure of Hanoman, the famed monkey general, fighting a demon, while the second is a smaller 1.5-meter-high figure specially created for children. Tomorrow on Nyepi Eve, a priest will bless the ogoh-ogoh dolls and then we will parade them together with our guests, through the resort grounds, as we try to wake up the demons before we go to bed and ‘play dead’ for 24-hours. Hopefully our trick works and we can rid Bali of any evil spirits lurking about!