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.

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The ‘dry’ season from April to September is usually the busiest time in Bali, thanks to the perfect blue-sky days, the excellent conditions on the west coast’s surf spots, and the lack of torrential downpours. For those visiting from the southern hemisphere, it means escaping the cold of their winter season, for sun-kissed skin that lingers with the scent of salt. The endless summer in Bali is indeed a wonderful time to visit the island.

But, what happens to Bali during the monsoon season? Here are some considerations, before you black-out the October to March ‘wet’ season. It actually has its own benefits!

Less crowded in the busy tourist areas, means no need to reserve that iconic restaurant or bar in advance, you can normally just walk-in without being put on a waiting list! And it is faster to get around the island too.

Less pricey for low season! Many airlines and accommodations offer lower rates and special promotions (excluding the busy Christmas and New Year period, and Chinese New Year)

Less guilt because the wet season is when some of the most delicious Bali fruits are at their best, so you will be sure to be eating healthy and enjoying every mouthful! Savor the ripe flavors of Mangosteen, Avocado, Kiwi and the snake-skin Salak - and you will have no excuse to be weighed down by the calories of the famous Babi Guling!

Less heat, which is nice for those who prefer to avoid too much UV exposure. The rain, which is often just a passing shower that clears to blue sky, freshens the air and nourishes the blossoming forest and flowers on our hill – and is perfect for sleep-ins!

Less rush to catch the mighty Bali sun, as it rises around 06:18 – 06:23 and sets around 18:40 – 18:47 at this time of the year, which is later than during the dry season. The sunset looks different to than usual due to the clouds; it appears as various shades of color palette.

Sunset from Rock Bar, as captured by @chandrasenadipa, @sky_rocket, @kimii30 on Instagram

Less queueing, for example to Rock Bar if you’re not staying at AYANA and RIMBA (in-house guests enjoy Priority Access to skip the queue anyway rain, hail or shine). But just make sure you check the weather before making the trip out to Rock Bar, as if it is raining, we have to take cover, while our sister UNIQUE Rooftop Bar & Restaurant provides a sheltered venue with a rooftop pool and stunning views!

And what’s more, you get to hum that song with a glorious feeling, while strolling through Bali with a happy refrain, just singing in the rain!

A Model View

Charmaine Harn
International fashion model, eco-activist and host of reality show Supermodelme Season 1 & 2, Charmaine Harn is one of south-east Asia’s most in-demand models. A natural beauty of Chinese, French and Dutch heritage, she recently spent three days shooting for AYANA’s 2012 marketing campaign with British photographer Pete Seaward, who is shortlisted for the coveted 'Travel Photographer of the Year’ award by the British Travel Press Association.

Read Charmaine's blog post on her AYANA experience.

Chef Lert
After working for 5-star hotels on one of the most beautiful islands in the world, Phi Phi Island in her native Thailand, Chef Lert moved to another tropical island to join AYANA as Head Thai Chef at Padi restaurant.

Q: Did you cook growing up?
Chef Lert: Yes, a lot! I helped my mother all the time back home in Phuket. I also went to cooking school, so basically all I did was cooking. I cooked during the day at school and afterwards when I came home again I cooked for myself again. Cooking is a big part of my life. My mother taught me a lot but I also learned a lot from all the people around me.

Q: What made you decide to become a professional chef?
Chef Lert: It was quite clear from the beginning that I was destined to become a professional chef, I just love to cook and that will never change. A great hobby that allows me to travel the world!

Q: What is the main difference between Balinese and the Thai cuisine?
Chef Lert: To be honest the food is quite similar, both Asian. Only I would say that Thai food is a little spicier than Balinese, and also we use a lot more curry in Thailand than they do here in Bali. My all time favorite Thai dish is Tom Yam which is also available at Padi.

Q: Do you have anybody you look up to or are inspired by in the cooking-world?
Chef Lert: Not one person in particular, I am inspired by everybody I work with. I learn from everybody, everybody is specialized in a different area. Some chefs are very good at making a salad while others are very good at making desserts. I carry a notebook with me all the time and as soon as I see an interesting recipe or idea I write it down. There are many recipes in there now, gathered throughout my entire career.

Q: What would you cook at home but never cook in a restaurant?
Chef Lert: I make papaya salads at home all the time. Actually I can also make this at Padi, but it’s not currently on the menu. I just really like this salad so I make it often at home, plus it’s healthy.

Q: Which Padi dish would you recommend and why?
Chef Lert: Well the menu is a compilation of Thai, Indonesian and Indian recipes. If I may choose one from each country I would say my favorite Thai dish is the Tom Yam like I mentioned before. My favorite Indonesian dish is the Lobster Nasi Goreng i meme, and my favorite Indian dish is the Tandoori Murgh. But of course all dishes on the menu are good, that’s why they are there!

Q: What is your favorite thing about Bali?
Chef Lert: So many things, I like the Batik, the culture, the creativity, the wood carving, the paintings (laughter). I also really like the Balinese dances, when there is a Kecak or Ramayana dance at Langit Theatre I always get my camera to take some pictures.

Q: What three ingredients would you recommend everybody have at home?
Chef Lert: Chili, onion and garlic. I use these three ingredients in EVERY dish I make. They are essential for every kitchen. I love spicy food myself so chili is a real must, just sambal is not spicy enough for me.

When he is not managing the 12 dining and bar outlets spread out across AYANA, Food & Beverage Executive Jerome Colson has a very peculiar idea of fun: running ultra-marathons in balmy tropical heat. The Belgian native and father-of-two just joined the Sundown Marathon held on 28 May in Singapore, where he finished in the top 3% with a time just over 4 hours, coming 249th? overall (and 34th in his division) out of 7388 runners in total. An impressive result for a ‘hobby’ runner. The race was part of his training for the ‘real’ event: the 2011 Ultra Trail Marathon in Sabah, Malaysia, covering 100km. We asked Jerome about his motivation and preparations for the race, and the charity he is raising money for, R.O.L.E Foundation, which is supported by AYANA. (The resort is hosting a charity dinner for R.O.L.E this August, where guests will be served by disadvantaged Balinese who have completed 10-weeks of hospitality training with AYANA’s F&B team, as part of a vocational skills program aimed at securing long-term employment. For more information on this event, visit AYANA’s website

Why are you taking part in this race?

There is no such race in Indonesia. Malaysia is close by. I have done many marathons, trails, ultra trails and stage races but never did a 100km trail race. It’s just a new challenge that I can tick off my list.

What training are you doing?

I never really stop running. Training for a 100km race is not much different than for a full marathon. I average 50-70kms per week and for this occasion I have added a couple of hours of cycling. The danger is fatigue and injury caused by ‘over-training’. In the past two months I have also completed a 55km trail(2500m positive ascent) and a full marathon.

Are you on any special diet?

Not really, just reducing alcohol consumption, a lot of carbs, fresh fruits and trying to stay away from fried food. In the days before the race I eat a lot of pasta!

When you do these races, is there any point when you feel that you can not go on, and if so, how do you challenge your body’s limits to finish?

I think it happens to everyone running anything over a full marathon distance. I do not think it is your body that has limits, it is usually mentally that it is most challenging. The minute your mind starts doubting that you can complete the race, you start feeling pain. It is usually very difficult on these long distances as you very often find yourself running alone. An ultra marathon can only be completed if you are mentally prepared.

Why did you choose R.O.L.E Foundation as your charity?

I happen to know about R.O.L.E as they are established in the Bukit area, where I live and train five days a week. For me, associating the completion of this challenging race with fundraising brings another meaning to the personal achievement. I am very fortunate to work in a luxury environment and every run I do around the Bukit, it brings me back to the reality: the daily life of the majority of the Balinese who have very little and who need support to have the opportunity to be educated and eventually qualify for a career in a 5* luxury hotel.

How can guests donate?

At the Front Desk or at the website www.accrorun.be.


Visitors have long dreamed of being able to bottle the fragrance of Bali to take home with them. Now you can, by creating your own exclusive perfume at the L’Atelier Parfums & Creations studio at AYANA. This workshop, the only one of its kind in Indonesia, follows traditional French processes for creating perfumes unique to each guest, suited to individual personality types.

There are some 45 different essences, fragrances and raw materials with which to create your own blend. These include the most popular choice, frangipani, as well as lavender, jasmine, citronella, coffee, cempaka, vanilla, clove, wood and even civet, the cat-like creature whose droppings make the world’s most expensive coffee: Kopi Luwak. The children’s range includes fun scents such as bubblegum, strawberry, chocolate, and the added visual excitement of glitter.

The first step in making your own perfume is to answer a short questionnaire which will determine which personality traits you possess: Are you Different/Eccentric, Sensual, Romantic, Vivifying, Dynamic, Mysterious, Exotic, Masculine or Discreet? The results will point towards three of these adjectives (eg. Different/Eccentric, Dynamic and Discreet), which in turn correspond to specific essences.

The on-site perfumer will suggest fragrances matching your survey results and give you three small ‘test’ vials in which to make different blends. As you create the blends, you record the ingredients on ‘formula sheets’. You then select your favorite and the perfumer will present it in a 30mL bottle with a L’Atelier label inside a sleek leather travel case for you to take home with you. Those who complete the Theory and Perfume-Making Workshop will also receive a L’Atelier ‘Diploma’ Certificate.

Workshops are open to guests staying at AYANA as well as those visiting from outside the resort. There are four different workshops to choose from: Perfumery theory and perfume making workshop (2 hours); Perfume making workshop (45 minutes); Couple’s package (45 minutes); Children’s perfume-making Workshop (1 hour).

A nice memento of your time in Bali!

Wow, what an exciting week! We had American Idol winner Lee DeWyze with us this week, and he performed for 400 people at a private event last night – just another day in the office!

His performance was part of a Fox International Channels Gala Dinner, during the 2011 Asia-Pacific Pay-TV Operators Summit held at AYANA. Being one of the organizers of the summit (as part of our Conference & Catering Service Department), I was lucky enough to see Lee’s performance. It was magical! He stood on a small stage on the cliff-edge, against the ocean backdrop, with a guitar and supported by a pianist, and performed nine songs including two covers (‘Use Somebody’ by Kings of Leon and ‘Rocket Man’ by Elton John) and seven original tracks from his new album, Live It Up.

He said he hoped his next visit to Bali would be to perform at the Rock Bar. “I’m not just saying this, but this resort and Bali itself, is the coolest place I’ve ever been. AYANA is definitely the nicest place I’ve ever stayed,” he said. “Of all the places I’ve been on this tour, this is my favorite and I plan to come back very soon. I’d love to perform at the Rock Bar.”

Watch this space!

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!

Happy New Year everyone! There may still be a few headaches, but at AYANA we are continuing the celebrations after being ranked among the world’s best hotels on the 2011 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List. And it’s YOU we have to thank!

With an overall score of 91.1, AYANA was just one of four hotels in Indonesia to make the coveted list, which in its 17th year is one of the most prestigious compendiums of the best hotels, resorts and cruise lines on the planet. Almost 26,000 travelers took part in the annual independent Readers’ Survey, representing people who are well-traveled, accustomed to luxury service, and have no tolerance for anything less than first-class. They demand innovation, reliability and the wow factor, so to be listed by such travelers among the world’s best hotels is a true honor for AYANA. It reflects our continued evolution since our rebranding to an independent property in 2009, and we can’t thank you enough for your support.

It’s a great start to the year and we look forward to sharing more unique experiences with you. Best wishes for 2011 and we look forward to seeing you soon!