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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Have you ever heard of an island that completely shuts down, where there are no activities, no people and transportation on the streets, television and radios are off, no stores are open and even the airport is closed?

That’s Bali during Nyepi, which falls on 21 March this year.

Nyepi is New Year’s Day for Balinese Hindus. And while most other cultures mark their New Year with a vivacious evening that ends with fireworks, the Balinese celebrate in silence. Because we believe that Nyepi is the day to purify ourselves with Catur Brata rituals consisting of: Amati Geni (no fire or electricity), Amati Karya (no activity), Amati Lelunganan (no noise or travelling), and Amati Lelanguan (no pleasure or self-entertainment). We observe these rituals to prepare our spiritual readiness for all the challenges that the new year will bring.

In this way, we can say that Nyepi is the most important day of purification in Bali. We believe the island must be weary from working hard to please its visitors, and the New Year is the time for the island to enjoy a ‘day-off’ to rest.

But while Nyepi itself is a ‘Day of Silence’, the day before Nyepi, 20 March, will be a day of noise and rowdiness. Across the island, villagers will join an ‘ogoh-ogoh’ parade, where enormous papier-mache statues of demons will be paraded around the streets with loud music and dancing, to wake up the evil spirits. The idea is to rouse the evil spirits and trick them into thinking there is a big party, and then be silent for the next 24 hours, so that they go looking for their party elsewhere, on another island!

At AYANA Resort and Spa Bali, we have our own ogoh-ogoh parade within the resort grounds, and then from that evening Nyepi’s silence rituals begin. Although guest must remain within the resort grounds for the 24-hour period, we still have plenty of recreation available. Ten of our 15 dining venues will still be open, lights will still be on (albeit dimly-lit), televisions in rooms can be used for movies, and our resort’s complimentary shuttle will still operate between pools at AYANA and RIMBA Jimbaran Bali by AYANA. Make sure you stay up to get your seat at RIMBA Lobby’s sunken lounge to gaze at the gazillion of stars above, to complete your Nyepi escape!

P.S.: Here are some reasons of why Nyepi is the best time to visit Bali:

  • Not so many people traveling to Bali during Nyepi. So you’ll feel like the resort you’re ?staying in is all yours!
  • Quality time resting up with your loved one or the whole family, enjoying the serenity rather than exploring the island and pounding the pavement shopping. You don’t have to make an excuse to just laze by the pool all day!
  • Forget Bali’s crowds, parties and traffic; this is the only time you can enjoy the Island of Gods at the most serene time of the year with the sky, the air and the sea at their most pure.

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!

Ssssshhhhhh…….

Being chosen to be the first staff blogger for AYANA is a bit overwhelming! I was not sure what I should write but then someone asked me, how about sharing some examples of how your staff have gone beyond expectations to serve their customers? Since I am in charge of our team of butlers, who are Graduates of the Guild of Professional

Butlers’ Certification Program in the UK and are on 24-hour call for our Villa guests, I knew I could get some interesting stories from them. Here’s a sample; if anyone has any other examples of how they’ve received service beyond expectations whilst traveling, please do share them with us! We love to be inspired.

  • Fast-food Bali-style: You may have heard of Warung Ibu Oka’s in Ubud? This famous warung serves ‘babi guling’ or Balinese suckling pig, which is a delicacy normally served at large ceremonies. One couple at AYANA had heard about how Ibu Oka’s babi guling could not be beaten, and so they asked their butler to go to Ubud, a 1.5 hour drive north, to collect 2 takeaway orders and bring them back to the hotel. They were not disappointed!
  • Off-duty delivery: A couple who got married at AYANA wanted to share the spices and flavors of Padang food (from Sumatra) with their close family. Their butler went to a warung (restaurant) some distance away and ordered 15 ‘nasi Padang’ for the group. They liked it so much they ordered another 15 the same day, and although the same butler was off duty by this time, he left his house to collect and deliver this to them.
  • Meeting the family: Some guests become so close with one particular butler, that they will often be invited to the butler;s home to share a meal, attend a ceremony at their family temple, or go on a tour of the island on the butler’s day off. Similarly, some guests have asked their butler to be their guest at a restaurant, outside of working hours.

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture! These examples go far beyond the formal training of any butler, and showcase the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Balinese. They really will go out of their way to help make a guest