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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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…….

Hi everyone, I’m pleased to join the AYANA team as Chef de Cuisine at Dava restaurant. I visited Bali once before and it is a dream come true to have the opportunity to work on this island, with so much fresh produce and so many creative and skilled people. Dava has always had a stellar reputation since it opened in 2005, but I will be “reinventing” the concept as an “innovative steak and seafood restaurant”. I haven’t stopped for breath since arriving but I’m loving it!

My first major responsibility – apart from launching the new a la carte and tasting menus – will be overseeing our Valentine’s Day dinner at Dava. This is such an important evening for couples, and we’ve prepared a special menu that evokes sensuality and romance. Hope you can join us!

Cinnamon Smoked Pumpkin
Cured Duck, Spicy Maple Dressing, Apples and Arugula

Braised Oxtail Omelet
Blue Crab Bisque, Asparagus and Pecorino Cheese

Lobster and Crispy Pork Belly
Kimchi Sauce, Fiddlehead Ferns, Lemon Basil

Pan Roasted Red Mullet
Garlic Emulsion, Coco Beans, Red Peppers and Cilantro

Australian Wagyu Filet
Toasted Candlenuts, Pickled Radish, Watercress Sauce

Red Velvet Fondant
Milk Ice Cream and Strawberry Pudding

Speaking of love, people always ask me how I got into cooking. It was while I was working at a ski resort back home in the USA. I was 17 and I was assigned to banquet set-up, but I decided I wanted to wear a tall, white hat. Now I never wear a hat, it falls off going in and out of coolers and is very inconvenient. But I’ve never lost my passion for cooking!

There are so many fantastic restaurants here and I want to do something completely different with Dava. My menu draws on the concept of a classic steakhouse offering the best cuts of meats paired with your choice of gourmet sauces and sides. But we’re taking it upscale with a modern twist, offering seafood dishes, small touches of molecular gastronomy in the mushroom gelee and horseradish espuma for example, use of local flavors and ingredients, and a larger selection of meats than a traditional steakhouse.

All meats and seafood are prepared using the sous-vide (French for ‘under vacuum’) technique preferred by the world’s best chefs – perhaps most famously, Paul Bocuse, Michael Mina and Joel Robuchon. Sous-vide maintains the integrity of the ingredients and ensures even, slow cooking for full flavor, by sealing the meat or seafood in an airtight plastic bag in a water bath and cooking it at low temperatures for many hours. At Dava, the Braised Short Ribs are cooked for more than 24 hours, while the Angus Beef Fillet is cooked for two hours. The results are amazing. I have also created a new Tasting Menu for more adventurous guests, with a choice of 3, 4 or 5 courses. This is my play area, where I get to do the really fun things.

Before Bali I was based in Doha, Qatar, where I was Chef de Cuisine at The Ritz-Carlton’s La Mer French restaurant. Qatar was an extremely interesting and inspiring experience. It is a lot more conservative than Bali – the only places people can drink alcohol are in hotel bars and private clubs and the local people are not allowed in them, which makes the social scene quite different. Bali is much more relaxed and the climate and atmosphere of a tropical island wash over you like a cool breeze.

Hope to see you here soon :)

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