Aman’s Ubud retreat marks its 30th anniversary by celebrating Balinese culture, cuisine and its local community.
Bali has drawn travellers ever since word of its legendary beauty began to spread in the early 1900s. A fertile land of rice paddies, holy mountains and pristine beaches, it is also known, as the Island of the Gods. It was on this sacred land, at the very heart of the island that Aman launched its second property in 1989 to capture and preserve the purity of Bali’s unique culture and joyful spirit. Amandari has done just this for almost three decades, reflecting this truth in every nuance of its name – ‘peaceful spirit’.
Perched above the verdant Ayung River Gorge outside the artist’s community of Ubud, this tranquil resort overlooks natural forest and an emerald green cascade of rice paddies. An intrinsic part of Kedewatan, a village that upholds the same age-old traditions that the Balinese – a people for whom family and happiness are paramount – have practiced for centuries, Amandari is an idyllic base from which to discover the timeless appeal of this extraordinary island. Since its launch, guests have been able to experience the culture that contributes to Bali’s magic, whether visiting rural villages filled with artisan workshops, hiking or biking along the winding paths of terraced rice fields or simply relaxing to the meditative sounds of gamelan players by the resort’s signature curved swimming pool.
This authentic experience of Bali’s soul will be even more meaningful in 2019, as Amandari celebrates its 30th anniversary with a series of special events. From art exhibitions and moonlight treks, to traditional dance performances, food festivals and painting classes, guests will have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the rich heritage of Bali’s artistic legacy and to truly absorb the spirit of this special place.
Full Moon Blessing, Trek & Picnic
Each month in 2019, on the night of the full moon, Amandari will host a blessing ceremony and trek under the moonlit sky. This outdoor experience will begin at dusk with a blessing at Amandari’s temple, alongside the Amandari family and Kedewatan villagers.
Bali has a rich spiritual heritage with a unique form of Hinduism permeating the very fabric of its culture. Ceremonies to purify and harmonise relations between the human world, the environment and the world of the gods, are of great importance and take place regularly at temples around the island.
Amandari’s temple features three modest shrines and an ancient tiger carved in stone overlooking a spring-fed pool of holy water. For hundreds of years, locals have walked the sacred path through Amandari down to this spring, and the tradition still takes place today, a symbol of the deep connection that exists between the resort and the community in which it resides.
After the temple blessing conducted by the village priest, guests will leave Amandari at sunset and trek through the rice paddies and orchards of the valley, watching the moon rise as they walk. After approximately 90 minutes, they will return to Amandari and enjoy a picnic by the light of the moon, accompanied by live gamelan music.
Drinks & Traditional Dance on the 30th
Throughout 2019, guests will be invited to special anniversary drinks on the 30th of each month at Amandari’s scenic bar hosted by the General Manager, Jann Hess. Local dancers will perform the traditional Jogged dance – a harvest dance with ancient roots that welcomes and encourages audience participation.
Dynamic and intensely expressive, Balinese dance is a religious and artistic expression of the culture. Since its inception, Amandari has run a dance school for local children helping them to develop their skills and feel proud of their abilities and cultural heritage, while keeping this ancient art alive. The children practice most afternoons at the resort, and guests are welcome to watch.
Kamasan Painting Workshops
Renowned for its painters, gold- and silversmiths, dancers, musicians and puppeteers since the 16th century, the village of Kamasan also lent its name to Bali’s most traditional painting style. Tracing its roots to ancient Java, Kamasan painting is a visual narrative of Hindu-Javanese epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as indigenous stories such as the Panji narrative which are traditionally drawn on cloth or bark paper with natural dyes.
Throughout 2019, Amandari will offer regular Kamasan painting workshops to guests led by Sindu, who will explain the methods used and demonstrate the historic and stylistic meaning behind these iconic Balinese artworks.
Founded in 2015, the Ubud Food Festival is a three-day gourmet extravaganza that in just four years has become Southeast Asia’s leading culinary event, showcasing Indonesia’s diverse cuisines, extraordinary local produce and gastronomic heroes. In 2019, the festival will take place from the 26– 28 April, and Amandari will once again play a pivotal role in supporting the gastronomic event, by hosting an anniversary event as part of the festival.
Amandari’s menus will be as authentic and refreshingly inventive as ever in 2019, while also paying respect to the resort’s beginnings. Every week, a different traditional Indonesian dish from the resort’s original menu will be featured.
Guests can also master Indonesian cooking under the tutelage of Amandari’s Executive Chef, with 30- minute cooking classes. These will include foraging for fresh seasonal ingredients in the garden – whether tamarind, kaffir lime leaves or galangal – then creating an Indonesian dish from scratch.
30-minute Wellness Activities
Drawing inspiration from the meditative and serene surroundings of Ubud, Amandari will offer guests a series of complimentary 30-minute wellness activities developed specifically for the anniversary. These will include a silent 30-minute walk to the Ayung River, passing through the Pesiraman Temple with its healing waters on the way, as well as 30-minute meditation sessions within Amandari’s lush gardens.
Throughout its history, Amandari has shared a special bond with the community of Kedewatan, caring for and taking a very active role in the development of the village and its inhabitants. Many Amandari staff members come from Kedewatan, and some have been with the resort since the first day it opened.
Each month throughout 2019, children from Kedewatan school will be invited to Amandari for an educational walk through the hotel to learn about the various environmentally friendly initiatives undertaken by the resort. This includes composting, waste management, reforesting and farming the organic garden.
The Kesayan Ikang Papa Orphanage lies twenty minutes’ drive from Amandari and in 2019, the resort will host an art installation in its library, exhibiting 30 works of art created by children from this orphanage. The works of art will be on sale, and all proceeds will be donated to the orphanage.
Anniversary Instagram Competition
In addition to the calendar of celebrations, the resort will amass a trove of Instagram imagery, capturing Amandari life and adventures throughout the year, gathered under the hashtag #Amandari30. On 1 January 2020, the best image, as selected by the resort team will be awarded a three-night stay at Amandari.
Amandari & Beyond
Unique in Aman’s portfolio, the island of Bali is home to three Aman properties, with Amankila and the Aman Villas at Nusa Dua complementing Amandari, to offer Aman guests a complete Balinese experience from highlands to coast. These two properties are both situated oceanside – Amankila in East Bali on the Lombok Strait, and Aman Villas at Nusa Dua overlooking the Atlantic from a hillside on the southern coastline of the Nusa Dua Peninsula.
Amandari was inspired by the layout of a Balinese village with an open-air reception designed after a wantilan, a village meeting place. Tranquil and secluded, it features winding stone pathways that lead to The Restaurant, the main swimming pool, the Bar, library, spa and boutique, as well as to 30 free- standing thatched-roof suites. The 1,500-square-metre, three-bedroom Amandari Villa is tucked into rice terraces less than a minute’s drive from the resort.
Amankila is a dramatic cliff-side retreat in the East of Bali with spectacular sea views. Amankila offers 34 Suites, nine of which have private pools. The resort’s central swimming pool comprises three terraced tiers, flowing one into the other, directly below an open-air reception area. Down at the Beach Club, a 41-metre lap pool is set amidst coconut palms. Beyond Amankila, guests can discover the rural traditions and royal remains of East Bali’s historic regency, with some of Bali’s finest hiking, mountain biking and scuba diving.
The Aman Villas at Nusa Dua, sit on a tranquil garden hillside in southern Bali. Only 25 minutes from the international airport, the villas offer sweeping views of Nusa Dua’s coastline and the Indian Ocean providing a gateway to the rest of Bali.
For 30 years Amandari has offered guests a serene retreat and a window to the legendary Ubud. As Aman anticipates the resort’s 30th anniversary in 2019, with every facet of Bali’s rich culture showcased and explored with the brand’s trademark sensitivity and finesse, Amandari will bring an even greater appreciation and connection to the island.