Effortless style and unrivalled comfort come packaged with scintillating views and access to nature at Bali’s Four Seasons Sayan
It might well be the most spectacular arrival experience of any hotel in the region. A long, wooden footbridge soars hundreds of metres above a verdurous valley before depositing guests at a circular lotus pond, where uninterrupted views of the surrounding rainforest sweep for kilometres in every direction. The temptation to halt the check-in process and gaze for hours at Bali’s central highlands is genuinely difficult to resist, but at the Four Seasons Sayan there is so much more to admire.
Set over seven hectares of lush gardens and twinkling, functioning rice paddies, the resort is home to just 60 suites and villas, along with approximately 1,000 bird species. Sometimes, however, it is the little things that make the biggest impression and, along with elegant touches such as the traditional ikat fabrics and rich teak furnishings, it is the attention to detail that truly elevates the Four Seasons’ accommodations. From the delicate netting that swathes the complimentary slippers to the black marble drink rests on the arms of the daybeds, it appears that no element is too small to be considered. Giant sliding doors allow villa bedrooms to become part of the outdoor living area, creating an almost tangible harmony with the tropical forest outside. Whether lolling on the outdoor sofa or soaking in the private plunge pool, natural splendour is never more than a few metres away, making for a truly immersive experience.
For those guests able to tear themselves from the serenity of their villa, a short drive deposits them in Ubud, the cultural hub of Bali, where many an afternoon can be spent exploring the numerous boutiques and galleries, most of them packed with visual delights from local artisans. Despite the growing number of tourists, a bohemian vibe still pervades this tiny town. Peaceful, picturesque and pretty much perfect, Ubud and Four Seasons Sayan seem to have been made for each other.
The modest name of the resort’s Riverside Café is not matched by the spectacular European food it serves. Located on the banks of the Ayung, the al fresco dining area offers gratification for the eyes and the ears courtesy of the rapidly flowing river. The majority of ingredients are sourced locally, some as locally as the resort’s own vegetable and herb gardens. After dark, highlights on the French bistro menu include the wood-fired chicken basquaise and a not-to-be-missed seafood platter.
Disheartened with your downward dog? Cowed by your cobra pose? The resort’s Dharma Shanti yoga bale was opened this year and is worth a visit just to admire the lotus petal-inspired design by Balinese bamboo experts Ibuku – although the daily anti-gravity yoga classes should not be missed. Hammocks are suspended from the rafters, supporting bodies of varying levels of suppleness through enhanced and inverted poses. For those whose idea of relaxation does not involve hanging upside down, the bale also hosts events and can be used simply as a place for quiet introspection.
Sight for sore rice
Bali is rightfully renowned for its rice terraces, and those found at Jatiluwih are widely regarded as the island’s best. Innumerable shades of brilliant green stretch in every direction, while the near-flawless sculpting of the terraces is little short of astonishing. A stroll around the World Heritage-listed terraces is one of the finest ways to spend a morning in Ubud.
Dance, dance, dance
Built during the lordship of Ida Tjokorda Putu Kandel (1800-1823), Ubud Royal Palace serves as the town’s focal point and a key cultural repository. Despite the fact that the Balinese royal family still resides here, the front part of the palace is open to the public, who are free to roam among the intricate stone carvings and traditional buildings. Most evenings at 7:30pm, the palace hosts exquisite traditional Balinese dance performances.
Tel: +62 (361) 977 577. Address: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Sayan, Ubud, Bali 80571, Indonesia. Website: fourseasons.com/sayan. Rooms: the One-Bedroom Duplex Suite features a living room and outdoor terrace on the upper level and a bedroom, bathroom and sun terrace on the lower level. The 1,100-square-metre Royal Villa can sleep nine adults and boasts both an air-conditioned dining room and an outdoor dining gazebo. Suggested accommodation: the wonderful One-Bedroom Villas are located on a hillside surrounded by gardens and boast their own lily pond, meditation area and private plunge pool.