Review: Amankila Bali

Introduction
SAS Lounge Chicago
Cathay Pacific First Class Chicago to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” First Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bali
Amandari Bali
Amankila Bali
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Bali to Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Business Class Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco
Mom’s Thoughts


Really I don’t think I even have to write a review, since I think this review I found on YouTube sums it up perfectly:

The drive from Amandari to Amankila took about 75 minutes, and we had a great driver, perhaps my favorite person we interacted with at either of the Amans (and that’s saying a lot). He was so passionate about his life, both his family at home and “Aman family,” which was just so refreshing.

While Amandari is in central Bali, Amankila is on the east coast of Bali, which is an area I had never been to before. Most people vacationing in Bali stay either in the south or in Ubud, so even though I had been to Bali many times before, this was my first time on the east coast.

There’s very little tourism in the area, and it’s incredibly “authentic” and unspoiled. It’s also very hilly, so the scenery can be amazing. As we drove up to Amankila I was at a loss of words.

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Resort entrance

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Resort entrance

As we pulled up there were several people waiting for us, and we were briefly walked into the open air lobby, where we were greeted by two young Balinese dancers.

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Lobby

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Young Balinese dancers

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Lobby

What really left me speechless was the view from the lobby. I mean, look at that view!!

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Pool area

Within moments we were escorted up to our room, which was located at the far end and “top” of the resort. It’s worth noting that the resort has a ton of stairs — the resort is  set on a hill (Amankila means “peaceful hill”), and connected exclusively through stairs, so you’re almost always walking up and down them. I’m of course fine with that, though my mom’s foot was already hurting at this point due to the white water rafting we did the previous day, and the (literally) 1,000 steps she had to walk in order to get down to the river.

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Walkway to our room

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Walkway to our room

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View from patio

At the entrance to our room was a huge patio with a table and daybed. I just couldn’t get over the views. And it’s not just the views of the ocean as such, but how unspoiled the surrounding area is. Since we had a room at the corner of the resort you could look left for miles and miles and see nothing but trees and unspoiled coastline.

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View from patio

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Outdoor lounge area

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Outdoor table

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View from patio

The room could be accessed via a sliding door, and felt even more “high end” than our room at Amandari.

At the entrance was a king size bed and desk.

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Room

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King bed

Then across from the king bed was a second bed.

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Extra bed

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Desk

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Notepads and stereo

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Phone and remotes

Then towards the bathroom was a table with a welcome amenity, consisting of fruit, a card from the GM, and some sort of a handmade container.

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Welcome amenity

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Fresh fruit

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Card and gift

Just past that was the minibar and coffee maker.

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Minibar area

Once again there were complimentary crisps and cookies which were refreshed daily.

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Coffee machine

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Minibar

Past that was the bathroom area. To the right was a bathtub.

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Bathtub

Just in front of that was the shower room. Once again, toiletries were high quality and in reusable containers.

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Shower

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Shower

On the opposite side of the bathroom was a daybed of sorts.

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Seating area

And in front of that, in the same area as the shower on the other side of the room, was the toilet.

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Toilet

Then if you go a bit further into the room are the sinks. There are two sets across from one another.

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Bathroom

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Sink and vanity

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Second sink

And then on each side of the room was a closet area.

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Bathroom and closet

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Second closet

Within a few minutes of settling in we were brought some passion fruit sorbet and lemonade.

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Passion fruit sorbet and lemonade

Once settled in we took the opportunity to explore the resort a bit more. We headed down to the three tiered infinity pool, with stunning views of the ocean. The pool is just so ridiculously serene that words can’t do it justice. It was almost always empty (after all, there are only 34 rooms and the resort was half full at most), so you literally had a three tier infinity pool with incredible views of the ocean and amazing Aman service all to yourself.

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Pathway to pool

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Pool view

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Pool

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Pool

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Pool

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Pool

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Pool

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Ocean

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Pool

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Pool seating

In addition to the “main” pool, the hotel also has a “beach club.” It’s located to the side of the resort, though due to the location of the hotel on the side of a hill, it’s not that easy to access directly.

Either you can take a pretty steep set of stairs to the beach club, or you can be driven.

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Stairs

The drive is actually quite fun as it’s down a really steep, curved road.

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Car to beach club

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Car to beach club

At the beach club is a lap pool with plenty of space for lounging.

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Beach club

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Beach club pool

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Beach club garden

There’s also a beautiful private beach.

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Beach

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Beach 

In terms of the resort’s other facilities, there’s a fitness pavilion, which is actually an entire villa. To maximize privacy only one person can use it at a time, so you can reserve it in advance. I always got the time I wanted, so it worked well for me.

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Walkway to fitness pavilion

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Gym equipment

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Gym

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Gym

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Gym bathtub

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Gym bathroom

In terms of dining at the hotel, the food was generally very good. We were at Amankila for three days, and had breakfast on our patio for two of those days. As a reminder, breakfast was included in our rate. The breakfast menu read as follows:

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Service was always prompt and accurate, and usually breakfast arrived within 20 minutes of ordering it.

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Breakfast day one

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Breakfast day two

The final morning we had breakfast at the restaurant, which has an equally stunning setting.

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Restaurant

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View from restaurant

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Breakfast with a view!

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Masala egg-white omelette

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Fresh fruit

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Moroccan doughnuts

As far as the other meals go, one day we had lunch at the beach club.

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Salads

Then another day we had a spectacular lunch at the restaurant.

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Restaurant

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Lunch

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Lunch

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Lunch

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Iced coffee for dessert

Every day there was complimentary afternoon tea served poolside.

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Tea service

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Tea and snacks

Then one day we had dinner on our patio.

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Dinner

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Dinner

And then another day we just had appetizers and drinks at the bar.

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Bar

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Cocktail

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Drinks and appetizers

As stunning as the resort is during the day, it’s almost more stunning at night, as the infinity pools lights up and there’s live traditional Balinese music and dancing.

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Pool at night

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Pool at night

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Resort at night

Anyway, the resort itself is stunning, though as usual it’s the service that sets Amans apart. After exploring the resort I returned to the room literally two hours after we arrived and found a package on our patio with my shoes in it. I had left them at Amandari apparently. Think about it — it’s a 75 minute drive and without even informing me, my shoes are on my patio within two hours. Anywhere else this would be considered “going the extra mile,” while at an Aman that’s just the standard operating procedure.

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Forgot my shoes

On our second day at the resort my mom saw some tuberoses and commented to one of the associates how good they smelled. An hour later there was a huge basket of them on our patio.

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Tuberoses for mom

And much like at Amandari, everyone knows who you are. For example, when we arrived we eventually made our way down to the beach club, which is otherwise totally disconnected from the resort. Even there everyone already knew who we were, as we weren’t asked for our room number or anything when ordering drinks.

Upon checking out Amankila luggage tags were placed on our bags and there was a small farewell ceremony as we were given bracelets.

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Goodbye ceremony

Amankila was simply spectacular in every way. The east coast of Bali is so relaxing and removed from the rest of Bali that you can’t help but feel like you’re the only person on earth while on the premises. There were a couple of cute towns near the resort, though the area definitely isn’t as active as Kuta or Ubud, for example.

Anyway, I have nothing but positive things to say about Amans. The Bali experience was spectacular, and I couldn’t be happier to have had this opportunity to spend quality time with my mom and make her smile.

Now I just need to save up for the Aman trip for her next round birthday. 😉

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Comments

  1. 89 photos. Wow. How did you ever get this post to upload to Boarding Area with 89 photos?

    My posts tend to crash whenever I go above 25 photos.

    I am having problems today getting posts with fewer than 5 images to post to Boarding Area.

  2. Amazing review, Ben! $5-8K for the package. Damn that’s a lot of money, but I would do the same for my mom if I had money to splurge. Your parents are very lucky to have you as a son! 🙂

  3. @ Ric — Hmmm, are you resizing your pictures? I resize them down to 580 pixels and have never had an issue with uploading as many as I’d like.

  4. Thanks Ben! I’ve been waiting for this review and it’s spectacular. Can’t wait for our Bali and beyond trip this February.

  5. Ben-with your help on flights last year, my wife and I managed to make it to HK and Bali. We stayed for 3 nights at the Amankila, in the room opposite of your (take a right at the top of the stairs). You are spot on with your review. We really enjoyed our stay. We took advantage of some of the packages, the Balinese dinner by the pool, the dinner on the mountain over looking the rice patties, and the snorkling. One of the best trips ever!

    Thanks for your help in setting up the flights!

    Sam

  6. Nice! The sense of relaxation is palpable.

    Does anyone use the infinity pools? They seem so tranquil and too nice to cannonball into!

    I looked at the words and last pic too quickly and thought luggage tags were being affixed to Mom. (Sorry Mum–no more first class air travel!) 😉

  7. @ Kevin — Not at all. There’s a 10% service charge and we didn’t tip beyond that, which seems to be the norm.

  8. @ ChetTheJet — Hah, well it DOES matter to me, I splurged on this trip for my mom and couldn’t usually afford to stay at places like this, but I do think peak experiences like this are worth investing in. Alcohol is extremely expensive in Bali, and Amankila was no exception. Aside from that drinks weren’t too expensive, though.

  9. @ Peter — Funny enough I don’t think I actually ever saw anyone use the infinity pool (though I did see people using the lap pool). For that matter I only ever saw one or two other people at the pool, so it’s certainly not intended just to be decorative.

  10. @ WorldWingedExplorer — Respectfully, that would be highly unethical and even illegal. I disclosed very clearly that I paid the full “package” price for this stay, and if you still don’t want to believe me feel free to email me and I’ll even take a screenshot of my credit card statement for you.

  11. Having been to many Aman properties, I can tell you that many “suites” have their own private pools (as ours did at Amankila, Amanusa, And Amanjiwo in Indonesia, and also at Amangiri in Utah). As a result, the main pools often are less busy than you would otherwise expect. For those not needing/wanting a private pool, the main pools are always wonderfully serviced and always spectacularly majestic.

    I should also mention that the typical Aman property almost always has a “typical” suite layout, more comparable to a junior suite with a bedroom area including a seating area with table, as well as a daybed in some fashion. The bath is almost always behind this bed area, offering an open, more open layout that will appeal to those who appreciate the Asian open floorplan concept. Bigger “suites” tend to have better views, private pools, or more “suite” pavilions, but the layout of each “suite” tends to be the same.

  12. Thanks Lucky for the superlative review.

    @WorldWingedExplorer “I somehow doubt Lucky spent 5k on a package. I am wagering he got that comped somehow”

    This is a superlative stupid comment, saying more about this person than Lucky. And what is being wagered?

  13. Lucky, you’re killing me! I miss the Amankila so much – we ended up doing an add-on for an extra night here (also bought the same package as you) because we just couldn’t bring ourselves to leave. We were upgraded to the private pool villa and traveling as a group of 3, so we had our own private ‘compound’ with the pool and fully gated in. The private birthday dinner they threw for my partner out on our pool deck is a memory we will never forget.

    Also curious what activity did you choose for Amankila? We did the snorkeling trip and loved it!

    Thanks again for helping us get there Lucky!

  14. @ John K — Haven’t stayed at the US Aman properties, though have a hard time imagining the service is nearly as good, simply from a cultural perspective.

  15. So glad you finally made it here! The real Bali still exists but not in Ubud or around Denpasar almost a third of tourists to Bali stay away from these areas and tend to be ones who have been coming to Bali for years, the tallest object is now the rubbish tip and the sea is full of sewerage. Who in their right mind would stay anywhere near Denpasar.

  16. lucky – amazing review, of course! Ended up staying at 36, across from yours, I think?

    Quick question – did the huge amount of steps bother anyone? We ended up counting nearly 280 steps to the beach and back, and that seemed to be a workout for some.

    Also, did you try the brownies from Amandari? We got some for our drive down from them, and they were absolutely divine 🙂

  17. Ben,

    Thanks for the great review, my wife and I are headed to Bali next week, splitting The Chedi Club and Amankila. I truly can’t wait now after your review…my wife won’t know what hit her. Was your room and Ocean View Room? Was the mini bar complimentary? Did you take any pics of the dinner menu?

  18. Kyle, I have some photos of the dinner menus that I just took from over this past weekend, if you are interested.

  19. @ Simon — Now that you mention it, yes I remember the brownies on the ride to the airport. They were AMAZING.

  20. @ Kyle — The minibar wasn’t complimentary. I believe my room was indeed an ocean view room. I forgot to take pictures of the menu, though it seems like Simon might be able to help with that.

    Hope you have an amazing time!

  21. @ lucky – I only got lemon cookies on the ride back to the airport! Those were amazing as well, but apparently Amandari is famous for their brownies, of all things…

    @ kyle – I also have photos of the resort layouts – let me know (I don’t know how, perhaps lucky can pass them on) if you want the dinner and drinks menus…

  22. a side note….is the menu priced in UR point or MR points?

    eggs 80,000 points moroccan doughnuts 150,000 points…

    oh wait eggs are actually priced in Skypesos. How could I miss that ! 🙂

  23. Terrific review as always and the property does look totally amazing.

    That said, unless i’m missing something or the picture doesn’t come through clearly, there seems to be some pretty blatant child labor going on as regards the young Balinese dancers, which is rather disconcerting and alarming.

  24. @Django – I was wondering about the flower girls as well, but I almost want to say they’re actually part of a family there. I’m not sure if lucky saw this in his room, but they actually have a book of the Amankila celebrating its 20th anniversary, with interviews and a full list of the staff. I wish I took photos of the whole thing.

    I also didn’t know how to delicately bring this up to staff without potentially offending people, and my partner and I had a discussion about this. I now wish I have. Perhaps next time..

  25. It does look like the Balinese dancers are underage. I would be upset if I saw them. I think that such an expensive place would not need to have them. Maybe they should be studying in school instead.

  26. @django @simon @son – I don’t think there was any child labor going on there or exploitation of any kind. The girls were there in the afternoons after school got out, and took dance lessons and made little crafts to hand out – same at Amandari – it was girls from the village who came in after school for dance lessons and spend time with the Aman community. Aman Resorts are a big first world operation – they wouldn’t engage in child labor even if they wanted to or was acceptable by local standards….

  27. My interpretation is exactly the same as Stacey’s. They came after school, hung out, and it seemed to be an honor for them to be there. They weren’t being put to work by any means, but rather just making arts and crafts, and in the case of Amandari they were dancing. At Amankila the two girls are apparently best friends and love hanging out together.

    There was something written about them in the book that was in the room, though I forgot the exact details.

  28. I do believe that I only saw them in the afternoon, around teatime and so on. I only arrived at nearly 4pm…

    I do believe that Aman works closely with the local community and villages, and they seem to be pretty conscious about their decisions as well.

  29. Could you tell us which type of suite you had at each property-I see on the package page that there are three categories. Thank you.

  30. @Simon
    @Lucky

    No worries for any extra work in regards to the dinner menus. Very excited for our trip. Going in CX F and coming back in SQ R! MIght be time for my first TR on FT.

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