Guests watch the sun set over the Indian Ocean at Rock Bar — Photo courtesy of Wendy O'Dea
The Rock Bar at AYANA Resort and Spa is perhaps the most sought-after hotspot around Jimbaran Bay, if not all of Bali. Built along the rocky limestone cliffs that separate this upscale resort from the Indian Ocean, travelers and locals flock here to sip cocktails and snap selfies while watching the sun dip below the horizon in dramatic fashion.
In fact, Rock Bar is so popular that it has been expanded (again), adding additional bar and lounge space, as well as a second inclinator that transports guests up and down the 45-foot cliff.
On a recent trip, I learned that Rock Bar isn’t the only area getting a facelift. It’s hard to imagine this expansive resort and its sister property RIMBA Jimbaran–which opened in 2013–getting better, but there’s a whole slate of renovations recently completed or in the works.
AYANA Resort's Kubu Beach — Photo courtesy of Wendy O'Dea
Kubu Beach Club: A new beach club is opening this summer to serve guests who brave the 197 steps down to the pristine beach and clear ocean waters. It's totally worth the effort, by the way. (Perhaps no one will be happier about the addition than the servers who repeatedly trek those stairs daily.)
Balinese Cultural Center: The finishing touches have now been put on the Langit Theater Cultural Park, a new dining and cultural venue where guests can soak up Bali’s artistic heritage, from music and dance performances to an arts and handicrafts market. The cultural center includes a restaurant with a buffet of traditional Balinese cuisine–including the local delicacy of Babi Guling (suckling pig), an amphitheater and a cooking school.
AYANA Resort's Kids Club pools — Photo courtesy of Wendy O'Dea
RIMBA Kids Club: A new kids club opened last spring at RIMBA Jimbaran, reinforcing the hotel’s desire to welcome families. AYANA has a larger kids club with a pool, water slides, play areas and indoor, air-conditioned playrooms for children of all ages. I’m already scheming on how to get back there with my eight-year-old in tow.
RIMBA Rooftop Spa: This new spa (on the top level of RIMBA, obviously) is small compared to the award-winning wellbeing center at AYANA, but with only six treatment rooms (compared to AYANA's 36) it offers a boutique spa feel while still displaying a menu that’s varied and indulgent.
The view from wedding venue SKY — Photo courtesy of Wendy O'Dea
And, while I have absolutely no use for it (yet), one of the most photo-worthy additions to AYANA is SKY, a wedding venue that opened in 2014. SKY is one of eight onsite wedding locations at the resort and is perched high above the cliffs with 180 degree ocean and sunset views. Serious wow factor.
But perhaps the resort’s true pièces de résistance are the renovated villas at The Villas at AYANA. Twenty-four of the 78 spectacular thatched-roof abodes have been updated with eye-popping luxury.
With a focus on Balinese style, design of the villas was inspired by Tri Hita Karana–the Balinese philosophy for life: harmony among people, harmony with the environment and harmony with God. Most notable refurbishments include private plunge pools, doubling the size of the bathrooms–including hand-carved Roman-style baths (filled with rose petals upon arrival, no less) and outdoor showers. This is in addition to private butler service for all villa guests.
AYANA and RIMBA are located in Bali’s southeastern peninsula, a short drive from Denpasar International Airport. AYANA, the larger of the two, has a more traditional Balinese feel, while RIMBA Jimbaran offers a more contemporary, chic hotel experience, set further away from the beach. The resorts also feature 11 pools, a dozen restaurant options, an 18-hole putting course, tennis pavilions, yoga and more. Needless to say, it’s pretty easy to feel the Tri Hita Karana amidst all that.