Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali
What is it? A Ritz-Carlton property until 2009, the Ayana Resort and Spa (right) occupies 77 hectares along the cliffs of Bali's Jimbaran Bay, where the sunsets are spectacular. On site is a hotel block but the opulence comes in the shape of 77 one- or two-bedroom villas and - for those with the cash or a wedding to celebrate - the Ayana Villa, which stands in its own 3,000 square metres of landscaped cliff-side garden and has a private spa-treatment room and gym.
Opulence, you say? Well, expectations may vary, but villa guests enjoy a private infinity plunge pool; a pool-side gazebo; a thatched pavilion that can be opened to the elements and which houses a lounge, a master bedroom, a large walk-in wardrobe and a bathroom with sculptured soaking tub, rain shower and L'Occitane toiletries; and a butler who can be contacted from anywhere on the resort, 24 hours a day, on a supplied mobile phone and will come to your aid in a golf buggy. If you consider that sort of thing opulent, then the villas are so, yes.
Is the spa anything to write home about? As the certificates behind the reception desk of the 22,000-square-metre spa complex attest, postcards home are not the only things being written about the Thermes Marins Bali Spa. Last year, the readers of Conde Nast Traveller went so far as to crown it the No 1 spa in the world, wowed no doubt by its well-appointed treatment rooms and villas, its aquatonic pool and - most breathtaking of all - the two spa villas perched on rocks over the Indian Ocean.
We'd go if we didn't have kids: unusually for a resort in which relaxation and pampering are held dear, families with children are not only tolerated but made to feel welcome. Until December 22, the Ayana is offering a family holiday package that includes, along with a number of extras you might expect, a complimentary full-day at the kids' club and a 30-minute child's yoga session, for two. Open from 9am to 5pm for all children in residence - with a different schedule of activities each day - the kids' club may convince even the most doting of parents that a day of separation and leisure is not only acceptable, it is fundamental to their children having a good holiday, too. The resort is also popular with those who have yet to experience infant-induced sleep deprivation, its two state-of-the-art glass chapels - with adjacent bridal villas and magnificent ocean views - being in constant use by wedding parties in the high season.
Don't tell us, the food isn't bad either? In an apparent attempt to deny guests any excuse to leave the premises, the Ayana can satisfy a diverse range of tastes, with restaurants devoted to pan-Asian, Japanese, Italian, sea- food and healthy cuisines and the fine-dining Dava. Dinner tables can be set up at a number of romantic ocean-front points, although just one couple a night can partake in 'dinner on the pier': four courses, candles and a private Gamelan ensemble at the end of the resort's private jetty. Tourists staying elsewhere in Bali can often be seen visiting for a sunset drink at the Rock Bar, an outdoor lounge built just a few metres above the crashing waves. To get to it, you descend in an 'inclinator' (half cable-car, half lift - but on tracks) down the cliff, which also supports a DJ booth. The best seating at the bar is reserved for villa guests.
What's the bottom line? The Family Holiday Package (for two adults and two children) costs from US$668 (US$773 between July 1 and September 30) a night for a one-bedroom Ocean View Villa to US$957 (US$1,032) a night for a two-bedroom Ocean Front Cliff Villa. These prices are exclusive of a 21 per cent tax and service charge and are similar to the normal rack rates for the accommodation, but with added extras. The three-bedroom Ayana Villa costs US$8,000 per night.
Ayana Resort and Spa is at Jalan Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, tel: 361 702222; www.ayanaresort.com.