Travel tip: how to become an Amanjunkie?

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (November 9, 2018): Travel tip: how to become an Amanjunkie?

It is no secret that I am a devoted ‘Amanjunkie’ (in addition to being a Soneva addict). I am often using this term in my blog and my Youtube clips, but I realize that not all of you may be familiar with the term.  The term includes the century old word “aman”, which means “peace, security, safety, shelter, protection” in the Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, Arabic, Ge’ez, Amharic, Urdu and Persian languages. Today, Aman is better known as the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, operating 33 uberluxurious resorts and hotels in 21 destinations, ranging from the desert sands of Marrakech and the snowy peaks of Wyoming to the jungle-clad ruins of Siem Reap and the white sandy beaches of the Caribbean.

The story of Aman goes back to three decades ago, when the company was founded by the Singapore based, Indonesian hotelier Adrian Zecha. The first Aman came into being through happy accident. Looking for a holiday home in Phuket (Thailand), Zecha came across a magnificent coconut grove on the island’s west coast, but his creative plans soon developed into an idea to build a small boutique resort. Zecha and his friends invested their own money in the venture as no banks would lend for the project due to the small number of planned rooms, and in 1988 the hotel opened under the name Amanpuri (meaning place of peace). A welcome reprieve from the unremarkable mega resorts that dominated the 1980s, Amanpuri was an instant hit, received a lot of press, and also raised the standard of five-star hotels to dizzying new heights (with the introduction of a culturally-rooted approach to service, private plunge pools and new amenities like in-room massages, all unheard of at the time).

Over the next three decades, the Aman branded slowly expanded with the opening of retreats all over the world, and also started developing and breeding a fan base of loyal travelers who plan their holidays according to the location of Aman resorts across the globe. Although I don’t know where this term comes from, these self-confessed fans became known as Amanjunkies. And the term even gained in popularity in recent years because of Instagram, where Amanjunkies try to outdo each other with the most artsy and serene photos of Aman resorts under the hashtag #amanjunkie.

Are you an Amanjunkie? If yes, leave a comment about your favorite Aman resort!

There are no conditions to become an Amanjunkie. You wil simply become one during/after your first stay at an Aman resort. Indeed, once you stay at an Aman resort, you are hooked for life (and everything else will pale in comparison). Every Amanjunkie knows that all of the hotel group’s properties have seven things in common that set them apart from their competitors: 

  • Exceptional locations that will take your breath away, whether it be because of their natural beauty, urban setting or cultural importance.
  • A visually stunning and often spartan minimalist design that evokes an ultra-sleek yet warm and intimate ambience.
  • A fabulous pool area, which always comes with one or more super-large pools, a peaceful atmosphere, and – most of the time – terrific views.
  • Fantastic food that would not be out of place in a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Paris, Hong Kong or New York.
  • A small number of rooms (typically less than 60), enhancing the private and exclusive feel
  • Personalised activities and excursions that will submerge you in the destination’s authentic vibe.
  • Above all, impeccable service, with the staff always knowing what you want even before you do.

Aman resorts are among the most expensive hotels in the world, often costing more than $1500 USD per night. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Aman counts the rich and famous among its clientele, including A list celebrities like Mark Zuckerber, Angelina Jolie, the Beckham family, and Bil Gates. Yet, Amanjunkies are not exclusively super-wealthy travelers; the truth is that many Amanjunkies, including myself, are not particularly wealthy but prefer to spend their money on a couple of nights at an Aman resort instead of a couple of weeks at a non-remarkable resort for the same price. When you stay at Aman, you pay for an experience unrivaled anywhere else, but also for life long memories. And despite the sky-high rates, guests – the wealthy and not so wealthy – keep coming back: 50% of all bookings at Aman resorts are repeat guests and the number of properties visited among Amanjunkies is something to tout and be proud of.

Unfortunately, Aman does not have a loyalty program, probably because their wealthy and loyal guests keep returning anyway. In addition, the brand does not compromise on exclusivity as you cannot book Aman hotels other than via the Aman website, luxury travel agents and some credit card companies (more on that below). So, it doesn’t make sense to start looking for the rate of an Aman hotel on aggregator websites like Hotelscombined and Trivago, since Aman won’t pop up in the search results anyway. However, there are some tips & tricks that can save you a few hundred dollars per night when staying at an Aman hotel, which I explained here.


Read my reviews of Aman hotels here:

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The post Travel tip: how to become an Amanjunkie? appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Review of Amankila, Bali’s best luxury hotel

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java & Bali. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (November 7, 2018): Review of Amankila, Bali (Indonesia)

Mount Agung provides a dramatic backdrop for Amankila, a secluded seaside resort overlooking the Lombok Strait and managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand. The 34 free-standing thatched-roof suites offer exceptional views from their hillside locations, and are connected to the resort’s facilities by raised walkways. Guests can relax around the signature three-tiered pool or at the beach club on Amankila’s beach, with its silverblack sands and turquoise waters. What separates Amankila from other luxury Bali hotels is that it is situated in Karangasem, one of Bali’s most traditional regencies, offering easy access to untouched rural countryside, local crafts and the region’s royal past.

Amankila features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Bali, the best luxury hotels in Indonesia, and the world’s most beautiful hotel pools.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

Click to view slideshow.

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Amankila is located near Manggis in Karangasem Regency in eastern Bali, far away from the tourist crowds that are present in Bali’s popular southern and central urban resort areas. The untouched East of Bali offers a blissfully tranquil landscape where you can still discover the island’s authentic spiritual and regal heritage. Here, sacred mountains tower over emerald-green rice paddies and traditional villages, where life has changed little over the centuries. It’s a miracle that eastern Bali survived the island’s tourist hype almost unscathed (so far). Amankila is 90 minutes from Bali’s airport and the resort provides complimentary transfer in WiFi equipped cars.
  • Amankila’s name is derived from Aman (meaning peace in Sanskrit) and Kila (hill in Balinese) but the name is a little modest since the resort occupies a spectacular hilltop spot on the verdant hill of Indrakila. Due to its elevated position, the property affords terrific panoramas of the deep blue waters of the Lombok Strait, a waterway between the islands of Bali and Lombok that connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean. The property’s hilltop location is set against the backdrop of Mount Agung, an active volcano which is the highest mountain on the island and considered by the Balinese people to be a replica of Mount Meru, the central axis of the universe.
  • The resort’s magnificent design is inspired by East Bali’s spectacular nature, colorful festivals and mystic culture. The three-tiered infinity pool mimics verdant rice paddy fields; wall art depicts ancient tales from sacred Hindu texts; and all materials are sourced locally and custom-made for the resort. Although Amankila is more than a quarter-century old, the resort is still a masterpiece of timeless architecture with a minimalist decor that effortlessly embodies the Aman ethos of understated luxury. Amanikila was designed by renowned U.S.-based architect Ed Tuttle, who is also the mastermind behind some other Aman properties, such as the very first Aman resort – Amanpuri in Phuket – and the Greek sanctuary of Amanzoe.
  • Amankila features a spectacular layout. The fortress like main structure – with its monolithic stone blocks, traditional thatched roof pavilions, and exotic carved woods – sits on top of the hill and houses the open-walled lobby, the main restaurant, a bar and a boutique shop. All facilities here are centered around a majestic staircase and afford stunning panoramas of the three terraced lap pools and the blue waters of the Lombok Strait beyond. Below the pool area, a short stroll away down the hill, is the beach club, which features another restaurant, a lap pool, and water sport center. The stand-alone accommodations are nestled into the forested hillside and connected to the main facilities by elevated white walkways.
  • Reached by a series of stairs and elevated walkways and raised on stilts, Amankila’s 33 suites – nine with private pools – are freestanding beach house-style huts with alang alang thatched roofs. During my visit, I was upgraded to a magnificent pool suite, located in the upper part of the resort. Decorated with inlaid pearl and coconutshell furniture, the suite featured a bedroom – with a canopied kingsize bed, a desk and window-side divan – giving way to a large bathroom with a soaking tub, his/her sinks, separate dressing areas, and separate rooms for the shower and toilet. The large terrace was furnished with coconut-shell tables and rattan chairs and featured a private pool enclosed by a paras-stone courtyard.
  • Aman resorts are known for their breathtaking pool areas and Amankila is no exception to that. In fact, the resort features one of the most elegant pools I have ever seen at a luxury hotel in all my years of traveling. Cascading down from the lobby towards the shore, Amankila’s main pool area takes centre stage at the resort and will be your first sight of the resort as you arrive in the lobby pavilion. Laid out in dark blue tiles and offering spectacular ocean views, the three-tiered infinity swimming pool echoes Bali’s terraced rice paddies, which each pool flowing into the one below it and being of considerable size. The pools are surrounded by plenty of sun loungers and six beautiful bales (Balinese cabanas).
  • Minutes from the main resort facilities, Amankila’s private beach club can be reached by a picturesque stroll down a pretty steep set of stairs or by funky open-sided mini-cars driven by the resort staff and available 24/7. Set in a lust coconut grove, the beach club features a Balinese-style pavilion which houses a restaurant that is open for lunch only. Next to the restaurant is an elegant 40 m (130 ft) long swimming pool that is lined on each side by a row of elegant sun loungers. The restaurant and adjacent pool overlook a magnificent lawn with towering palm trees and frangipani trees but do not offer a view of the beach/sea itself since the lust vegetation bordering the beach was kept intact.
  • Just steps from the beach club is a stunning sweep of volcanic sand beach along Lombok Strait. Only accessible to hotel guests, the idyllic beach is completely private, a rarity in Bali where most beaches are overcrowded. Feeling very soft under the feet, the back sand shimmers and glitters in the intense light of the Indonesian sun. Amankila’s bay is sheltered and the waters here are calm most of the time due to the shallow gradient of the seabed, making the sea perfect for swimming or water sports like kayaking. Eight lounging bales are set along the beach in the shade of the tropical vegetation, well spaced to allow maximum privacy. The Aman staff is always at hand to offer refreshing coctails, fresh fruits and delicious snacks at your seat.
  • Amankila features 3 dining venues, all of them serving delicious food, with the herbs, fruit and vegetables coming from the resort’s own kitchen garden:
    • The main restaurant – located in an open-walled pavilion above the pool is open for breakfast and dinner. It offers Western and Indonesian cuisine featuring catch of the day and locally reared meats, including suckling pig, Wagyu beef and duck. An excellent à la carte breakfast is also served here.
    • Set back from the main pool, the Terrace restaurant is only open for lunch, and offers a selection of Asian and Western fare.
    • The restaurant at the beachclub is also only open for lunch and serves salads, pizzas and Indonesian and light Western dishes.
  • All guests can enjoy daily complimentary afternoon tea. Staff in traditional dress supply guests with Indonesian ginger tea, Bali kopi and cakes. The afternoon tea is served on the steps of the library on the upper pool level. Don’t forget to visit the library itself, a cool sanctuary overlooking the pool, with floor-to-ceiling windows and oversize daybeds; it offers a decent selection of books, newspapers, magazines, games and CDs
  • The wide range of excursions, activities and theatrical presentations makes this the most family-friendly Indonesian Aman. The region around Amankila is ideal for trekking or mountain biking, taking in tropical forest, emerald-green rice paddies, mountains and temples. Along the way, you can discover rural villages where life has changed little. Two of Bali’s most important temples – Luhur Lempuyang and Besakih, the island’s mother temple, reached by a majestic climb up Mount Agung – lie within reach of Amankila. The magnificent water palaces of Tirtagangga and Ujung in the area known as ‘old Bali’ are also close to the resort.
  • The impeccable service is what let Amankila really shine. To give you some examples: little complementary gifts & bedtime stories are waiting on your bed each night; Balinese children present you with traditional Hindu offerings each day; and the waiters call housekeeping as soon as you enter the restaurant for breakfast, so your room is made up by the time your return.
  • Amankila is a self-contained world of lavish luxury, representing everything that its mother brand Aman tries to achieve: tranquility, exclusivity, and a sense of place. Aman is the world’s most exclusive hotel brand and the company manages a fabulous collection of intimate properties across the globe. The brand is known for the understated elegance of its resorts, exquisite attention to detail, minimalist design, heartfelt service, and otherworldly locations.
  • Among Aman’s habitués is a group of passionate repeat customers who call themselves ‘Aman junkies’ (count me in) and whose travel plans are determined by Aman locations. It’s a misconception that Aman junkies are always incredibly wealthy people: I prefer to spend my money on two nights at an Aman resort than two weeks at any other resort, as you pay for a unique and life-long memory. In all honesty and without exaggeration, an Aman resort makes some Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton resorts look like a mediocre Holiday Inn hotel.
  • Amankila is one of Aman’s five luxury havens scattered around various parts of Indonesia, so a stay here can be easily combined with a visit to one of Aman’s other properties in the country:
    • Amanjiwo: a superb hotel located in the cultural heartland of Java near the world-famous temple complex of Borobodur.
    • Amandari: a rainforest sanctuary near the village of Ubud in Bali’s cooler mountain area.
    • Aman Villas at Nusa Dua: a peaceful retreats located on Bali’s southernmost peninsula
    • Amanwana: a tented camp on the serene nature reserve of Moyo Island.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Although Amankila is more than 25 years old, it still delivers and remains my favorite resort in Bali, despite stiff competition. The remote location in East Bali, the breathtaking pool, the magnificent beach and the stunning design are hard to beat. Yet, there are some things you need to know before considering a stay here:

  • Amankila is located a few minutes by car from the harbor of Padang Bay. Although you cannot see the harbor itself from the resort, you will occasionally see ferry boats and smaller oil tankers pass by or wait for admittance to Padang Bay. During my stay, there were more ships than usual since the harbor was closed due to exceptionally high swells (the highest Bali had seen in decades), with the sheltered bay in front of the hotel being used as protected anchorage for a dozen ships. That said, it was not Amankila’s fault nor did it really affect my stay (the views were still spectacular, only marginally marred by the ships).
  • The resort is built on a hill with elevated walkways and lots of stairs. Although visually stunning, this can be a challenge for travelers that have difficulties with walking (there are no elevators on the property).
  • Unfortunately, Amankila does not have a real wellness center. Spa treatments are offered, but only in the privacy of your suite, a massage pavilion (a suite converted into a spa), a beach bale or a secluded open-air spot with tropical canopy. The good news is that a new spa facility will be added to the resort in the coming year, which will definitely enhance the overall wellness experience.
  • Since Amankila is an older resort, only a small number of the suites have their own private pool, which was an exceptional feature at the time of opening. However, this is now increasingly out of step with Bali’s other (and newer) leading resorts. So if a private pool is what you want, make sure that you book one of the 9 suites that come with a pool.
  • Once you stay at an Aman resort, you are hooked for life. So, be prepared to become an Aman junkie as Amankila will raise the bar for your future trips.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Pool: 10/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 10/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9,2/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at an Aman property (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary lunch for up to two people per room).
  • Room tip: All suites are just great. Because of Amankilla’s 4 stunning pools, I don’t think it is necessary to book a suite with a private pool (unless you really want that). If you don’t plump for the panoramically endowed Kilasari Suite, the ocean suites 6, 7, 11, 19, 36 and 37 offer the most eye-pleasing visuals.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & INDONESIA

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Located close to the equator, temperatures in Bali hover at a balmy 30°C  (85°F) year-found. Temperatures in the Ubud area remain fairly constant throughout the year, although some cooler evenings can occur due to its location in the mountains. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit Ubud. The rainy season lasts from October to March, and the heavy humidity and torrential rainfalls make this period more unpredictable for adventures and exploration. The dry season lasts from April to September, and the weather during this time is warm and pleasant, so this is generally viewed as the optimal time to experience Bali at its finest.


HOW TO GET THERE

Amankila is a 90 minute drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport and the resort provides complimentary transfers. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.


PHOTOS
AMANKILA: DRIVEWAY TO LOBBY
AMANKILA: DRIVEWAY TO LOBBY
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION - VIEW OF POOL
AMANKILA: LOBBY PAVILION – VIEW OF POOL
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: MAIN RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: BAR
AMANKILA: BAR
AMANKILA: BAR
AMANKILA: BAR
AMANKILA: BAR
AMANKILA: BAR
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
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AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
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AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
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AMANKILA: POOL AREA
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AMANKILA: POOL AREA
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AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA
AMANKILA: POOL AREA - VIEW OF BEACH
AMANKILA: POOL AREA – VIEW OF BEACH
AMANKILA: POOL AREA - VIEW OF BEACH
AMANKILA: POOL AREA – VIEW OF BEACH
AMANKILA: POOL AREA - TERRACE RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: POOL AREA – TERRACE RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: POOL AREA - TERRACE RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: POOL AREA – TERRACE RESTAURANT
AMANKILA: LIBRARY
AMANKILA: LIBRARY
AMANKILA: LIBRARY
AMANKILA: LIBRARY
AMANKILA: LIBRARY
AMANKILA: LIBRARY
AMANKILA: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANKILA: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANKILA: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANKILA: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANKILA: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANKILA: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANKILA: RESORT MAP
AMANKILA: RESORT MAP
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: WALKWAYS TO SUITES
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - EXTERIOR
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – EXTERIOR
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - ENTRANCE
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – ENTRANCE
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - ENTRANCE
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – ENTRANCE
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - ENTRANCE
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – ENTRANCE
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – COURTYARD WITH POOL
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - WELCOME DRINKS
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – WELCOME DRINKS
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - WELCOME DRINKS
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – WELCOME DRINKS
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - WELCOME DRINKS
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – WELCOME DRINKS
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BEDROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE - BATHROOM
AMANKILA: POOL SUITE – BATHROOM
AMANKILA: TRANSFER TO BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: TRANSFER TO BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
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AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
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AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
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AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: BEACH CLUB
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE

AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE

AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: AFTERNOON TEA SERVICE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
AMANKILA: SPA SUITE
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Top 10 best things to see & do in Indonesia

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (November 5, 2018): Top 10 best things to see & do in Indonesia.

From beach and wildlife-focused escapes to journeys into the spiritual, cultural and adventure-fuelled unknown, Indonesia never fails to inspire. This magnificent Southeast Asian country comprises more than 17,000 islands scattered in the Pacific Ocean, with a landscape dominated by lush rainforests, steaming volcanoes and idyllic beaches. The sheer range of experiences that you can have in Indonesia is spellbinding and will live on as sweet memories long after your holiday in the island country. Here are 10 reasons why Indonesia should be your next holiday destination.

There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite attraction in Indonesia in the comments section, or take my poll below!

Click to view slideshow.

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10. EXPLORE BORNEO BY RIVER

Kalimantan is the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, comprising 73% of the island’s land mass (the other parts belong to Brunei and Malaysia). Kalimantan spells great adventures into its vast and legendary jungles, with an abundance of fascinating wildlife, magnificent natural landscape, enchanting well preserved traditional cultures, and a whole lot more amazing experiences. Within this pristine paradise something extraordinary always lies around the next bend, from the exotic primates deep in the thick jungles, the mysterious Dayak villages who retain age-old traditions and way of life, to pure boating thrills along its countless rivers. Not only inland, the splendors of Kalimantan also lie in its seas which are filled with countless amazing creatures, perfect for those who enjoy diving, snorkeling, and underwater photography.

EXPLORE BORNEO BY RIVER


9. VISIT THE PRAMBANAN TEMPLE COMPLEX IN CENTRAL JAVA

Located not far from the Buddhist Borobodur temple (more on that below), Prambanan is a magnificent spectacle and an icon of Indonesia’s cultural heritage. Built in the 9th century , the biggest temple is dedicated to Shiva  (the destroyer) and the two smaller ones – which sit on its right and left – are dedicated to Brahma (the creator) and Wisnhu (the sustainer). The tallest temple of Prambanan is a staggering 47 m (154 ft) high. Its towering peak is visible from far away and rises high above the ruins of the other temples. After hundreds of years of neglect, the Prambanan temple was rediscovered by CA Lons, a Dutchman, in 1733. Since then, this temple has been revitalized and today, it is widely regarded as the most beautiful and graceful Hindu temple in Indonesia. As a unique cultural and architectural marvel, Prambanan was declared a World Heritage site in 1991 by UNESCO.

VISIT THE PRAMBANAN TEMPLE COMPLEX IN CENTRAL JAVA


8. CLIMB MOUNT RINJANI IN LOMBOK

With its height of 3,726 m (12224 ft), Mount Rinjani is the second highest volcano in Indonesia, looming over the lush landscape of the relatively small island of Lombok. The lower slopes of the mountain are quite heavily forested, while the landscape becomes barren and rugged with volcanic rock above the tree line. On the top of the volcano is an enormous caldera, which is filled partially by the crater lake known as Segara Anak or Anak Laut (Child of the Sea).  The views of the crater lake are quite breath-taking from the caldera rim, especially ay the sunrise. Mount Rinjani is popular for trekking and the 3-day strenuous journey to the summit represents an epic travel experience (albeit not for novice hikers) . Rinjani’s recent earthquake (summer 2018) is a constant reminder of the powerful forces rumbling just beneath the surface of the earth.

CLIMB MOUNT RINJANI IN LOMBOK


7. OBSERVE ORANG UTANGS IN SUMATRA

One of the most biodiverse regions in the world, the jungle of Gunung Leuser National Park in Sumatra houses 130 mammal species, including the very rarely seen Sumatran tiger, rhino and elephant. The main reason that tourists flock to this corner of the world is that Gunung Leuser National Park is one of the last places on earth where you can see the critically endangered orangutans in the wild. Regarded as one of the most intelligent primates, these gentle beasts use a variety of sophisticated tools and have been extensively studied for their learning abilities.  The small riverside town of Bukit Lawang, the usual point of start of all our tours, is considered one of the best gateways unto experiencing the many marvels of the Gunung Leuser National Park, and there’s something for everyone, ranging from half-day jungle excursions to see the ‘man of the jungle’ to multi-day trekking deep into the jungle’s heart.

OBSERVE ORANG UTANGS IN SUMATRA


6. TAKE A HOLIDAY IN BALI

Located between Java and Lombok, the Indonesian island of Bali – often called the Island of the Gods – is a world-acclaimed island paradise for a reason, although its popularity among tourists has taken its toll in certain areas. The varied volcanic landscape of rugged coastlines, sandy beaches, and verdant rice terraces provides a picturesque backdrop to Bali’s colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture. There are innumerable temples, historical sites, and spots of natural beauty spread across Bali’s eight regencies. And you won’t have to compromise on comfort while exploring the island since Bali’s five-star resorts rank amongst the most exclusive in the world, with most of them located in Nusa Dua, Seminyak and Ubud. Ubud’s hotels cater to those who prefer spas and cultural pursuits, while surfing and other beach activities can be found at the sophisticated beachfront communities of Nusa Dua and Seminyak.

TAKE A HOLIDAY IN BALI


5. BE WOWED BY WAYAG ISLAND’S SPECTACULAR BEAUTY

The remote Wayag Island is located in the West Waigeo area of the Raja Ampat Islands, northwest of the large island of Papua. The island is known for its beautiful atolls and amazing underwater life, covering a total area of 155,000 hectares, about 383,013.3 acres. Here, you find pristine beaches with unique Karst islands that look like mushrooms sprouting out from the sea. Along these beaches, you can see fairy tale tropical panoramas, more captivating than Leonardo DiCaprio’s getaway in the movie “The Beach”. The crystal clear waters around Wayag Island appear like unreal windows to various types of flora and fauna that live underwater and are popular among divers. Liveaboards are the best choice to explore the island, especially for travelers with a love for adventure and romance.

BE WOWED BY WAYAG ISLAND’S SPECTACULAR BEAUTY


4. DISCOVER INDONESIA WITH AMAN RESORTS

Aman is the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, and some of the first Aman resorts were built in Indonesia, offering the discerning traveler the option to explore Indonesia’s extraordinary natural, spiritual and cultural diversity at no less than five highly recommended Aman destinations. With Aman, you can venture through water temples and cascading rice paddies, dive into vibrant coral reefs, experience the Buddhist sanctuary of Borobudu, or set sail to the Komodo Islands and Raja Ampat. These are Aman’s five properties in Indonesia (and when you book a combined journey, you often get a discount or free perks such as complimentary transfers):

  • Amanjiwo: a superb hotel located in the cultural heartland of Java near the world-famous temple complex of Borobodur.
  • Amankila: a secluded seaside resort on Beali’s eastern coast, overlooking the Lombok Strait.
  • Amandari: a rainforest sanctuary near the village of Ubud in Bali’s cooler mountain area.
  • Aman Villas at Nusa Dua: a peaceful retreats located on Bali’s southernmost peninsula
  • Amanwana: a tented camp on the serene nature reserve of Moyo Island.

3. BE HUMBLED BY BOROBUDUR’S MYSTICISM

Located in central Java, Borobodur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and a UNESCO world heritage site. The temple consists of nine stacked platforms, six square and three circular, topped by a central dome and 72 Buddha statues, each seated inside a perforated stupa. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Syailendra dynasty, the temple’s design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous scenes and elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian. Set in the heart of the verdant Kedu Plain, the backdrop of mighty active volcanoes only enhances the sense of awe and drama. As well as being the single most popular tourist attraction in Indonesia, Borobudur remains an important place of worship and pilgrimage.

BE HUMBLED BY BOROBUDUR’S MYSTICISM


2. FACE THE DRAGONS IN KOMODO NATIONAL PARK

Komodo National Park – one of the world’s greatest natural treasures – is located in the center of the Indonesian archipelago, between the islands of Sumbawa and Flores. Established in 1980, initially the main purpose of the park was to conserve the unique Komodo dragon and its habitat (more than 5000 dragons call this park their home). In 1986, the park was declared a World Heritage Site and a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, both indications of the park’s biological importance. As well as being home to the Komodo dragon, the park provides refuge for many other notable terrestrial species such as the orange-footed scrub fowl, an endemic rat, and the Timor deer. Although the dragons are the main attraction, the natural spectacle of Komodo National Park goes beyond those dangerous lizards, with magnificent beaches, crystal clear water, great hiking, and colored corals.

FACE THE DRAGONS IN KOMODO NATIONAL PARK


1. WATCH THE SUNRISE AT MOUNT BROMO

With a height of 2329 m (7641 ft), Mount Bromo is relatively small when measured against other volcanoes in Indonesia, but the mountain does not disappoint with its spectacular views and dramatic landscapes. Still one of the world’s most active volcanos, Mount Bromo is easily recognized as the entire top has been blown off and the crater inside constantly belches white sulphurous smoke. Bromo sits majestically inside the massive Tengger caldera (a volcanic crater with a diameter of approximately 6 mi or 10 km) and is surrounded by a vast mass of fine volcanic sand. The overall effect is unsettlingly unearthly, and this breathtaking and ethereal landscape has been swooned by many travelers, who mostly hike up or drive to nearby Mount Penanjakan in time to catch the sunrise over Mount Bromo.

WATCH THE SUNRISE AT MOUNT BROMO


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Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java & Bali. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (October 24, 2018): Review of Amandari, Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)

Inspired by a traditional village, Amandari is framed by jungle and rice terraces in Bali’s cultural heartland. Alang-alang-thatched houses – some with pools, all with private tropical gardens – cosset guests under bamboo ceilings, their suites elegantly decorated with teak and coconut-wood. The grounds of Aman’s Ubud outpost are both sacred and essential to local families: children attend dance classes here, and religious processions pass through regularly, leading down the steps that spill below Amandari to a 7th-century stone tiger – a motif repeated throughout the property. Guests can follow the road out of the village to hike or bike the emerald-green landscape; or head further afield for artisan villages, hidden temples, and the palaces and boutiques of Ubud.

Amandari features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali and the best hotels in Ubud.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

Click to view slideshow.

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Amandari lies 75 minutes by car from Bali’s Denpasar airport and a 15 minute’s drive from Ubud (with transfers to/from the airport and Ubud offered on a complimentary basis). The magnificent area around Ubud has been known for centuries as Bali’s cultural, natural and artistic center. Ubud village itself offers a wealth of cultural sights and shopping attractions, including galleries, museums, palaces, artist’s studios and markets. Nearby artisan villages are notable for their woodcarvings, jewelery and pottery. The famous tiered rice fields that dot the area around Ubud are interlaced with paths, ideal for exploring on foot or bicycle.
  • Although the resort is close to one of Ubud’s main roads, it feels a world apart: the moment you turn on to Amandari’s tranquil driveway, the noise of Bali’s chaotic traffic is replaced by the soundtrack of birds, crickets, and frogs. Fringed by rice paddies, the property enjoys an extraordinary setting on the jungled slope of a natural ridge, which winds alongside the sacred Ayung river. Albeit surrounded by the wilderness, Amandari is uniquely integrated into the charming village of Kedewatan, in which it has co-existed for almost 30 years and which is home to the large majority of the staff. Since it’s part of a local community, the resort’s lush grounds are dotted with statues of Hindu deities at which staff make daily offerings.
  • Designed by Australian architect Peter Muller, Amandari was the second Aman resort to be built. Since it opened in 1989, the resort’s understated elegance and authentic Balinese decors have inspired countless imitators, but Amandari’s timeless design still delivers. The property goes beyond the concept of a traditional resort as it is modeled after an Indonesian village. Like the neighboring homes of the locals, the pavilions are made of local teak and mahogany, topped by vaulted thatched roofs, and supported by bamboo poles.  Blending perfectly into its natural surroundings, Amandari’s organic design maintains the scale of a rural village without ever compromising on impeccable taste and absolute comfort.
  • Amandari’s layout is remarkably simple but convenient. The main facilities are centered around a couple of large pavilions, which house a high-ceilinged, open-walled reception area, a sophisticated bar, a chic library, a boutique shop and the elegant dining room. It’s here that all guests are welcomed upon arrival by the resort staff and little local girls throwing flower petals. Beyond these pavilions lies the property’s famous green-tiled infinity pool (more on that below). From the lobby area, picturesque pebble walkways lead to the thatched-roof suites that are hidden behind moss-covered stone walls. The property’s far end also features an intimate spa and a small but well equipped gym.
  • Surrounded by traditional paras-stone walls, each of Amandari’s 32 freestanding suites is accessed by a traditional Balinese stone gateway, leading to private courtyard gardens and sumptuous interiors. During my holiday, I stayed in a ‘Valley Suite’, which came with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors on two sides to maximize the views of the Ayung Valley. The open-plan, marble-floored bedroom featured a king-size canopy bed, a desk, a dining table (with daily replenished fruit), and two rattan chairs. The room’s rustic vibe was clearly inspired by the Balinese traditions of stone and wood carving. The large bathroom featured an outdoor sunken bath, his/her sinks, a shower, and toilet. There was also a small terrace with two sun lounges.
  • Amandari’s 32 m (104 ft), crescent-shaped, main pool has a curving sweep of lightly salted water that mimics the rice terraces below. The pool’s end lies close to the edge of the gorge, affording spectacular views of the rice terraces and the verdant rainforest that covers the opposite slope across the steep Ayung Valley. There are several green cushioned loungers with Oriental-style umbrellas beside the pool but with 14 of the resort’s 32 thatched-roof suites – located to the left and right of the main pool area – featuring their own pools, the main pool area is never crowded. The pool is overlooked by an adjacent music pavilion that hosts daily complimentary afternoon tea, nightly gamelan players and regular dance performances.
  • Exposed to cooling mountain breezes, the open-air restaurant and adjacent bar enjoy spectacular views of the green-tiled pool and the Ayung River. Offering fine tropical dining from à la carte breakfast through to dinner, the restaurant serves up a sophisticated menu of Indonesian and Western dishes. An upper level provides an ideal space for more intimate dinners. The restaurant gets most of its produce, as well as free-range pigs and poultry, from local organic farms. Gamelan players perform every evening – their songs joined by a dusk chorus of birds – enveloping the serene atmosphere. Private dining is also available in-suite, 24-hours a day.
  • The name of the local village, Kedawatan, means ‘place of the Gods’ and Amandari means, literally, peace and heavenly beings. Every six months for the last 1500 years, there is a great procession of the locals leading along a narrow path through the hotel to two shrines 129 steps below Amandari, near the river bed. But even when there’s no procession, I highly recommend to descend to the valley floor and visit the shrines, which are guarded by a stone tiger that was left by a seventh-century Hindu priest as a reminder of the village’s blessing.
  • For those in need of a wellness, there’s a tranquil spa at the resort’s far end, staffed by a team of self-assured therapists. The spa comprises two open-air treatment rooms, which both seem to float on a lotus pond, creating a serene ambience. There’s also a beauty room, sauna and a marble steam room. Treatments can also be booked in-suite, or in a bale overlooking the Ayung valley. As you may expect from an Aman resort, there’s an exhaustive treatment menu that features local Balinese ingredients renowned for their soothing properties. I highly recommend Amandari’s signature massage, a fusion of Balinese, Swedish and acupressure styles, which can be soft as a feather or hard as stone, as you please.
  • Amandari also boasts an on-site library – located besides the reception area – with dozen of books to choose from. One wall is taken up by the teak bookcase, which contains a large collection of works on Balinese and Indonesian culture and tradition as well as classic holiday fare from the likes of Stephen King and Michael Connolly. An outdoor bale – consisting a daybed on a raised platform crafted from Javanese stone and underneath a picturesque Balinese pavilions – can be used for reading over tea, coffee or cocktails.
  • If you can tear yourself away from the resort’s pool or your private suite, you’ll be glad to know that Amandari can arrange guided tailormade excursions anywhere in Bali. The resort offers invigorating treks and out-of- the-way cycling routes through the Ayung valley, as well as white-water rafting along the Ayung River below Amandari – an exhilarating way to explore the lush rainforest. Other popular excursions include day trips to Gunung Kawi, a group of 11th-century temple monuments dedicated to King Anak Wungsu; Lake Batur; Mount Agung; and Ceking, famous for its precipitous rice terraces. Amandari guides have a thorough knowledge of the island and will show guests both popular and off-the-beaten-track sights.
  • Amandari is a self-contained world of lavish luxury, representing everything that its mother brand Aman tries to achieve: tranquility, exclusivity, and a sense of place. Aman is the world’s most exclusive hotel brand and the company manages a fabulous collection of intimate properties across the globe. The brand is known for the understated elegance of its resorts, exquisite attention to detail, minimalist design, heartfelt service, and otherworldly locations.
  • Among Aman’s habitués is a group of passionate repeat customers who call themselves ‘Aman junkies’ (count me in) and whose travel plans are determined by Aman locations. It’s a misconception that Aman junkies are always incredibly wealthy people: I prefer to spend my money on two nights at an Aman resort than two weeks at any other resort, as you pay for a unique and life-long memory. In all honesty and without exaggeration, an Aman resort makes some Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton resorts look like a mediocre Holiday Inn hotel.
  • Amandari is one of Aman’s five luxurious sanctuaries scattered around various parts of Indonesia, so a stay here can be easily combined with a visit to one of Aman’s other properties in the country:
    • Amanjiwo: a superb hotel located in the cultural heartland of Java near the world-famous temple complex of Borobodur.
    • Amankila: a secluded seaside resort on Beali’s eastern coast, overlooking the Lombok Strait.
    • Aman Villas at Nusa Dua: a peaceful retreats located on Bali’s southernmost peninsula
    • Amanwana: a tented camp on the serene nature reserve of Moyo Island.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Nestled among the splendor of the rainforest near Ubud, Amandari is a luxurious sanctuary for those who value intimacy, privacy and the authentic Bali. It’s a magnificent property, although you need to know the following when considering a stay here.

  • Amandari is one of Aman’s oldest properties, almost 30 years old (it opened in 1989). While some would say the decor feels dated and definitely less swanky as compared to some of Ubud’s newer resorts, I would say that the resort’s rustic vibe and authentic design has weathered its tree decades of existence with timeless flair and understated elegance (something that cannot be said of most other hotels in the Ubud area). The serenity of Amandari is something that gets under your skin the longer you stay at the resort. Apparently, the Aman management has considered redesigning the resort, but cancelled those plans to preserve the resort’s traditional setting (and I am glad they did).
  • The suites at Amandari don’t feature a TV nor does the library. The aim of the resort’s design was to mimic a typical Balinese home, without the intrusion of modernity, giving you a sense of  place and what it feels like to be a guest in a rural Balinese village. That proved to be a challenge though during my stay at Amandari last July, since my country was playing the semi-final of the World Soccer Cup and I had no other option but to watch the match on a giant TV screen in a café in Ubud.
  • Complimentary WiFi is offered to all guests, but the speed of the internet was variable, ranging from excellent to annoyingly slow.
  • The property features only one restaurant, and although this venue offers terrific cuisine, the menu may get a bit boring if you plan a longer stay. However, the good news is that resort offers complimentary transfers to/from Ubud, so there’s a wild range of dining options only minutes away.
  • There’s plenty of wildlife in the jungle around Amandari (including monkey), and while it’s exciting to observe the animals, the call of the wild can be surprisingly noisy in the morning, so if you’re a light sleeper, I suggest you pack some earplugs.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Pool: 9/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 9/10
  • Spa: 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Value for money: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,2/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at an Aman property (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one complimentary lunch for up to two people per room).
  • Room tip: To look out on the verdant Ayung river valley without lifting your head from the ultra-plush pillow, book the duplex Ayung Suite.
  • Room tip: Book a suite with a private pool if you can afford it. Pool Suites 14 and 15 are extremely private
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & INDONESIA

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Located close to the equator, temperatures in Bali hover at a balmy 30°C  (85°F) year-found. Temperatures in the Ubud area remain fairly constant throughout the year, although some cooler evenings can occur due to its location in the mountains. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit Ubud. The rainy season lasts from October to March, and the heavy humidity and torrential rainfalls make this period more unpredictable for adventures and exploration. The dry season lasts from April to September, and the weather during this time is warm and pleasant, so this is generally viewed as the optimal time to experience Bali at its finest.


HOW TO GET THERE

Amandari is a 90 minute from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. The resort provides complimentary airport transfers. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.


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AMANDARI: BOUTIQUE SHOP
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT
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AMANDARI: ART GALLERY
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AMANDARI: DANCE LESSONS FOR LOCAL CHILDREN
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AMANDARI - RESORT GROUNDS
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AMANDARI: VALLEY SUITE - ENTRANCE
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AMANDARI: AFTERNOON TEA (SERVED AT POOL PAVILION)
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AMANDARI AT NIGHT
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
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AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
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AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY - HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
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AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
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AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY - HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
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AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY - HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
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AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY - HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY - HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY – HINDU SHRINE​
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY

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The post Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali) appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Top 10 best resort in Ubud (Bali)

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (October 29, 2018): Top 10 best luxury hotels in Ubud (Bali). 

Set in the island’s central uplands, Ubud is just one hour’s drive north of Ngurah Rai International airport and the beach resorts of southern Bali. Known as the cultural heart of Bali, this traditional country town offers a treasure trove of cultural landmarks, ranging from ancient temples and Hindu shrines to majestic age-old royal palaces and moss-covered ruins. Inspired by the fresh mountain air and vibrant Balinese festivals, Ubud became an elite artistic colony in the 1930’s, attracting eminent European painters, writers and musicians, and has now grown into one of Indonesia’s most famous tourist sights (also because of its starring role in the movie ‘Eat, Pray, Love’). Ubud is also a luxury-minded traveler’s paradise since it boats an incredible number of high-end hotels. Here’s my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Ubud.

There is more information (with Youtube clips) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Ubud hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!

Click to view slideshow.

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10. ALILA UBUD

Alila Ubud is a tranquil and secluded hillside retreat that sits high up on the edge of the rich green Ayung River valley in Bali’s central foothills, 15 minutes from Ubud, the island’s cultural heart. The hotel has been laid out as a Balinese hillside village complete with its own community centre and pedestrian lanes. The resort’s rooms and villas stand above a ravine on stilts like tree houses and are set into the banks of the river valley. Here, smooth plaster walls and concrete meet thatched roofs; terrazzo tiles meet gravel or crushed rock; wood meets glass, making for one of the most uniquely designed boutique hotels Ubud has seen. The property features a world-class restaurant, and a holistic and intuitive spa facility.

ALILA UBUD


9. HANGING GARDENS OF BALI

Overlooking the Ayung River and ancient Dalem Segara temple, this Balinese resort stands on the edge of a stunning valley, surrounded by lush rain forests and picturesque rice terraces. Each villa is designed with traditional Alang Alang thatched roofs in complete harmony with nature. At the geographical epicenter and spiritual core of the hotel, is a surreally beautiful pool, one of the most photographed pools in the world. The striking formation is suspended over the dense rainforest, giving swimmers the unique sensation of floating above the treetops. In the evenings, guests can enjoy a decadent dinner by the pool or – for more privacy – on a Balinese mini-boat in their villa’s own infinity pool. Not to be missed is the hotel’s spa, with its extensive menu of therapeutic treatments.

HANGING GARDENS OF BALI


8. COMO UMA UBUD

COMO Uma Ubud is an intimate resort, encircled by emerald forests, rice paddies and rivers. To this, the resort provides intelligent access to the local area, with mountain biking, rafting and guided walks. The 46 rooms and suites exude the charm of a traditional Indonesian village. Except the feel is quietly contemporary, with large windows and carved panels that open up to incorporate the view, letting light flood the interiors. The result is a fresh, original spirit that feels sleek even as it recognises Uma Ubud’s cultural context. The property’s restaurants, Kemiri and Uma Cucina, boast world-class cuisine while COMO Shambhala Retreat at Uma Ubud focuses on holistic wellness, with active pursuits including temple visits, biking and trekking.

  • Hotel website: COMO Uma Ubud
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary perks when booking via Classic Travel (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and one time lunch or dinner for two or one time 60 minutes massage for two when staying a minimum of 3 nights).

COMO UMA UBUD 


7. THE VICEROY BALI

This family owned and operated Balinese gem brings ultra luxury to an area known as the “Valley of the Kings” and is sure to take the breath away from even the most seasoned traveler. Upon arrival guests are spoiled by the sight of pristine gardens while receiving a fresh floral lay and juice made from the sweetest oranges and tropical fruits. With just 25 private villas, attention to each guest is of the highest priority and impeccable service is the staple of this retreat. Privacy is greatly respected and pampering seems to occur without a second thought. From the exclusive infinity pool overlooking the spectacular jungle ravine to the fine dining restaurant, every detail of this tropical haven has been carefully assembled to give guests an extraordinary expression of world-class luxury.

THE VICEROY BALI


6. THE CHEDI CLUB AT TANAH GAJAH

Hidden among the lush undulating hills of Bali’s culture-rich highlands, this most private of resorts sits among thriving rice fields as far as the eye can see. Just outside the artists’ village of Ubud, the former estate of Hendra Hadiprana – one of Indonesia’s most respected art collectors – has been transformed into an intimate retreat with twenty individual villas, each one uniquely featuring original Balinese artworks from his collection. The rustic chic five-hectare property offers an authentic backdrop to one of Bali’s most dramatic performances, the Kecak dance – performed at the resort’s very own amphitheatre. Those seeking serenity and rejuvenation will find both in abundance at The Spa, nestled at one edge of the seemingly endless paddy fields.

THE CHEDI CLUB AT TANAH GAJAH


5. CAPELLA UBUD

Nestled between Ubud’s rainforest, rice paddy fields and the sacred Wos River, Capella Ubud brings the wonders and myths of Bali’s exotic past to life. Inspired by the early European settlers from the 1800s, celebrated architect Bill Bensley conceptualized this ultra-luxurious tented camp as a tribute to their spirit of adventure. Each one of the 22 unique tents as well as an extravagant two-bedroom lodge are crafted with an individual inspirational theme, allowing guests to enjoy the essence of Bali’s untouched natural surroundings in personalized comfort. All retreats boast a private salt water Jacuzzi pool lavish indoor and outdoor bathrooms, a spacious lounge and bedroom whilst two outdoor decks offer the perfect setting for an intimate candlelit dinner.

CAPELLA UBUD


4. COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE

Located in the breathtaking rainforest surrounding Ubud, COMO Shambhala Estate immerses its guests in a positive, holistic and healing experience from the moment of arrival. It isn’t just a luxury resort. Nor is it just a top-notch health retreat. It’s a sumptuous combination of the two, staggered up the steep slopes of the sacred Ayung river gorge. Five multi-suite residences are themed after nature’s elements, with a variety of private villas for a sense of oneness with the pristine setting. Each features butler service and an infinity swimming pool. Guests enjoy healthful and energizing COMO Shambhala cuisine and the aid of professional nutritionists; de-stress in the springs and the holistic spa; and renew with renowned healers, yoga masters and life coaches.

COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE


3. AMANDARI, UBUD

Inspired by a traditional village, Amandari is framed by jungle and rice terraces in Bali’s cultural heartland. Alang-alang-thatched houses – some with pools, all with private tropical gardens – cosset guests under bamboo ceilings, their suites elegantly decorated with teak and coconut-wood. The grounds of Aman’s Ubud outpost are both sacred and essential to local families: children attend dance classes here, and religious processions pass through regularly, leading down the steps that spill below Amandari to a 7th-century stone tiger – a motif repeated throughout the property. Guests can follow the road out of the village to hike or bike the emerald-green landscape; or head further afield for artisan villages, hidden temples, and the palaces and boutiques of Ubud.

  • Hotel websiteAmandari
  • Other accolades: Amandari also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one lunch or dinner for 2).
  • Review: coming soon.

2. FOUR SEASONS RESORT BALI AT SAYAN

Voted #1 hotel in the world by Travel + Leisure in 2018, Four Seasons Resort Sayan encapsulates Bali at its philosophical and soulful best: a sublime hillside haven where man, humanity and nature unite with purest intent. Only a ten-minute drive from the stylish boutiques, artist ateliers and atmospheric eateries of boho-chic Ubud, Four Seasons Sayan is an inspiring base from which to explore Bali’s cultural heart or to retreat into nature’s meditative embrace. Guests arrive via a dramatic bridge, beneath which the Ayung River valley spreads its tropical arms. From the gravity-defying rooftop lotus pond, the property cascades down the hill to the two-tiered swimming pool, cantilevered over the river, through an enchanting forest that cocoons just 60 suites and villas.

  • Hotel websiteFour Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
  • Other accolades: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: read my review of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan here.

1. MANDAPA, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE

Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for “temple,” Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, stands as a tropical shrine dedicated to the self. Fronting the Ayung River near the Ubud jungle, the hotel replicates a traditional Balinese village, complete with working rice paddies. Showcasing the architecture and craftsmanship of the area, each of the 60 luxury suites and villas features a private outdoor space (some of them with pools) with views of the river or surrounding scenery. Four restaurants serve health-conscious cuisine sourced from the organic garden, although you can also arrange a romantic dinner overlooking the river or rice terrace. The spa offers a variety of programs focused on physical and spiritual well-being.

  • Hotel websiteMandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
  • Other accolades: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, also features in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Bali, the best hotels in Indonesia, and the world’s best Ritz-Carlton hotels.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
  • Review: read my review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, here.

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Travel news: this month (October 2018) in luxury travel

Friday newsletters always feature travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (October 26, 2018): October 2018 luxury travel news.

Every last Friday of the month, you can read my news round-up of what’s happening in the world of luxury travel. In this issue:

  1. Singapore Airlines launches world’s longest flight
  2. Rosewood Hotels to open its first property in the Philippines
  3. KLM and Qantas will code share on Europe-Australia routes
  4. Westin Hotels & Resorts debuts in the Maldives
  5. Nordic carrier Primera Air abruptly ceases operations
  6. Hyatt acquires Two Road Hospitality
  7. British Airways starts flying to Charlestone
  8. Six Senses Krabey Island in Cambodia premiers in December
  9. Miami will gets its first Waldorf Astoria hotel
  10. St Regis debuts in Zhuhai, China’s premier tourist destination


1. Singapore Airlines launches world’s longest flight

Singapore Airlines has launched the world’s longest commercial flight, between Singapore and New York. The first new non-stop flight between Singapore and New York departed Changi International Airport on 11 October 2018 at 11.37pm (SIN time) and arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport a day later, at 5.29 am (US Eastern time). The flight duration was 17 hours 52 minutes and operated by the all-new Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range). Customers on the world’s longest flight were treated with a comfortable and relaxing traveling experience with special wellness cuisines curated by chefs and nutritionists from Canyon Ranch, a leader in healthy living and wellness, in addition to Singapore Airlines’ own meal selections and creations by its international culinary panel of chefs. Singapore Airlines is the world’s first customer for the new A350-900ULR, with seven firm orders with Airbus. The aircraft is configured in a two-class layout, with 67 Business Class seats and 94 Premium Economy Class seats. Below, you can watch my Business Class trip report in a Singapore Airlines A350 aircraft.


2. Rosewood Hotels to open its first property in the Philippines

Rosewood Hotels & Resorts will open the Rosewood Hermana Mayor in 2023 as the brand’s first property in the Philippines. The ultra-luxury resort, located on pristine and private Hermana Mayor island situated off the western coast of the main island of Luzon, will be an exciting addition to Rosewood’s expanding Asia Pacific portfolio and collection of exclusive resort destinations worldwide. With a private airstrip, Rosewood Hermana Mayor will be 40 minutes by plane from Manila and one hour and 40 minutes from Hong Kong. The island will also be easily accessible by boat. With miles of immaculate white sand beach, the family-owned island has been used exclusively as a private vacation getaway over the last 60 years, hosting family members, friends, prominent guests, royalty and heads of state. Rosewood Hermana Mayor will be composed of 128 spacious, thoughtfully appointed villas and pavilion-style guestrooms in addition to Rosewood Residences for private ownership. All accommodations will be designed to blend seamlessly into the island’s lush tropical setting and offer expansive sea views.

Rosewood Hermana Mayor


3. KLM and Qantas will code share on Europe-Australia routes

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (member of SkyTeam) and Qantas (member of OneWorld) have signed a code-sharing agreement, allowing both airlines to expand their networks substantially. For KLM passengers, this means they can fly from anywhere in the world, on a single ticket, with full baggage transfers, via Singapore to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth. The code-share begins on 31 October 2018. KLM will attach its flightnumber to daily flights between Singapore and the four key Australian destinations listed above. Qantas will attach its QF code to KLM flights between Amsterdam and Singapore. Pieter Elbers – KLM President & CEO – said: “We are very pleased with this new code-sharing agreement with Qantas. Australia is an important destination for business and leisure travellers, which is why Qantas is such an important partner.” According to Alison Webster, International CEO Qantas, this code-share provides customers with more choice of how they travel between Australia and Europe and more opportunities to earn status credits. Watch below my Business Class trip report onboard a KLM Boeing 777.


4. Westin Hotels & Resorts debuts in Maldives

Westin Hotels & Resorts announced the opening of the brand’s first hotel in the Republic of Maldives, the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort. Developed by Belluna Co. Ltd, Japan and Asia Capital PLC, Sri Lanka, the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort heralds the Westin brand’s wellness positioning in the Maldivian oasis. Nestled on a beautiful coral island in the Baa Atoll, a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve site, guests of the Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort will experience a tranquil escape with uninterrupted ocean and pristine turquoise lagoon views. All elements of the resort’s design take inspiration from the environment from the use of natural materials, such as unique shells to the movement and flow of marine life including sea turtles and whale sharks, providing guests with a link to the region’s exceptional enchantment. The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort features 70 villas and suites, 41 on island and 29 overwater. The property features 3 dining venues and a Westin’s signature branded spa concept, the Heavenly Spa by Westin.


5. Nordic carrier Primera Air abruptly ceases operations

On October 2nd, Nordic carrier Primera Air grounded all its flights and entered bankruptcy. The carrier began scheduled operations in 2009, although it had only recently expanded into the low-cost, long-haul market, with the launch and announcement of flights between between the USA East Coast and London, Brussels, Berlin and Madrid. The airline blames the bankruptcy on the late delivery of Airbus A320 neo aircraft. Passengers were stranded in airports all over the world, with the following statement on the carrier’s website being the only communication from the company:

Dear Passengers,

Airline Primera Air and IATA codes PF and 6F have been suspended as of today, October 2nd, 2018. On behalf of Primera Air team, we would like to thank you for your loyalty. On this sad day we are saying Goodbye to all of you. Please visit primeraair.com for further updates in next few days. Tour Operator passengers are kindly suggested to address their Tour Operators and Agents for further information and actions.

Kindly understand that the usual options for contacts (via email or phone) can not be offered any longer.

Sincerely yours.

Primera Air team


6. Hyatt acquires Two Road Hospitality

Hyatt Hotels announced an agreement to acquire Two Roads Hospitality, an international lifestyle hotel management company with a unique collection of distinctive brands, properties and a robust development pipeline around the globe. Through the addition of Two Roads, its established lifestyle brands and the management agreements for the majority of its 85 properties in eight countries, Hyatt will expand its brand presence into 23 new markets while enhancing its offerings in lifestyle hotel experiences and wellbeing. With Two Roads and its distinctive collection of lifestyle hotels, resorts and vacation residences, Hyatt will offer an expanded and more powerful portfolio of brands with best-in-class offerings to deliver compelling experiences and benefits for guests and World of Hyatt members, expand its relationship with valued hotel owners, and drive growth for shareholders. While Two roads Hospitality may sound unfamiliar to most of you, it does have several wel know hotel brands in its portfolio (which is fantastic news for World of Hyatt members), such as all Alila Hotels (with spectacular hotels in Indonsia and Oman, among others) and Thompson Hotels. Below, you can watch one of my older clips, featuring a full tour of the spectacular Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel in Oman.


7. British Airways starts flying to Charlestone

From April 4, 2019, British Airways will launch a two-per-week summer service with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner from Heathrow, Terminal 5 and will be the only airline flying direct between Europe and the southern USA city. The new route will take the number of US destinations the airline flies to from London next summer up to 29, and the number of daily flights offered by British Airways and American Airlines as part of their transatlantic joint business up to around 73 per day. The airline is also launching a four per week service to Pittsburgh from April 2019. Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said: “You can’t help but get sucked in to the old-world charm of Charleston; its cobblestone streets, colourful houses and historical buildings make it a unique city. Recently we launched flights to Nashville and New Orleans and earlier this year announced a new route to Pittsburgh. Travelling to the states is as popular as ever, so we’re really pleased to be adding this charming city to our extensive global network and giving customers even more choice of holiday destinations.” Boeing has a factory in Charleston where they are currently building the 787-10 Dreamliner. British Airways will take delivery of 12 new Boeing 787-10s between 2020 and 2023. Below is my clip of Busines Class flight experience onboard British Airways’ B787.


8. Six Senses Krabey Island in Cambodia premiers in December

Six Senses – one of my favorite hotel brands in the world – announced that reservations are being accepted at Six Senses Krabey Island following confirmation that the resort is on track for its scheduled opening. Six Senses Krabey Island is set on a 30-acre (12-hectare) private tropical island located 3 miles (5 kilometers) off Ream National Park in southern Cambodia. The resort will features 40 private pool villas that exemplify a commitment to using sustainable materials while embracing modern technology for guest wellness and comfort. The villas’ highlights will include green living roofs, sun decks with infinity plunge pools and rain showers. The resort will includes two unique restaurants with menus focused on quality local produce and seasonality to create Khmer and Southeast Asian cuisine together with international dishes. There will also be a sunset bar and an ice cream parlor. The expansive Six Senses spa is inspired by the sacred Khmer Kbal Spean River and will offer a wide range of holistic rejuvenation and beauty treatments plus Six Senses Integrated Wellness.


9. Miami will gets its first Waldorf Astoria hotel

The Waldorf Astoria brand will enter the Miami market at 300 Biscayne Boulevard in Downtown Miami. The Waldorf Astoria Hotel & Residences Miami will consist of a five-star hotel, private residences, retail and top culinary destinations. Rising 1,049 ft (320 m) above Biscayne Bay as one of the tallest hotel and residential towers along the East Coast, the exemplary architecture is set to transform the Miami skyline. The development was designed by architect Sieger Suarez and conceptual architect Carlos Ott. The project is a joint venture between the New York-based Property Markets Group (PMG), Toronto’s Greybrook Realty Partners and the Miami-based S2 Development. “We are thrilled to bring the rich history and heritage of this hotel brand to Miami,” said Ryan Shear, principal of PMG. “The city continues to thrive as a top global destination with increasing arts, culture, tourism, fashion and luxury brands. This partnership is a major milestone for Miami’s real estate and hospitality industries.”

Waldorf Astoria Miami


10. St Regis debuts in Zhuhai, China’s premier tourist destination

Overlooking the stunning Wanzai shoreline and just a short ferry ride from bustling Macau, The St. Regis Zuhai occupies floors 41 to 72 of the Zhuhai Tower, the city’s newest landmark in the business district. Palm tree-lined coastlines and easy access to alluring islands have made Zhuhai a popular travel destination, while its location on the west bank of the Pearl River Delta has made it a key economic city in Southern China. The hotel features 251 elegant guest rooms, including 34 suites and a 1,100 square-meter presidential suite. All guest rooms have panoramic views of the waterways of the Greater Bay area, as well as the historical landscapes and bridge structures of Macau and Zhuhai. Designed by Wilson Associates, each guest room features glamourous touches, including a diamond pattern which pays tribute to the brand’s founding patroness, Caroline Astor, who loved the precious stone. The hotel offers an epicurean journey in its five distinctive restaurants and bars, guided by Ramon Turmo, a veteran of luxury hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. There’s also an Iridium Spa on the 68th floor.


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Top 10 most stunningly beautiful hotels in Indonesia

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (October 22, 2018): Top 10 most stunningly beautiful hotels in Indonesia. 

Located on the volcanic Ring of Fire in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is a beguiling nation of over 17,000 islands known as tropical idylls, whose individual landscapes and heritage reveal extraordinary beauty. Venturing across Indonesia, you’ll encounter a wealth of UNESCO protected sites, religious celebrations, exhilarating wildlife and dramatic landscapes that are as diverse as the people who inhabit the country. More than 500 languages and dialects are spoken by its more than 250 million inhabitants, which makes Indonesia’s the world’s 4th most populous nation. The country’s wide range of attractions provides an endless resource for adventurous trekking, cultural itineraries, scuba diving, or just lounging by a pool in a five-star resort. Here’s my list of the 10 most amazing luxury hotels in Indonesia.

There is more information (with Youtube clips) below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Indonesian hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!

Click to view slideshow.

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10. THE OBEROI LOMBOK

Located on the enchanting Medana Bay, with exclusive beach access and sunset views of Bali’s volcanic Mount Agung, The Oberoi Lombok is unique amongst luxury hotels in Lombok. Spanning twenty four acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, the resort is abundant with towering indigenous trees, flaming bougainvillea and also boasts a spectacular infinity pool. Accommodation is divided between thatched villas and pavilions, all of which are afforded breathtaking ocean and lush garden views. The resort’s open air, thatched dining spaces serve fine international cuisine, local delicacies and Lombok coffee, complimented by live, traditional music and Balinese dance.

Following the  the devastating earthquake on 5th August, 2018, The Oberoi Lombok received cosmetic (but not structural) damage and is temporarily closed for renovations (but will reopen soon).

THE OBEROI LOMBOK


9. ALILA PURNAMA, KOMODO ISLAND

The Alila Purnama –  translated as The Full Moon – is one of the most luxurious liveaboard Phinisi ships in Asia and an ideal choice for those looking for an exciting cruise in Indonesia. Classing itself as 6 star hotel standard, this floating property provides ultra-modern and relaxing accommodation for up to ten guests. Handcrafted in the traditional style of a Phinisi, the 46 m (150 ft) long Alila Purnama consists of three decks, 4 double deluxe suites and 1 master suite with a private deck. In keeping with Alila’s emphasis on style and sustainability, the furniture throughout the ship is custom-made from teak, rattan and other locally sourced materials from Indonesia.

ALILA PURNAMA, KOMO ISLANDS


8. SIX SENSES ULUWATU, BALI

The newly opened Six Senses Uluwatu Resort is set in Pecatu in the southernmost tip of Bali which is the home of “Pura Uluwatu”, the sacred temple considered one of the island’s core spiritual pillars. The beautiful cliff-top Balinese-inspired Uluwatu resort offers uninterrupted ocean views from every angle. The resort comprises 103 suites and villas, inspired by local design, embracing nature and offering every creature comfort. The Six Senses Spa features locally inspired specialty treatments, multi-day integrated wellness programs and complimentary morning yoga sessions. The resort features multiple swimming pools, an open air event venue, function space, three restaurants including a chef’s table, a cooking school and an extensive organic garden and farm.

SIX SENSES ULUWATU, BALI


7. AMANWANA, MOYO ISLAND

Mother Nature is allowed full reign across the 36,000 hectares of nature reserve that make up private Moyo Island, in the coral-rich Flores Sea. Here in this wildlife lover’s paradise, Amanwana has set up camp, with 20 safari tents amid the rainforest or on the shore. Low-impact and eco-friendly, the tents are nonetheless equipped with hardwood floors and soaring, air-conditioned canopies sheltering sumptuous daybeds, ensuite bathrooms and net-draped kingsize beds. Visits from friendly macaques and inquisitive deer are not uncommon, and hint at the abundance of nature to be found further inland, or out to sea. Amanwana is also the ideal base for sailing expeditions in search of the Komodo Dragonon onboard the Aman group’s luxurious Phinisi cruisers.

  • Hotel website: Amanwana
  • Other accolades: Amanwana features in my top 10 list of the world’s most luxurious glamping resorts.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and a 60 minute massage for 2).

AMANWANA, MOYO ISLAND


6. BAWAH PRIVATE ISLAND

Located just 150 nautical miles north-east of Singapore, and easily accessible via private seaplane, this untouched beauty of 6 islands offers a whole new destination to discerning travelers. A playground of over 300 hectares, 3 crystal blue lagoons, 13 powder white beaches, lush jungle canopy for trekking and more importantly a philosophy of environmental and conservation policies, Bawah Island is a project of love to integrate people with nature and sets the benchmark for future destinations around the region. Taking the route that “less means more”, Bawah Private Island only accepts a maximum of 70 guest at any one time; The 35 safari-style tented villas offer the privacy of your own home but also invite you to enjoy the nature that surrounds Bawah Island.

BAWAH PRIVATE ISLAND


5. MANDAPA, A RITZ-CARLTON RESERVE, BALI

Deriving its name from the Sanskrit word for “temple,” Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, stands as a tropical shrine dedicated to the self. Fronting the Ayung River near the Ubud jungle, the hotel replicates a traditional Balinese village, complete with working rice paddies. Showcasing the architecture and craftsmanship of the area, each of the 60 luxury suites and villas features a private outdoor space (some of them with pools) with views of the river or surrounding scenery. Four restaurants serve health-conscious cuisine sourced from the organic garden, although you can also arrange a romantic dinner overlooking the river or rice terrace. The spa offers a variety of programs focused on physical and spiritual well-being.


4. FOUR SEASONS RESORT BALI AT JIMBARAN BAY, BALI

Designed as a traditional Balinese village, this luxurious all-villa enclave spreads across 14 hectares (35 acres) of oceanfront in Bali, giving resort guests direct access to the beach right at sea level. The resort offers 147 villas set amid lush tropical gardens. The luxurious villas – each with a private plunge pool – terrace down a hillside woven with brilliant flowers and Balinese temples. Here, you can steep yourself in local island culture, unwind with holistic spa treatments and enjoy a wide range of dining options, including the beachfront Sundara restaurant. More sensory delights await at open-air Taman Wantilan restaurant, where theatre-style dining is presented by a brigade of specialty chefs at nine culinary exhibitions or show kitchens.

  • Hotel websiteFour Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
  • Other accolades: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay also features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Bali.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Review: read my review of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay here.

3. AMANKILA, BALI

Mount Agung provides a dramatic backdrop for Amankila (peaceful hill), a secluded seaside resort overlooking the Lombok Strait and managed by Aman Resorts, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand. The 34 free-standing thatched-roof suites. offer exceptional views from their hillside locations, and are connected to the resort’s facilities by raised walkways. Guests can relax around the signature three-tiered pool or at the beach club on Amankila’s beach, with its silverblack sands and turquoise waters. What separates Amankila from other luxury Bali hotels is that it is situated in Karangasem, one of Bali’s most traditional regencies, offering easy access to untouched rural countryside, local crafts and the region’s royal past.

AMANKILA, BALI


2. NIHI SUMBA, SUMBA ISLAND

Awarded the #1 Hotel in the World by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2016 and 2017, Nihi Sumba is for travelers who seek a new type of luxury: activity-driven experiences, cultural immersion, freedom and fun. Located on Indonsia’s remote Sumba island, the resort offers private access to one of the world’s best left-hand breaks for surfers. The 28 villas, crafted by local artisans using native teak and rattan, feature expansive outdoor rooms and private plunge pools. Excursions take you to villages and ancient sites. Here, you can go on a spa safari, go horseback riding or swim beneath a waterfall. Dining experiences include beach picnics, dinner under the stars and weekly themed events.

  • Hotel website: Nihi Sumba
  • Other accolades: Nihi Sumba features in my top 10 list of the world’s best eco-friendly luxury hotels.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and a 50-minute massage for up to two people).

NIHI SUMBA, SUMBA ISLAND


1. AMANJIWO, BOROBODUR, JAVA

Framed by emerald-green rice plains and the peaks of the Menoreh Hills in rural Central Java, Amanjiwo lies within view of the mystical stupas of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple and a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Buddhist monument directly informs the design of Amanjiwo, a temple-like hideaway with a towering domed roof, colonnades and walls built of local blush-beige paras stone. Here, guests intersperse days of sightseeing – at serene Borobudur, bustling Yogyakarta or any number of vibrant villages – with spells of relaxation at Amanjiwo’s spa, the 40 m (130 ft) pool, and the majestic open-air restaurant.

  • Hotel website: Amanjiwo
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and one lunch or dinner for 2).
  • Review: coming soon.

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Review of KrisFlyer, the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (October 19, 2018): Review of KrisFlyer, the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines.

I have previously published reviews (with pros and con) of the following frequent flyer programs: AAdvantage (American Airlines), Flying Blue (KLM & Air France), Mileage Plan (Alaska Airlines) and Miles& More (Lufthansa). Today, I have an in-depth look at KrisFlyer, the frequent flyer program of Singapore Airlines. KrisFlyer allows you to earn and redeem miles on Singapore Airlines and its partners, including all Star Alliance members, SilkAir, Alaska Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and numerous hotel chains and car-hire companies. Although the program has devaluated over the past couple of years, it still has a reputation as one of the best loyalty schemes in Asia (especially for those that want to book an award seat in Singapore Airlines’ premium cabin) and also features some unique benefits that are of interest to frequent flyers across the globe (e.g. waitisting for award seats, transferring points from most major credit cards, etc …).

What is your opinion about KrisFlyer? Leave a comment below.

In this overview, I explain the KrisFlyer program and how to benefit from it:

  1. KrisFlyer elite levels
  2. How to earn KrisFlyer miles in the air
  3. How the earn KrisFlyer miles on the ground
  4. How to spend KrisFlyer miles (and travel for free)
  5. Best and worst KrisFlyer redemptions
  6. Pros & things I like about KrisFlyer
  7. Cons & things I don’t like aboutKrisFlyer
  8. Poll: what’s the world’s best frequent flyer program?

SINGAPORE AIRLINES A380


1. KRISFLYER ELITE LEVELS

There are only two elite levels that you can work your way up to in the KrisFlyer loyalty program. KrisFlyer Elite Silver is the first level, and KrisFlyer Elite Gold the top level. Both levels have their benefits and as you move from KrisFlyer Elite Silver to Gold, these benefits become more valuable. Membership level is determined by the number of ‘Elite miles’ you fly with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Vistara, and/or any Star Alliance airline (more on that below).

These are the benefits you enjoy with KrisFlyer after reaching elite status:

  1. KrisFlyer Elite Silver is awarded after earning 25,000 Elite miles within a 12 consecutive month period. KrisFlyer Silver members are equivalent to Silver status members in Star Alliance and enjoy the following benefits:
    • 25% bonus on KrisFlyer Miles earned on flights flown with Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Virgin Atlantic.
    • Priority reservation waitlist and airport standby for flights on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir or any Star Alliance partner airline (does not apply to award flights).
    • Waived or reduced KrisFlyer service fees.
  2. KrisFlyer Elite Gold is awarded after earning 50,000 Elite miles within a 12 consecutive month period. KrisFlyer Gold members are equivalent to Gold status members in Star Alliance and enjoy the following benefits in addition to Krisflyer Elite Silver membership benefits:
    • Access to Star Alliance Gold lounge when flying any Star Alliance partner airline. Elite Gold members may invite one guest traveling on the same itinerary.
    • Virgin Australia Lounge access when traveling on Virgin Australia. Elite Gold members may invite one guest traveling on the same itinerary.
    • Extra baggage allowance for flights on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and Star Alliance partner flights.
    • Priority airport check-in.
    • Priority boarding
    • Priority baggage handling.


2. HOW TO EARN KRISFLYER MILES IN THE AIR

KrisFlyer lets you earn two types of miles: ‘Elite miles’, which determine your status, and ‘Krisflyer miles’, which can be exchanged for a variety of rewards.

Elite miles determine your status level and are derived from the actual miles flown, plus any applicable booking class bonuses earned on tickets that are eligible to earn miles. Elite miles are earned when flying with:

  • Singapore Airlines and its subsidiary SilkAir
  • All Star Alliance airlines: Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca/TACA Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Portugal, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines.
  • Virgin Atlantic (on transatlantic routes only)
  • Virgin Australia (flights within Australia, trans-Tasman and between Australia and the Pacific Islands only)
  • Vistara (flight within India only)

You can determine the number of Elite miles you will earn using KrisFlyer’s online calculator or using the table below:

Cabin Class Booking Class Earning Rate
First Class F, A 200%
Business Z, C, J
U, D
150%
125%
Premium Economy S, T
P, R
125%
100%
Economy Y, B, E
M, H, W
Q, N, V, K
100%
75%
50%

So when you want to reach status within the KrisFlyer program, it’s very important that you purchase tickets in the correct fare class. The earning rates vary and some booking classes won’t earn you miles at all. Elite miles only determine your elite status within the KrisFlyer proram and they cannot be exchanged for any rewards.

KrisFlyer miles are earned in addition to Elite miles when flying Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, Star Alliance partner airlines and non-alliance partner airlines such as Alaska Airlines/Virgin America, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, JetBlue and Vistara. Contrary to Elite miles, KrisFlyer miles can be exchanged for a wide variety of great rewards (more on that below). The number of KrisFlyer miles you earn depends on your elite status within the KrisFlyer program, the airline you fly, and your booking class. The full KrisFlyer mileage accrual chart for both Singapore Airlines and its partner airlines can be found here.


3. HOW TO EARN KRISFLYER MILES ON THE GROUND

The possibility to earn KrisFlyer miles (but not Elite miles) on the ground are endless:

  • Each time you stay in a hotel which partners with KrisFlyer, you can earn miles. Krisflyer partners with almost all big hotel chains, such as Marriott, Shangri-La, Hilton, Mandarin Oriental, Fairmont, Kempinski, InterContinental, and AccorHotels to name a few. A stay at a hotel will mostly earn you around 500 to 1000 KrisFlyer miles. All you need to do is present your Krisflyer membership number at check-in.
  • Several hotel loyalty programs allow you to convert your hotel points into KrisFlyer miles. These programs include Hilton Honors, World of Hyatt, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards,  Shangri-La Golden Circle, Radisson Rewards, and AccorHotels (you can read my reviews with pros and cons of most of these hotel loyalty programs here). Marriott Rewards – the loyalty program of the Marriott Hotel Group – has the best conversion program as it allows you to convert Marriott Points to KrisFlyer award redeemable miles on a 3:1 basis, including a 5000 conversion bonus when you convert 60,000 Marriott Points.
  • KrisFlyer members earn award redeemable miles every time they rent a car with one of the major car rental companies, including Herz, Avis, Budget, Sixt, and Europcar. The exact number of miles you earn for a car rental depends on the company and ranges from 50 to 500 miles per day.
  • KrisFlyer allows its members to earn miles with several retail partners, such as Chic Outlet Shopping, Club 21, F1 Auto Cars, and all shops at Heathrow Airport and Singapore Changi Airport.
  • KrisFlyer allows its members to earn miles with several financial service partners, such as AIG, HSBC, Bank of China, National Australia Bank and Bank Danamon to name a few.
  • Members can dramatically increase their KrisFlyer mileage earning with credit card spending:  
    • Krisflyer is a 1:1 transfer partner with the following top travel credit card rewards programs: American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou. Holders of Chase Sapphire, Ink Business Preferred, Amex Platinum, Amex Premier Rewards Gold, Citi Prestige, Amex SPG can transfer points directly into their KrisFlyer account in 1,000 point increments. The transfer time for these programs varies but transfers usually take place within 24 hours. Unfortunately, this option is only available to residents of selected countries (including the USA).
    • KrisFlyer miles can be earned with co-branded credit cards, which are only available in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan. Citizens of these countries can apply here for a Krisflyer credit card.

4. HOW TO SPEND KRISFLYER MILES ON FREE TRAVEL
  • KrisFlyer miles are best used for award travel on Singapore Airlines’ own flights, especially in premium cabins. This includes award travel on Singapore Airlines’ brand new Airbus A380 First Class Suites, which can only be booked with KrisFlyer Miles. The number of miles you need for travel on Sinagpore Airlines and its subsidiary SilkAir can be checked here. Two types of awards can be booked on Singapore Airlines:
    • Regular awards – called ‘advantage awards‘ by Singapore Airlines – are more frequently available but they are also the most expensive award redemptions. In fact, KrisFlyer charges an insane amount of miles for a regular award, so I recommend not to book them (unless you have no other choice and tons of miles to burn). For example, a one way First Class redemption between Singapore and Europe or the USA will cost you 210,000 miles.
    • Singapore Airlines also releases a limited number of ‘saver awards‘ on selected routes (sometimes in advance, sometimes last-minute). Saver awards require fewer KrisFlyer (e.g. 115,000 miles between Europe and Singapore or 118,000 miles between the USA and Singapore) but they are very popular and have limited availability.
  • KrisFlyer miles can also be redeemed for award travel on Star Alliance airlines and non-alliance partner airlines such as Alaska Airlines/Virgin America,  Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and Vistara. KrisFlyer operates different award charts for travel on its partner airlines:
    • View here the Star Alliance award chart
    • View here the Alaska Airlines award chart
    • View here the Virgin Atlantic award chart
    • View here the Virgin Australia award chart
    • View here the Vistara award chart
  • KrisFlyer miles can also be redeemed for flight upgrades on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, and all Star Alliance airline members. Upgrade award tickets are offered on a one-class upgrade basis and double upgrades are not permitted, so upgrades from Economy Class to Business Class are only applicable to flights without Premium Economy Class. Also, only one segment of the trip in an eligible booking class can be upgraded at a time. Eligibility for an upgrade depends on the booked commercial class (the cheapest fares are often not eligible for an upgrade) and availability of an award seat (the seats that are made available for an upgrade award are the same ones as those can be booked using your miles).
    • View here the number of miles you need for an upgrade on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir (with a choice between regular and saver upgrade awards).
    • View here the number of miles you need for an upgrade on a Star Alliance carrier.
  • KrisFlyer miles can also be used as cash when you book a flight on Scoot, Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary. You can use your KrisFlyer miles to pay for airfares, taxes and selected ancillaries for Scoot operated itineraries when booking on FlyScoot.com, starting from as little as 1,050 KrisFlyer miles.
  • If you don’t have enough miles for an award ticket or a flight upgrade, you can mix KrisFlyer miles and cash on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir operated flights. You simply go through the usual booking process on singaporeair.com, and choose KrisFlyer miles as your currency at the payment stage. If you have enough miles, you can choose to pay for the whole fare, including airport taxes and surcharges, with your miles. You can also use your miles to pay for seat selections and pre-purchase additional baggage allowance. Otherwise, starting from just 980 miles, you can use your miles to reduce what you pay using your credit/debit card. This applies for yourself or any of your redemption nominees.
  • KrisFlyer partners with Make-A-Wish Singapore to fulfil the wishes of children with life threatening illnesses. So instead of spending them on free travel, you can als donate your miles to a meaningful cause. Every mile received goes to the beneficiaries of Make-A-Wish Singapore.
  • KrisFlyer also allows its members to turn their miles into a digital wallet – called KrisPay – that can be used for instant purchases right from your mobile phone. KrisPay can be used for everyday spend such as your petrol purchases at selected Esso service stations, M1, Challenger and many more participating partners. All you need to do is to downoad the KrisPay app from the App store or Gogle Pay, login with your KrisFlyer membership number and PIN, transfer your miles from KrisFlyer to KrisPay, and pay for your purchases instantly by scanning the QR code at any participating outlet.
  • Your KrisFlyer miles can be used for shopping on KrisShop, the online shopping portal of KrisFlyer. You can either mix miles and cash to pay for your purchases on KrisShop or redeem for your item in full with your KrisFlyer miles. Every 125 KrisFlyer miles gives you approximately $1 SGD in spend, subject to a minimum usage of 1,000 KrisFlyer miles per transaction. And if you choose to mix miles and cash to pay for your KrisShop purchases, you will also earn 1.5 KrisFlyer miles for every $1 SGD you pay with your credit or debit card.
  • You can use your KrisFlyer miles for hotel stays and car rentals on KrisFlyer vRooms, KrisFlyer’s online hotel and car rental booking engine. KrisFlyer miles and cash can be mixed to pay for over 300,000 hotels and 29,000 car rental locations worldwide for your next road trip, subject to a minimum usage of 1,500 KrisFlyer miles per transaction.
  • KrisFlyer allows its members to convert miles to points in the loyalty program of Shangri-La Hotels – called Golden Circle – where they can be redeemed for spa and dining vouchers, free room nights and upgrades at any Shangri-La hotel and resort, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel or Hotel Jen worldwide. Members receive 1 GC Award Point for every 12 KrisFlyer miles converted. A minimum of 20,000 KrisFlyer miles is required for each conversion. Please note that all miles converted cannot be reversed.
  • KrisFlyer members can transfer miles to Velocity Frequent Flyer, the frequent flyer program of Virgin Australia. This gives KrisFlyer members access to upgrades and reward seats across the domestic and international Virgin Australia network as well as non-flight redemption rewards in the Velocity Rewards Store. You receive 1 Velocity Point for every 1.55 KrisFlyer miles converted, and Velocity Points are credited directly to your Velocity Frequent Flyer account from then. A minimum of 5,000 KrisFlyer miles is required for each conversion. Please note that all miles converted cannot be reversed, and that you need to be residing in Australia, New Zealand or one of the Pacific Islands to be a Velocity Frequent Flyer member.

BEST AND WORST KRISFLYER REDEMPTIONS 

IMHO, the best way to spend your KirsFlyer miles is to use them for a saver award seat in Singapore Airlines’ A380 First Class suites, which are only offered on selected routes. If you want to fly the new A380 First Class product, you have to keep an eye out for award availability on the following routes to/from London, Sydney, Zürich, Shanghai, and Hong Kong:

  • SQ221 Singapore (8:20 pm departure) to Sydney (5:55 am arrival; + 1 day)
  • SQ232 Sydney (11:00 am departure) to Singapore (5:30 pm arrival)
  • SQ322 Singapore (11:30 pm departure) to London (5:55 am)
  • SQ317 London (11:25 am departure) to Singapore (7:30 am arrival; + 1 day)
  • SQ856 Singapore (9:55 am departure) to Hong Kong (1:55 pm arrival)
  • SQ861 Hong Kong (3:40 pm departure) to Singapore (7:35 pm arrival)
  • SQ830 Singapore (9:45 am departure) to Shanghai (3:05 pm arrival)
  • SQ833 Shanghai (4:50 pm departure) to Singapore (10:20 pm arrival)
  • SQ346 Singapore (1:25 am departure) to Zurich (8:15 am arrival)
  • SQ345 Zurich (11:45 am departure) to Singapore (5:55 am arrival; +1 day)

If you want to experience the new Singapore Airlines A380 First Class product with the least amount of miles, then you have to book a flight between Singapore and Hong Kong: this 4 hour journey will cost you 70,000 regular Krisflyer miles or ‘only’ 37,500 saver award Krisflyer miles.

One other Singapore Airlines A380 route worth mentioning is the Frankfurt to/from New York route. Although this route is currently still operated by A380s with the the old layout, it’s the most affordable First Class route in Singapore Airlines’ longhaul offerings, costing 130,000 regular Krisflyer miles or ‘only’ 70,000 saver award Krisflyer miles (almost half the number of miles required for Singapore Airlines’ other intercontinental flights).

KrisFlyer has some other sweet spots for award travel on its partner airlines. For example:

  1. Travel on Alsaka Airlines from the west coast to Hawaii is only 12,000 KrisFlyer miles each way in Economy Class.
  2. Travel from Australia or New Zealand to Tahiti or Fiji on Air New Zealand is only 12,500 KrisFlyer miles each way for Economy Class or 28,000 KrisFlyer miles each way for Business Class.

As mentioned above, the worst way to spend Krisflyer miles is to use them for a regular award (= advantage award) in Singapore Airlines’s First Class cabin, since that would cost you an insane amount of miles, almost twice as much as a saver award. Also try to avoid a First Class award on a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777, not that this is a bad experience, but it is definitely a step down from Singapore Airlines’ A380 First Class offering (which costs the same).


PROS & THINGS I LIKE ABOUT KRISFLYER
  • Being one of the largest frequent flyer programs in Asia, KrisFlyer offers a wide range of flights to earn or redeem miles. This includes flights operated by Singapore Airlines, its subsidiary SilkAir, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Vistara, and all Star Alliance partners (Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Avianca/TACA Airlines, Copa Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, SAS, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, and United Airlines). It means that you can earn and spend your miles with dozens of airlines to more than 1,000 destinations worldwide.
  • The single best value of the KrisFlyer program are the saver awards, which allow you to book award redemptions on flights operated by Singapore Airlines and SilkAir for almost 50% off the regular number of required miles. Saver awards are only released on selected routes, sometimes in advance, sometimes last-minute.
  • KrisFlyer has a very unique feature for redeeming points on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir. When an award seat is not available on your requested flight, you will sometimes be offered the choice to be waitlisted for that award, whether it’s a regular award or a saver award. If Singapore Airlines later decides to make that seat bookable using KrisFlyer points, you’ll be the first in line to snag it and you’ll be contacted by the carrier by email and/or text message to confirm the booking within a certain time frame (mostly two or three days). The good news is that being waitlisted does not implicate any obligation or financial loss: after the seat becomes available, it’s up to you whether you book it or not and only then will your credit card details be needed. So, in theory, you can get waitlisted for as many flights as you want, hoping that one will becoming available closer to your departure date.
  • Singapore Airlines is one of the few airlines that does not add fuel surcharges.
  • Elite status can be achieved based on the Elite miles you earn during a 12 month membership year, rather than just the calendar year.
  • KrisFlyer members can use their miles for people they know. You can pick up to five people as your redemption nominees, and use your KrisFlyer miles to book award tickets and flight upgrades for them. Anyone can be your redemption nominee – your family, friends, colleagues or neighbours. However, once you add someone, you can’t change them for six months. While adding names is free, deleting them will cost you miles or money.
  • KrisFlyer makes far more award space available on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir to their own members than they do to partner airlines.
  • An award seat in Singapore Airlines’ famous A380 First Class suites can only be booked via KrisFlyer as the carrier does not make A380 First Class award seats available to its Star Alliance partners.
  • Members who have at least 50% of the KrisFlyer miles needed to redeem an award ticket may purchase up to a maximum of 50% of the remaining KrisFlyer miles needed for that award. KrisFlyer miles can be purchased during the online redemption booking process for flights on Singapore Airlines or SilkAir, or by calling KrisFlyer Membership Services.
  • KrisFlyer allows one way award tickets.
  • KrisFlyer allows a stop-over on award tickets (although restrictions apply; more on that below in the cons).
  • KrisFlyer allows open jaw award tickets (although restrictions apply; more on that below in the cons). For example, you can fly into Singapore and out of Hong Kong.
  • Singapore Airlines has some of the most reasonable fees in the industry. Changes to flights, dates, routes or carriers , or cancellation of a booking with redeposition of your miles will cost you a moderately priced fee.
Fees for redemption award tickets SAVER (USD) ADVANTAGE (USD)
Change of date on Singapore Airlines / SilkAir 25 0
Change of route, cabin class or award type on Singapore Airlines / SilkAir 25 25
Change of date, route, flight or carrier on partner airlines 50 Not applicable
Redeposit of miles for award tickets / upgrades* 75 50

CONS & THINGS I DON’T LIKE ABOUT KRISFLYER
  • Although KrisFlyer doesn’t add fuel surcharges to their own flights, they do add fuel surcharges to partner airlines’ flights (when the operating carrier imposes them). For example, most European and Asian carriers will add fuel surcharges to their award flights and they are quite hefty. But other airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Copa and Virgin America do not. United Airlines does not add fuel surcharges to award flights within North America (including Hawaii) and Air Canada flights within North America do not incur fuel surcharges either.
  • Saver awards on Singapore Airlines’ new A380 First Class product are rarely released, although I can assure you that my First Class trip from London to Singapore was booked last-minute via a saver award.
  • Advantage awards for First Class seats on longhaul flights are way too expensive.
  • KrisFlyer’s routing rules are very strict. A few examples:
    • Travel must be via a published route (meaning you must be able to buy that route from an airline’s website)
    • Backtracking is not permitted except as required by route restrictions. Backtracking occurs when a journey does not continue in the same direction in which it began. An itinerary containing a backtracking sector not required by route restrictions may require separate tickets.
    • Award travel on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir can be ticketed as one itinerary. But ward travel on all other participating airlines is ticketed separately.
    • The validity and number of complimentary stopovers available depends on the award ticket type, although additional stopovers are permitted at USD100 each, regardless of the class of service.
Saver Awards Advantage Awards
One-Way No stopover 1 stopover
Round Trip 1 stopover 2 stopovers
Validity of award tickets 12 months 12 months

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Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class Bali to Singapore

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java & Bali. You can read my reviews here:


Today (October 16, 2018): Review of Singapore Airlines’ B787 Dreamliner Business Class from Bali to Singapore.

On July 27th 2018, I flew Business Class in a brand new Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner of Singapore Airlines (SQ) from Bali Ngurah Rai Airport (DPS) to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). Last March, SQ was the world’s first airline to take delivery of Boeing’s newest aircraft Dreamliner variant, the B787-10. With 49 firm orders, SQ is set to become the largest customer for the 787-10. SQ’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot is already an operator of both B787-8s and B787-9s, making SQ the first airline group in the world to operate all three variants of Boeing’s Dreamliner family of aircraft. SQ has installed a new type of regional Business Class layout and seat on its Dreamliner fleet, which I found to be very comfortable and definitely a step up from it subpar A330 Business Class product. SQ’s B787-10s are used for flights up to eight hours, with current destinations including Osaka, Perth, Bali, Bangkok, Tokyo and Ho Chi Minh City.

SQ features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the best airlines for longhaul First Class, the most luxurious A380 First Class products, the world’s best airlines for in-flight meals, and the best First Class amenity kits.

Have you ever flown SQ’s B787 Business Class? What was your experience? Leave a comment below.

  • Trip: Bali (DEN) to Singapore (SIN)
  • Airline: Singapore Airlines (SQ)
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner
  • Aircraft registration number: 9V-SCF
  • Flight Number: SQ943
  • Date: July 27, 208
  • On time departure: yes (1.30 pm)
  • On time arrival: yes (4 pm)
  • Miles: 1040
  • Flight time: 2 hours & 30 minutes
  • Seat: 19A
  • Class: Business

In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Premier Lounge at Bali Airport
  3. Facts & figures about SQ’s B787
  4. Business Class cabin
  5. Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  6. Amenities
  7. Meals
  8. Entertainment
  9. Onboard internet
  10. Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
  11. My verdict (score)

Click to view slideshow.

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1. COST OF MY TICKET

I paid 17,500 KrisFleyer miles + $21 SGD (Singaporian dollar) for the one way journey from Bali to Singapore. KrisFlyer is the frequent flyer program of SQ.


2. PREMIER LOUNGE AT BALI AIRPORT

Since SQ doesn’t have its own lounge at Bali Airport, its Business Class passengers as wells as elite members of its frequent flyer program have access to the Premier Lounge, which is a contract lounge used by many other airlines as well (e.g. Air New Zealand, Air Niugini, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, EVA Air, HongKong Airlines, Jetstar, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, NAM Air, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Royal Brunei, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, Sriwijaya Air, and Thai Airways). The Premier Lounge is one of only three lounges within the international terminal (the other two being T/G and Garuda). All three lounges are located next to each other on a mezzanine level above the main departure hall.

The Premier Lounge is basically a large room comprising several seating areas that are spread around three wood beams. There are several types of seat to choose from, ranging from basic chairs to red circular sectional sofas. One side of the lounge features floor-to-ceiling windows offering a view of the interior of the departure hall. Since the lounge opened less than 3 years ago, the interior is still fairly new looking, although the design – mixing modern elements with traditional Balinese artefacts – is a little tacky IMHO and there are several sign of tear and wear. Two buffet stations take center stage at the lounge, offering a decent but otherwise unremarkable selection of cold and hot items (including both Western and Asian dishes). There’s also a bar where you can order the ‘special of the day’. Other facilities at the lounge include a business center, a meeting room, a kid’s room, and showers. The only real issue I had the with the lounge (apart from its rather unattractive decor and uninspiring food) is that the place gets very crowded since it only offers a limited amount of seats for number of airlines (and passengers) it serves.

BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE

BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE

BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE
BALI AIRPORT: PREMIER LOUNGE

3. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT SQ’S B787 
  • The B787-10 is constructed using lightweight composite materials.
  • Its length of 68 m (223 ft) makes the B787-10 the longest variant of the Boeing Dreamliner family of aircraft.
  • The plane uses 25% less fuel per passenger compared to other, older aircraft of similar size.
  • The B787-10 is 8 decibels quieter during departure and takeoff compared to other aircraft.
  • The B787-10’s unique Smoother Ride Technology features “smart sensors” that detect turbulence and are designed to reduce motion sickness eightfold.
  • The B787-10’s flight range is 7500 mi (11910 km); that’s less than the B787-9 variant, which has a flight range of 8786 mi (or 14140 km).
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER
SINGAPORE AIRLINES BOEING 787-10 DREAMLINER

4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

The Boeing 787-10 features SQ’s new regional cabin product, configured with 337 seats in two classes: 36 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 301 recliner seats in Economy Class. All 36 Business Class seats are located in one large cabin and are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 layout, spread over 9 rows. Each seat faces forward, has direct aisle access, and is located within a large, curved, silver-grey shell, providing complete privacy for all passengers. There are two alternating row layouts:

  • The layout in rows 12, 15, 17 and 19 sees the passengers in seats A and K located directly next to the window, with a large console between them and the aisle. In these rows, the middle seats D and F are separated from each other by a large compartment in the plane’s center, formed by the consoles of both seats.
  • The layout in rows 11, 14, 16, 18 and 20 differs regarding the location of the seat console. The console in window seats A and K is located next to the window, so passengers here are seated more along the aisle than the window (with the views partly obscured because of the console). In these rows, the middle seats D and F are next to one another with both consoles located on the aisle side, turning these seats into a private mini-suite that is perfect for couples or friends traveling together (adjustable dividers can be raised if you are seated next to a stranger though).

The regional Business Class product onboard SQ’s B787 is a huge improvement compared to what is offered on the carrier’s fleet of regionally configured Airbus A330s (which I reviewed here). The later comprises 30 Business Class seats per aircraft, arranged in five rows with a standard 2-2-2 configuration (meaning that not al passengers have direct aisle access). So if you have a choice, always make sure that you are booked on a B787 for one of SQ’s intra-Asian flights, especially on routes where SQ operates multiple aircraft types (such as the Bali to/from Singapore route).

Click here for a seat map of SQ’s Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN (INFLIGHT)
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS CABIN (INFLIGHT)

5. BUSINESS CLASS SEATS (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)

I had selected seat 19A for the 2,5 hour flight to Singapore.

Manufactured by Stelia Aerospace, SQ’s B787-10 regional Business Class seat has a generous pitch of 44 inch (111 cm) but is only 22 inch (56 cm) wide, so it may feel a little tight if you are a ‘passenger of size’. Fortunately, the seat width can be increased to a more comfortable 26 inch (or 66 cm) when you lower the retractable armrests.

Each seat is located within a curved shell, whose inner side is covered in soft Alcantara padding with a quilted pattern, a material frequently used to fit the interiors of sport cars. Not only does this design element add a touch of luxury to the seat, it also absorbs the plane’s sounds, hereby reducing the overall levels of cabin noise and enhancing a ‘cocoon’ effect. A light panel is located within the shell at eye-level, comprising 3 LED spot beams that are angled to illuminate different parts of the seat.

Each seat has a large console on the side. The console’s upper part holds a small storage cabinet, a concealed mirror, and a business panel with in-seat power supply and USB ports. The console’s lower part features a cocktail table doubling as a working surface, a control panel for the seat’s lighting and position, and a handset for the inflight entertainment. As explained above, the location of the console differs from seat to seat, with some seats having the console on their aisle side while others have the console on the window side or along the plane’s centerline. The seats with the console on the aisle side are the most private ones, but less accessible because the gap between the console and the seat in front is quite narrow.

Each Business Class seat comes with a 18 inch full high-definition touchscreen monitor. A large tray table is hidden under the TV screen, and needs to be pulled out and folded open for any use. Below the TV screen is also a generously spaced foot cubby, with some storage space underneath. This ottoman becomes part of the bed when the seat is reclined into its fully flat position, and although the bed is quite narrow, its length of 76 inches (190 cm) is more than adequate, even for tall passengers.

What are the best Business Class seats on SQ’s B787? Click here for a seat map.

  • Solo travelers should go for one of the window seats (A and K). The seats with the cabinet on the aisle side are the most private ones since they are somewhat sheltered from the cabin. These seats are located in rows 12, 15, 17 and 19.
  • The dual and more intimate seats in the center of the cabin (D and E) which have their consoles on the aisle side are perfect for partners traveling together. These ‘honeymoon seats’ are located in rows 11, 14, 16, 18 and 20.
  • The bulkhead seats in row 11 not only feature more leg room, but they also have extra space next to the TV screen which can be used as either a bassinet or storage area.

What are the worst Business Class seats on SQ’s B787? Click here for a seat map.

  • If you are ‘passenger of size’, I suggest to avoid the seats with the console on the aisle side because of the narrow gap between the cabinet and the seat in front (wich may prove a real challenge to access the seat).
  • Solo travelers should avoid the honeymoon seats in the plane’s center, although an adjustable divider can be raised for complete privacy if you are seated next to a stranger.
  • Passengers seated in row 11 and 20 may occasionally suffer from noise from the lavatories and galley.
  • Seats 16A and 16K have no window and are thus best avoided.
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS BULHEAD SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS BULHEAD SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: BUSINESS CLASS SEAT

6. AMENITIES

Passengers traveling on SQ’s regional Business Class receive the following amenities:

  • A high-quality blanket
  • A stylish, colorful pillow
  • Noise canceling headphones (to block the noise from the engines and cabin); you cannot take these home as the headphones can only be powered within an aircraft.
  • An amenity kit is not provided. Penhaligon toiletries (e.g. hand lotion, facial mist and fragrance) are available though in the lavatories in case you would need them.
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: AMENITIES
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: AMENITIES
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: AMENITIES - PILLOW
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: AMENITIES – PILLOW
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: AMENITIES - BLANKET
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: AMENITIES – BLANKET
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

7. MEALS

A light lunch was offered during this 2,5 hour flight. Due to the short duration of the flight, the different meal courses were served all at once on one tray. The menu read as follows:

  • Appetizer: marinated prawns with lime pepper vinaigrette and papaya asian slaw salad.
  • Main course: seared salmon fillet in tomato black olive vinaigrette with lentil carrot stew and squash.
  • Dessert: kue mutiara, indonesian jackfruit sago coconut pudding.

IMHO, the food was decent but not great.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: PRE-DEPARTURE DRINK
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: PRE-DEPARTURE DRINK
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: PRE-DEPARTURE DRINK
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: PRE-DEPARTURE DRINK
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: PRE-DEPARTURE HOT TOWEL
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: PRE-DEPARTURE HOT TOWEL
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: MENU
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: MENU
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: MENU
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: MENU
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: MENU
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: MENU
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LUNCH

8. ENTERTAINMENT

Each seat features an 18 inch, high-resolution touchscreen monitor which can also be controlled by a handset located in the seat’s console. SQ’s inflight entertainment system, called KrisWorld, features more than 1800 on demand options including tons of movies, television programmes, music, games and apps.

SQ also offers a Companion App that allows you to discover what is playing on KrisWorld even before you step onboard. Via the app, you can browse content pre-flight and place movies and TV shows in a folder that you can access on board by linking your smart phone to your tv screen. You simply need to download the free SingaporeAir mobile app from Google Play or App Store to enjoy this features.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

9. ONBOARD INTERNET

WiFi is available on SQ’s B787-10 and of reasonable speed. To access the onboard internet, you need to enable WiFi on your smart phone, tablet or laptop, and connect to the ‘KrisWorld’ or ‘OnAir’ network. SQ offers 30 MB of complimentary data to Business Class passengers and members of its loyalty program. Once your data have been used, you have to pay, and unfortunately, the rates are on the high side and data limited:

  • Basic (30 minutes; maximum of 30 MB data): $4.99 USD
  • Standard (3 hours; maximum of 150 MB data): $12,99 USD
  • Pro (entire flight; maximum of 500 MB data): $29.99 USD

10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

#CREW: Dressed in her signature sarong kebaya, the female SQ flight attendant is the symbol of Asian hospitality recognised the world over. But besides being an iconic eyecatcher, SQ cabin crew – both male and female – are often regarded as the best in the industry, and with good reason. They address every customer by name and do all they can to make your flight as enjoyable as possible. The flight on this crew was great, but perhaps not as exceptional as the cabin crew I encountered during my First Class journey onbaord SQ’s new A380.

# TOILET: There are 2  bathrooms in the galley between the cockpit and the Business Class cabin. As mentioned above, the lavatories are stocked with Penhaligon toiletries (e.g. hand lotion, facial mist and fragrance).

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LAVATORY
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LAVATORY
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LAVATORY
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LAVATORY
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LAVATORY
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: LAVATORY

# VIEWS: We enjoyed clear weather all the way from Bali to Singapore, affording sublime views of Indonesia’s majestic volcanic landscape.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS
SINGAPORE AIRLINES B787: INFLIGHT VIEWS

11. MY VERDICT
  • Premier lounge (Bali): 6/10
  • Cabin design: 8/10
  • Seat comfort (upright): 8/10
  • Seat comfort (bed position): 8/10
  • Food (quality):  8/10
  • Food (quantity): 9/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 9/10
  • WiFi: 8/10
  • Service: 10/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 8,2/10

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The post Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 787 Business Class Bali to Singapore appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.

Travel tip: how to book Ritz-Carlton hotels at the cheapest rate?

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (October 12, 2018): how to get maximum value when booking a Ritz-Carlton hotel?

Ritz-Carlton is an American hotel company, founded in 1983, that is now part of the Marriott group. The company manages more than 90 luxury hotels and resorts across 30 countries and territories in the world, including famous properties such as Hotel Arts in Barcelona, the Mandapa Reserve in Bali, and the Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong. Ritz-Carlton has been recognized with numerous awards for being the gold standard of hospitality.

Although the Ritz-Carlton hotels greatly vary in room rates, ranging from relatively cheap to insanely expensive, there are several tips & tricks to save hundreds of dollars when staying at one of the brand’s hotels and resorts. I hereby share with you the 4 best strategies – at least in my opinion – for booking a room (or even suite) into a Ritz-Carlton property. You can share your own tricks in the comments below.

THE RITZ-CARLTON, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND
THE RITZ-CARLTON, KOH SAMUI, THAILAND


1. BOOK VIA THE OFFICIAL RITZ-CARLTON WEBSITE

You may think that booking via the official Ritz-Carlton website is a good idea, and that’s partly true because of the following benefits:

  • You earn Marriott Rewards points every time you stay at a hotel of the Mariott Group, including Ritz-Carlton properties. Marriott Rewards is the excellent loyalty program of the Marriott Hotel group, and allows you to earn points that can be redeemed for free (or heavily discounted) hotel nights at Ritz-Carlton hotels (read my review of Marriott Rewards here). You earn 10 base points for every US dollar spent on all qualifying charges with stays at the Marriott group. Marriott Rewards elite members automatically receive a bonus on all the points they earn: Silver Elites earn a 10% bonus, Gold Elites a 25% bonus, Platinum Elites a 50% bonus, and Platinum Premier Elites a 75% bonus.
  • Ritz-Carlton offers a best rate guarantee (BRG) when you book via the official hotel website. If you find a lower rate for the same hotel, room type and dates within 24 hours of making your reservation, you need to submit a BRG claim form. A Ritz-Carlton representative will review the claim, and if approved, Ritz-Carlton will match the rate and give you an additional 25% discount on the room or 5,000 Marriott Rewards points (up to your choice). Finding a better rate is not difficult at all, as I explained in my tips for booking a luxury hotel at the cheapest price. The BRG does not apply to The Ritz-Carlton Residences or partner hotels, including Ritz-Carlton Montreal, The Ritz London, and Hotel Ritz Madrid.
  • Elite members of Marriott Rewards are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – complimentary room upgrade, early check-in, and late check-out (when available). To enjoy those benefits, the room has to be booked though through an official Ritz-Carlton booking channel or a luxury travel agent involved in the Virtuoso or Ritz-Carlton Stars programs (more on that below).

However, I advice you to think twice before you book via the official Ritz-Carlton website because of the following reasons:

  • Ritz-Carlton’s most exclusive properties – The Reserves – do not participate in Marriott Rewards, so you cannot earn hotel points at Ritz-Carlton Reserves nor use them for a free stay here.
  • While Marriott Reward elite members also receive a welcome gift and free breakfast at other hotels within Marriott’s portfolio, this is – unfortunately and somewhat inexplicably – not the case at Ritz-Carlton Hotels. A complimentary breakfast is only included at selected Ritz-Carlton properties when you book via Ritz-Carlton Stars and Virtuoso (more on that below).
THE RITZ-CARLTON HONG KONG, CHINA
THE RITZ-CARLTON HONG KONG, CHINA

2. BOOK VIA RITZ-CARLTON STARS

The Ritz-Carlton hotel group launched a invitation-only benefits program for luxury travel agents (such as Lance and Ania from Classic Travel, who I partner with and use for my own travels).  It is called Ritz-Carlton Stars, and when you book a stay at a Ritz-Carlton hotel via one of these agents, it will get you a far better deal than booking directly via the official Ritz-Carlton website. Ritz-Carlton Star rates are similar to the best flexible rates on the official Ritz-Carlton website and will earn points and stay credit in the Marriott Rewards loyalty program. Booking via Ritz Carlton Stars comes at no extra costs and the following benefits are valid for stays at all hotels within the Ritz-Carlton portfolio:

  • Complimentary daily breakfast for 2
  • Preferred status for room or suite upgrade at time of check-in
  • 4 pm late checkout – priority request
  • First priority for your room type, location, bedding and connecting rooms
  • Top priority waitlist in sold out situations
  • No walk policy in sold out situations
  • Warm welcome from hotel management
  • Pre-registration and express check- in upon request

So basically, you are leaving money on the table if you book directly via the Ritz-Carlton website and not via Ritz-Carlton Stars, since the latter costs the same and comes with complimentary breakfast in addition to other perks (e.g. upgrade and late check-out).

THE RITZ-CARLTON BALI, INDONESIA
THE RITZ-CARLTON BALI, INDONESIA

3. BOOK VIA VIRTUOSO (= MY PREFERRED METHOD OF BOOKING)

More than half of the Ritz-Carlton hotels belong to the portfolio of Virtuoso. Virtuoso is not your classic hotel booking engine website. It’s the industry’s leading, invitation-only network of the world’s best luxury travel advisors, spanning over 26 countries and 9,000 travel advisors. So when you book a Ritz-Carlton hotel via Virtuoso, most of the time, you will be in touch with a Virtuoso travel agent who will make the booking for you. There are some Virtuoso travel agencies though that offer an online booking tool, such as Classic Travel, which has an excellent website and is my overall preferred Virtuoso travel agency for booking a luxury hotel.

Booking via Virtuoso instead of via the Ritz-Carlton website has the following benefits:

  • The single best reason to book a Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel through a Virtuoso travel agent is that it means value for money as you’ll get access to complimentary VIP perks, such as room upgrade, flexible check-in and check-out times, daily breakfast and a substantial resort, spa, or food credit (or something else). While the exact perks differ from hotel to hotel, they can easily be worth a few hundred dollars per night.
  • In most cases, the Virtuoso rate is identical to the Best Available Rate (BAR) found on the official Ritz-Carlton website, which is a flexible rate that can be cancelled without penalty. For that reason, you’re leaving money on the table if you book a paid stay at the best available rate (BAR) via the Ritz-Carlton website and not via Virtuoso.
  • You will earn points and stay credits in the Marriott Rewards loyalty program.

At first sight, Virtuoso looks very similar to the Ritz-Carlton Stars program. Personally, I find the Virtuoso program a much better deal because it includes a resort credit of up to $100 USD at most Ritz-Carlton hotels (something not offered by the Ritz-Carlton Stars program), although the Ritz-Carlton Stars program covers more Ritz-Carlton properties compared to Virtuoso.


4. BOOK VIA YOUR CREDIT CARD CONCIERGE

When you own an American Express credit card, you can book selected Ritz-Carlton properties via Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. This will offer you the same benefits as when you would book these hotels via Virtuoso (although Virtuoso includes much more Ritz-Carlton properties):

  • Room upgrade upon arrival when available
  • Daily (continental) breakfast for two people
  • Guaranteed late 4pm check-out time
  • Noon check-in when available
  • A spa, food, and/or beverage credit (valued at a minimum of US$ 100 USD)

When you own a Citi Prestige Card (USA citizens only) you can make use of the fourth night free benefit: when you book a four night stay at a participating Ritz-Carlton property, you get reimbursed the cost of the fourth night, minus any taxes and service fees. The fourth night benefit is calculated based on the average nightly rate of your complete stay. Reservations must be made through Thankyou.com or the Citi Prestige Concierge and you must pay for your stay with your Citi Prestige Card, ThankYou points, or a combination of the two. There are a few things to be aware of, though:

  • You can only use the fourth night free benefit when booking the best available rate (BAR).
  • You can’t combine the Citi Prestige fourth night free with the benefits offered via Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Prive and/or Virtuoso. The latter often represent a much better deal.
THE RITZ-CARLTON, SHANGHAI
THE RITZ-CARLTON, SHANGHAI

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The post Travel tip: how to book Ritz-Carlton hotels at the cheapest rate? appeared first on the Luxury Travel Expert.