Top 10 best luxury hotels in Amsterdam

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (November 19, 2018): Top 10 most luxurious hotels in Amsterdam.

Each one of the thousands of buildings that line Amsterdam’s main canals can be classified as a monument, beautifully kept as apartments, offices, cafés, restaurants, and even brothels. All together they form an aesthetic uniformity that make Amsterdam one of the most beautiful cities in the world, a stunning place of bridges and bikes crossing canals, picturesque cobbled streets, and strikingly elegant architecture. World-class attractions include the Rijskmuseum, the Van Gogh museum, and of course, the Anne Frank House. And while Amsterdam is a beautiful place on its own, a trip to the Dutch Capital deserves accommodations that are equally interesting, so here’s my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in town.

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

Click to view slideshow.

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10. PESTANA AMSTERDAM RIVERSIDE

Rising above the hippest part of town, De Pijp, Pestana Amsterdam Riverside is a sophisticated and intimate 5-star hotel. Formerly the Town Hall and Archive of the Amstel Community, the Pestana is the perfect hotel to visit one of Europe’s most picturesque and exciting cities. The property offers 154 beautiful bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool and sauna, 10 meeting rooms, a gym, and a world-class restaurant run by Master Chef judge Peter Lute.

  • Hotel websitePestana Amsterdam Riverside
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Classic Travel (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, a personalized welcome note and amenity, and $75 USD hotel credit).

PESTANA AMSTERDAM RIVERSIDE


9. HOTEL PULITZER

This unique hotel offers an authentic Dutch experience with accommodations in 25 restored 17th and 18th century merchant houses, all reflecting Amsterdam’s rich heritage. You can explore the city’s canals in the hotel’s own canal boat (Winston Churchill chose to tour the city in this very same vessel in 1946). All 230 guest rooms have been recently remodeled. Each room is different, with either a garden or canal view. Pulitzer Amsterdam is a unique blend of up-market, traditional and modern Dutch craftsmanship hidden amongst the city’s iconic canals.

  • Hotel website: Hotel Pulitzer
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, welcome amenity and $75 USD hotel credit).

HOTEL PULITZER


8. INTERCONTINENTAL AMSTEL AMSTERDAM

The InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam is housed in a striking building on the banks of the beautiful Amstel river. The hotel first opened its doors to guests in 1867 and has been praised ever since for its regal presence and homely warmth. The minute you enter the stunning lobby you are aware of its unique atmosphere with its high ceilings, monumental staircase, and shimmering chandeliers. All 55 guestrooms and 24 suites are furnished with authentic furniture, rich pleated curtains and handmade Delft porcelain.

  • Hotel websiteIntercontinental Amstel Amsterdam
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, Dutch welcome cocktail in the A-bar, homemade Chocolate welcome amenity daily, breakfast, a boat tour through the canals of Amsterdam, and one way airport transfer when booking an Executive Suite or higher).

INTERCONTINENTAL AMSTEL AMSTERDAM


7. HOTEL DE L’EUROPE

This legendary hotel has been a member of The Leading Hotels of the World for over 25 years. With its location on the banks of the Amstel River in the heart of historic Amsterdam, it’s impossible to escape the city’s rich history while staying at this iconic 19th century treasure. Expect timeless design, intimate ambience and genuine service. De L’Europe boasts a distinctive decor, enhancing each room and suite with a replicated Dutch Master painting, handpicked in exclusive partnership with the nearby Rijksmuseum.

  • Hotel websiteHotel de l’Europe
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, $100 USD food and beverage credit, and one way airport transfer for junior suites & above).

HOTEL DE L'EUROPE


6. ANDAZ AMSTERDAM, PRINSENGRACHT

Located in the historic centre of the city and within the ring of canals, the five-star boutique hotel Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht, provides a unique refreshing taste of the city. Reflecting its lively and distinctive surroundings through the adventurous and modern Dutch design of renowned local designer Marcel Wanders, the 122-room hotel offers not merely a place to come home to and relax, but a place that will energize and inspire. This is by far Amsterdam’s triendiest hotel!


5. W AMSTERDAM

Just steps away from the vibrant Dam Square and the Royal Palace, the W Amsterdam features 238 stylish guest rooms and suites spread across two historic buildings, an erstwhile telephone exchange building (from the 1920s) and a 1906 former bank. Guests arrive in style when they check in at the rooftop W Loungethe W brand’s re-interpretation of the traditional hotel lobby, on the sixth floor of the Exchange building. Looking out to the Royal Palace and lively historic centre, the 22 meter (72 ft) Wet Deck is Amsterdam’s first rooftop pool and is heated in winter.


4. THE GRAND AMSTERDAM, A SOFITEL LEGEND HOTEL

From a 15th-century convent to royal lodgings to Dutch Admiralty headquarters to the city hall of Amsterdam, this hotel is housed in one of the most historical venues of Amsterdam. Now, after a careful renovation by French designer Sybille de Margerie, it is a place of hospitality, art and culture. Furnished with French elegance and grandeur, the hotel blends sleek design with five-star facilities, including 52 luxury suites with butler service, an indulgent spa, and the Michelin star restaurant Bridges.

  • Hotel websiteThe Grand Amsterdam, a Sofitel Legend Hotel
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD food and beverage credit).
  • Review: read my review of The Grand Amsterdam, a Sofitel Legend Hotel here.

3. CONSERVATORIUM HOTEL 

The Conservatorium Hotel is a luxury lifestyle palace, evoking glamour and elegance for sophisticated, design-literate travelers. Located in Museum Square, the cultural heart of the city, the hotel is an architectural masterpiece that combines a landmark heritage building with contemporary design, offering guests a selection of restaurants, a bar, lounge and the impressive Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Facility. The hotel has 129 rooms and suites, all equipped with state-of-the-art in-room technology as well as luxury linens and amenities.

  • Hotel website: Conservatorium Hotel
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, bespoke welcome amenity, daily breakfast, and $100 USD hotel credit).

CONSERVATORIUM HOTEL 


2. WALDORF ASTORIA AMSTERDAM

Amsterdam’s outpost of the famous Waldorf Astoria brand is located in some majestic canal palaces along the Herengracht. Boasting a historical exterior comprising six monumental 17th and 18th century double-front canal palaces and featuring a unique grand staircase built by the architect of Louis XIV, Daniel Marot, the Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam hotel offers sophisticated comfort and unparalleled service. The hotel has 93 spacious rooms and suites overlooking the city’s canals or the courtyard garden.

WALDORF ASTORIA AMSTERDAM


1. HOTEL TWENTYSEVEN

Crowds of people ebb and flow down on Dam Square, but at TwentySeven Hotel, you’ll feel you’ve left the city far behind. This boutique hotel, set on the upper floors of an iconic landmark building, brings a new level of luxury to Amsterdam city breaks. Every inch of TwentySeven’s 16 suites has been carefully designed to delight you, from hand-blown contemporary chandeliers to custom-made furnishings from Europe’s finest design houses. At Restaurant Bougainville, the culinary masterpiece of Hotel TwentySeven, innovative tastes wait to be discovered.


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American vs Delta vs United: which one is best?

Friday newsletters always feature luxury travel conteststipsseries, or news.

Today (November 16, 2018): Travel tip: Which is the best USA airline to fly long haul in Business Class?

It is pretty fashionable to complain about American carriers, especially about the service they deliver onboard, which is often considered to be inferior to that of their non-American competitors. However, that may no longer be true, since the USA’s main three legacy carriers – American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines – have all recently upped their game as I experienced myself over the past few years:

DELTA ONE A350 SUITE
DELTA ONE A350 SUITE

When choosing one of these 3 carriers, the big questions is whether they differ at all regarding their premium cabin class products? And which one is the best? Well, here you have some facts & my opinion on the cabin layout, seat features, food and amenities of American’s, Delta’s and United’s international Business Class products.

You can share your own opinion below in the comments section or take my poll.

  • Chauffeur service: unfortunately, none of the USA carriers offers complimentary chauffeur service to/from the airport for Business Class passengers.
  • Lounges: all three USA legacy carriers have an extensive networks of lounges within the USA and across the globe. While the lounge experience in the USA does not come close to what is offered by Asian and Middle Eastern airlines, I would rank United’s new Polaris lounges in San Francisco, Chicago, Houston and Newark as the best airline lounges on USA soil. American’s new Business Class Flagship lounges (which are open in New York JFK, Chicago O’Hare, Miami and Los Angeles) are not quite as nice as the United Polaris lounges, but are better than Delta’s unimpressive Skyclubs lounges.
  • Reliabity: despite its aging (but well maintained) fleet, Delta has the best on-time performance of the 3 USA legacy carriers. United is more likely to be delayed, although the carrier is improving its ontime performance. American is the worst when it comes to on-time performance and its flights are increasingly delayed because of aircraft reliability issues (despite the fact that American operates a modern fleet).
  • Frequent flyer program: although it has devaluated over the last couple of years, I consider American Airlines’ loyalty program AAdvantage as the best frequent flyer program in the world, mainly because of its reasonable award chart and its many airline partners, within and outside the One World alliance (you can read my review of the program – with pros and cons – here). Delta’s frequent flyer program SkyMiles is the worst of the 3 USA airlines (it was the first program to become revenue based) but Delta performs very well on other areas as it has a high customer satisfaction, so it doesn’t need to spend a lot on its SkyMiles loyalty program to attract customers. United Airlines’ frequent flyer program Mileage Plus is decent, but it’s not as excellent as AAdvantage albeit not as bad as SkyMiles.
  • Fleet-wide consistency: Unfortunately, the layout of the Business Class cabin and the seat type you’ll get depend on the aircraft type since none of the major USA airlines offers a consistent Business Class product across their fleet. That said, United is the only carrier that strives towards one uniform Business Class product across its entire wide body fleet (although it will still take a few years before its has completed the refurbishment of all its planes).
  • Cabin interior & design: All three carriers have invested in the introduction of new cabin designs, but I feel that United is the winner here (again). The cabins of their newly delivered B777-300ER and refurbished B767/B777 planes are designed by PriestmanGoode and feature bespoke furniture elements like a on-brand entrance area, a bar area and United branded cabin elements.
  • Cabin layout & seats: your Business Class experience onboard United, American or Delta will largely depend on the aircraft type, since each aircraft features a different flatbed seat & cabin layout. The best wide-body Business Class layout & seats are (in order from excellent to mediocre):
    • Delta A350: excellent and super-private suites with sliding doors, arranged in a 1-2-1 layout.
    • American B777: spacious seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (direct aisle access for all seats).
    • United B777 & B767 (with Polaris seats): a 1-2-1 herringbone seat layout, with rows alternating between seats facing forward and at an angle. This United seat is a great seat, but it’s not as comfortable or spacious as American’s B777 Business Class seat or Delta’s A350 suite.
    • American B787: seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (direct aisle access for all seats).
    • Delta B777 & A330: seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (direct aisle access for all seats). The Delta suites with sliding doors will also be rolled out on the B777 over the coming years.
    • American A330: seats in a 1-2-1 herringbone layout (direct aisle access for all seats).
    • American B767: seats in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration, a so-called Sogerma Solstys layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front (the foot space can feel cramped).
    • Delta B767: seats in a 1-2-1 staggered configuration, a so-called Sogerma Solstys layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and under the seats in front, similar to American’s B767 (although the latter definitely has a fresher and more modern look).
    • United B767 (without Polaris seats): seats in a 2-1-2 configuration. This seat layout wil gradually disappear on international routes as United is refurbishing these planes with the new Polaris seats.
    • United B787: seats in a traditional 2-2-2 layout, slightly angled towards the windows.
    • Delta B757: seats in a traditional 2-2 layout, slightly angled towards the windows.
    • United B757: seats in a traditional 2-2 layout, slightly angled towards the windows.
    • American B757: seats in a traditional 2-2 layout, slightly angled towards the windows.
    • United B777 (without Polaris seats): seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, with rows alternating between forward and backward facing seats. This seat layout wil gradually disappear on international routes as United is refurbishing these planes with the new Polaris seats.
  • Flat beds: All 3 carriers offer flat beds on their medium- and longhaul international destinations (with the exception of routes to the Caribbean, Canada, Central America and some South American routes). The most comfortable and spacious flat beds are those on Delta’s A350 aircraft type, followed by American’s B777 aircraft and then United’s B777s with the Polaris seats.
  • Amenity kit: all three USA carrier offer above average amenity kits, with Delta being the winner (both because of the look of the kit itself and the quality of its content).
    • Delta’s Business Class passengers get a silver hard-sided TUMI amenity kit outbound from the USA and a soft-sided black TUMI amenity kit inbound to the USA, allowing you to add variety to your amenity kit collection each way. The kits feature travel essentials including Kiehl’s lip balm and grapefruit-scented deluxe hand and body lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal, a dental kit featuring Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash and ear plugs.
    • United Airlines’ amenity kits echo many of the key design elements that distinguish the carrier’s Saks Fifth Avenue luxury bedding and contain a signature padded eye mask, earplugs, skincare products from Soho House & Co’s Cowshed Spa, cozy socks, toothbrush, toothpaste and a tissue pack.
    • Created in partnership with fashion designer Cole Haan, American Airlines’ amenity kits are available on long haul and transcontinental flights between New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Inside, the kits contain beauty and skincare products from C.O Bigelow, 3Lab, Clark’s Botanicals, alongside a new eye mask, socks, ear plugs, toothbrush, toothpaste and headphone protectors.
  • Pajamas: United offers pajamas to its Business Class passengers, albeit only on upon request and on flights longer than 12 hours. American only offers pajamas in Business Class on routes to Auckland, Hong Kong, and Sydney. Delta doesn’t offer pajamas in Business Class, except on routes from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Sydney.
  • Bedding: all three legacy carriers of the USA offer terrific bedding, with United being the winner here IMHO.
    • United’s bedding is from Saks Fifth Avenue, with a choice of two different blankets: a quilted duvet and a lighter throw blanket. Mattress cushions are also available upon request.
    • Delta’s bedding is Westin Heavenly branded and includes an oversized duvet, a high-quality blanket and down-alternative pillow.
    • American Airlines has a partnership with Casper for their inflight bedding, which comprises a pillow, duvet (only on Pacific routes), and slippers. On flights to Auckland, Hong Kong, and Sydney, passengers also get a mattress pad and slippers.
  • Catering: USA airlines are not known for their onboard gastronomic experiences, but the food they serve is far from bad either. My best meals have always been on United though, followed by American and then Delta (although the difference between the three is only marginal).
    • United Polaris customers get a multi-course inflight dining experience designed by chefs from The Trotter Project, a nonprofit organization committed to mentoring and internship programs for youth interested in the culinary arts. The menus rotate every month, so you’ll continue to have new dishes to experience on board.
    • American collaborates with several celebrity chefs from the USA, New Zealand and Japan to create their inflight menus (e.g. Maneet Chauhan, Sam Choy, Julian Barsotti, Sean Connolly, and Jun Kurogi). Each wine is selected by master sommelier Bobby Stuckey.
    • Most of the time, Delta also offers decent food, with seasonal and regional entrees featuring fresh ingredients and flavors. Delta’s master sommelier – Andrea Robinson – selects wines from around the globe, including regional selections paired with onboard meals.
  • Number of meal services: on longhaul flights, all 3 carriers offer 2 meal services (a full meal after takeoff, and a light meal or breakfast 90 minutes prior landing), so there’s no difference here.
  • Inflight entertainment: IMHO, there’s no difference in the onboard entertainment offered by American, Delta, and United in Business Class. In-flight entertainment on all three legacy carriers is completely free and comprises an extensive library of movies, TV shows, audio options, games, and live TV on select routes. On most flights, you can also stream the library of movies and TV shows to your phone, tablet or laptop (on condition that you have the airline’s app on your phone or tablet).
  • WiFiThe US always has and still is the most developed market for in-flight WiFi. Delta Air Lines tops the list of the most connected airlines, as measured by available seat-miles with at least a chance of getting a wireless connection, according to the survey by Routehappy.com, a site that evaluates in-flight amenities. More than 500 million of Delta’s available seat-miles are covered. It’s closely followed by United Airlines (500 million miles) and American (more than 400 million miles).
UNITED B777 POLARIS BUSINESS CLASS
UNITED B777 POLARIS BUSINESS CLASS

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Trip report: Delta B767 Business Class Brussels to New York

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

Today (November 14, 2018): Review of Delta’s Boeing 767 Business Class from Brussels to New York.

On September 21st 2018, I flew Business Class onboard a Delta Air Lines (better known as Delta) Boeing 767-300ER from Brussels in Belgium to JFK Airport in New York. One of the founding members of SkyTeam, Delta is the 6th oldest operating airline in the world, and the oldest airline in the USA. Headquartered in Atlanta, Delta is the world’s second largest airline in terms of scheduled passengers carried, revenue per passenger per mile flown and fleet size (after American Airlines). Delta is also the largest transatlantic carrier, with more transatlantic flights per day than any other carrier. The B767 is the backbone of Delta’s transatlantic fleet, and while a journey onboard Delta’s B767 Business Class (called Delta One) still offers a comfortable ride, the hard product (seat) feels dated and out of step with more modern Business Class cabins, including Delta’s own terrific suite (offered on its brand new A350 aircraft only). On a positive note, the soft product (e.g. catering, bedding, entertainment, service) during this flight was excellent!

Delta Air Lines features in my top 10 list of the best airlines for transatlantic Business Class (although they only deserve a spot here because of their game changing suites on their new A350 aircraft).

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

  • Trip: Brussels (BRU) to New York (JFK)
  • Airline: Delta Air Lines
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 767-300ER
  • Aircraft registration number:
  • Flight Number:
  • Date: September 21st, 2018
  • On time departure: yes (10.45 am)
  • On time arrival: yes (12.30 pm)
  • Miles: 3650
  • Flight time: 7 hours & 45 minutes
  • Seat: 3D
  • Class: Business

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

  1. Cost of my ticket
  2. Facts & figures about Delta’s longhaul fleet
  3. Business Class cabin
  4. Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
  5. Amenities
  6. Catering
  7. Entertainment
  8. Onboard internet
  9. Other inflight experiences (views, crew, lavatory)
  10. My verdict (score)

Click to view slideshow.


1. COST OF MY TICKET

The cost of my return ticket was 1250 euros, which is a fabulous price for a Business Class trip from Europe to the USA. I purchased the ticket during a sale on the Delta website, with tickets being sold with discounts of 50%.


2. FACTS & FIGURES ABOUT DELTA’S LONGHAUL FLEET

Delta’s mainline fleet includes almost 900 aircraft in service, making it one of the largest airline fleets in the world. Before merging with Northwest Airlines in 2009, Delta operated an all-Boeing and McDonnell Douglas fleet; it incorporated Northwest’s Airbus aircraft into its fleet following the merger and ordered further Airbus types. Delta is known for its policy of generally buying older generation or used aircraft and for continuing to fly aircraft for 20-30 years, much longer than most other major airlines. As such, it has one of the oldest fleets of any American airline, with an average fleet age of 16.3 years. Delta’s Boeing aircraft make up about 57% of its fleet, while its Airbus aircraft makes about 27% and McDonnell Douglas aircraft makes up about 16%. Delta is the world’s largest Boeing 767 operator.

DELTA B767
DELTA B767
DELTA B767
DELTA B767

3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN

Although they all share a similar Business Class layout and seat, Delta’s B767s come in 5 configurations that differ from each other regarding the number of seats in all cabins:

  • Version one (B767-400ER aircraft): 40 Business Class + 28 Premium Economy Class + 78 Economy Class seats
  • Version two: 36 Business Class + 29 Premium Economy Class + 143 Economy Class seats
  • Version three: 36 Business Class + 32 Premium Economy Class + 143 Economy Class seats
  • Version four: 26 Business Class + 35 Premium Economy Class + 165 Economy Class seats
  • Version five: 26 Business Class + 29 Premium Economy Class + 171 Economy Class seats

My flight from Brussels to New York was operated by a high density Boeing 767-300ER that featured ‘only’ 26 lie-flat Business Class seats. The seats were spread over 7 rows in just one cabin, which was located in front of the Economy Plus Class cabin.

All of Delta’s B767s feature a Business Class cabin with a staggered, so-called Sogerma Solstys seat layout, whereby the foot compartment for each seat is located between and/or under the seat(s) ahead. An advantage of this type of layout on the B767 is that all seats face forward and enjoy direct aisle access. In addition, since none of the rows line up, nobody is directly looking into the seat across the aisle, which is good thing as it enhances the privacy a little. The middle seats all come in pairs (separated by a large arm rest) while the window seats are all single seats. These window seats alternate between ‘real window seats’ (with a large armrest between the seat and aisle) and ‘aisle seats’ (with only a narrow arm rest between the seat and aisle). Those aisle seats are not as enjoyable as the real window seats, since you will feel occasionally disturbed by passengers and crew in the aisle during the flight.

IMHO, the design of Delta’s B767 Business Class cabin is unremarkable and feels anything but exclusive. The problem is that the carrier has raised the bar with the introduction of walled cocoons with sliding doors on its newly delivered A350 aircraft, which definitely outperforms the carrier’s dated-looking B767 product. But while this style of Business Class layout and seat is not state-of-the-art anymore, it was still a very comfortable experience of course.

This staggered seat layout is not unique for Delta as it can also be found on American’s B767s, Brussels Airlines’ A330s, Austrian Airlines’ B777sSWISS’ Airbus A330s/A340s & B777s, and Finnair’s A330s to name a few.

DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN (IN FLIGHT)
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS CABIN (IN FLIGHT)

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

I had selected seat 3D – a window seat – for the 7 hour 45 minutes flight to New York.

The Delta B767 Business Class seat is 21 inches (53 cm) wide and has a pitch of between 76 and 81 inches (193 to 205 cm). The seat has a large arm rest on the side, which holds the foot cubby of the seat behind it and can be used as a working surface. This wide armrest also features an electronic panel at its end to control the seat’s position (takeoff/landing versus lie-flat mode) and to activate an in-seat massage function. A foldable tray table is stored in this arm rest and kind of flips out at the push of a button. The arm rest also holds a box with a remote control for the inflight entertainment system. Above the arm rest, there’s a panel with a universal power port, a USB ports and a small personal reading lamp (at eye level).

The seat is comfortable when you are sitting upright, but it’s somewhat different in the lie-flat position. Although it’s a fully flat-bed, the seat and your lower legs descend into a box carved out for it in the armrest of the seat(s) ahead, below the entertainment screen. This coffin-like footwell is quite small, so your feet will often hit the walls of this space as you try to switch position during your sleep (although the single seats on the side have considerably more space for the feet than the paired center seats). In addition, in its lie flat position, the seat is only 45 cm (17 inch) above the floor, making it uncomfortable getting in and out to go to the restroom.

Besides its not so comfortable lie flat position, the seat also has two other disadvantages: it lacks adequate storage space and it is moved by small motors, so you hear a weird noise every time you (or the passengers around you) adjust the seat position or activate the massage function.

What are the best Business Class seats on Delta’s B767? Click here for a seat map.

  • The best seats for solo travelers are the single seats on the side, especially those that are separated from the aisle by the wide arm rest.
  • Travel companions should go for the paired seats in the middle.

What are the worst Business Class seats on Delta’s B767? Click here for a seat map.

  • Some of the solo seats on the side have their wide arm rest located next to the window, with only a narrow arm rest between the seat and the aisle. As explained above, these seats are not as private as the real window seats, and it may feel like you are seated in the middle of the aisle as you will be occasionally disturbed by passengers and crew in the aisle during the flight.
  • The middle seats have a smaller foot compartment and slightly shorter flat-bed compared to the aisle seats (76 inches or 193 cm compared to 81 inches or 205 cm).
  • Window seats in row 6, 9 and/or 10 are missing a window. Try to avoid these seats with the help of Delta’s B767 seat maps as found on SeatGuru.
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D: FLATBED POSITION
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D: FLATBED POSITION
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D: FLATBED POSITION
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS SEAT 3D: FLATBED POSITION

5. AMENITIES

Delta hands out superb amenities on longhaul Business Class flights:

  • You get a silver hard-sided TUMI amenity kit outbound from the USA and a soft-sided black TUMI amenity kit inbound to the USA (so you can add a variety to your amenity kit collection each way). The kits feature travel essentials including Kiehl’s lip balm and grapefruit-scented deluxe hand and body lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal, a dental kit featuring Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash and ear plugs.
  • Delta’s bedding is Westin Heavenly branded and includes an oversized duvet, a high-quality blanket and down-alternative pillow.
  • Pajamas are not offered in Business Class, except on Delta’s routes from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Sydney.
  • Delta’s noise-cancelling headphones are from Los Angeles-based sound and philanthropic company LSTN Sound Co.
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: AMENITY KIT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: AMENITY KIT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

6. CATERING

Shortly after takeoff, a lunch was served and I choose the following items from the Delta One stylized menu:

  • Starter: Black Forest tuna with dill cream and pickled carrots
  • Salad: summer tomato and fresh mozzarela salad with mixed greens
  • Main course: Flemish cod with lemon beurre blanc, parsley potatoes, and sautéed spinach
  • Dessert: vanilla ice cream sundae with your choice of sauces, nuts and whipped cream

I found the menu puzzling, as I had never heard before of Flamish cod (and I live in Flanders) nor did I know that tuna lived in the Black Forest :-). Apart from that, I though the meals were tasty albeit not memorable, with the dessert being the highlight. A nice touch was that the meals were served on stylish tableware by the globally renowned design company Alessi.

A snack was offered midflight: warm chocolate chip cookie service.

Then, about 90 minutes prior to landing came the second, light meal service. I choose a hamburger, which was served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and cheese. It was the first time I had a hamburger on a plane, but it tasted quite good!

DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LUNCH
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: MIDFLIGHT SNACK
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: MIDFLIGHT SNACK
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: PRE-ARRIVAL MEAL

7. ENTERTAINMENT

Each Business Class seat features a TV screen mounted in the back of the seat ahead. Unfortunately, the screen is quite small (13 inches), which is similar in size to the entertainment screens in Delta’s Premium Economy Class (where the seats are closer to the screen, hence making for a more enjoyable entertainment experience). In comparison, Delta’s new A350 suites feature much larger, 18 inch TV screens, representing a huge improvement.

On a positive note, Delta’s entertainment – which the carrier calls Delta Studios – is excellent, with a large library of movies (around 300), TV shows (around 800), audio books, video games and even live satellite TV. You can view the shows on the seat’s entertainment screen, or alternatively, stream the entertainment to your own mobile phone or tablet.

DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

8. ONBOARD INTERNET

Delta is one of the largest providers of in-flight WiFi in the world, and with more than 1,100 enabled aircraft, WiFi access is offered on nearly all flights. Inflight WiFi is powered by Gogo. Like several other major airlines equipped by Gogo, access to Delta’s WiFi may be purchased before any given flight. A global day pass costs $28 USD and is valid for 24 hours on one or more Gogo-equipped Delta flights regardless of the route.

Delta also offers free mobile messaging (Facebook, Whatsapp, iMessage) so you can stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues while onboard at no charge. Ensure that you have downloaded these apps before you fly (they all are free).

Delta had also equipped this B767-300ER plane with Ku band WiFi technology, where an antenna on the top of the plane communicates with satellites in orbit. Not only does it deliver a signal strong enough to stream Netflix, but also Ku band technology is much more effective than ground-to-air when planes fly over bodies of water (or areas of land with no cell towers). It also maintains a signal throughout the entire flight, delivering seamless Wi-Fi connectivity.


9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES

#CREW: Delta’s flight attendants are considered the friendliest of all USA airlines. The cabin crew on this flight was very outgoing and enthusiastic. I told them about my fear of flying over water, and I was offered a flight map, a gesture which I genuinely apreciated.

# TOILET: There are 2 lavatories for the 26 Business Class passengers, both of them located behind the cockpit. The Business Class lavatory design was very simple, and lavatories were kept clean during the flight.

DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LAVATORY
DELTA B767 BUSINESS CLASS: LAVATORY

10. MY VERDICT
  • Cabin design: 5/10
  • Seat comfort (upright): 7/10
  • Seat comfort (bed position): 7/10
  • Food (quality):  7/10
  • Food (quantity): 8/10
  • Inflight entertainment : 7/10
  • WiFi: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: good: 7/10

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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
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
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
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 - 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
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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.


PHOTOS
AMANDARI: LOBBY
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AMANDARI: LIBRARY
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AMANDARI: LIBRARY (OUTDOOR BALE)
AMANDARI: LIBRARY (OUTDOOR BALE)
AMANDARI: BAR
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AMANDARI: BALCONY
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AMANDARI: SWIMMING POOL
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AMANDARI: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANDARI: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANDARI: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANDARI: BOUTIQUE SHOP
AMANDARI: BOUTIQUE SHOP
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT
AMANDARI: ART GALLERY
AMANDARI: ART GALLERY
AMANDARI: ART GALLERY
AMANDARI: ART GALLERY
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AMANDARI: DANCE LESSONS FOR LOCAL CHILDREN
AMANDARI: DANCE LESSONS FOR LOCAL CHILDREN
AMANDARI - RESORT GROUNDS
AMANDARI – RESORT GROUNDS
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AMANDARI: VALLEY SUITE - ENTRANCE
AMANDARI: VALLEY SUITE – ENTRANCE
AMANDARI: VALLEY SUITE - BEDROOM
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AMANDARI: VALLEY SUITE - BATHROOM
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AMANDARI: VALLEY SUITE - TERRACE
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AMANDARI: AFTERNOON TEA (SERVED AT POOL PAVILION)
AMANDARI: AFTERNOON TEA (SERVED AT POOL PAVILION)
AMANDARI: AFTERNOON TEA (SERVED AT POOL PAVILION)
AMANDARI: AFTERNOON TEA (SERVED AT POOL PAVILION)
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AMANDARI: SPA
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AMANDARI: GYM​
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AMANDARI AT NIGHT
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – DINNER
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: RESTAURANT - BREAKFAST
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AMANDARI: RESTAURANT – BREAKFAST
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
AMANDARI: AYUNG VALLEY
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 – 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 - 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 – 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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