“We probably have the most Instagrammed swimming pool in the world,” says Gary Rosen, Project Director for the Hanging Gardens of Bali. “To swim in it is to float among the clouds.” This remarkable pool was named “The World’s Best Swimming Pool” by both Condé Nast Traveler and TripAdvisor.
The resort is perched above the Ayung river, in the spiritual centre of the Indonesian island paradise of Bali. Safeguarding the surrounding rainforest was a top priority during the building of the resort. “Not a single tree was destroyed during construction,” says Gary. This responsible approach – and an unwavering attention to splendour – helped the resort achieve the Global Luxury Awards Seven Star rating. Only a handful of hotels have received this classification.
The resort nestles within a luxurious jungle landscape, with volcanic mountains and Hindu temples as backdrops. “To awaken and look out over the mist-draped valley is wondrous,” says Gary. “Each villa has its own infinity pool floating above the rainforest.”
Feng shui principles were employed in the resort’s design. Guests can feel this natural flow as they arrive in the open lobby and move around the building. The buildings were constructed using traditional methods – ironwood walls and alang-alang thatched roofs – which balance the structure with the natural environment. The resort is spread over eight levels: there are steps to walk up and down if guests are feeling energetic, but they can also use “inclinators” – miniature open-top cable cars that transport guests up and down from the edge of the river right up to the pool, lounge and restaurant.
The jewel in the resort’s crown is the award-winning Spa Collection, which overlooks the Ayung river. Many of the therapies offered in the spa are created for couples, who can enjoy these deeply relaxing moments together. Natural ingredients and ancient techniques help to release deep-held tensions. Sunlight sprinkles through the trees as the gentle melodies of nature play in the distance – to spend time under the rainforest canopy is to forget there is a world beyond.
As evening descends, a path of candles threads its way from the lobby across the pool deck and up to the temple on the other side of the valley. The Night of a Thousand Candles is an enchanting ritual – it beckons for all to come and indulge in a sumptuous dinner, or relax with a cocktail in the candlelit lounge.
Fresh ingredients, sourced from local Bedugul farms and the resort’s own garden, are used at the hotel’s Three Elements restaurant, with menus based around traditional recipes with modern twists. For guests wanting a deeper experience of local flavours, a cooking class is run from within the resort’s herb garden. Ingredients are picked and placed straight into the dish that guests are being taught to prepare – it is impossible to find fresher.
Across the Ayung river is the Dalem Segara temple, where a very special secret romantic temple dinner is offered. An ancient footpath leads up to the holy structure, where guests are dressed in traditional kebayas and kambens, then blessed by the holy Mangku priest. This is done at twilight as the stars come out above.
“Couples come away wondering if they will ever be able to top the experience,” says Gary. “A stay at Hanging Gardens of Bali is a once-in-a-lifetime experience never to be forgotten.”