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Click for larger view. AMAN RESORTS

Normally we feature just one hotel at a time. But, because the "Aman experience" is best appreciated by staying at a combination of Aman properties, we've decided to feature all five Indonesian resorts together.

Three of these resorts are on Bali, one is just outside Yogyakarta, on the island of Java and the fifth, a luxury tented property, is on remote Moyo Island, in the midst of one of the most pristine dive areas in the world.

If you're on a tight budget, you may not want to read any further. The nightly rates at the Amans (through March, 2007) begin at $650-$675, plus 21 percent tax and service. For guests staying a certain number of nights and/or staying at a combination of Indonesian Aman properties, there are a variety of packages that include added-value features. In addition, each hotel offers a variety of optional activities, explorations and cultural experiences.

At Amanwana, the luxury-tented resort on Moyo Island, you can book a dive package that includes your choice of daily beach or boat dives. For the ultimate luxury dive experience, you can spend five nights on the Ikan Gurami cruiser, complete with crew and two huge staterooms, as you cruise the spectacular waters and reefs of Komodo National Park (a World Heritage Site). As well as time spent diving, you'll see Komodo Dragons and other wildlife, in their own natural habitat.

There's also a package that combines Amanwana and Amanjiwo, which is the only hotel located right at the site of Borobudur, the magnificent Buddhist temple complex outside Yogyakarta in Central Java. Activities at Amanjiwo include a visit to Borobudur at dawn, before the site opens to the general public, as well as an elephant ride through local villages. The 2006 Zagat Survey of Top International Hotels, Resorts and Spas named Amanjiwo as the Top Hotel for Rooms, Public Spaces and Facilities.

The Bali properties are located in three completely different areas of the island. Staying several days at each is a good idea because, even though they're all Amans, each one is very different than the others. The Aman Bali Experience package is especially worthwhile, as it includes stays at two or three of the Bali properties, with breakfast and a daily activity at each. (There are a variety of "daily activities" and they can change at any time.)

Amankila is located in eastern Bali, away from the main tourist areas. It sits on a cliff with dramatic sea views from the open-air restaurant and stunning three tiered swimming pools. At the beach level is yet another pool and restaurant, as well as a private beach where you can lounge on your own double bale (a canopied wooden platform complete with mattress and pillows). Amankila also has its own yachts for day excursions. A sample "daily activity" on the Aman Bali Experience package might be a massage or a visit to a local home. The 2006 Zagat Survey mentioned above cited Amankila as Asia's Top Resort. Considering how many fabulous resorts there are in Asia, this is an incredible accomplishment. Amankila was also rated number one for Dining.

Amanusa sits high above the Nusa Dua area of Bali, just next door to one of the island's major golf courses. This is a less remote area of the island; shopping and other activities are close at hand. The beach at Amanusa is excellent for swimming or surfing. A sample "daily activity" might be a spa treatment or participation in the hotel's turtle-release program. By the way, you don't have to stay at Amankila to enjoy a private bale. Bales are set up on Amanusa's beach, as well. Arrange to have a sunrise breakfast served as you recline on your bale.

Amandari is located just outside Ubud, the art and cultural center of Bali. The hotel sits above the Ayung River and offers verdant views of rice terraces and the river gorge. The hotel's gardens are rich and lush and the architecture of the villas and public areas meshes beautifully with the natural environment. A sample "daily activity" at Amandari might be a guided bike ride or trek through the local rice fields, or perhaps a cooking lesson. The 2006 Zagat Survey mentioned above ranked Amandari as the Top Destination Spa. With the proliferation of spa hotels, to be named number one is indeed an impressive achievement.

It's difficult to explain the "Aman experience." You really do have to experience it. Aman describes it as a "lifestyle." We would explain it by saying that Aman is a destination within a destination. For example, not only is your destination Bali, but within that destination is the destination of Amandari, Amankila or Amanusa.

The "Aman experience" means an extraordinary level of service that's both subtle and on-the-spot. The staff at each Aman have been trained remarkably well. They are relaxed, but respectful. They are happy to have a friendly conversation with you, but they never overstep their bounds. You're tended to, but you're also left alone. There's nothing snooty about these resorts (as is the case at certain other luxury class chains). You get the feeling that the guests, management and the staff are all part of one idyllic community.

Accommodations are in private suites, in free-standing buildings; there are no shared walls. The suite categories are based upon the view/location you select. With the exception of Amanwana, suites with private pools are also available. In addition to the regular categories, there are special suites; some with butler service. The suite categories have different names, depending upon the property.

Click for larger view. Accommodation Categories:

  • Garden/village/jungle suites
  • Ocean/deluxe/valley/Borobudur suites
  • Pool/garden pool suites
  • Special suites with up to three bedrooms
  • Categories at Amanwana are either jungle tent or ocean tent
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