Dreaming of a lush green, serene paradise? Your dreams will become reality at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. The resort overlooks the sacred Ayung River, the mystical roar of which I will never forget, and is located a 10–15 minute drive from the much-loved town of Ubud.
Upon arrival, I receive a blessing as my warm welcome. In Bali, flowers are considered a blessing of the gods, representing purity and sincerity. The Balinese use them for their prayers and daily offerings. A frangipani is placed behind my ear, a symbol of love and immortality as the tree will continue to grow even after it has been uprooted. The blessing (which, as well as the frangipani, involves a blue sash placed across my waist and water sprinkled over me) symbolises a neutralising of the guest’s negativity. And in our modern society, with all the stresses and burdens we carry with us, I cannot think of a more appropriate ritual to undergo when embarking on a retreat like this.
I already feel special and haven’t even reached the main building, which, surrounded by working rice fields, is uniquely designed to resemble the shape of a UFO landing amid the fields.
The resort buggy delivers me to my room and I secretly want to jump for joy when I see what lies ahead: definitely the most exceptional entrance to a room I have ever stayed in. “People always comment on the unusual entryways to our villas,” says General Manager Uday Rao. “When you arrive, you are greeted by a simple lily pond and a shaded meditation area. You then step downstairs to enter the villa itself, which is nestled amid the trees and greenery of the river valley.”
The rooms at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan allow guests to feel as if they are relaxing in their own private home. My riverfront one-bedroom villa has a large outdoor living area featuring a dining table, lounge chairs and plunge pool. The outdoor shower is a highlight featuring views of the Ayung River, accompanied by the excited screams of people whitewater rafting below. I am in love with the comfortable bed and how it lights up beautifully at night.
Do not leave here without visiting the spa! The Sacred River Spa at Sayan is not to be missed as it focuses on “evoking a sense of spiritual connection powerful enough to affect physical change”. According to one of the most sacred texts of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita, the subtle body is composed of mind, intelligence and ego, which control the gross physical body. There are seven major chakras, energy points in the subtle body, located along our spinal column. If one or more chakras are blocked or out of balance, it can have a serious impact on our mental, emotional and physical health.
I was treated to a complimentary Muladhara – the root chakra treatment. Known as “the grounding” chakra that represents our foundation and feeling of being centred, it combines a foot wash, Balinese sacred smoke, sound of singing bowls, quartz crystals and a deep, slow massage.
This was my very first chakra experience and one I will never forget. I truly felt a sense of inner peace come over me. I emerged a different person and loved the experience so much that I quickly booked another treatment, Manipura – the navel chakra.
Known as the “inner strength” chakra, representing our ability to be confident and in control of our lives, this features a foot and body scrub, bio-energy mudwrap, lemongrass and basil bath and vital energy massage. The Balinese honour this chakra a minimum twice per day with prayers to help provide guidance, strength and self-worth.
In addition to chakra ceremonies and spa treatments, the Sacred River Spa offers Balinese healing rituals and healing arts practitioners – “individuals devoted to a mindful, conscious way of life, who in turn enrich our island paradise”. I didn’t have enough time to fit this in, but will definitely do so when I return.
Complimentary activities include a bike ride through the neighbouring rice field, a village museum visit, a paddy and resort garden tour, daily trekking through the Ayung River Valley and a Balinese dance program. A complimentary shuttle service to Ubud is available four times per day.
Obviously, I’m not the only devotee of this heavenly place. Last year alone, two of the awards the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan won were:
Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2014
Condé Nast Traveler Platinum Circle 2014
My travel tip – choose a riverfront villa for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. From here you can hear the sounds of the Ayung River from the privacy of your own bedroom! I cannot wait to return here and next time I’ll bring my sister – I know she will love and appreciate this extraordinary place, and am sure we both have some chakras that could do with unblocking!
See here for details on The Royal Villa.