Amankila, meaning “peaceful hill” in Sanskrit, proffers jaw-dropping views of the Lombok Strait and Bali’s volcanic eastern coastline. This super swish beach hideaway ensconced on an island where the sky meets the sea, is drenched in whispered sophistication.
Built into the verdant slopes of a cliff, Amankila’s sweeping ocean views can lull even the most harried city soul into a blissful contentment. The approach to the property slowly builds a sense of quiet expectation as the drive winds up hill before rolling gently down, finally reaching the resort’s main building that is constructed on three split-levels.
On the uppermost level is the airy arrival court and lobby, one level below is the bar and restaurant, while the library, gallery and terrace restaurant are all located on the third level. Lured inside by the sound of undulating waves, guests are immediately introduced to Amankila’s signature tiered swimming pools: three azure blue-tiled infinity pools that blur the lines between ocean and sky. Designed to flow in harmony with traditional Balinese customs, these pools run into one another like the terraced rice fields found around the area.
Architect Ed Tuttle has purposefully kept Amankila in touch with its rural community by employing local materials and design. He has used a sequence of inwardly curving shapes to organically balance the interiors with their surroundings – a theme permeating every detail. This natural fluidity is visible everywhere, from the terrace restaurant (that is recessed off the main pool) with its mirrored walls reflecting the blue Balinese sky, to the paras-stone moldings that smoothly run over each suite’s main door.
Core elements of design are seamlessly carried from one area to another – like the use of natural woods and local stone, the emphasis on native Balinese architecture and the focus on each aspect being as eco-friendly as possible. The décor mantra is understated luxury, the interiors not robbing attention from the beauty unfolding outside.
Public areas are tiled with an earthy terrazzo flooring and a timber latticework or cane roofs, while gentle arches frame the landscape beyond. Terrazzo walkways, lush with emerald green foliage and twittering birds connect the entire property. Constructed on stilts with dizzying views of the sapphire sea, they cradle guests in the bosom of Mother Nature.
The 33 freestanding luxury suites peppered on elevated plots to take advantage of the view, also adopt an indigenous plan as they are topped with alang alang roof thatching and cathedral ceilings. Designed like individual beach houses, Ed Tuttle drew upon the classical beauty of the water palaces of Ujung to create the lines and flow of the ‘residences’.
Encouraging outdoor living, all suites have been planned around spacious terraces furnished with a lazy daybed, coconut-shell tables and rattan chairs for inspired writing or al fresco dining. Some suites even come with their own private infinity pools!
The interiors are characteristically Aman-sumptuous, with inlaid marble-and-wood floors, arched teak window casings, soaring cane ceilings and carved bedsteads dressed with plush linens. All suites are divided into three distinct areas beginning with the bedroom, which is dominated largely by a canopied king-size bed.
Crossing a large threshold takes you to the middle of the ‘house’ into the bathing area. Replete with soaking tub and cozy divan, they both come framed against wide double picture windows. Walking through this area further leads to a separate space occupied by double terrazzo vanities with floor-to-ceiling mirrors, seashell-finished taps and a coconut-wood dressing area.
Densely forested pathways not only snake their way from the suites to the spa and gym but also meander to the Beach Club. Nestled within a thicket of coconut trees and shaded by a fragrant frangipani plant lies Amankila’s largest swimming pool, a 41-metre turquoise tiled lap pool. Strewn on the private beach nearby are luxurious lounging bales and sun beds that are cosseted within rustling palms, pandanus leaves and flowering bushes.
Amankila also has two-hilltop escapes, a 15-minutes drive from the resort. Bale Tirta Sira and Ketug Bale are located high up in the hills among rice fields and banana trees. Made of coconut-wood, these bales are styled after the thatched-roof versions surrounding the central pool, replete with relaxed furnishings and a careful attention to detail.
Amankila is exactly what founder Adrian Zecha envisioned – an intimate retreat in beautiful surrounds with the unassuming, warm hospitality of a gracious private residence. Aman resorts as usual always manages to offer an experience that is discreet while providing the highest level of service.
Text By Natalie Pedder-Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy Amanrsesorts