Jun 22, 2022
ANDAZ BALI ONLY OPENED in April of last year, but the grounds don’t have the stubbly look of new landscaping. Trees tower over zigzagging paths, full canopies providing protection from the fierce tropical sun. Thumb-sized yellow songbirds flit from squat plumeria up to the purple blossoms of orchid trees that clear the peaked villa roofs by several meters. A massive banyan tree whose braided trunk of prop roots stretches wider than my outstretched arms stands next to an Olympic-sized koi pond.
Even in Bali’s fecund climate, such verdance doesn’t happen overnight. These trees have stood here for decades or more, part of the erstwhile Bali Hyatt grounds. That property was recently renovated and rebranded as a Hyatt Regency, while Andaz, their luxury lifestyle-and-design brand, was grafted into the lush gardens on its northern flank, facing Sanur’s long stretch of white-sand beach.
The design by Bangkok-based Tierra Design and Spin Design Studio in Tokyo kept as much of the original greenery as possible, arranging clusters of low-rise buildings around quiet courtyards and lagoons. Using a red brick distinctive of Sanur, as well as other locally sourced materials like Javanese marble, eco-friendly bamboo, and teak, they’ve crafted a contemporary version of the traditional Balinese village, with batik textiles and elegant wood carvings providing native accents. The personality of Andaz Bali, as I learned on my stay, is equally village-esque, as many of the staff have worked on the property together for years—giving off an air of casual familiarity and warmth that I felt palpably.
One hub of activity is on the beachfront, where the main pool overlooks Sanur Beach, cabanas and lounge chairs spread liberally underneath towering palms and Indian almond trees. A steady stream of joggers and bikers pass by, enjoying the six-kilometer path that stretches the length of Sanur. Guests can join them on complementary Andaz Bali bikes or just people-watch from Fisherman’s Club, the resort’s seafood restaurant slash beach club. In tune with Sanur’s sedate vibe, the music is more easy listening than thudding dance beats, but just the soundtrack you need for digging your toes in the sand, skewers of grilled prawns in chili sauce in one hand and a bottle of an original IPA from local brewery Stark in the other.
The true heart of Andaz Bali is the Village Square, though. A grassy courtyard is ringed by a lounge serving complementary drinks and snacks and four dining options: elevated Indonesian classics at buzzy Wok Wok, grilled fare at Fire Fox, Mediterranean roasts from Blue Oven, and fresh-from-the-oven café goodies from Deli & Bakery. The open-air eateries connect seamlessly to allow guests to order from any menu regardless of their seat, a simple pleasure when contrasted with many resorts’ rigid rules.
The village is particularly lively at breakfast, when the bright chimes of a live rindik duo accompany chattering groups of hotel guests and locals alike. Andaz eschews the typical buffet in favor of an unlimited a la carte menu for a more service-centered experience. The offerings evince executive sous chef Benjamin Haselbeck’s previous posts in Tokyo and Seoul, with options like kimchi jjigae and Japanese-style onsen egg with tobiko caviar and avocado appearing alongside European classics and Indonesian specialties. Despite the international bent, a surprising amount is locally sourced, even the delightfully piquant artisanal camembert and cow’s milk manchego.
As part of the brand’s focus on local flavor, Andaz hosts daily cultural activities. I popped into a session on lontar—fan-shaped manuscripts made by etching the serpentine Balinese script into dried palm fronds and blackening the words with candlenut charcoal. Teacher Desak first took us through an explanation of the syllabary, having us practice our names again and again on paper, cheerfully nudging our chicken scratch into something approaching legibility before handing over a razor and frond and telling us to have at it. Chatting afterward, she tells me that many of the staff have deep roots here, having transferred over from the old Bali Hyatt. She herself started in 1995, working alongside a man who would become her husband. She proudly shows me family pictures that now include a young granddaughter, joking that it’s all thanks to the hotel.
The 149 guestrooms are incredibly spacious; even the standard class has a private balcony or veranda roomy enough for open-air dining and a cushy lounger. Slightly different layouts allow guests to choose from a variety of features like full-size soaking tubs, outdoor rain showers, second bathrooms, and direct lagoon-pool access. The walled villas (four with beach access, 18 in the garden) are, naturally, the most sizable, with private gardens and pools. They can also be connected with the neighboring villa for large parties, although locks on both the gate and residence result in the annoying necessity of bringing your key card every time you step out for a dip in the pool or coffee on the veranda.
Unusually, Andaz doesn’t have its own spa but shares the Regency’s Shankha Spa. The sprawling wellness complex can probably handle the combined load, with six private treatment villas, four more kitted out especially for couples, an adults-only pool, gym, hot and cold plunge pools, sauna, and steam room nestled in a quiet corner of the gardens. Frankly, the space is so gorgeous, it’s hard to imagine a new spa could have outdone it. The open-air relaxation lounge, where guests snooze post-treatment with a glass of medicinal jamu, is surrounded by a lake of water lilies, saffron-colored koi, and vine-draped fountains.
After such lush scenery, checking out feels a bit like being cast out of the proverbial garden, but unlike Eden, the gates of Andaz Bali are always open to welcome you back.
www.andazbali.com; doubles from US$300.