Arriving at the Four Seasons Sayan, you feel a weight lift off your shoulders: Entry is via a rooftop lotus pond, accessed by a wooden bridge, and set against a stunning backdrop of Bali blue skies, miles of jungle, and magnificent Mount Batur in the distance.
The stresses of day to day life seem to fade away with each step, and by the time you descend the spiral staircase into the main complex, they are forgotten. There are endless paddy fields of brilliant green to wander through, or you can dip your feet into the wild River Ayung, which snakes around the property. This is Bali at its vintage best.
There are options for a range of budgets – the main building has standard rooms, which has spacious and artfully decorated with remarkable views of the mighty river as well as easy access to the restaurant, gym, and activity room. But as most guests come here for special reason such as honeymoons, anniversaries, and engagements – it is worth splashing out on one of their lush villas.
Equipped with their own pools and sundecks, and in some cases, an outdoor terrace for aperitifs or nightcaps, the villas make a perfect bolthole. You don’t really have to leave, as room service is excellent, and most of the accommodation has spectacular views to rival the main complex. Bedrooms are designed to showcase Bali’s heritage, craftmanship, and natural bounty, while indoor and outdoor bathrooms are exquisite and fun. And while many come for a romantic getaway, the villas are perfectly set up for families too. There’s plenty of space and privacy, but if you need a break then there is a kids club, with a treehouse, and an on-site babysitting service.
The Four Seasons Sayan – is a ‘bucketlist’ favourite beloved by travel magazines and the jet set – the Obamas holidayed there last summer – but there’s plenty to keep you grounded. There’s a traditional yoga pavilion hidden amongst the rice paddies, which has daily classes for all skill levels or a place simply to retreat and read. As former US President Barack Obama demonstrated during his vacation – the rafting excursions are hugely popular.
For those needing further chances to decompress, there are spa villas offering a wide range of treatments, and meditations in starlight on the rooftop.
Meals are pricey by Bali standards but ingredients are fresh, often locally-sourced and the menus thoughtfully put together. Breakfast on the Ayung Terrace is a delight with multiple options from local classics such as Nasi Kusing (turmeric rice) to Western favourites including french toast, chocolate waffles and ‘luxe’ avocado toast to choose from. The stylish Jati Bar, meanwhile, is a great spot for sundowners.
Service is exemplary and staff go above and beyond to ensure you have what you need. There are plenty of hikes to take on – from simple walks to nearby villages, visits to traditional healers and water purification ceremonies, to the 2.5 hour nocturnal hike up Mount Batur, which usually culminates with spectacular sunrise views. Ubud is just twenty minutes away, so there’s plenty of extra entertainment and activity close by for those craving more of a buzz, but for most guests Four Seasons Sayan provides a rare chance to enjoy the best of Bali in peace.