Experience the Four Seasons Sayan in one day and feel as famous as Neil and Tim Finn when you enter this breathtakingly beautiful and unique luxury resort situated on the banks of the Agung River in Sayan, Ubud, Bali.
Feeling like a little girl waking up on Christmas Day, I had butterflies of excitement when I arrived at the Four Seasons Sayan in Bali to start my rice bowl tour.
The rice bowl experience is named this, as on aerial view, the resorts lobby and suspended walkway looks like a rice bowl and spoon. Hence the name, rice bowl experience.
Four Seasons Sayan – a rice bowl experience
My tour started on the suspended bridge, made by locally sourced teak, guiding me to the top of one of four mandalas.
The view from the top is incredible. The 360 degree vista is full of lush tropical jungle and palm trees framing blue sky and rays of sun.
Here at the top, is a deck, perfect for a wedding or yoga space, surrounded by a pond floating bright pink and white lotus flowers. It is truly quite a Zen experience.
Over the next two hours I was expertly educated on Balinese traditions, the hotels architecture, Buddhism, flora and the concept behind the design and layout of the Four Seasons Sayan.
The resort was designed by Malaysian architect John Heah whose Buddhist beliefs were blended with the local Balinese customs and traditions. The build took five years and is an architecture masterpiece, now 17 years on.
Descending from the top, we entered the second mandala which acts as a bar, lounge and also is the lobby of the Four Seasons Sayan. Here pillars reach from roof to floor, an important feature for the Balinese to not only enhance breeze throughout the space but also to represent stability.
A moat of water flows around the edge of the mandala to create calmness and tranquillity but also safety from falling over the edge (parents with toddlers beware). It is here your eyes cast on a spiralling sculpture otherwise known as the ‘stairway to heaven’ (Perhaps John Hare also had a like for Led Zeppelin)!
Down another series of stairs and the third mandala houses the Agung Terrace, a restaurant where you return after your spa for an authentic Balinese Nasi Campur.
On the fourth and final mandala is the Four Seasons Sayan spa.
Four Seasons Sayan spa
Inspired by Buddhism, the treatments all combine the physical with the spiritual, aligning chakras, using essential oils and serving you Ayurveda teas such as rice tea, known for its benefits in maintaining your sugar levels and digestion. Here I sat and sipped tea, poured especially for my Pitta body type, where I could choose the cold, warm or hot plunge to immerse into a world of bliss. My only reflection was on the fronds of the palms and being in the here and now.
Gardens, rice terraces and yoga
Calm and enquiring we headed off into the resorts gardens where an abundance of flowers and plants were explained for their purpose to either the Four Seasons Sayan or Balinese life. Ylang ylang, African tulips, pomegranates, oranges, star fruit, aloe vera, egg plant, herbs and terraces of rice, are some of many types of vegetation surrounding the suites and villas of the Four Seasons Sayan.
The highlight was arriving at the Lotus Bale, a bamboo pavilion shaped like a lotus, designed by John Heah’s daughter. It is here the Four Seasons Sayan holds its yoga and meditation including aerial yoga, in the midst of rice terraces tended by its Gardeners and Guests (if they wish).
The rice bowl experience takes you back to the spa where Therapists pamper and press your body through a series of rhythmic strokes following a scrub made from a blend of local spices including turmeric and ground rice. The result is warm, glowing skin and a deep state of relaxation in time for lunch.
Heading to the Agung Terrace, the Nasi Campur is a mixture of local dishes including satay, other small Indonesian dishes and rice. It is here Wayan bid me namaste on a promise that I return to his yoga retreat or my little princesses getting their feet muddy on his rice planting tour (I’d like to see this)!!
Infinity pool – simply relax
Relaxing by the infinity pool, listening to the sounds of the Agung River, I drifted off into a state of bliss and the sound of Crowded House’s ‘Four Seasons in one day”, replayed in my head as a memory of this amazing once in a lifetime experience.
Terima kasih, to the marketing team at the Four Seasons Sayan for allowing me this privilege and making my step-daughters 21st birthday very special.
I highly recommend this tour and is a great trip out of the busy Kuta, Legian and Seminyak areas to see and experience rural Bali.