Eye-rolling aside, I’m not just another pilgrim on the trail of Eat Pray Love. I’m participating in an authentic ceremony, performed by Ibu Soradi, the priestess of the Balinese village Kedewatan, which I’m calling home for the next few days. The only difference between me and Julia Roberts is that this ceremony is part of a spa treatment at my hotel. Next up: A coffee scrub made of grains picked by Kedewatan harvesters.
Integrating local flavour may not be a new trend in luxury hotels, but the five-star Amandari takes things a step further by opening its doors to the surrounding community. As I leave the spa, I nearly collide with a group of kids running toward one of the outdoor pavilions. They gather there every day after school to learn folklore dances from a teacher employed by the hotel. Many of the students are the children of Amandari employees (talk about your work-life balance). Guests can watch the class from the pool while eating rice and coconut cakes baked by two women who live just down the road.
But it’s in the lobby where you feel truly immersed in Balinese life. Running right through the space is a path considered sacred by villagers. (The lobby’s domed ceiling is even split in two to make room for the tall altars used during religious processions along the route.) Extending past the bar and descending into the lush valley over which the property is perched, the path ultimately leads to a little Buddhist temple. On your way down, you often encounter families who have come to give offerings to Ganesh, the god of wisdom. Join them, and your soul might just seem a little purer after all.
Originally published in enRoute magazine .
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