With more strategically placed cabanas than any other seaside retreat I've visited in Bali, Amankila is a horizontally inclined hotel lover's dream. With just 34 villas perched on a cliff overlooking Lombok Strait, it's rare to see other guests on my "nap-hopping" rounds through this low-density haven.
The spa's signature Cita Ening (meaning "purification") is the best all-around experience I've had in roughly 425 days of wellness travel. I consider three elements when judging top-tier spa destinations: the human asset (therapist), the physical asset (venue) and the research and development of the specific treatment. Finally, at Amankila, a trifecta: All three exceeded expectations. It begins with a welcome greeting with Ibu Ayu, a spa staff veteran here. She cradles my feet in a bowl of warm water and works in a crystal salt scrub with tamarind and lime. After cleansing the feet, she exfoliates my body with a Balinese rice and ginger scrub, prepping the skin for a rhythmic massage.
My belly gets the royal treatment, a red ginger and Indonesian tea tree masque, then, a special bosom cream of rice milk and honey. Once she has applied both, she wraps my torso and chest in gorgeous natural cotton. Spas either fear, ignore or adore the breast; at Amankila, an Aman Resort, the spa staff lather attention on male and female breasts. Angry, scarlet bra strap creases cease to exist as she massages left to right and then lays about half a cucumber salad on my face. The effect is instantly cooling, and before I can even sigh with pleasure she has reached into my hair with her fingers, massaging my scalp with house-made coconut hair cream. The Benefits
Created with plant essences sourced for their purity, potency and therapeutic quality, Aman's spa elixirs are, for the chemically phobic, unparalleled by any synthetic-based serums. The most surprising, instantly visible benefit? If you've ever envied Salma Hayek's lush mane, Aman's coconut hair cream may bring you closer to her brand of crowning glory.
The remote retreat makes a gleeful first impression, with its dramatic cliffside stance, volcanic black sand beaches and rarefied air. Most of Aman's guests are either high profile or deeply private, they'd rather not be directed around a whirlpool or tuck their belongings into – God forbid – a locker. My idea of spa luxury is not having to see anyone other than my therapist. And here that's just what happens as sophisticated, multifaceted treatments are delivered wherever a guest fancies – in beachside cabanas, shaded coconut groves or on your private terrace at dusk. Spa therapists arrive with cool, leather-accented wicker baskets, carrying an impressive payload of feel-good formulas. Unlike many mobile concepts, it's not a messy or disorganized affair, it's pure magic. General manager Tracy Atherton puts a premium on flawless execution, from spa to kitchen. Amankila expresses itself like that coltish and coy co-ed with the best hair: calm, cool and collected at all times.
Amankila at Manggis, Bali, Indonesia; 011-800-2255-2626; amanresorts.com; 150 minutes for $200.
Special to The Globe and Mail