The Four Seasons Resort at Sayan is a tropical paradise shrouded in giant palms and ferns, set along the sacred Ayung River. Guests descend to the bedrooms of their teakwood villas from lily ponds, and possible views include rice terraces and the longest river in Bali. Designed by John Heah, the Four Seasons was built almost entirely of Balinese materials, from shells and coconuts to coveted ikat fabrics, offering a distinctive local experience only 15 minutes from Ubud. The resort offers several ways for guests to connect with the Balinese culture, including special Indonesian dinners and cooking classes, ancient wellness rituals, and the opportunity to work on a nearby rice paddy helping a local farmer plant the day's crop. The rest can be found in Ubud, where serpentine rice terraces give way to looming mountains, and vibrant markets, temples, and museums counterbalance the hotel’s dining and wellness journeys.
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Since the early 1920s, Ubud has been known for art and culture. It is where the island’s most talented teachers of dance, music, and drama were originally sent to entertain the king and dispense their knowledge. Dances like Legong, Ramayana, Baris, Kecak, and Sanghyang were taught and are still performed today. Distinguished painters, writers, and musicians came next—primarily from Europe—and settled here in the 1930s, establishing an arts colony that has expanded to include yoga and sustainable living. The Agung Rai Museum of Art and the Tony Raka Art Gallery reveal two ends of the cultural spectrum in Ubud. Food is a newer passion point, with Naughty Nuri representing the more traditional palate and Mozaic and Bridges passing the fine dining torch.
Need to Know
Rooms: 18 suites, 42 villas. From $490. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:Offering tables overlooking the Ayung River and the pool, the Riverside Caféoffers a bistro-style breakfast and lunch as well as semiformal dinners, including Fisherman Night—an extravagant seafood banquet—every Saturday. Ayung Terrace is the more traditional dining venue, highlighting local specialties from all over the archipelago. On Wednesdays, the river terrace hosts the Ubud Night Dinner, where a suckling pig is roasted over an open fire. Mondays present the Rijstaffel Dinner, a family-style feast of the best Indonesian food and drink. Spa and gym details:The resort offers a gym with views of lush greenery, a kidney bean–shaped pool, and a Spa Villa that houses three treatment rooms surrounded by a lotus pond. The Muladhara ritual is recommended for frequent travelers or those in the midst of transition. It combines a cleansing Balinese kemenyan smoke ceremony, the sound of singing bowls, and a deep massage laced with locally grown ginger and cinnamon. A former Buddhist nun, Fera is the resident wellness coordinator who gives pep talks on love and mindfulness.
Who's it best for: Spiritually inclined jungle junkies who feel happiest down by the river. The Four Seasons at Sayan is also family friendly; there’s a dedicated family suite and a tree house that offers daily activities for kids. Our favorite rooms: One- and two-bedroom Riverfront Villas feature a lily pond and a meditation deck in front and an outdoor living area behind with a dining table, lounge chairs, and a private pool. The best part is these villas’ position right next to the Ayung River. Ornate wooden screens behind the beds reveal birds and leaves against a bright red background. The green-tiled marble bathrooms would be calming even without the freestanding tub and outdoor shower. Farm life:A Day in the Life of a Balinese Farmer is a guest experience that combines work and play. It starts with a walk from the resort to a local rice plantation, where visitors help a farmer plant the crop. The day ends back at the resort spa with a river-stone scrub and Balinese massage followed by nasi campur, a "mixed rice" lunch that’s popular out in the fields.