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Interview with Aman’s Sean Flakelar

When it comes to luxury resorts, most discerning travellers will agree that Aman properties lead the way. Bali is one of our favourite, most versatile destinations, and is home to not just one, but three Aman properties: Amandari, just outside Ubud; Amankila, on the east coast with the dramatic Mount Agung forming the backdrop; and Amanusa on the south peninsula. Sean Flakelar is the General Manager of Amanusa and Country Manager of Amanresorts Indonesia; we got the chance to pick his brains about Bali, luxury travel and Aman…

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Aman Resorts are world leaders in luxury accommodation, but what exactly do you think it is that makes an Aman hotel stand out from other five-star properties?

The sincerity of good old hospitality; from the moment our guests are met at the airport to when they are greeted at the resort by the manager, to the personal check-in by our Front of House staff, all the small touches in the room – all go to making the guest feel at home, a part of the family.  We haven’t invented anything new, rather we just try to offer personalised old-fashioned service, that sometimes in today’s busy world gets forgotten.

Why should luxury travellers consider Bali?

Bali has developed into a paradise for luxury travellers. With three Amans located in different parts of Bali, it opens up the opportunity to discover all the diverse aspects of the island in total comfort.

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What is your favourite thing to do/see in Bali?

Well, I’m a surfer, so, when the time allows, I’m out there on the beautiful reefs enjoying Bali’s world-class surfing breaks. When the surf may not be at its best, we have three very good golf courses that keep me happy.

Aman properties always have excellent spas: do you have a recommended treatment?

My personal favourite is the traditional Mandi Lulur, a combination of a body scrub, massage and finished with a bath: available at all three Amans in Bali, this is a must.

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For couples and honeymooners, which Bali resort would you recommend?

For honeymooners I would definitely recommend the Amankila suite, a two-bedroom suite overlooking the ocean – life does not get much better than this!

And for families?

I guess I’m biased, but the Amanusa new villas offer a fantastic opportunity for families who need a little space, but enough privacy to really enjoy each other’s company. With the golf course and our pristine beach club a stone’s throw away, there is plenty to keep everyone happy.

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There are currently three Aman properties in Bali: are there any plans for new resorts on the island?

Indonesia has a multitude of possibilities for new Amans, but I will leave this to our Chairman to decide, while he keeps everyone guessing where the next Aman in Indonesia will be conceived.

In terms of design, how do the Aman properties fit in with their environment?

This is a major consideration when our chairman, Mr Zecha, decides on the design and which architect to use.  Sustainability is the key for Aman, and all three Bali properties blend and enhance their local environment.

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Increasingly, luxury resorts are taking their conservational responsibilities very seriously: how do Aman properties in Bali make their resorts sustainable and supportive of local communities?

Apart from supporting several orphanages in Ubud and Candi Dasa and various other local charities, Aman Bali has joined the Begawan foundation to actively participate in the Bali Starling breeding and release program.  The Bali Starlings were on the verge of extinction, but thanks to the Begawan Foundation we now have the opportunity to breed the birds out of extinction and prepare some natural release areas where they can return to the wild in significant numbers.  Amankila is also participating in the ROLE Foundation’s “Waste to Wonder” programme, which introduces waste management services and infrastructure development planning at a community level.

What will guests of Aman Bali properties remember about their stay when they get home?

Aman Bali offers guests an unlimited amount of stand-out experiences, but some that come to mind include the full-moon beach BBQ at Amankila; at Amandari, any of the major in-house Hindhu temple ceremonies; or Ibu Leki’s two-hour massage at Amanusa. All of these will provide unforgettable memories to take home.

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Many thanks to Sean Flakelar, and the team at Aman.

If you’ve been inspired to explore Bali or stay at one of the incredible Aman properties, take a look at some of our example trips to this diverse island, or drop us a line.