Set between the royal capitals of Solo and Yogyakarta, with clear views to the Borobudur Temple, Amanjiwo celebrates the artistic traditions and spiritual legacy of Central Javanese culture. Opened in 1997, Amanjiwo's 36 suites frame an expansive swimming pool with clear views over the rice terraces to Borobudur. Guests experience the majesty of the 9th century Buddhist monument with a sunrise excursion capped by a breakfast picnic overlooking the surrounding countryside. Private tours to other notable Buddhist monuments in the region, as well as hikes in the neighbouring hills and visits to local villages are also on offer. While on property, guests may experience local wellness therapies at the Spa suite, play tennis, relax in the library, or sip a cocktail on the terrace as the sun sets across the Kedu Plain.
The man in charge at Amanjiwo is Sean Flakelar who took command in 2001 there after serving for many years as Executive Chef of the Amannusa in Bali.
With Central Java very much in recent news due to the explosion of Mount Merapi, Balidiscovery.com caught up with Sean in the shadows of the his neighbouring monument Ė the Borobudur Temple Ė to find how he and his spectacular hotel have weathered recent events.
The Interview: Sean Flakelar, General Manager, Amanjiwo
Balidiscovery.com: Sean, is everything back to normal at Amanjiwo?
Sean Flakelar: "Yes, we are delighted to report that everything is running smoothly at Amanjiwo and our surrounding villages once again. We are offering our full menu of distinctive guest experiences and the property's facilities are all open. Mt. Merapi has reduced its activity to normal levels allowing the whole area to regain its lushness."
Balidiscovery.com; How about conditions at the Borobudur temple?
Sean Flakelar: "Borobudur has reopened its first seven levels; the remaining three levels are still undergoing some deep cleaning which will be occurring for some time. The majority of ash has been removed from the surface; UNESCO, in conjunction with the Indonesian conservation office, have started to clean within the monument's joints and plan to remove the flooring so they can clean ash from the drainage."
Has the traveller's experience to Central Java changed or been affected in the aftermath of the Merapi explosion? What things, if any, might be different today than in the period prior to the eruption?
Sean Flakelar: "The experience in Central Java remains the same for travellers interested in exploring the majesty of this deeply cultural region. From the many Buddhist monuments that dot the countryside surrounding Borobudur, to the picturesque villages, local handicrafts, lush rice terraces and royal palaces, Central Java is a rich crossroads of historical relevance, artistic achievement and vibrant rural traditions."
"Those most affected by this incident are farmers who resided on the side of the volcano. They have tragically lost livestock, crops and in some cases, family members."
Balidiscovery.com: Java's a very mystical place. Has the resort held any special ceremonies to mark its re-opening?
Sean Flakelar: "Once the eruptions subsided we held a ceremony at Amanjiwo called a "Selamatan" to pray for those who lost their lives. We repeated a similar ceremony once clean-up efforts were completed several weeks later when we resumed operations to again offer our thanks and pray for the people who have lost their homes and loved ones throughout this tragic incident. This was attended both times by local priests, villagers and all of our staff. Once the prayers were offered, a traditional Javanese meal was shared by all."
Balidiscovery.com; Your hotel Ė both in setting and service Ė is a real Indonesian jewel. What's the feedback you're getting from guests now that you are once again fully open for business?
Sean Flakelar: "Feedback since we re-opened has been extremely positive. Many guests are intrigued by what happened and are surprised there is very little physical evidence of the eruption apart from some of the palm trees having lost some fronds. All in all, we are delighted to welcome our guests back to what we believe is one of the most magical areas of Indonesia."
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