By Wan Zainal Abidin
Bali must be one of the most visited islands in Indonesia due to its easy accessibility from all over the world, including direct flights from Bandar Seri Begawan on Royal Brunei Airlines. But despite its popularity with tourists, the island has managed to retain its pristine beauty and charm, especially in secluded coves such as the one inhabited by the Bulgari Resort, near the village of Pecatu in Uluwatu.
Occupying a private peninsula overlooking the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean, the resort is Bulgari’s flagship resort property, representing all that the Bulgari brand has come to be known for. Opened in September 2006, the breathtaking resort, designed by architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Ciel and Partners, is a unique blend of traditional Balinese style and contemporary Italian design.
The resort is built and furnished using hand-cut volcanic stones, rich exotic woods and refined fabrics, bringing together cultural and natural elements in the resort’s layout and overall design. Natural lava and palimanan stones are used on the garden and interior walls, refined bangkiray hardwood in the villas, and natural green-coloured sukabumi stone to clad the outdoor showers, plunge and swimming pools. Experiencing the Bulgari Resort Bali was a total enrichment of my architectural senses.
Arriving late one evening in November, I was treated to dramatic views of the stylish holiday commune and that was the beginning of my unique architectural experience. Individual villas reflecting the graceful Balinese architecture were surrounded by secluded tropical gardens in an unrivalled natural setting. My ocean-view villa with a plunge pool was perched on a hill some three stories above the collection of bar and restaurants that form the main focus of the resort. Inside my villa, there was a huge sleeping area, a large separate walk-in closet, and a good-sized bathroom and toilet, all kitted out with the mod cons that you’d expect from a brand like Bulgari.
The interiors of the rest of the property were just as handsomely designed with Balinese features within a contemporary palette. All of the hotel’s accessories and details have been expressively designed and produced in Bali exclusively for Bulgari. The furniture, the handcrafted unique tableware and the refined textiles all rounded out this tour-de-force for my senses and sensibilities.
Of course, no getaway to Bali would be complete without a visit to the spa to indulge in their world-renowned Indonesian spa therapies. The resort’s spa reception is inside an antique Javanese Joglo house that was painstakingly dismantled and relocated at the resort. The huge spa complex features six treatment rooms, two royal pavilions, an open air lounge, a yoga pavilion and a private swimming pool all nestled within a beautiful Balinese-inspired landscape. I spent most afternoons getting puttied and flexed, indulging in their signature Indonesian therapies – a blissful lifestyle that one could easily get hooked on!
When I choose a hotel to stay in, one of the most important things I would consider is the food. To me, the quality of food available at the hotel is as important as room size, linen thread counts and the type of bath amenities in the bathroom. To my delight, Bulgari Resort’s cuisine is as memorable as the setting of the restaurants. Bulgari has two restaurants, Sangkar – a casual all-day dining restaurant uniquely situated on the cliff edge – that serves Western and Indonesian dishes, and Il Ristorante, which overlooks a reflection pool and served one of the best Italian meals that I’ve ever had on the island. The beach side pavilion beneath a bamboo-clad bale, nestled between the 150-metre cliff and the Indian Ocean, is another mesmerizing lunch location. From innovative Italian fare to exemplary Indonesian dishes, I certainly had my pick. The food was so good that I had all my meals at the resort and didn’t bother to venture out at all.
It is impossible not to be impressed by the Bulgari Resort Bali – their charming staff, excellent cuisine, and the setting of the resort. Staying at the Bulgari is indeed a fully licensed guilty pleasure. For more than a decade, the resort has been offering guests the Indonesian idyll in breathtaking surrounds, and judging by what I had experienced, it will do so for many more years to come.
Bulgari Resort Bali
Jalan Goa Lempeh, Banjar Dinas Kangin, Uluwatu
Bali 80354, Indonesia
Or visit their website here for more information.
This article first appeared in the April-June 2017 issue of Borneo Insider’s Guide magazine.
Photos courtesy of The Bulgari Resort, Bali