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Wanderlust: Bvlgari Resort Bali

By Caroline Suganda

in addition to private plunge pool in all villas, the cliff side pool is a bigger, communal pool for all guests.
 
Bvlgari
in addition to private plunge pool in all villas, the cliff side pool is a bigger, communal pool for all guests.

Bali is perhaps one of the few cities that represents its country — Indonesia — more than the capital city itself — Jakarta. This island in the southeast of Indonesia offers endless possibilities to the traveller. Its charm lies in the mélange of natural attractions. It’s the perfect example of having “the best of both worlds”: a rich spiritual heritage that offers a sacred, tranquil respite to those who come seeking answers to “the meaning of life”, and at the same time, it is also a paradise for those looking for a tropical getaway, one that suits all sizes of wallets.

For many who have Bali on their bucket list of places to visit, the tourist hotspots of Kuta and Legian (where surfers and beach-bums flock to for affordable drinks and to party the night away) or Seminyak (a more upscale destination for shopping and eats that are a lot less aggressive than the former) usually come up in holiday plans. However, Uluwatu at the southern tip of island is one to add to those plans. Although southward is usually referred to as “down”, in Bali, this area is considered as “up” for its ring of towering cliffs (as high as 200 metres) that commands a jaw-dropping view, and perhaps, for its “quiet luxury”.

While not as populated and less city-like when compared to Seminyak, this area is sparsely dotted with luxury villas and lavish beach clubs, all clamouring, and getting the stunning, panoramic view of the horizon.

BvlgariThis stretch of white sandy beach located under the property’s cliff is only accessible to guests via the inclinator.
This stretch of white sandy beach located under the property’s cliff is only accessible to guests via the inclinator.

Italian jeweller Bvlgari was early to identify and mine Uluwatu’s potential. The company, which debuted its first Bvlgari Hotel in Milan (in 2004) was simultaneously polishing this gem of a locaton (Bali) and introduced its second property here in 2006. That was a bold move indeed, on the part of the famed jeweller — to offer a luxury resort experience in today’s time would most likely be a way of keeping up with a trend, but to do that 12 years ago, the idea of a “luxury resort” in a third-world country was unthinkable.

As one of the first few luxury property players to develop and offer its full-fledged resort experience in Uluwatu, the 58-villa Bvlgari Resort Bali continues to keep itself forward-looking and contemporary. As with all the other Bvlgari hotels & resorts properties, this sleek, modern resort was also designed by Milan-based architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners. The resort, perched on a cliff some 150 metres above sea level, is located at the southwestern tip of Bali, and it’s easily accessible from Ngurah Rai international airport, which is about 30 to 45 minutes by car, depending on the rather erratic traffic.

Guests arriving at the property would be driven along the long driveway leading to the resort’s main building, accompanied by the roaring sound of wheels crunching on gravel, reminiscing an Italian holiday. An expansive pavilion awaits, anchored in the middle by a flight of stairs and a butler — all guests have one assigned to them upon their arrival.

The staircase leads guests to the al fresco pavilion, which overlooks the thatched roofs of the villas and beyond that, the magnificence of the Indian Ocean rises into view. The property prides itself upon this gorgeous panoramic vista of the horizon, one that is fairly recognisable as it’s the backdrop in many of the wedding photos of Taiwanese celebrity couple Wallace Huo and Ruby Lin, who held their intimate wedding ceremony at the resort two years ago.

BvlgariThe magnificent skyline of the Indian Ocean greets guests at the arrival pavillion.
The magnificent skyline of the Indian Ocean greets guests at the arrival pavillion.

Perhaps it’s the tranquil seascape (that seems to be playing on a loop like a screensaver), or the extensive use of natural stones and rich exotic woods that make this place exude a calm and blissful vibe. Its overall design, imbued with sense of italian flair, also incorporates the culture and natural elements of the location. 

Like weaving through the small alleyways of a small, charming Italian town, the walkways around the property are paved with cobblestones and lined with stone walls gallantly bearing the weight of lush greeneries such as bougainvillea, frangipani and monstera. Nestled within these high walls sit individual villas, each with its own tropical garden, an open-air living area and an infinity plunge pool. Its bedroom, equipped with Bang & Olufsen TV, is designed in such a way that seems to bring the horizon right up close while the enormous en-suite bathroom — a deep tub, double sinks, two showers (indoor and outdoor) and a fully-automated toilet bowl with seat warmer — is at the opposite end of the space. after every evening turndown service, a locally-sourced gift (alongside the usual canapés and chocolates) such as a mini gamelan (a traditional musical instrument) is placed on the bed; a way of deepening the resort guests’ cultural experience.

BvlgariThe Il Ristorante is a 36-seater dinner-only featuring classic italian fare.
The Il Ristorante is a 36-seater dinner-only featuring classic italian fare.

Like any Italian who prides himself on intimate gatherings with family, the property offers bigger accommodation options with the Bvlgari Villa — a 1,300 square metre unit with two bedrooms, a living room, a private cinema and a 20-metre private pool. The property unveiled its biggest accommodation last year, a five-bedroom mansion with a private elevator and a two-tier swimming pool.

While Bali — or Indonesia for that matter — does not yet have a Michelin guide, Bvlgari has brought to the island, its first restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Luca Fantin, the Il Ristorante. This 36-seater, dinner-only outpost features creative interpretations of classic italian fare using local, organic ingredients, set in a romantic ambience surrounded by a reflection pool. Next to this fine dining place is Sangkar, situated right at the edge of the cliff. This all-day dining spot offers Asian and international cuisines, including local favourites such as Ayam Bakar Taliwang (baby chicken marinated in tamarind, garlic and a fiery sauce from sumbawa). When lunch time beckons, head to La Spiaggia, a beachside bar located under the cliff, along the stretch of private white sand beach only accessible by guests (via an inclinator).

A stunning view with an elegant property is nothing without a charming, impeccable service — a bevy of service staff who knows when they need to be discrete, remembers guests by their name and the room number, is on hand for all your needs; a service that's much appreciated and perhaps, the ultimate ingredient to an enjoyable resort experience.