If the gods should deign that I be stuck on an island, let it be Bali – specifically, the Bulgari Hotel in Bali.
There’s something special about lying on a deck chair at the Beach Club, with the cool wind caressing your face and the sound of crashing waves numbing your senses. With a spectacular view of the Indian Ocean, the spot marks the halfway point from the resort’s beach front, a dangerously rocky stretch with strong undercurrents – enthusiastic swimmers are advised to be content to just enjoy the view. The walk up the stairs seems daunting, but you hardly feel the climb, not when you know you’re going to languish in your private villa at the end of it.
Surprisingly egalitarian, every 300sqm guest room comes with a private garden, a plunge pool and an open-air living room that overlooks thatched roofs and the ocean. Each one is different because of its location. The bathroom? Probably the size of my living room in KL. The black terrazzo floor adds an opulent feel, and aside from the bathtub and two showers – one inside, the other in the garden – it includes a desk and an armchair.
Built in September 2006, the breathtaking 59-villa property is regarded as one of the world’s most exclusive destinations – with three two-bedroom villas and a sprawling 1,300sqm two-storey Bulgari villa that comes with a 17m-long swimming pool. Located near the village of Pecatu and the stunning cliff-top site of Pura Luhur Uluwatu Temple on Bali's far southwestern tip, the unique setting – 160m above sea level – was specially chosen to match Bulgari’s exquisite design.
Architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners have ingeniously incorporated traditional Balinese culture and the natural elements of the area into their very contemporary design, all while conveying the distinctive Italian style of Bulgari. Constructed and furnished using hand-cut volcanic stones, rich exotic woods and refined fabrics, they also used natural lava and palimanan stone for the garden and interior walls, refined bangkiray hardwood in the villas, and natural green-coloured sukabumi stone for the outdoor showers, plunge and swimming pools.
Exotic Balinese antiques and art pieces embellish the resort, alongside ceramics and woven fabrics designed and produced by local artists and designers.