The southern coast of Bali is favoured by travellers arriving from far and wide to get a taste of contemporary – or some may call it gentrified – Balinese culture. Dubbed the ‘party town’ of the tourism-thriving Indonesian island, Seminyak is often described as young, fun and hip. It is no wonder that it has taken Alila and its elusive properties some time to check into Seminyak’s overcrowded neighbourhood.
Yet the brand has not lost sight of its promise; it remains respectful of its place within the local community, and on Earth. Alila Seminyak is the first resort in Indonesia to earn a 44-point best practice score in the EarthCheck Building Planning and Design standards, surpassing the industry norm of five points. While retaining an ancient ancestral temple at the heart of the site, its ‘new injections’ to the beachfront location does not attempt to imitate tradition mindlessly. Value is generated through preference for refined artisanal craft over experiment.
“Consciously the inspiration was always for the hotel to belong to its context and pay homage to its environs,” says Gaurang Khemka, Founder and Design Director of URBNarc – the appointed architect and designer with outposts in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai. The site plan takes a leaf out of a typical Balinese family compound where independent buildings surround a temple or pond.
Four independent blocks housing 240 rooms and suites, as well as a three-bedroom penthouse, surround the existing temple. “While crumbling a bit, the ‘Pura’ temple on site was in active use by the landowners and their families. I decided to celebrate this, [and] locate it centrally and axially to the arrival lobby,” Khemka adds.
The temple was minimally restored and reframed by a reflective pond. Although small in size – in comparison to the four blocks – the temple commands a calming presence on site. This is in part due to the positive space that surrounds the temple, lending a meaningful visibility.
Set in the backdrop, the buildings are strategically positioned and connected by open-air corridors that maximise the sights, scents and sounds of the Indian Ocean, while a tight curation of local materials such as in situ terrazzo, Batu Jogja stone and recycled Ulin timber inform the architecture.
Each room features sliding doors, spacious balconies and sun-shading screens, allowing guests to enjoy fresh air, natural light and stunning views from the comfort of their private space. Furniture pieces are crafted using local techniques and materials, but designed in a contemporary way.
Throughout the property, a signature pattern can be found on decorative detailing, claddings and joineries, on both walls and furniture, binding the property with a cohesive language. The neutral palette that colours the property was inspired by shades of the Balinese national bird and prayer offerings.
Corridors and public spaces are naturally ventilated. Vertical gardens, green roofs, and landscaped terraces composed using native plants can be found everywhere, including in unexpected places such as lift lobbies, corridors and bath areas.
Alila Seminyak attains a delicate balance between space and intimacy. It is unlikely that guests will leave this enclave despite its proximity to the tourist hotspots. After all, it has the best view in town.