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Inspiring Art-Filled Villas in Bali

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One of the best things about private villas in Bali is that none of them are the same. Forget uniform lobbies, drab bedding and boring white walls. Think fascinating artefacts, colourful furnishings, amazing art and unique design from around the world, all representing the heritage and lifestyle of their owners. To give you an idea of the delights on offer, we’ve scoured Bali for ‘art-full’ villas that will win over the heart of even the most sophisticated art connoisseur.

Villa Asada, Candidasa

Villa Asada is a contemporary expression of Balinese style, filled with antiques and comfortable furnishings. In every corner is a spot of simple elegance and luxury, lovingly strewn with Oriental decor.  Buddha and other characters in Asian history take centre stage. Little pockets of space prove that in decorating, as in life, less is truly more. 

Villa Canggu, Canggu

Indonesian contemporary artists turn Villa Canggu into a living exhibition that could easily compete with many art galleries around the world. Eddy Susanto’s visual interpretation on the heritage of the Mayan people, who scandalised the world with their 2012 Armageddon prediction, is displayed here just around the corner from Yudi Sulistyo’s interpretation of modern-day life: a hanging metal spaceship entitled “World Without Sea”. Ronald Apriyan’s series of three paintings represents how modern-day women can choose to be whatever they want to be. Grab a glass of wine and start exploring.

Kaba Kaba Estate, Tabanan

For more than 20 years, the owners of Kaba Kaba Estate have been avid art collectors, and the villa serves as a showcase for their beloved treasures, which range from fascinating antiques to contemporary works of art displayed throughout the gardens and pavilions. These include Cai Zhi Song’s Ode to Motherland #5, a striking 2013 bronze of a male figure, inspired by an ancient image of a Qin dynasty warrior, to Sohan Jakhar’s Untitled (2009), which hangs above a guest bedroom headboard, and Hannes D’Haese’s sculpture Just a Dog, a pink resin bulldog that, along with its yellow counterpart, guards the entrance to the guesthouse. 

Then there’s the surprisingly recent (three decades old) 8-foot-long Indonesian carving of paddlers in a boat, displayed above a puckish Dodit Artawan oil on canvas depicting Barbie dolls and liquor bottles; Dadi Setiyadi’s White Goat, a 2011 canvas that reimagines Caravaggio’s John the Baptist as a loincloth-clad figure festooned with swirling Dayak tattoos,

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Heaven in a Muntigunung Hammock, Handmade in Bali

in Destinations/Shops by
Handmade Hammock

Nothing says tropical holiday quite like a hand-woven hammock which evokes thoughts of bleached white beaches, dream-filled siestas, sea-breeze cocktails and star-gazing nights.  

There’s something magical about being suspended in mid-air; the hammock’s gentle swaying calms your thoughts, settles your heartbeat, and lulls you into reverie or slumber. That’s true whether you’re beachside in Koh Samui or nested in a goose down comforter someplace cold, daydreaming about a good hammock swing.

And yet, unlike Central and South America, Asia has no hammock-making tradition. That is set to change now, thanks to the persistence of Daniel Elber, whose non-profit Future for Children has been changing the lives of the poorest communities in the drought-prone mountain slopes of eastern Bali. 

BALI HAMMOCKS  

Daniel was looking for new ways to provide a sustainable livelihood for the women of Muntigunung, whose sole source of income was begging in Bali’s more prosperous tourist areas. Could their basket-weaving skills be re-imagined for making hammocks, he wondered?

Handmade Hammocks

That’s how one master hammock-maker Walter Cruz from El Salvador —the ‘Land of the Hammocks’ (and considered to produce the best in the world) spent three months in the remote village of Kulkul, teaching his ancestral craft to 35 mountain women. And while they had no common language — he spoke Spanish and they a Balinese dialect — what they now share is an uncommon ability to craft absolutely stunning hammocks.

BALI HAMMOCKS

Lighter and less expensive is the chongos-tassle-decorated Muntigunung, which is as stylish but, without the spreaders, will even go into your hand luggage. If you prefer a more upright seating position to lying supine, the chair hammock will appeal — it looks as good in a living room as by the pool.

BALI HAMMOCKS

There are also custom hammocks and chair hammocks, and anyone with a tiny tot in the family will find the baby hammock irresistible. These incredibly comfortable artisan hammocks are so much more than an alternative seating choice or lifestyle accessory. Each is an individual work of art, and each requires not hours but weeks to make… patiently and painstakingly by hand, with pride. If that is not enough incentive to acquire one, then think of this:  with every purchase, you are providing an income for the women of Muntigunung and a means for them to raise their self-esteem,

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Sammasan

in Destinations by
Surin family villa

Villa Sammasan owners tell us about their stunning ocean view home over looking Surin Beach on Phuket’s west coast.

Surin villa with view

Why did you choose to buy your villa in Phuket and at this location?

We bought the villa because it had an all-encompassing view from every room looking over the Andaman Sea and you can walk to the beach. We saw many places, but they were in the mountains far away from the beach.  The house is perfectly positioned to capture the sunset each night, and you get an immediate view from every part of the house.

We also liked the clean, modern architecture, with its flow and design. There is a sprawling private master suite with its own balcony and Jacuzzi and lots of space. You can walk straight from the living area out onto the terrace and to the pool, so its central to the house.  And you can sit in the living room and see the pool, sala and view beyond. We also have a private TV room and secluded rooms with their own ensuite and balconies downstairs.

Villa Sammasan - Surin, Phuket

What is your inspiration for the villa design?

Sammasan looks outwards towards Surin Beach and the Andaman Sea and the headlands, one of which is home to Thailand’s top resort, the Amanpuri. So we wanted to capture the seaside with a beachhouse feel, a kind of Cape Cod design, with Thai influences. Hence you see lots of white walls, but with splashes of colour and art and design that inspires. You have a modern Poliform kitchen but with a traditional Thai sala. It’s the blend of the traditional with the very modern.

What features make the villa unique?

The view. The spaciousness. The art. The location. The furniture. The colours inside  complement the views outside. This all influences the mood. Anyone who appreciates art and design will enjoy this boutique villa.

Surin private pool villa

What would you like guests to experience at your villa?

A home away from home in a fantastic location. A place to rest and relax after going out into the hustle and bustle of Phuket.  Enjoy the shade in the morning and then at the end of the day, watch the sun set over the Andaman on the lounges or in the outdoor sala. You can go out or you can stay in the villa and watch the beauty of nature unfold outside.  

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Through the Keyhole: Villa Zelie

in Destinations by
Villa Zelie - Canggu, Bali

Villa Zelie owners tell us about their unique private pool villa in Canggu, Bali.

Villa Zelie - Outdoor living area

where stress is unknown.

People have described Villa Zelie as a private Eden or Heaven on Earth (and we agree!). How do you describe it?

It is a garden of Eden. Villa Zelie is a haven of peace and calm in the middle of Seminyak and Canggu. You forget about the world, the heat, the dampness, the noise and the traffic as you arrive at the villa. There is only peace and harmony there. That’s why I do not hesitate, several times a year, to make this long trip just to relax a few days. There are only good energies at Zelie, where stress is unknown.

Les gens ont décrit Villa Zelie comme étant un Éden privé ou un paradis sur Terre (et nous sommes d’accord!). Comment la décrivez-vous?

C’est un jardin d’Éden. La Villa Zelie est un havre de paix et de calme au milieu de Seminyak et Canngu. Vous oubliez le monde, la chaleur, la moiteur, le bruit et la circulation dès que vous arrivez à la Villa. Là, il n’y a plus que calme et harmonie. C’est pour cela que je n’hésite pas, plusieurs fois par an, à faire ce long voyage juste pour venir me relaxer quelques jours. Il n’a que de bonnes énergies et le stress y est inconnu. 

 

Villa Zelie - Outdoor living area

Where is your favourite place to relax at your villa?

I actually have two. During daytime, the pool house by the pool, from which you can hear the sound of birds and the rippling water. Simple pleasure but so relaxing. In the evening, the sofa in the living room, facing the garden, which is adorned with all its lights. I can watch this for hours, with a glass of wine, it’s magic.

Quel endroit dans la villa est votre préféré pour vous détendre?

J’en ai deux.  La journée, le pool house au bord de la piscine, vous écoutez le bruit des oiseaux et le clapotis de l’eau. Plaisir simple mais tellement reposant. Le soir, dans le canapé du salon, face au jardin, qui s’est paré de toutes ses lumières. Je peux regarder cela des heures, avec un verre de vin, c’est magique.

 

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Phuket Architecture and the Evolution of Luxury Design

in Destinations by
Thai architecture Phuket hillside Villa Minh

Before Phuket, Thailand earned its reputation as a world-class beach holiday destination, for centuries it called to fortune-seekers, workers and traders from Asia, Arabia and Europe. This interesting convergence of cultures is reflected in the island’s architecture. We take a look at how luxury villa design has evolved in Phuket over the last 150 years or so.

SINO-COLONIAL ELEGANCE

Baan Chinpracha Historic Mansion in Phuket by Opal HoPHUKET TOWN OLD GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE

Back in Phuket’s booming tin-mining days in the late 1800s to early 1900s, the island’s emerging wealthy class built luxury mansions of Sino-Colonial design, in a fashion that reflected the tastes of the tin-mine barons of the time, who were largely descendants of Hokkien Chinese immigrants with family ties stretching from Phuket to Penang, Malacca and Singapore.

A handful of these mansions still stand today in Phuket Town, including the old governor’s residence, now home to the Blue Elephant restaurant (pictured above), and next door Baan Chinpracha mansion (below), which is now part family home, part museum.

Baan Chinpracha Historic Thai Architecture by Jinjoo ShinINSIDE BAAN CHINPRACHA MANSION

European influences are seen in the homes’ elaborate porticos (arched windows and doorways), neo-classical pillars and Italian marble floor tiles with intricate designs. Thick walls and inner courtyards helped protect the mansions’ residents from the sweltering heat, and air circulated through rows of elegantly arched louvered windows. 

These luxury villas of the past were largely found in the island’s interior near Phuket’s commercial centres – all the fabulous beaches lining its coast were not considered desirable places to live for anyone but fisher-folk. But once travellers discovered the beaches and tourism replaced tin mining as the economic driving force in the 1980s, visions of luxury living shifted to the coastlines.

QUINTESSENTIALLY THAI

Amanpuri PhuketAMANPURI PHUKET (IMAGE FROM TRIPADVISOR)

In 1988, a coconut plantation on a headland near Surin Beach became home to the Amanpuri, an exclusive resort built to a level of luxury unheard of at the time on Phuket. Designed by architect Edward Tuttle as a collection of elegant pavilions spilling over the hillside, it was a ground-breaking style that came about after his extensive travels around Thailand.

Historic city of Ayutthaya by UNESCOCITY OF AYUTTHAYA (IMAGE BY UNESCO)

His main inspiration was the ancient Ayutthaya architecture of central Thailand (above),

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