Sophie Digby heads from West to East to see what all the fuss is about…
Homogenous hotels, international signature design and instant brand-style recognition, blah, blah, blah – thankfully these are buzzwords of the past.
And that type of homogenous past has truly been left behind here at the newly opened Andaz Bali in Sanur. Just like the fabulous moonrise that Sanur is famous for, Andaz appeared as if by magic, looking like it had always supposed to be Sanur’s private beacon, shining the light on true village traditions, seamlessly melding accents of contemporary flair and island design. Fabulously Bali.
If we look at the Andaz brand it is ‘global in scale, while local in perspective’, and it ‘weaves the sights, sounds and tastes of each property’s surroundings for a distinctively local experience’. This it does extremely well. Here in one of Bali‘s most famous villages (Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall got married here back in 1990), the Andaz Bali property stretches from the main street of Danau Tamblingan all the way to the white sand beach, where traditional fishing boats line the shore. This is the same Bali as was seen by none other than the Woolworth twins (American heiresses) Miguel Covarubias (artist and traveller) and later, as I mentioned above, Mick and Jerry, along with a host of other notable ‘tourists’ of yesteryear.
Walking in, one is struck by the laid-back luxury of it all. The reception I liken to a Bale Banjar or Wantilan – an open-sided village hall where community members would usually gather prior to ceremonies and temple anniversaries to organize and prepare. Here the vast space is also a gathering spot, but of a different sort. From the warm and happy welcome, through various protocols, to check-in. It is colourful and breezy, with a delightful tone of pure Balinese hospitality.
The spacious ‘village square’ beyond, is flanked on one side with the bar and various private meeting rooms. Then to the front and to the other side are four of the Andaz dining options: Wok Wok – which offers a fabulous Bubbly Breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays, plus amazing Indonesian comfort food; Fire Fox – is for grilled delicacies in air-conditioned bliss; the breezy Deli & Bakery serves everything from selected premium coffees, ice creams, patisserie and cakes and then, there is my favourite, the Mediterranean-influenced Blue Oven – offering taste-bud travels throughout Italy, France and Spain.
Heading further into the property and towards the beach, vast trees and mature gardens partially conceal each of the buildings that house the 149 rooms. Cream stone pathways, with offshoots to the left and right, lead to the Andaz villas, suites and rooms. Here, architect Martin Palleros worked in tandem with interiors company SPIN Design Tokyo. Between them, and using local materials in unique ways, they have beautifully combined the old with the new, the traditional and the contemporary, using island folklore and symbolism throughout the carefully selected artworks and bespoke design pieces. The spacious rooms are beautifully balanced; where traveller expectation (all the mod cons) is met with impressive out-of-the-box design features and Balinese accents. Logical, comfortable and very Instragrammable – choose ‘video’ mode here!
Head out of any door, head east, past the resort bicycles (a must is to cycle along the promenade of Sanur) and the large pool, to the jewel in the Andaz crown – The Fisherman’s Club. Here, grab a sofa, order a bottle of wine and sit and sip as you watch the comings and goings of this tranquil beach. Time seems to stand still as the sun is setting on the other side of the island, tingeing the sky pink. A perfect moment to call friends that live in the neighbourhood and order dinner – in a glorious, unrushed, laid back kind of way.
The attentive staff is the only thing that is not laid back here on the property – ever attentive and totally charming, they make each guest feel totally, totally at home. Now there’s a thought, if only we could all come and live at the Andaz Bali, I for one would move in tomorrow!
Fb: Andaz Bali