The Shaba Function House is a secret gem set within Balquisse Heritage Hotel, and the latest offering from Zohra Boukhari. Katie Truman checks it out.
There is even more reason – well, two actually – to hot foot it down to lovely Jimbaran village and celebrate life’s little milestones.
Just a few hundred metres from Jimbaran’s gorgeous beach and mere footsteps off the main street mayhem, walk through an old stone temple doorway and you’ll find yourself in an unexpectedly secluded tropical oasis.
This old coconut plantation, where tropical gardens blur with a distinctly bucolic euro farmhouse vibe, is home to Balquisse Heritage Hotel and beyond, its newly minted events property, The Shaba Function House.
Originally built in the 1960s, Balquisse Heritage Hotel has been adopted, renovated and transformed over the years by award-winning interior designer and hotelier-extraordinaire Zohra Boukhari, offering a romantic escape and serene boutique bolt-hole for families and couples, infused with that unmistakable luxurious boho-chic and cultural heritage you expect from Zohra.
Another part of her – and husband and restaurateur, Blaise Samoy’s – ever-expanding design, hospitality and culinary empire in Bali, including Havelli interiors, Hishem furniture, Balique and The Bistrot restaurants, plus numerous spa, boutique, restaurant, hotel and villa commissions in Bali and beyond, from Paris to China.
Drawing on Zohra’s Moroccan roots, European upbringing and more than two decades living in Bali, Balquisse – named after the Queen of the Kingdom of Shaba, if you didn’t know – cleverly fuses colonial elegance and rustic island living with slavish attention to detail.
Each of the 12 charming accommodations – three superior and eight deluxe rooms, plus a two-storey Family Bungalow – are individually named, all with their own distinct character. All however reveal luxe interiors, with flourishes of Javanese, Asian and Moroccan heritage and archipelago-sourced objets and intricate soft furnishings contrasting with the earthy distressed woods and terracotta tiles.
These rooms frame two lovely pools with sun decks, shaded by mature bougainvillaea trees; further facilities run to the Henna Spa and Asam Garam Restaurant, where authentic east-meets-west dishes made with locally sourced, organic produce are enjoyed on a semi-open garden terrace.
Stroll through the gardens (or if driving, via a small gang alongside the property) and another bijou reveals itself: The Shaba, officially launched as a private function house and events space, sprawling over a vast expanse of utterly secluded coconut grove grounds.
Don’t let the “function house” label throw you: one-of-a-kind The Shaba is actually a magnificent three-suite residential property, with a relaxed “at home” ambiance – an antithesis of your standard function offerings.
Originally built as a private residence for Zohra and Blaise, The Shaba is now available to discerning clientele seeking a luxurious and unique boutique events space for all manner of exclusive celebrations – weddings and receptions, corporate and incentive events, themed parties and intimate dinners.
Fully serviced with culinary, housekeeping and butler services, plus an events planning team incorporating Zohra as events director and personal wedding consultant, The Shaba offers totally bespoke events, arranging anything from flower arrangements to ceremonial logistics and outsourced DJs. In-house caterers from sister restaurants Asam Garam and Balique offer sample menus or tailor-made options, while vintage cars, including a cool 1957 Volkswagen Beetle, are available for backdrop photos and short-hop tootles to Jimbaran beach.
Here, The Shaba – a hybrid of the couple’s daughters’ names, Shahinaz and Balquisse – replicates the old plantation mansions of Java, with off-white wood walls and window shutters, yet refined with artworks and hand-picked antiques. Evocative of the Deep South, a lengthy veranda surveys rolling lawns studded with coconut trees out front – the ultimate spot for sunset weddings, beautifully illuminated come nightfall.
Within, an open-air inner courtyard – an architectural nod to Zohra’s Moroccan heritage – comes framed by three luxurious suites; well-appointed with all the latest must-haves but referencing plantation mansion decadence with chandeliers, rich silks and velvets, hand-crafted mosaic tiles, vintage-style furniture and open-plan bathrooms, where porcelain claw-foot bathtubs take centre stage.
The two spacious Shahinaz and Balquisse Deluxe Suites offer garden views and open-up to an interconnecting private sitting area, while The Shaba Master Suite is an opulent little love-nest for the bride and groom, with its grandiose four-poster strewn with silks and claw-foot tub a deux, facing out to the lawns.
The courtyard leads on to an open-plan, living and dining space, elegant yet predominantly crafted from recycled or antique woods, incorporating a striking vintage open kitchen, dining area dominated by a teak wood table overhung with custom-made glass chandeliers, a plush lounge and library.
Floor-to-ceiling glass doors running the entire length fold back for instant access to the pool and timbered sundeck, expanding out under a canopy of trees – another magical spot for al fresco barbeques and sunset cocktails, or simply, low-key leisurely familial lunches. There are also a couple of Javanese-style gladak accommodations set amongst the mangrove trees.
Both Balquisse and The Shaba are exceptional private spaces – still organically growing – designed to create a sense of timeless seclusion in exquisite surrounds with impeccable service. The overall concept is fluidity and diversity: The Shaba guests can commandeer the property in its entirety, stay in one of the suites sharing the remainder of the mansion, or can book-up Balquisse rooms for any extra guests – with use of all facilities. Alternatively, if The Shaba is unoccupied, Balquisse guests can stroll over to dine and chill – and with the two properties covering a whopping 6,436-square-metres, there’s plenty of space to do so.