Ondy Sweeting visitts it in style at tented Sandat Glamping. Images Stefano Scatà.
Sandat Glamping whispers sweet words to travellers who know their way around luxury hotels but yearn for something different without a loss of luxury.
Soaring cathedral ceilings hewn from bamboo and sealed with alang-alang grass roofs, airy spaces and whimsical décor are the gorgeous aesthetic of Sandat Glamping in the lush rice terraces of Ubud.
A neat and friendly reception adjoins a yoga shala and the pathway to the main building – a magical structure shaped by its position in the Indonesian jungle to deliver an elegant restaurant, bar and lounge space.
A soothingly curved wall conceals the kitchen and doubles as a hall of mirrors with 101 different frames containing looking glasses of every size and shape.
Sandat Glamping is a unique mélange of tropical élan, delicate French country furniture and a collection of artifacts from the archipelago and Europe.
It’s a personal collection. Every piece of furniture, lamp, decorative accent is hand picked by owners and creators Emanuela and Federico. Statement pieces like the lush antique metal day bed festooned with cushions and draped with sheer fabric deliver a dreamy centerpiece inside an established succulent garden.
As every designer knows the devil is in the detail and Emanuela, a former lawyer from Venice, has a sharp eye for style. Pretty tinkling bells is how staff announce their arrival at your tent and phones are not used to call for an attendant but rather a musical instrument of multiple chimes. A small lounge by the restaurant – which has superb pasta and a visiting Italian chef who trains staff for two months every year – has overstuffed couches, a library and central table with a dozen silver candle holders, a fragrant floral display and wire mesh decorative Indonesian hats on display. To the side is a French style outdoor setting ready with hand-carved chess set.
At the base of a polished stone serpentine staircase is a tree with seven glass table lamp chandeliers while a long communal dining table is overhung with five large shell chandeliers.
“We started without a business plan but with a dream,” says Federico.
The couple first discovered the joys of glamping deep in South Africa and so taken by the notion they decided to make a life change.
“We never wanted a place with 20 or 30 tents – it goes against our dream of creating an exclusive and peaceful place. We decided with start with a glamping destination just outside of Venice and then we wanted a reason to keep coming back to Bali,” he says.
Sandat in Ubud has five tents discreetly positioned at the end of small pathways that wind through flowering tropical gardens and overhanging trees. The tents are secured on timber decking and the surrounding screened windows deliver superb jungle views and a cool breeze.
Each tent has a private swimming pool and sun lounges.
Inside the tents the glamorous reality of glamping fully reveals itself with a four-poster bamboo bed in the centre of the circular room. Air conditioning is at hand but the gentle breeze makes further cooling unnecessary and a small fridge is filled with requisite drinks and coffee and tea making gear. An overhead fan is directly above the bed and TV is banished from this serene camp.
All five tents are decorated uniquely and the Ogoh Ogoh tent has two peacock chairs either side of a coffee table and original art hangs on the canvas walls.
Sailcloth curtains are drawn back from the screened windows and secured with cotton cord and pretty tassels.
These tents have impressive bathrooms, particularly given that standard tents have no such thing. Two bamboo wardrobes – complete with an electronic safe box – flank a central curtained door to make the wet room private. The bathrooms are delightfully designed with a power shower encased in a circular shower ring hung with canvas curtains in big top stripes. The Ogoh Ogoh tent bathroom has a vintage chandelier of wire twisted into rococo curlicues and adorned with strings of pearls and cocktail jewels in neutral colours. The effect is tropical safari and a vanity and toilet complete the picture of nature meeting luxury and utility.
Sleep without the air conditioning and keep the curtains back to fully immerse in the jungle air and sounds of wildlife that includes monkeys. Have a massage in the tent and drift into gentle slumber.
Sandat also has three traditional Indonesian lumbungs – two level rice storage buildings made of wood – converted into accommodation overlooking a shared pool. With a bedroom and living space upstairs, the lumbungs have open-sided lounge space at ground level that catches the breeze and scent of the gardens.
Emanuela and tattoo artist Federico opened their first glamping camp in the rural outskirts of Venice in Italy. They opened Bali’s first glamping camp in 2013 and created a beautifully different place to stay.
The incredibly beautiful bamboo buildings were created without the help of an architect with the couple relying on themselves and the deep knowledge of local artisans to make this elegant escape.
Sandat is off the well-trodden path to Ubud but it is about a 10-minute drive into the town with all of its fabulous restaurants, art galleries and performances. That’s if you ever want to leave.