With an Earthcheck certified gold seal of approval under its belt this Bali resort takes its position on the planet very seriously, writes Luiz Sanchez.
The last decade has seen many businesses moving towards more environmentally conscious, ethical and sustainable models in an effort to address our growing social and environmental concerns. But while the hospitality industry has made great strides in Bali, individual hotels and villas have often lagged behind as the sheer cost of revamping existing structures and supporting local communities has kept many from truly enacting lasting change.
Enter Alila Villas in Uluwatu. Alila has worked tirelessly to create a villa complex that is not only environmentally sustainable, but also ethical and supportive of its community. This year they won the coveted Earthcheck Certified gold seal of approval, the highest rating handed out by the organization, for their tireless and effective dedication to the environment and their moral obligations to society.
Alila revolutionizes what we think is possible when balancing our responsibility to the environment and the wider community with high-end luxury retreats and world-class hospitality.
Make It Local
As a savannah environment, Uluwatu brings with it its own set of challenges. The area is made mostly of limestone which is incredibly dry and radiates a lot of heat. Paired with the Indian Ocean breeze which increases humidity, it is imperative that the villas are built in a way that allows air to flow through them while also minimizing temperatures.
Alila designed their villas from the ground up to make them as environmentally sustainable as possible. A core tenet of their philosophy is to focus on local resources and knowledge, to work with their natural environment and thus have their villas become one with their surroundings. They adopted the use of lava rocks, a naturally occurring rock in Uluwatu, as a method of insulating their properties. Lava rocks are excellent at absorbing and diffusing heat which in turn help to greatly reduce energy consumption by naturally cooling the villas. Lava rocks also hinder the growth of weeds, which consume a lot of water and are very detrimental to this water-scarce region.
Sticking to local solutions, they also have a plant nursery where they cultivate local flora to supplement the property. Indigenous plants reduce water consumption as they are hearty and ideally suited to the environment, thus minimizing excess water consumption to maintain plants that are ill-equipped to survive there.
Make It Green
“We removed all disposable plastics from our villas,” says Alila Uluwatu’s General Manager Hemal Jain. “We have eliminated all plastic bottles and replaced them with glass bottles which we recycle. We also have our own water purification system on site so that we can recycle everything in-house and really live up to our zero-waste policy.” This policy extends to all amenities at Alila, including toiletries and straws which are all made from biodegradable materials such as bamboo. Beginning in 2016 with their Zero Waste to Landfill policy, Alila now does not contribute to Bali’s mounting waste problem.
Alila Uluwatu’s flagship environmental program is the Sustainability Lab, an on-site laboratory where all waste streams are transformed into higher value products and services through a series of simple yet proven mechanical and biological engineering systems. “From producing our own compost to our glass recycling program and organic garden, this site is built to accommodate our efforts to create a better environment,” Hemal says.
Alila runs its own composting system, collecting all of its organic waste and transforming it into compost which it can use to fertilize its organic garden. This garden is a real inspiration and serves as a great model for an integrated sustainable design. “We grow much of our produce in-house, which helps minimize our carbon footprint,” Hemal says. “We also provide our guests with the opportunity to embark on an extraordinary gastronomical journey where they can learn traditional recipes from our talented chefs using the freshest of local ingredients.”
Another pillar of Alila’s sustainability principle is social responsibility. They work closely with the R.O.L.E foundation and the Bali Life Foundation to support and empower local communities.
R.O.L.E focuses on empowering women through business education and skill development, while the Bali Life Foundation provides orphaned children with housing, healthcare, and education.
Alila collects donations from guests through the use of their Giving Bag program, this amenity placed in each villa, encourages guests to donate any used products such as clothing, hairbrushes, shoes, and so on. Items left behind are collected and given to local charities directly. As of 2019 all Alila properties in Bali have implemented this initiative. “ This is a simple yet sustainable solution to reusing and recycling unneeded items for the benefit of those in greater need,” Hemal says. “Alila Bali’s Giving Bag allows guests to journey home with not only lighter luggage but also a lighter heart.”
Social responsibility is key to any tangible principles of sustainability. By recognizing the need to work closely with their community Alila is able to grow and prosper whilst also benefiting from a more well-off community, which in turn goes a long way to improving the environment and beautifying Uluwatu.
It is because of all of their efforts that Alila is the first resort in Indonesia to earn the coveted Eartcheck certified seal of approval for their sustainable design and philosophy.
Make It Luxurious
Alila’s efforts are a true work of art. Their villas’ interiors blend seamlessly into their environment and their dedication to sustainability adds a flair of luxury and grace to their property. “We were excited to work with the award-winning Singapore architectural firm WOHA, whose global reputation for innovative, sustainable-design projects in tropical environments has earned them numerous accolades,” Hemal says. WOHA is responsible for numerous projects, including the House of ROchalie Drive in Singapore which earned them the prestigious Royal Australian Institute of Architect’s International Award.
Staying at Alila is a true delight. Their eye for detail and dedication to quality service is sure to make your stay an unforgettable experience. I for one am excited to see what Alila does next with their other properties.