Socially responsible and set in a gorgeous locale at Padang Padang, this is Suarga. By Katie Truman.
AN extraordinary one-off, Suarga – set on cliff-tops overlooking Padang Padang’s world-class surf breaks – is arguably, one of the most committed environmentally-conscious resorts on the island, if not Indonesia. A labour of love, sweat and tears for a Belgian couple, with their inspired project stretching to near-on a decade – finally launching in 2015 – this boutique resort of 36 rooms, pavilions and villas was created to promote responsible tourism through social-environmental awareness whilst offering contemporary luxury.
Designed following sustainability principles, Suarga is constructed almost entirely from regenerated woods, bamboo and other sustainable materials. Suarga, a certified FSC-applicant and awaiting certification, has been constructed in a variety of repurposed hard woods personally sourced across Indonesia’s archipelago, especially Kalimantan, Borneo – with quite a history.
Teak wood dismantled from Borneo’s Bank of Indonesia or an East Java’s colonial Dutch hospital, ends-up as shutters and details across the resort. Structural beams originate from 40-meter-long disused bridges and pontoons in Borneo’s jungles, while plank roads, groove-ridden from decades of vehicles, elegantly line the bathroom walls creating an understated chic effect.
Merbau bridge rafters were scooped out to give shape to double-lined with copper- vanity sinks and the villa floorings display a rare collection of hardwoods recuperated from colonial-built Javanese houses. Sumba stone, hand-picked by Sumba natives, finish-up in resort walls. All shipped over and assembled by local craftsmen.
These durable, downright costly materials are selected to endure as a living legacy, preserving the archipelago’s cultural heritage, “while still evolving with the modern.” The 1.5-hectare grounds have been kept as natural as they found them, with the resort partially built on stilts accommodating the sloping terrain while preserving the eco-system.
Constructed wetlands minimize water usage and no pesticides are used in these drought-hardy gardens. The resort applies renewable energy, in combination with low energy consumption technology: solar panels produce more than enough energy during daytime and many rooms feature a low energy, air-conditioned bed system whilst the wide teak shutters promote natural air circulation.
Diverse accommodations blend contemporary tropical architecture and Balinese craftsmanship with modern comforts, starting with Muso Pentrooms, affordable, comfortable rooms for families and friends with an expansive semi-open bathroom and mezzanine level with extra bed, while rustic-inclined, stilted Ulin Pavilions, showcasing Ulin black wood in new guises, make the perfect couple’s hideaway.
Suarga’s fabulous private villas, standing on the cliff-edge front, provide masses of space. The two ironwood Wantilan Villas – connected via a wooden bridge with communal pool out front – exude Dutch colonial charm. Each house offers three individual suites, of which two Deluxe Ocean Suites with kitchenette on the upper-floor and four, ground-floor Ocean Suites. These can be booked together as an entire unit, or individually.
Three massive Jurang Villas comprise of a main pavilion with an upper and lower en-suite bedroom, plus a spacious open-air gazebo in gardens with sunken outdoor dining area and lounge beside the private pool. A whopping 750-square metres carved into the cliff’s natural contours, Bajau Villa is the Mother of family mansions, with a duo of two-storey buildings with three ensuite bedrooms, formal open-air gazebo for living-dining and sprawling terraces surrounding a vast private pool – similar to Jurang, a sublime spot for intimate weddings and celebrations.
Reinforcing “less is more,” accommodations are minimalist (no phones, TVs or sound systems), decorated with hand-picked objects showcasing indigenous craftsmanship like ornamental shell necklaces from Papua and Balinese batiks. Much of the furniture is made in-house by local artisans.
All the action takes place at Suarga’s signature restaurant and lounge bar. Dugong, a magnificent, semi-open bamboo structure topped with a vaulted roof constructed with a million-plus bamboo shingles and a centre stage, circular bar crafted from petrified woods. Dugong overlooks the infinity pool (a kid’s pool lies below) and beyond, a jaw-dropping vista stretching up to Canggu, best enjoyed from comfy wall seats edging the pool deck or rattan sofas in the lounge bar. The low carbon footprint mindset extends to Nordic-inspired cuisine infused with Balinese flavours, with most produce sourced within a 50- kilometre radius. The name Dugong is derived from “Sea Cow,” which you may spot in the waters below – along with the surfers. S.M