Yak Throwback: The Bali Hyatt Gardens

We look back at features from the past pages of The Yak …. this time from 2010 and Issue 26 when The Bali Hyatt in Sanur – now resplendent post renovation and expansion – called to us from a gentler, greener era. Photos: Lucky 8.

Bali has no shortage of classics. There’s a pedigree here that’s born out of a long history of collaboration between foreign visitors to the island and indigenous people, architecture and culture – it is this that sets the island apart from other ‘destinations’ in Asia. To rediscover these classics is one of the joys of a long exposure to Bali.

No one would argue against including the Bali Hyatt in Sanur – with its gardens set in 1981 now forming a veritable botanic heaven – in this category. Beautifully tended, the original landscaping and planting was done by Made Wijaya of Wijaya Landscape, the pioneer of the ‘Tropical Costwolds’ and ‘Classic Courtyard’ styles here. The grounds are expansive, thorough and – nearly 30 years on –a delight for birds, squirrels and no doubt a host of other nocturnal beings that dwell there under the cover of night.

Wijaya says of his style that it “takes advantage not only of the exuberant potential of local tropical plants but of English traditions of textural contrasts and bright accents…and a talent I developed for making tropical naturalism look artful.”

 There’s more to this Geoffrey Bawa-designed hotel than it’s impressive gardens. It was built on a scale that is no longer seen. The gardens lead into two large pools and through to the beach and the sea. It spreads handsomely over the space and hugs the ground, making way for Balinese temples, sacred trees and, of course, restaurants and bars, including the Wantilan Café, Omong Omong Grill and the Pizza Ria…one of the best informal pizza-on-the-beach combinations you could find anywhere.

Standard rooms are perhaps smaller than one would expect of a newer property, but the Bali Hyatt was built at a time when space was defined in gentler proportions. They have a wood cabin feel that promotes romanticism; balconies look out to the sea and the verdant landscaping that cries out to be explored in a sarong and thongs. If it’s a more indulgent experience you crave, the Club King rooms boast almost 40-square metres of luxury on a private concierge floor with plush king bed and lavish decor featuring Balinese artifacts, teak and traditional batik. A large sitting area opens onto a private furnished balcony offering more of those tranquil garden views. Amenities include marble bath with separate shower and access to a private lounge serving Continental breakfast, evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

If it’s activities you’re after here there’s more than enough to tempt you away from the pool lounger. The Spa is an award-winning sanctuary but our favourite ‘do something today’ event is to rent a bicycle and simply cruise up and down the beachfront in Sanur, still one of the nicest low impact rides on the entire island. It brings Sanur into focus in all its local wonder.
The garden-restaurant symbiosis continues across the road with the Bali Hyatt’s signature Chinese restaurant, serving authentic Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine. The vernacular architecture of the alang-alang roofed restaurant sits beautifully with Wijaya’s creation, the perfect example of how, in Bali, the importance of landscape is one of the most powerful and seductive components of the Bali hotel experience. Long may it thrive.

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