LUXURYCULTURE.COM - Bulgari's Bali Paradise


With giant villas and glorious ocean views, Bulgari's foray into Bali has produced a tropical resort that mixes the contemporary with the traditional to breathtaking effect.

In tropical Bali, Bulgari's first resort is a haven of culture and contemporary clarity in a stunning location perched high above the Indian Ocean.

The turquoise blue of the Indian Ocean around Bali seems a world away from the bustling center of Milan, much like the distance between the worlds of high jewelry and hotels. But in the Bulgari Resort, Bali, the divide has grown so narrow that the combination of jewelry's prestige and quality with hotel service and comfort makes not only perfect sense but creates a paradise on Earth.

Bulgari, the Italian jeweler, teamed up with Marriott International's Luxury Group to open their first joint hotel in Milan in 2004, a location that's since enjoyed huge success and has played a part in rejuvenating the northern Italian city's luxury hostelry sector.

Last fall the duo's first resort opened on the far southwestern tip of the Indonesian island of Bali. Perched 500 feet above the Indian Ocean, the resort provides the perfect setting to live out your Swiss Family Robinson fantasies, in a tropical location that mixes local craft and belief with the utmost in sybaritic luxury.

Built on tiered terraces, the resort features 59 ocean-view villas, primarily one-bedroom with plunge pools, but also ranging up to the awesome Bulgari Villa. The villas provide accommodation spanning from an impressive 3,200 square feet to the Bulgari Villa's 14,000 square feet, with its three bedrooms, full staff quarters, home theater, and lap pool in the lavish private garden.

Everything here is a combination of locally sourced craftsmanship and indigenous antiques, overseen by the controlling eye of architects Antonio Citterio and Partners, who also created the Milan hotel. Citterio created a clean, contemporary air than enabled the use of ylang-ylang thatch, volcanic stone and tropical woods, and the employment of artisans who could add authentic, exquisitely crafted touches like songket-weave bedspreads, without the styles clashing or creating a theme-park pretense.

Unlike many resorts on the beautiful island of Bali, there are no evening shows to entertain guests with traditional Balinese dance. Instead, the local culture is felt in other ways: through the decoration and antiques, of course, but also through the feng-shui-style construction of the villas, from the entranceways angled to block evil spirits that can only travel in straight lines to beds placed so that feet are always pointed toward the ocean – a feature that not only brings good luck, but also guarantees waking to a breathtaking view of the ocean in the morning. Another thing that might provide spiritual peace of mind is the location, within the grounds of a Hindu temple.

In spite of the sheer size of each villa, the Bulgari Resort is not geared simply toward those seeking seclusion. Executive chef Andrew Skinner oversees the fusion of fresh local produce and cooking with European cuisine in the all-day Sangkar restaurant and the chic nighttime-only restaurant Il Ristorante, which adds not only first-rate and inventive organic cuisine to the experience, but also a social side, should that be desired.

Though some famous surfing beaches are only a ten-minute drive away, the Bulgari Resort seems to exist as if in its own hidden universe. From the cliff-top resort, an elevator glides down through the verdant, vegetation-shrouded slopes to a deserted beach stretching a mile long and accessible by that sole means of transport. It's a metaphor for a Shangri-La of exclusivity, the dream of a desert island, a place set apart.

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