The Istana Bali is located on south western tip of Bali in an area designated the Bukit. This five bedroom estate overlooks white sand beaches and a blue lagoon abundant with fish and living coral, and offers a prime location from which to witness the island's stunning sunsets. When the trade winds blow, a massive swell from the Pacific Ocean crashes onto the reefs surrounding the area creating waves that attract surfers from around the world; the breaks are rated to be the fifth best in the world, and Uluwatu beach is only a ten minute walk from the villa. With the property located so close to the holy Pura Uluwatu, one of island's nine mother temples, the site is spiritually inspiring and undeniably unique. The staffing is of luxury hotel level with restaurant-standard food, a live-in manager and butler service, all devoted to facilitating intimate service among private splendor.
Set back forty meters from the cliff face, The Istana sits within a tremendous gated property and is composed of two swimming pools, a relaxation bale, a private guest house (containing the master bedroom), and a main house. Within the main house is a living room, dining room, entertainment room (known as the Dotcom room), and four identical bedroom suites. Both of the buildings are single-story and open-air with rich teakwood floors, inspiring a natural ambiance, while maintaining and accentuating the spectacular view. The overall style is a medley between understated modern architecture and traditional Indonesian detailing, with features that blend Indonesian materials and workmanship. The artwork represents a mixture of primitive art and antiques originating from Indonesia, keeping with the aura of tradition and style.
Ensuring the privacy and security of its guests, The Istana, which is Indonesian for ‘Palace', is surrounded by an imposing white wall, and it is accessed through a constantly manned massive wooden gate. Within, is a large parking area which accommodates many vehicles, facilitating hosting large groups and events such as weddings. Flamboyans and flame trees line the wall, providing shade, with flowering pink, white, and red oleander and fragrant lilac planted below. The modern kitchen, which is fitted with state of the art commercial grade equipment, is in this vicinity, set apart from the rest of the structures.
Lotus water gardens flank the streamlined covered wooden walkway leading from the entrance into the main house, forming a straight line of sight leading all the way through the living room, over the central swimming pool, to the horizon. The colour of the pool water blends into the backdrop, merging within the mind's eye, to that point that the pool becomes an extension of the Pacific Ocean that lies beyond it.
The main garden is decorated with palms, heliconias and ferns, mixed with white flowering Spider lilies, Aturium, and dwarf lilacs, whilst the gnarled trunks of numerous frangipanis lead the view upward to their magnificent, flowering blooms. The tropical flora shades the side of the house and creates a privacy screen from parking area and kitchen, while the water-ponds serve to naturally cool the living room with the help of the south-easterly breezes.
The walkway leads to the huge open-air living room, which overlooks this breathtaking estate. The living room is located at the center of the building, and the rich teak wood floors are accented by the eight-meter high, self-supported, exposed cathedral ceiling. Matching natural wood wardrobes, and a stunning U-shaped sofa bed surrounding a matching table enable the décor to maintain a natural cozy interior, and a large white limestone carving, depicting the legendary establishment of Uluwatu, accents the right wall. The carving represents the arrival of the priest Pedanda Sakti Wawu Rauh, who, according to legend, came to Bali from Java riding on a Kaluwih tree leaf in A.D. 1546, and achieved Moksa, Hindu liberation, at the spot at which the temple was then established.
The open view offers constantly changing natural lighting as the sun moves in the sky from dawn to dusk and into night. At night time, with tactfully placed ambient lighting accenting the villa's design, one is immersed in the interior, and the villa becomes it's own expansive private world.
Two symmetrical wings attached to the living room accommodate the bar and dining room to the left, and the Dotcom room to the right. Both rooms are slightly separated from the rest of the space, and are fully paneled internally and externally with teakwood, evoking a warm comfortable feel. The impressive dining room table consists of one solid slab of teakwood, and easily seats ten. This air-conditioned area is enclosed by four sets of swinging glass doors that can be opened if desired, and overlooks the lily gardens to one side, and the expanse of the ocean to the other. The specially designed lighting fixtures in the dining room offer an intimate atmosphere, complimented by the meditative sounds of the water feature in the garden.
The bar area is connected to the dining room by a glass door, and from here one can look into the living room and out over the entire property. Chic barstools line the bar, offering a prime location to enjoy a refreshing cocktail.
The Dotcom room is an enclosed air-conditioned space, which can be opened up if desired to overlook both the front and back of the estate. Dominating the room is a massive relaxation couch, which easily seats the capacity of the house, covered in Thai silk pillows, which faces the wide-screen projection TV and entertainment centre. Alcoves in the back feature desks and internet access, providing a convenient place to catch up with the outside world.
Four bedrooms are located down open corridors, two of which lead past the dining room, and two of which lead past the Dotcom room. Each suite entry is decorated with carved limestone blocks representing traditional Ikat weavings from the islands of Flores and Sumba.
Each of the four matching suites is comprised of a bedroom with a capacious walk-in closet, and indoor and outdoor Bali-style bathrooms. All of the bedroom walls are faced with timber paneling to mid-height with white sand wash on top, leading up to the high cathedral timber-lined ceilings with ceiling fans, and air-conditioning.
The furniture in the bedrooms was designed especially for The Istana, as were the exquisite lighting fixtures, and are made exclusively of recycled teakwood. The décor in each room is primarily the same, with differences in the color schemes. All of the bedrooms are walled on two sides by folding glass doors which open up to the private gardens in the case of the bedrooms facing the entrance of the property, and on the other side which open onto the ocean.
Each bedrooms' ensuite bathroom is walled in white sandstone and feature bands of intricate designs in carved stone. All have huge teak-framed mirrors above twin vanities set in wood. The indoor showers have huge rain-heads, and are enclosed on two sides with glass but open to open-air private gardens with sunken bathtubs, allowing for immersion al fresco.
The master bedroom is located within the guesthouse, which is separate from and slightly more elevated than, the main building, and set back so as to offer complete privacy. It has its own entrance way, parking facilities, and private swimming pool. The L-shape pool is two and a half meters deep and is faced with a black volcanic stone. It has its own outdoor shower and lounge chairs.
The master bedroom/guesthouse which is built completely from wood is divided into a covered deck, private kitchenette, living area, and a bedroom with a expansive ensuite bathroom. The living area and bedroom both look out over the property, and are enclosed on either side by sliding louvered glass doors. A spectacular view of the ocean is provided from the massive ironwood bed which is the center piece of the room along with its palatial mosquito net. The bathroom is much like those in the main house; only it has both an indoor and outdoor shower. A large day bed sits on the deck and one can look directly out from over the private pool to the relaxation bale and the horizon behind.
Set near the cliff face adjacent to the property's Hindu shrine, the relaxation bale is composed of a white, solid stone bench encircling a large wood table. This creates a luxurious setting, ideal for dining or just for sitting and relaxing. At sunset, the island's volcanoes are silhouetted against northwestern skies, and form one of the most spectacular settings of anywhere in the world. During the night, fishing boats, carrying twinkles of light travel constantly across the vast expanse of ocean, provide for a magical, constantly changing backdrop.
The grounds of the property are in two levels. The upper level consists of a large grass lawn of thick, comfortable grass and two water gardens with fountains to either side of living room. Tall coconut palm trees create shaded areas without obstructing the sea view, and are lit at night, brushing the lawn, water features, and swimming pool with a serene glow.
The thirty meter long swimming pool is set on this level, and offers a breathtaking side to side infinity line leading to the ocean background as the waters spill over the edge nearest the ocean. It is 2.4 meters deep at one end, and two meters deep at the other, and is faced with a green granite stone originating from West Java. Starting with the fashion of a spring bubbling, a backlit waterway aligned to the main axis of the building traces across the lawn leads into the pool and makes for a striking light show at night.
The lower level of the property consists of succulent ground cover and a meticulous sprawling lawn, lined along the cliff-side by five meters of spiky bougainvillea to dissuade any wanderers and to create a subtle contrast with the lawn. This large area is ideal for wedding parties or events.
For additional guest comfort and convenience, The Istana comes with a chauffeured vehicle service included in the price. The villa's late model two litre luxury vehicle, which seats seven passengers, is fully air conditioned and features a VCD player with dual monitors and a mini fridge. The villa chauffeur is on standby for up to ten consecutive hours every day.
Uluwatu is a powerful and awe-inspiring place, thus the elements of The Istana have been assembled so as to match the heritage of the site. The house blends modern and antique, with a European influence on an Oriental focus of style and detail. The natural materials and abundant usage of rich teakwood and ironwood throughout the house compliment this mix, and help the building merge well with the landscape, lush gardens, and incredible view. Combined with an extensive staff who provide a level of service unrivaled outside a luxury hotel, there is no parallel. A villa whose name means palace and fulfills every dimension of that description; The Istana is for those who deserve a truly regal experience.