Ola Bednarczuk heads to Bali and discovers a holiday resort that’s as much about design as it is about relaxation and wellbeing.
Situated on the south coast of Bali on the island’s very eastern tip, just outside the Nusa Dua enclave of resorts, the Conrad Bali feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations.
Set on 6.8 hectares and stretching alongside 350 metres of beach, the resort is a sprawling network of buildings surrounded by tropical gardens and lagoons.
The stylised ‘rice terrace’ landscape is the work of landscape architects Belt Collins.
Tranquil pools and clusters of lush Balinese and Javanese vegetation – coconut, frangipani and forest trees – break up stretches of open lawn. Beachside cabanas, made of the grass alang alang in the traditional Balinese style, dot the smooth yellow sand of the beach.
The buildings themselves are a mix of traditional and contemporary, incorporating subtle touches that remind visitors where they are rather than being overtly ‘exotic’ or ‘Bali’.
The interiors – including the guest rooms, suites, villas, restaurants and spa – were designed by Singapore-based firm LTW Designworks. In the public areas, dark stone floors are juxtaposed with timber and lighter shades for a contemporary but earthy, natural effect.
Locally sourced materials and hand-crafted objects are a key element of the interiors. Furniture, sculptures and artworks by local artisans feature heavily in the resort’s public spaces. In the guest rooms and suites, Balinese art and hand-crafted objects – such as soap dishes, or woven head-boards – create a lovely element of surprise.
The striking entrance to the resort features a rotating exhibition showcasing the work of Balinese artists, or international artists who have a special connection with the island and are inspired by the beauty of its landscape and culture.
Design is so important to the Conrad Bali experience that visitors often ask for their favourite elements to be sourced or replicated.
The Conrad works in collaboration with Sourcing Bali
, a company dedicated to seeking out the best of Balinese art and craft and making it available to designers and visitors, to help guests take a piece of their Conrad experience home. Among the items that guests have been inspired to seek out and ship home are the beachside cabanas, and even the dark timber lobby floor – by all accounts a very special example of flooring which has been replicated a number of times!
It’s quite a special experience to stay at a resort that’s about more than pools, beaches and massages (although they do all that very well, too). The Conrad is also about getting in touch with your surroundings, experiencing the culture through the art of its local craftsmen – and maybe even taking a piece of it home with you.