AN AF­FAIR OF THE HEART

This was just go­ing to be an­other reg­u­lar un­der­wa­ter ex­pe­di­tion, but Tim Hart­noll dis­cov­ered more than he bar­gained for in In­done­sia’s Anam­bas ar­chi­pel­ago.

Robb Report (Malaysia) - - Money & In­vest­ments - By SAN­JAY SURANA

Some in­vestors like to park their money in stocks or funds. Oth­ers favour real es­tate. For Tim Hart­noll, a Singapore-born ship­ping ex­ec­u­tive, a re­cent ve­hi­cle of choice was to build a pri­vate is­land re­sort. That is how Bawah Is­land, in In­done­sia’s Anam­bas ar­chi­pel­ago, opened in the sec­ond half of 2017.

“I’ve al­ways had a deep in­ter­est in the un­der­wa­ter world and ex­plo­ration,” he ex­plains. “Dur­ing one of my ex­pe­di­tions to the Anam­bas is­lands in 2006, I stum­bled on Bawah. In­stead of stay­ing for one night (on a boat there), I ended up stay­ing for over a week.”

Hart­noll wanted to cre­ate a lux­u­ri­ous, au­then­tic travel ex­pe­ri­ence in a sus­tain­able, com­mu­nity- en­rich­ing man­ner. The dream be­came re­al­ity three months later, when the op­por­tu­nity to buy this group of un­touched is­lands came up.

To­gether with eight in­vestors, he set about de­vel­op­ing a pris­tine site — one teem­ing with flora and fauna and sur­rounded by healthy corals and rich marine life — in a re­spon­si­ble, sus­tain­able way. “We are fiercely pro­tect­ing (the en­vi­ron­ment) through our firm stance against fish­ing, an­chor­ing and col­lec­tion

of any marine life on Bawah. We’re in the midst of de­vel­op­ing Bawah into a UNESCO Bio­sphere Reserve in the next 10 years.” The re­sort, which is on the largest is­land, took five years to build with­out the use of any heavy ma­chin­ery. “We made the de­ci­sion very early on, as we wanted to pre­serve and pro­tect Bawah’s 300 acres of nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, so the chal­lenge was to com­plete the re­sort con­struc­tion by hand – from re­cy­cling stones to break­ing boul­ders for build­ing ma­te­rial. It was very ful­fill­ing to see this com­pleted.”

The re­sult is a gor­geous pri­vate is­land idyll with 35 over­wa­ter, beach­front and gar­den vil­las made of bam­boo and re­cy­cled teak, each with re­cy­cled cop­per tubs and show­ers, and day beds that look out onto gor­geous wa­ters. In ad­di­tion, the re­sort of­fers a full spa, three bars and restau­rants with a nau­ti­cal theme (and each with stun­ning marine-themed in­stal­la­tions or fix­tures), a full wa­ter-sports cen­tre, marked hik­ing trails through the primary and secondary forests that form the in­te­rior of the is­land, and crys­tal clear seascapes that re­call the Mal­dives but en­livened by dra­matic, hilly, tree-filled moun­tains. Bawah is vig­i­lant about be­ing en­vi­ron­men­tally and so­cially con­scious, hence its for­est re­plan­ta­tion pro­gramme, use of re­cy­cled and sus­tain­able wood in the con­struc­tion of vil­las, wa­ter re­cy­cling, bi­o­log­i­cal fil­tra­tion sys­tems, per­ma­cul­ture gar­den, sense of com­mu­nity with staff, and more. Bawah gives guests the feel­ing of

“The chal­lenge was to com­plete the re­sort con­struc­tion by hand – from re­cy­cling stones to break­ing boul­ders.”

This type of project is rarely grounded in prac­ti­cal­ity and will be rid­dled with ob­sta­cles, so it’s good to have lofty ideals at which to aim and to main­tain your fo­cus.

There will be frus­tra­tions and doubts along the way, but the process will be il­lu­mi­nat­ing. The ex­perts that you need to work with will be im­mensely ed­uca­tive, the bu­reau­cratic pro­cesses prob­a­bly eye- open­ing and the com­ple­tion grat­i­fy­ing be­yond be­lief.

De­ter­mi­na­tion and pa­tience are key. Re­mem­ber this isn’t a short time investment, but a long- run play.

Guests of pri­vate is­lands are of­ten en­trepreneurs, de­ci­sion mak­ers, movers and shak­ers. You should plan to inspire them with your re­sort so that they make de­ci­sions that change the world for the bet­ter. Plus, hav­ing strong CSR prin­ci­ples is a sound busi­ness prac­tice, plain and sim­ple.

Even if you are clear from the out­set what type of de­vel­op­ment you want to build, the cost is go­ing to be higher than any ini­tial fore­casts. Even so, it is vi­tal to plan ev­ery­thing out care­fully and be clear with your con­cept be­fore you go ahead; the ef­fort will save you time and money.

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