De­signed by Bill Bens­ley, Bali’s new­est lux­u­ri­ous tented get­away, Capella Ubud, Bali is a whim­si­cal mar­riage of old and new. By Eve Tedja

Epicure - - CONTENTS -

Capella Ubud, Bali

De­spite be­ing lo­cated just 30 min­utes away from the heart of the ur­ban­is­ing town of Ubud, the vil­lage of Ke­liki re­mains mer­ci­fully un­touched by the rapid trans­for­ma­tion that en­gulf Bali’s premier des­ti­na­tion. Tightly spaced shops and houses give way to open fields, sway­ing co­conut trees, emer­ald rice fields, and or­nate tem­ples. It paints a lovely pic­ture, re­sem­bling a Ke­liki wa­ter­colour paint­ing, for its de­pic­tion of Ba­li­nese vil­lage life and leg­ends.

It is in this idyl­lic sur­round­ing where Capella Ubud, Bali is lo­cated. The lux­u­ri­ous tented hide­away is en­sconced in an artis­tic vil­lage, where time moves at its own un­hur­ried pace. With a ter­raced four hectares of fer­tile ground and a po­si­tion by the sa­cred Wos River, it is not hard to pic­ture how the brave Euro­pean ex­plor­ers and traders came, en­chanted with the myth­i­cal land by the river, and de­cided to set­tle down in Bali in the early 1800s. The story in­spired Bill Bens­ley, the master­mind be­hind this rain­for­est re­treat. The en­trance to the ground is hardly con­spic­u­ous from the out­side – in an at­tempt to blend beau­ti­fully with its sur­round­ing, but as soon as one en­ters and looks up to the first house, mis­chievous stat­ues of brass mon­keys are perched on its roof.

That first glimpse of whimsy is what makes Capella Ubud, Bali stands out. Bens­ley is renowned as a mul­ti­fac­eted ar­chi­tect,

in­te­rior de­signer and land­scapist who is also a staunch con­ser­va­tion­ist. No tree was cut dur­ing the con­struc­tion of the 22 one-bed­room tents, a two-bed­room lodge, two din­ing out­lets, re­cep­tion, one pool bar, camp fire, tented gym­na­sium, spa, and an ex­clu­sive tent for the res­i­dents. Amidst the preg­nant jack­fruit and co­conut trees, one is trans­formed into a world of the by­gone era, of brave car­tog­ra­phers and mer­ci­less sea cap­tains. The open-air tented re­cep­tion area is a de­light to be­hold, sur­rounded with ver­dant trop­i­cal gar­dens and dec­o­rated with vin­tage bric-a-brac, such as a thick guest log book and red post box. The ceil­ing of the re­cep­tion, as in the ceil­ing of other tents, is cov­ered with batik fab­rics in dif­fer­ent colours and pat­terns. The tent is sup­ported with dis­tressed elab­o­rately carved wooden beams, mir­ror­ing the de­tails found in Ba­li­nese ar­chi­tec­ture. This de­tailed at­tempt to cap­ture the or­na­men­ta­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion with lo­cal ar­ti­sans is also ev­i­dent in the one-bed­room tents.

Sep­a­rated into four dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories with dif­fer­ent views and set­tings, the re­treat makes it easy to for­get that

one is ac­tu­ally in­side a tent. Each re­treat is de­signed in four colour schemes and in­di­vid­u­ally styled with a theme that de­picts the early set­tlers’ skills with names like The Trans­la­tor’s Tent and The Baker’s Tent. Take the Toy Maker’s Tent. Equipped with a per­sonal cof­fee ma­chine and wine chillers which are clev­erly hid­den in a wooden trunk, it is fur­nished with whim­si­cal black-and-white four-poster king size bed. A pair of colour­ful kuda lump­ing that Ja­vanese chil­dren love to play, a turquoise but­ter­fly kite, and a pa­pier mache dog are some of the eclec­tic high­lights of this par­tic­u­lar re­treat. Be­ing a tent, the bath­room is lo­cated ad­ja­cent to the bed­room and de­light­ful in its de­tails, from a richly pat­terned bathrobe to a hand-ham­mered cop­per free-stand­ing bath­tub over­look­ing an ex­pan­sive out­door shower area. Out­side, a salt­wa­ter pool and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing mon­key foun­tain are built from river stones, as if they were nat­u­rally there from the start.

While Mads Lange, the camp’s all-day, farm-to-ta­ble din­ing con­cept fea­tures a breath­tak­ing trib­ute to Ba­li­nese tra­di­tion through its Ra­mayana epos ceil­ing paint­ing from Ka­masan, the Api Jiwa be­low is a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence al­to­gether. Al­most steam­punk in style, it fea­tures a ro­batayaki grill and a cheeky dis­play of an­ti­quated mar­vels, such as steam iron, rusty iron wash basins and even wooden laun­dry boards. The touch of steam­punk ex­tends to a sus­pen­sion bridge that link the tented re­treats with the pool and The Mor­tar and Pes­tle bar on the wooden deck. The el­e­vated cis­tern-like pool is a bold de­sign state­ment that stands out from the sur­round­ing for­est with its strik­ing black and white geo­met­ric pat­tern and spout­ing wa­ter pipes. Near the restau­rant, an in­ti­mate open space called The Camp Fire is ready to host old-fash­ioned sto­ry­telling ses­sions over hot choco­late and toasted marsh­mal­lows. A fully-equipped gym­na­sium with space for yoga and Pi­lates is avail­able for the guest’s pe­rusal un­der the tent of The Ar­mory, while a throw­back to an ele­gant era can be ex­pe­ri­enced at The Of­fi­cer’s Tent.

Ex­clu­sively de­signed for the guests of Capella Ubud, Bali, The Of­fi­cer’s Tent is where the guests can min­gle, en­joy their morn­ing cof­fee, af­ter­noon tea and evening cock­tail with canapés while swap­ping sto­ries with each other. With cosy nooks, so­fas, a pool ta­ble and wooden deer heads, the tent re­sem­bles a clas­sic gentle­man’s club but made more fem­i­nine by the place­ment of china and batik fab­ric on the ceil­ing and the wall of the tent. The Capella Ubud, Bali en­cour­ages ex­plo­ration, much like the early set­tlers, one has to carry within him or her some sense of ad­ven­ture and will­ing­ness to com­mune with na­ture for the splen­dour of the for­est and the twit­ter­ing of birds are never re­ally far.

Over­look­ing the val­ley of Ke­liki, the tented re­treat in­vites guests to em­brace the en­velop­ing lux­ury of its four poster, fully-carved Ba­li­nese bed and plush sa­fari chic cowhide sofa.

Bill Bens­ley cre­ates a cosy liv­ing room that in­vites one to linger, with the use of batik to cover the wall and ceil­ing, cowhide leathered sofa, and Ba­li­nese en­dek wo­ven fab­ric for pil­lows. The salt­wa­ter pri­vate pool was built from river stones, blend­ing seam­lessly with the sur­round­ing na­ture.

The view of Capella Ubud, Bali from across the val­ley Led by ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of culi­nary Matthew Mc­cool, the ro­batayaki grill is at the heart of the Api Jiwa restau­rant.

Named after the “White King of Bali”, Mads Lange of­fers a break­fast ex­pe­ri­ence with a view.

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