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