By Jeremy Khalil on August 18, 2016
Founded by the charismatic Bapak Ben Subrata and led by his sprightly daughter who is also the group director Emily Subrata, Sudamala Resorts comprising Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi in Lombok and Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur in Bali focus on elements that are essential, leaving guests totally rejuvenated, refreshed and inspired. At the same time, Sudamala Resorts also showcase the integrity and the essences of the destinations that they are present in: Lombok for its pristine raw nature and Bali for its mystical cultural heritage. Gaya Travel had the privilege of experiencing both properties.
This property is the sister resort to the flagship Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur, Bali. We love this Lombok property for its intimate feel, human scale and authenticity. Even during high occupancy, the resort does not feel crowded at all. Being a Sudamala property, Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi offers spacious accommodation units in the form of suites and villas. It possesses strong sense of tropical homeliness that quickly put guests at ease and feel belonged.
Though luxurious, Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi possesses well-thought-out look and feel and doesn’t pretend to be different than what it actually is: cosy, verdantly lush, human-scale and unpretentiously chic with strong sense of place. Its compact size makes it feel intimate and exclusive. The resort’s architecture takes cues from the Sasak traditional house called Rumah Lambung with thatched alang-alang (elephant grass) roofs and decor replete with local motifs and materials such as bamboo for in-room panels and door feature.
All accommodation units at Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi are practically laid out and sport light-coloured wooden furniture and fixtures, large oversized king bed that make you want to sleep in for hours, indoor and outdoor shower with elegant natural stone cladding on the bathroom walls and floor, as well as modern conveniences like electric power extension cord with built-in international plug adaptors, television with domestic and international channels and Wi-Fi connectivity. The resort seems to place emphasis in ensuring that the accommodation units are filled with ample natural light that fills almost every corner. From the Narmada Ocean View Suite which we stayed, we could clearly hear the soothing sounds of birds chirping happily and waves breaking emphatically at the background, especially when lounging at the suite’s spacious private balcony.
Breakfast at the resort’s all day dining outlet Olah Olah Restaurant is served at the table instead of buffet to keep the experience exclusive. For dinner, guests should not miss savouring the Sasak Begibung (steamed rice wrapped in pandan leaves in the shape of cone surrounded by succulent and scrumptious dishes inspired from Sasak traditional dishes), including rich barbecue buffet on Friday nights. The staff members who serve at Olah Olah Restaurant demonstrate high standards of service by remaining efficient, attentive and accommodating.
When staying at Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi, guests are encouraged to opt for excursions offered by the resort. One such excursion is the visit to a village called Sukarara to witness and even purchase beautiful woven textiles produced by the ladies of the village, who are expected to be skilful in the craft and know how to weave to get married. What is remarkable is the fact that the intricate designs and patterns on the fabrics are created along the way simply according to the ladies’ imagination without the need for meticulous planning.
Another activity that should be experienced at least once by all guests when staying at Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi is to take the jukung (traditional Lombok outrigger canoe) for a fantastically memorable sunset cruise. This activity allows guests to witness Bali’s majestic Mount Agung from afar and admire Lombok’s raw untouched nature from the water while taking in Lombok’s dramatic sunset. It costs only IDR500,000 for one hour on a canoe that fits two persons.
Since Lombok is also surrounded by smaller islands and islets that locals call gili, guests of Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi should also opt for the island-hopping and snorkelling excursion by checking out Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak and Gili Kedis in southwest Lombok, which are a refreshing change compared to the already crowded Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. From the resort, it takes an hour and a half to get to the jetty in Skotong where guests will take the boat to the islands. Along the way to the jetty, guests are able to feast their eyes on Lombok local scenery.
There are still not that many tourists flock to these three islands. Nanggu is the largest of the three, the good place for snorkelling; Sudak is where guests have their lunch and enjoy postprandial unwinding; and Kedis is for freshening up. The whole excursion to the three gili, including transfers, boat rides and lunch, cost IDR900,000 per person and lasts for about 8 hours.
Being the flagship property of Sudamala Resorts, Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur in Bali is a 34-key urbane sanctuary that is contemporarily designed with exquisite Balinese accents. The property also houses an outstanding art gallery called Sudakara Art Space in its premises. Though the property is not directly connected to the sea, guests only need to walk 200 metres to get to the Sudamala beach area, which is exclusive to Sudamala’s guests.
Similar to Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi, Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur embodies all of Sudamala’s characteristics: practically laid out, amply receive natural light, breezy, elegant, and strongly connected to the destination’s identity and local culture. The rooms within this resort have generously high ceiling and colour scheme not unlike the one in Senggigi, including modern conveniences and amenities such as the efficacious toiletries by Sensatia (Bali’s first and only GMP-certified skincare company) and pillow menu, including local folk tales printed on the back of notepapers for guests to read as bedtime stories, adding more personalised touch to the whole experience.
In terms of dining, the Ares Steak & Pasta serves as Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur’s all-day food and beverage outlet, offering local- and western-inspired dishes. One dish that is worth trying is the succulent and fulfilling grilled tuna steak with couscous for lunch. Guests should also try out the restaurant’s elaborate Megibung dinner comprising steamed rice surrounded by distinctive and delicious traditional Balinese dishes such as pepes ikan (fish steamed in banana leaves) and ayam taliwang (spicy grilled chicken).
Remaining true to its promise in offering redefined barefoot luxury experience, the property offers remarkable tour programmes such as visiting the Pura Tirta Sudamala (Sudamala Water Temple in Bangli from which the resort’s name is derived from) for guests to witness and take part in a Balinese purification ritual called melukat, as well as undergo a therapeutic art class led by the inspiring and accomplished Balinese artist Pak Suklu.
Only guests of Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur are able to visit Pura Tirta Sudamala for melukat, which involves immersing and cleansing the body with fresh spring water. The ritual – believed to remove bad influences within the person – comes in several steps, beginning with worshipping the deities at the altar, taking ablution, followed by submerging totally underwater for total cleansing, then washing down under the spring founts, culminated in blessings by the priest. If guests were to ask us which Sudamala activity is the most defining when staying at Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur, witnessing and participating in melukat might just be it, which we found enchanting and refreshing all at once.
All guests of Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur in Bali should also make arrangements to visit Pak Suklu, an avant garde yet down-to-earth Balinese artist whose works are renowned not only locally but also internationally yet he remains humble, approachable, spiritual and wise. He leads guests to participate in an art session that allows them to be in touch with their creative side that lies within their subconscious realm. Guests will be pleasantly surprised to see how well Pak Suklu is able to read guests’ characters and the internal issues they face as he interprets guests’ charcoal scribbles – definitely an eye-opening experience towards self-discovery. Surely, staying at Sudamala Suites & Villas Sanur allows guests to be in touch with the mystical Balinese energy as well as their inner selves.
However, if guests do not feel like venturing out of the resort, they can simply head to the Sudajiva Spa and experience its reinvigorating candlenut massage, which involves long strokes that help to unravel muscle knots and relieve tension, giving guests a good night’s rest and wake up fresh the next day.
Based on our almost week-long stay at both Sudamala properties, the impression that Gaya Travel Magazine gets about Sudamala Resorts is that they offer the experience where guests are refreshed and recharged, similar to the role of the namesake water temple in Bangli. Sudamala Resorts do not just offer luxurious vacation; it also redefines the barefoot luxury experience by letting guests immerse in the destinations and absorb their respective essences. Sudamala Resorts are also homely so much so that leaving them was difficult. Travellers are therefore recommended to experience both Sudamala properties and take in the best of what both of them have to offer, leaving travellers enriched in the end. Travellers should also be on the lookout for Sudamala Resorts’ upcoming property, Sudamala Komodo Villas & Dive Resort in East Nusa Tenggara, which is scheduled to open in later half of 2017, offering travellers access to the exotic Komodo dragons and one of the richest marine environments in the world.
This article is included in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 11.4 . Read the magazine for free HERE.