Villa Camphuan, Bali, Indonesia
Lining the dramatic black sand beach of Jasi in East Bali is the sustainably built Sumatran style Villa Camphuan. Elegantly understated wooden houses scatter the spacious gardens, between the confluence of two glistening rivers, above the sand set against a dramatic volcanic view and bordered by lush green rice fields. Owned by the Hollywood Director Rob Cohen, of The Fast & Furious, and designed and decorated by famed bamboo pioneer Linda Garland, this is one of the most stunning and serene private properties in Bali that is also a boutique hotel.
Dominated by a large open living area that is the epitome of eco bohemian chic, this is the perfect base to explore the quieter east coast of Bali. Located through a hidden winding path through rice fields and forest you emerge in this exotic estate, with its sublimely simplistic Sumatran and Bali architectural accents. Palm trees blow in the wind and the sound of waves breaking on the beach echoes through the eco property. The atmosphere is one of pure escapism and serenity immersed in nature.
Villa Camphuan is the name of the open aired central living room that overlooks the property to one side and over the swimming pool to the sea on the other. Hammocks swing from the wooden beams and large bamboo sofas and a beautiful collection of loro blonyo or ‘inseparable couple’, mystical antique wooden figurines that come in pairs of men and women in traditional dress, from across the sea in Java. More than just being a representation of a romantic union, these statues also interlink the separate beliefs of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism that have all been dominant religions in East Java throughout history. Usually they represent the Goddess Sri, who is derived from the Indian Goddess Sri Devi, and her consort Sadono. The figures are dressed in the traditional Javanese costume evolved from its present Islamic roots.
These wonderful statues meld with the wonderful wooden and bamboo structure that was handcrafted by Sumatran artisans. Conceived by Bali interior designer Linda Garland and Founder of the Environmental Bamboo Foundation, preserving and promoting the use of bamboo and sustainable materials. The result is an eco luxury estate set in one of the most beautiful and natural parts of Bali whilst totally blending with the land and beauty of Pantai Jasi (Jasi Beach). The majestic and holy Mount Agung looks down on this wonderful property curved around the black sanded surf beach.
Five suites are all in separate houses that are as beautifully crafted as the main living house. The Agung Villa is the largest at 2500 square feet, and has sweeping sea views. The theme of traditional antiques is carried through and black bamboo mixes with teaks and woods to create a textured home of treasures. Wake up in your huge bed decorated with wooden carvings, and shower gazing at the largest volcano on the island, gaze over the ocean whilst enjoying the jacuzzi or simply lounging in your sitting area. This is the height of simplistic sustainable luxury. Silence or the sound of the sea follows you around the property; this is a part of the island that really echoes a Bali of days gone by and is perfect for those seeking serenity and a more authentic experience of the island.
Villa Selak is more like a private home set across the river, via a bamboo suspension bridge, in verdant tropical gardens. Overlooking a lotus pond, there is a private pool set on the oceanfront, and offers escapism within this gorgeous eco escape. It’s the perfect hideaway for honeymooners or small families within the property. A vast marble bathtub can be enjoyed under the stars in a traditional outdoor Balinese bathroom. Enjoy the sunset from your veranda or a floating platform before meandering over to a home cooked traditional Indonesian dinner, prepared from local produce and catch of the day. Dinners are enjoyed together with other guests under the palms or candle lit in the long house.
Days are spent in pure relaxation, strolling, surfing, having massages and exploring the surrounding countryside. Just north of Candidasa this area has a unique allure of still being an authentic glimpse into Bali’s soul. Further up the coast are the wonderful coral reefs of Amed and surrounding areas for snorkelling and scuba diving. Inland one can experience the heart of Bali, from traditional rice farming on volcanic terraces, utilising the ancient and efficient subak irrigation system, to discovering the artisans of Bali from stone carvers, to artists to hand woven textiles. This area is rich in history and natural beauty, where a Bali that has been overrun in the main tourist areas, still exists.
Villa Camphuan is the perfect place to rebalance and restore a sense of peace. Morning yoga sessions can be arranged and indulgent massages using aromatic oils infused with Frangipani or local herbs can be enjoyed in the garden. The surrounding areas are filled with plants and produce, so a local lesson in Balinese cuisine filled with flavour and spices and really appreciate the subtle complexity of the food fresh from the land and sea.
Explore the idyllic rural surroundings by foot or bike and get a glimpse into the life of the Balinese and their land. The dramatic drive down from Candidasa opens to splendid sprawling views of the ancient rice fields that cover this island but are sadly being replaced by encroaching development. The subak irrigation system is an ecologically sustainable ancient Balinese rice farming method that dates back to the 9th Century. A thousand hectares have been awarded World Heritage Cultural Landscape status. However this does not cover all the farmers whose land and water is being diverted for tourism.
Surrounding the magical Villa Camphuan you will see this system used by the farmers, a slower more mystical way of life immersed in the land and religion centred around the temple in the gardens of the property and every home. Looked over by Mount Agung the most holy part of the island and home to the Gods, this property embodies the ethos of kindness to the environment, blending into the beauty of Bali seamlessly. This is a perfect and private luxury eco escape in the East of Bali.
Photos Courtesy of Electra Gillies & Villa Camphuan
Words by Electra Gillies