Sanurs best family beach front Villa…
If anywhere epitomizes the authentic ‘Bali style’ that has enraptured so many over the past decades, it is Villa Batujimbar – a treasure-filled travel destination in itself. This sublime property, which sits on over an acre of beachfront land, was originally the home of long-time Bali resident and Australian artist Donald Friend who, in 1970, invited Sri Lankan ‘tropical modernism’ architect Geoffrey Bawa – celebrated for breaking down barriers and creating harmonious relationships between buildings and landscape – to collaborate in developing the beachfront estate. The Balinese palaces at Amlapura and Klungkung plus the famed water gardens of Tirta Gangga influenced his ideas – clearly expressed in the two-storey moat-encircled Lembu Balé that commands centre stage within the meticulously designed gardens.
Villa Batujimbar is a great villa for families. There’s plenty of room to play outside, with a tennis court for ball games, lawns to let off steam, and a gate leading directly to the beach – perfect for creating sandcastles, and swimming or canoeing in the calm lagoon waters. Those with toddlers will need to be vigilant, however, due to the numerous fish ponds and water features.
The villa’s team of friendly staff will make children feel welcome, and full-time babysitters can be organised (extra charge) if parents want the freedom to do their own exploring beyond the villa grounds.
Although the equipped kitchen allows you to prepare meals for fussy eaters or babies with ease, staff will happily to do this for you – just talk through your requirements and meal schedules with the villa manager or chef and they will take care of the rest. The chef can customise all meals to suit children’s taste buds.
The lower gallery of the Lembu Balé houses the current Australian owner’s astonishing collection of Balinese art – including the Donald Friend painting he bought from the artist himself on first visiting Villa Batujimbar in 1972. This private collection rivals the island’s finest galleries and museums and is a unique feature of the villa. Guests are welcome to view the collection on special request. Yet art is not confined to this space alone throughout the living and sleeping pavilions you’ll come across architectural treasures, rare artefacts, painted antique doors and windows, and heirloom paintings that reveal the owner’s passion for Balinese art and craftsmanship. And within the expansive gardens are myriad moss-encrusted statuary and intricately carved stone reliefs. Bali’s beauty shines in the materials used too – vaulted alang-alang thatched roofs, lava stone steps, coral walls, and terrazzo and teakwood floors.
With such a fascinating history, no wonder Villa Batujimbar has attracted celebrity guests over the years. Today’s guests are following in the footsteps of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall (who got married here), Sting (who gave an impromptu concert), Yoko Ono, and members of the Thai and Malaysian and British royal families. In such splendid surroundings, and pampered by a team of staff that includes a private chef, personal butlers and villa manager, you can look forward to royal treatment too.
Villa Batujimbar offers nine spacious air-conditioned bedrooms, each oriented for privacy in five separate pavilions. Seven have ensuite bathrooms while the two Family Pavilion bedrooms – one designed for kids – share a shower room. All have contemporary luxuries such as 40-inch or 32-inch satellite channel TVs, safes and bar fridges, matched with historic paintings, collectibles, furniture and oriental rugs that hark back to the villa’s distinguished heritage.
Beachfront master suite
The grand, two-storey master suite is situated close to the ocean, just behind the beachfront living balé. On the ground floor of this palatial pavilion is a peaceful study and sitting area furnished with a large antique writing desk and an elegant chaise longue. Walls are lined with teak shelving and display units and, in one corner is a circular glass-topped table for four and a bar area.
Upstairs an ornately carved, king-size, four-poster bed luxuriates below a lofty alang-alang thatched roof. Warm teakwood flooring and richly coloured antique rugs adorn the floor and a comfortable sofa at the foot of the bed faces a large flat-screen TV. A delightful private furnished balcony overlooks the ocean to the front of the room.
A WC leads from the upper-floor bedroom and a full bathroom lies just down the stairs, adjoining the study and sitting room.
The two large master bedrooms in the Longhouse open onto lawns on one side and a water garden terrace on the other. In each, a super-king four-poster rests under a soaring pavilion roof on a polished terrazzo floor that flows into the dressing area. Flanking the mirrored vanity alcove sliding doors lead to the stately WC enclosure and a large shower area that opens onto the water garden.
The Bali Pavilion
Within this most romantic of pavilions, with its brightly painted antique Balinese doors and teakwood parquet floor, are two inter-connecting bedrooms with king-size beds swathed in mosquito nets, and inter-connecting garden bathrooms with alfresco showers. Beyond sliding double doors lies a walled garden with private relaxation bale, huge shade-giving Jewent tree, and a separate entrance to the main villa gardens. The second room also has a small private courtyard with seating.
The Pool Pavilion
On the upper level of the Pool Pavilion are two king-bedded guest suites, with bengkirai-wood floors, ceilings of bedeg (woven rattan) and delightful treetop views beyond full-width windows. The suites are split-level, and each has its own entrance from the garden, ensuring complete privacy. At ground level are dressing areas, bathrooms with Palimanan-lined showers and statement bathtubs, and spiral staircases. Conveniently, WCs and washbasins adjoin the bedrooms upstairs.
The Family Pavilion
On the second level of a building tucked away behind the villa entrance are two more bedrooms – one with a king bed and the other with small twin beds – that share a bathroom with separate WC and shower. They are ideal for a family, or as a separate enclave for up to four kids who will appreciate a little independence.
One of the pleasures of a sojourn at Villa Batujimbar is the sheer amount of living space. While there’s plenty of room for a full house to socialise under the same roof, there are also lots of quiet corners for breaking away from the crowd.
The main living pavilion is open to the garden alongside the beach; its soaring alang-alang roof supported by towering coconut columns. Three sides of the pavilion are lined with comfortably upholstered built-in benches and at its centre four traditional Indonesian sofas with curved teakwood frames are set around an elaborately carved coffee table.
A breezy, fan-cooled lounge graces the upper level of the historic Lembu Balé, reached by a pair of stately staircases. With its roof supported by elaborate columns rooted in sandstone plinths carved in the shape of animals and mythical figures, this space is defined by two monumental bovine statues (lembu means cow in the Indonesian language). Cane and teak colonial-style seating provides the perfect spot to enjoy the sea view.
The Poolside Pavilion’s living area provides yet another space for relaxation, with clusters of handsome seating, an alcove carpeted with thick comfy cushions, and a breakfast table facing the pool. There’s a small kitchenette and a guest shower room tucked out of sight.
Guests have a choice of dining areas. Towards the beach is an enchanting raised dining bale with antique marble table and ten rattan chairs set under a thatched roof. For formal meals, there’s an air-conditioned dining room in the Longhouse, where a 12-seater stunning teakwood table faces sliding glass doors that open onto fish ponds. Next to the dining room is a huge professionally equipped kitchen and, behind, a staff service kitchen and laundry.
In Villa Batujimbar’s fabulous formal gardens ancient moss-encrusted statues stand sentinel by the 20-metre pool whose stone terrace is lined with sun-loungers and parasols. Seemingly floating above a lotus pond is a large relaxation balé – the perfect spot for afternoon tea while admiring scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabarata carved into the wall behind. From the beachfront balé glorious views across the sea to the sacred Mount Agung and the island of Nusa Penida can be enjoyed; Sanur’s acclaimed sandy beach and sheltered waters lie just beyond the traditional gate in the boundary wall. Elsewhere on the estate are the tennis court, refreshment area and sports shower.
Villa Batujimbar accords guests an extraordinary location right on the edge of Sanur Beach: a private gate leads directly from the villa gardens onto the footpath that stretches the length of the white sand swimming beach in both directions. Privacy and peace are the promise of its privileged setting within the exclusive Batujimbar Estate, yet just 150 metres away is the buzz of Jalan Danau Tamblingan, Sanur’s main street, with its throng of restaurants, bars and boutiques. Guests may pick up Bali’s famous Jenggala ceramics (originally created in the villa’s grounds decades ago), enjoy an espresso at Café Batu Jimbar, snack on sushi at Ryoshi, or dance to live music at Three Monkeys – all within a five-minute walk. There’s a good choice of water sports along the beach, a nine-hole golf course within a few kilometres, and the delights of dive- and surf-spot Nusa Lembongan a half-hour boat ride away.