Few places in the world offer a destination fit for a king or queen, or even for A-list celebrities for that matter, but tucked away in an unassuming village in Bali, hidden behind enormous teak wood doors with no signage, is a place where all of the above have secretly lodged. It’s a place unlike any other, where five-star splendour meets ancient Indonesian design, and where inspiring Balinese tradition meets grandiose celebrity demands.
This place is the Permata Ayung Private Estate, where nothing but the very best will do. From the endless bottles of fine Moët Chandon Champagne on arrival, to the million-dollar views of emerald green rice fields, Permata Ayung is a retreat with a difference, where every step through the winding polished concrete pathways takes your breath away no matter how many times you return.
A Step Into the Estate
As the towering teak doors open to reveal the lavish world of Permata Ayung Private Estate, the exclusivity and sheer magic of the premises is unmistakeable. For as far as the eyes can see, beyond the flawlessly manicured gardens and hypnotic jungle-hugged infinity pool, is a never-ending expanse of untouched rice paddies, entirely shielding the rolling private grounds reserved exclusively for Permata Ayung guests.
The central open-air living area, large enough to stand as a property on its own, overlooks the stunning Java-stone lined pool reflecting nature by day and sparkling with mood lighting at night, fashioned with antique teak sofas and sun beds. To the left, an al fresco dining area is surrounded by large fish ponds and trickling pools and, to the right, a suspended living deck with a grand piano, a multitude of stylish sofas and cosy lolling spots overlook the misty rice terraces. The vast and sweeping property then sees a series of spacious and beautifully restored wooden residences dotted throughout the grounds, either tucked away down winding pathways sheltered by exotic foliage, or teetering on the edge of the vast open valley that overlooks the majestic Ayung River.
Each of the exquisite wooden buildings celebrates the unique artisans of Indonesia, with more than a decade spent travelling through Java to collect artefacts and antiques to display throughout. The finishing touches were then perfected by Dutch designer Egbert Pos, whose unique work with old wood and resin creates unique spaces and quirky details in every room, like intricate wood carvings, personalised stone statues and awe-inspiring murals on towering ceilings.
Each of the residences therefore tells its own different story, carved by time. Teak and ironwood floors glow, carved terraces and detailing tell of artisans of old and spacious en-suite bathrooms sparkle with designer features like giant oversized bathtubs carved out of whole marble boulders or extravagant four-poster beds dressed with the finest linens money can buy. Though undeniably traditional and authentically Indonesian, the five-star touches at Permata Ayung are otherworldly. A bamboo, two-storey spa sits next to the Ayung River with a suspension bridge for over-water massages. Swanky golf buggies have been imported from Europe to effortlessly move around the estate without a sound. A private bar with its own cinema and open-air smoking room features an elongated Vegas-esque corridor and multi-course gourmet dinners are served under starry night skies beside the spellbinding river rapids. It’s a world unlike any other.
Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
Beyond the grandeur, beyond the million-dollar views and beyond the lavish indulgences, Permata Ayung is also a place of great respect and devotion. Upon speaking to the general manager and all-around storyteller, Luca Hauben, he explains that Dutch owner and businessman, Mr. de Vries, is dedicated to the preservation and development of the local community. Almost 90 percent of the estate’s staff have been hired from the local village. Mr. de Vries knows them all by name and extends his training, education and support to their families.
Mr. de Vries has even bought the rice fields around the estate, not simply to preserve the natural surroundings to ensure unadulterated privacy for the A-list guests, but to give the land back to the villagers to continue their harvests. The estate also features its own organic gardens, which are offered as a source of food and as education on sustainable living to the villagers. A path has even been built for the villagers to access the river for their ceremonies as they have done for generations and Mr. de Vries often joins in on the religious celebrations. Drawing on the energy and spiritualism of this unspoiled nature reserve, Permata Ayung is built on land that harnesses a range of energies, from the constant flow of the river to the spiritual energy of the property itself.
Although the uniqueness of Permata Ayung can be seen in the wholly personalised design, the impeccable five-star touches and the majestic and serene locale, it is without doubt the added respect and genuine warmth of the property that makes it so memorable. It’s a world unlike any other. All photographs by: Dieter Lotze & Arshad Rizvi.