Australian Steven Cain was working in finance in Hong Kong when the idea of building an exclusive enclave of just seven private homes first fell into place in 2005. These days, he has swapped those heady heights and a buzzing city life to work with truly magnificent views across the Indian Ocean from the enclave, which is now The Ungasan Clifftop Resort. Asia Dreams talked to him about the resort and his life in Bali.
Q: International finance to CEO of a stunning, exclusive villa resort in Bali; that’s quite a change. How did it come about and how does your experience in investment banking translate into being a successful resort CEO?
A: I’ve been part of this project since the beginning, in 2005, when a group of us decided to build our dream homes on this stunning piece of land, but it wasn’t until the financial world dramatically changed in 2008 that one thing led to another and the villas became The Ungasan Clifftop Resort and sometime later I became the CEO. It was completely unplanned, but I have never been happier. I live and work in paradise with the most beautiful people in the world.
In the financial world, I was fortunate enough to work for a great company that cared about its people, where everyone worked hard and looked out for each other. I’ve tried to build the same culture here. We work hard as a team to achieve the desired results, rewarding good performance and have a lot of fun along the way.
Q: What do you most enjoy about your current role overseeing the resort and Sundays Beach Club?
A: The people. I love working with this team. We have over 300 local staff, all of whom love this place as much as I do. I especially love to see them succeed and enjoy that success, to see their joy when the guests appreciate The Ungasan. We are all very proud of what we have done and excited about the future. I feel blessed to be part of it.
Q: With the influx of more and more resorts to the island, what is the secret to keeping The Ungasan ahead of the game?
A: We have a very special and unique offering at The Ungasan, unlike anything else in Bali, I think. Our villas were individually designed by architects to be private homes, not just somewhere to lay your head for a while. We have recently started collaborating with James Viles, owner of the two-hatted Biota restaurant in Australia, to provide exceptional food and drinks here in the villas and down at Sundays Beach Club. I wanted to be sure that our Balinese chefs would fully benefit from this and retain control over their kitchen, so James came here to discover what produce Bali has to offer, initiated the project and then sent one of his chefs to co-head the kitchen with our Chef Maratha, who has also been to Biota to train.
Our staff are amazing too, they came up with a motto that they live and work by – “To create magic with service from the heart.” Our guests really feel their belief in providing magical experiences that live with our guests forever.
Q: What do you think is the most underappreciated aspect of The Ungasan?
A: I’m really not quite sure! I think everyone who has been here appreciates what we are and what we do. I just wish everyone who shows an interest could actually visit, because nothing compares to being here in the flesh and experiencing it firsthand. The Ungasan is a truly magical place.
Q: This edition of Asia Dreams is about family holidays. What does The Ungasan and Sundays offer families?
A: Our luxury villas with five king-sized bedrooms are perfect for large families, or more than one family travelling together. The villas are equipped with games rooms and each has a private cinema. There is plenty of room for the kids to play and we have a tennis court and putting green, plus of course the world-famous Sundays Beach Club.
Q: I hear you are very involved in making a difference for the disadvantaged and underprivileged. What are you currently involved in?
A: We support our own community through various programs, including school support. Most of our 300 staff are from the area, so we feel very fortunate to be able to help. We also support a variety of other charities, mainly Bali Children through sponsorship of Diva Charity and Bali Life Foundation, which is a local orphanage.
Q: Many of our readers are keen bon vivants. Where is your favourite place to hang out in the region?
A: Honestly, Sundays Beach Club is my favourite spot on the whole planet.
Q: What does the future hold for you and for The Ungasan?
A: For the moment, we are focused on growing our immediate business, to be known as the preferred destination for global families and friends to rendezvous. Where families take time out of their busy schedules to come together as one and relax and enjoy The Ungasan, letting our staff spoil them in this incredible setting before heading back to their hectic worlds.
The Ungasan Clifftop Resort
Jalan Pantai Selatan Gau, Banjar Wijaya Kusuma, Ungasan,
Bali 80362, Indonesia
T: (+62) 811 942 1110