The Path of Dreams
Bayu Sarwono firmly believes in making his dreams reality. Asia Dreams visited him at his boutique resort Samsara Ubud, for which he even oversaw the project construction, to find out what’s behind his smile.
Q: You’ve created and recently opened Samsara Ubud, a boutique resort with just 17 villas. What drove you to do this?
A: Since I stayed in a hotel when I was 12 and could order my favourite foods from room service and watch cartoons in all that comfort I’ve always wanted to own a hotel, even as a kid. But it was more than just sharing that indulgence, I’m intrigued by investing and I thought a hotel might be an interesting investment.
Q: You didn’t study hotel management though?
A: No, I did commerce. I love numbers and have always found economics and investing fascinating. However, I am lucky that hospitality is also a passion of mine.
Q: So, you went into finance after graduating?
A: I studied in Australia and spent nearly a decade working in investment consulting. I had a wonderful mentor who believed in me and gave me the opportunity to learn from other smart investors around the world. As a consultant, I advised institutional clients, such as Pension Funds and Family Offices, on investments. Due to my desire for perfection, I put in long hours and started to question what I wanted to do in life. Eventually, I decided to change career direction and started looking for land in Bali to build my boutique hotel.
Q: Are you finding your new career fulfilling:
A: I’m still working really long hours, but now I’m growing my own baby not working to grow someone else’s.
Q: How did you decide on this piece of land?
A: I travelled back and forth for a couple of years looking for the right piece and was actually starting to think I would have to give up on my dream. I think this was the 23rd piece of land that I looked at. It had been raining and I missed my footing at the top and slid down towards the river valley; when I looked up, I knew this was the place.
Q: How did you decide on the design for Samsara Ubud?
A: Originally, I was planning something smaller, but when Popo Danes, the architect, came to visit, he recommended 17 villas, which of course changed the whole concept. That’s when I decided to create a real business, to create a brand, which is how Samsara was born. Of course, it has continued to evolve as we’ve been on this journey. I took on the project management and have learned so much. Now I have even bigger dreams than before!
Q: Why did you name the resort Samsara?
A: It’s a Sanskrit word that means wandering. To me, that’s how you find the best things in life, when you open yourself to exploring, finding new experiences and enriching your life. It’s about being adventurous. I intend Samsara to be adventurous, stylish, luxurious, but at the same time still a down-to-earth Indonesian brand.
Q: What do you mean by “down-to-earth”?
A: One of my most treasured memories is of a trip in Java with my mum when we played board games and traditional Indonesian games together. It was the first time I really felt that I got to know her as a person; we spent time playing and talking and she shared some of her memories. So, we want to offer the opportunity to unplug from life’s electronics and spend time with family and friends. We offer yoga, a spa, tea lounge and library, but we also have popular traditional Indonesian games like jenga and congklak, as well as a chess set and playing cards we’ve designed inspired by Indonesian puppets, so there are plenty of opportunities to interact and relax. Of course, we still have Wi-Fi for those who don’t want to unplug!
Q: What does luxury mean to you?
A: Connecting, or reconnecting. When you’re travelling it’s easy to feel lonely even though there are lots of people around. Holidays, however long or short, are time to rejuvenate, to reconnect with yourself as much as with other people. At Samsara Ubud, we provide opportunities to feel reconnected to nature; the pools are heated so that people can swim while watching the sunrise over the trees, or stargaze in the evening comfortably. You can hear the sounds of nature, birds chirping, the water trickling in the river and waterfalls.
We also encourage our staff to be genuine, accessible and interact with guests, while at the same time offering professional, attentive service with their innate sense of hospitality. My intention is for the Samsara brand to be known for its understated elegance, genuine friendliness, personality and sense of adventure.
Banjar Ayah, Desa Kelusa, Payangan,
Gianyar, Bali 80572, Indonesia