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At Alila Villas Uluwatu, strong environmental practices drive the resort’s design philosophy. Whether it is on the first, or 500th, glance, the view from Alila Villas Uluwatu is equally breathtaking — it sits on a plateau elevated atop limestone cliffs on Bali’s southern Bukit Peninsula, the vista of the Indian Ocean endless. Situated only 30 minutes from Ngurah Rai International airport, and 15 minutes from the iconic, dramatic Uluwatu Temple, the luxe retreat spreads across 36 verdant acres.
Adding to these impressive metrics, this 65-villa, award-winning property, is a model of sustainability, with a minimal environmental footprint, and is the first resort in Indonesia to receive the highest level of certification from EarthCheck as a Best Practice Building Planning and Design development.
When in Bali, immerse yourself in luxury and support the environment through sustainable architecture
Designed by the Singaporean firm WOHA, a trailblazer in environmentally sensitive architectural practices, Alila Villas Uluwatu follows sustainable design principles that accentuate the natural surroundings. The landscaping and overall ambience are informed by the local Balinese savannah-like environment, using rocky terrace fields and lush gulleys as inspiration for the look. Terraced planes are an overarching theme, promoting airflow and protecting cool gardens.
According to WOHA director Richard Hassell, the design of each villa is inspired by traditional Balinese architecture, in the way that the house is a collection of pavilion platforms in a compound. Using the sloped terrain to glorious effect, WOHA designed individually tiered villas, allowing each one to have a panoramic view of the sea and the horizon beyond.
The 65 villas have contemporary interiors with cream and earth tones, enlivened by broad strokes of nature and traditional Balinese accents evident throughout the wood, water, stone and bamboo. The smart design starts at the villa’s exterior, where walkways and bridges connect the relaxation pavilions and pools to the spacious living areas, and the open-plan design allows the gentle sea breeze to circulate throughout all villa spaces.
Locally sourced materials were a key requirement of the building scheme. The resort walls are made from batu palimanan, a stone from Jogjakarta, a city on the neighbouring Indonesian island of Java, and limestones from the resort site were hand cut for the garden walls.
On each villa, the flat roof is covered with volcanic batu chandi lava stone (a type of black basalt) that not only provides insulation but also promotes natural vegetation, and within each accommodation, bamboo ceilings and rattan interiors were locally sourced and crafted in Bali. Other wood materials were repurposed from railway sleepers and telephone poles.
At Alila Villas Uluwatu, experience the best of both worlds: the relaxation of being away from it all, and the luxury of having everything at your fingertips
The rooms, however, do not skimp on luxury — each villa has a private pavilion that overlooks the glittering Indian Ocean and is set within jigsaw slats of bronze and recycled wood, adding visual flair to their supreme comfort. These welcoming refuges are fitted with plush bedding, making them luxurious, easy spots to while away the day.
For WOHA’s Hassel, each villa is not simply a room but a connected series of places to relax, and guests have the power to control the space as they desire. Close a sliding glass door to enjoy air-conditioned interiors, open it to experience the uplifting, restorative properties of the sea breeze.
Alila Villas Uluwatu, a luxury resort that’s home to the responsible traveller
Beyond the rooms, the dedication to environmental stewardship is plain to see. For example, Alila Villas Uluwatu has installed soakaway rainwater tanks and has a recyclable grey water system that directs used water from bathrooms and washing machines through reverse osmosis tanks to be re-used throughout the property’s gardens. On site, the plants mostly used in the landscaping require minimum irrigation, another facet of the property’s careful water conservation plan.
Energy consumption is minimised through a variety of methods. Lava rock roofs, bamboo ceilings and window placement encourage air-flow and reduce the need for lights and air-conditioning. Water throughout the resort is heated by rerouting heat generated by air-conditioning units, another smart redirection of resources to lower energy consumption.
Championing the natural environment takes the shape of raising local plants from the Uluwatu Bali savannah ecosystem at the on-site nursery to encourage local bird and animal life. And that animal life can enjoy minimal pollution and ambient noise thanks to the use of electric-powered buggies around the property.
A vital part of the resort’s sustainability infrastructure is the Sustainability Lab, the thrumming core of the Zero Waste Policy. At this on-site facility, all waste streams are transformed into higher value products and services through a series of simple mechanical and biological engineering systems. From producing its own compost to a glass-recycling programme and organic garden, this site was created to enhance the resort’s efforts to create a better environment for the staff, guests, and wider community.
Under its No Plastics initiative, the resort has eliminated unnecessary plastic packaging and items in all villas and restaurants and, as a signatory of the Global Tourism Plastics Initiative led by the UN Environment Programme and the World Tourism Association, has targeted to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2025.
The resort is Bali’s pioneer in substituting plastic-based amenities with biodegradable and compostable options, such as bamboo straws and dental kits, small changes that embrace sustainability without compromising luxury or quality. And, in line with the United Nations mandate to support local economic and social progress, more than 40 percent of the staff hired at the property are from the local community.
Alila Villas Uluwatu’s Positive Footprint booking: enjoy a luxurious stay and participate in sustainable & community initiatives
Travellers that want to play an active role in the sustainability effort can upgrade their stay with the resort’s newly launched Positive Footprint booking. Selecting this option will ensure a stay that encompasses the highest levels of sustainability within the guest’s villa, combined with unique opportunities to explore, and even get actively involved in, the resort’s comprehensive environmental and community initiatives.
As an added bonus guests will also receive high quality, durable, stylish sandals made by ethical footwear brand Indosole utilising recycled tyres from the resort’s buggies, a complimentary in-room minibar stocked with all-local products, an environmentally conscious level of butler service with a mindful effort to save energy, water and waste, and a set of drinking glasses made by the Sustainability Lab team from up-cycling glass bottles.
“With our new Positive Footprint booking, we will be able to provide a more personalised experience for those who desire a stay that is as sustainable as possible. It provides the best possible option for our guests, our community and our planet,” explains Hemal Jain, General Manager of Alila Villas Uluwatu.
Guests can also learn more about the property’s sustainability measures first-hand during a Sustainability Journey, where they will take a tour with the resort’s Regenerative Tourism expert to learn about the Sustainability Lab (it was launched in November 2019), as well as its self-sufficiency efforts and integrated design concept that works in harmony with the natural ecosystem. The journey will culminate with a complimentary farm-to-table, sambal-making experience with the chef in the organic garden.
“Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and for us it is the new luxury,” says Jain. “We feel that the modern-day luxury traveller is looking for sustainability in travel and to contribute in some form or the other to the environment and the community.” ◼
© This article was first published online in Nov 2022 – World Travel Magazine.