A Batu Batu update…

Again, it’s been a long time – deja vu rings in my ears… haven’t I started almost every blog post with the same line? Well, Batu Batu is open — but we are still finishing-up! Things have been crazier than ever over the past few months with our doors open to friends in April this year, to friends of friends and then to real guests in May and on. For most part things have gone well, but it has been hectic and we have of course had our share of difficult times (finding staff to live away from the mod cons and conveniences of city life, building all the infrastructure on our little island and the list goes on)… And those finishing touches are still work-in-progress (uniforms, lots of lovely fabric throw cushions, table lights, standing lights, reading lights). The bigger work in progress items include our spa, the children’s play house and the dive centre. They are not work-in-progress as much in a construction-sense as in a manpower sense. Our spa and dive centre are really just waiting for warm skilled bodies to breathe life into them — we are continuing our search for an appropriate dive instructor and spa therapists or a spa manager.

Do email us or keep checking back here for an update on these work-in-progress items. In the meantime, here are some photos of Batu Batu — from our guests feedback some of the highlights include the island, the beaches, the pool, the architecture, the food… See you soon.

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A wooden tree heart and news…

It’s been too long – 2 months since I last posted. So – here’s a wooden tree heart for Valentines Day and a promise to post more regularly as we ramp up towards finishing Batu Batu!

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And some quick pics that walk you through some of the happenings on Pulau Tengah over the past couple of months… (where the monsoon has not really been a monsoon).

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The view from one of the Northern Ocean Villas.

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Looking out from the spa.

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Work on Ökologie started and is moving at quite some pace.

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TThe dive centre in progress.

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A southern Ocean Villa taken from the first beach

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Almost there! Picture taken from the villa bedroom looking into the villa bathroom. Ignore the mess and use some imagination…!

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Other news on our side: we’ll be posting our room rates very very soon – so watch out for these. We’ve also been busy recruiting staff for the resort, buying everything – all sorts from forks, knives to cushions, books, sheets, lanterns and the list just goes on… Our first reservation enquiries have come in – and we’ve received a few enquiries about booking out the whole island for weddings. Amazing and magical! See you on Pulau Tengah very soon.

OH – and LIKE us on Facebook as we’ll definitely run a LIKERs offer when we kick-off our reservations.

Christmas Greetings from BB (and btw the weather can be amazing even if it’s officially monsoon!)…

The festive season has crept up on us and again I have to ask where time went. I have – yet again – seriously neglected the BB blog – so before everyone leaves their desks and chucks their blackberries aside I thought I would give you a quick rundown of affairs on BB and tell you that the weather and sea CAN be amazing over the monsoon (when most of the other islands have shut down for the season). These pics were taken just last week.

And we could even see the coral quite clearly from the boat – something which is generally not the case from November to February.

Elswhere at Batu Batu we are into serious countdown and get-moving mode with opening year 2012 hurtling towards us at breakneck speed. We still have the April Fool’s date etched in our minds but have decided that this will be a soft-opening phase for guinea pig friends and associates willing to forgive BIG in exchange for time on an idyllic island paradise. We will announce a full-public opening date as soon as a few more hurdles have been cleared.

So to recent events. Our jetty should be being piled as we speak – but two weeks ago the barge setting off for Pulau Tengah from Endau carrying the piling materials got stuck in the mud on the river bed just off mainland and a waiting game was played for a few days whilst everyone sat patiently and waited for the tide to rise high enough to dislodge the beached barge. We are also currently loading two further barges to carry all the rest of the construction materials including interior finishings (plaster board, built-in wardrobes), our kitchen equipment (!) and everything to build BRISC on our long beach.

To BRISC – I can actually unveil that we have a new name for BRISC. BRISC was too common – google and you’ll see – (perhaps one of my favourites being Bus Route Information System for Chennai City…). But I’ll save the new name for a post of its own – and for when it is officially registered with the Malaysian companies’ commission. On the (for now we’ll call it) BRISC front – we have John (dive professional and more), Lali (permacultur-ist) and Simon (naturalist) all joining us. Look forward to a programme of nature-based experiences, protection projects and flourishing herb and vegetable gardens. Watch this space for updates on how this all goes.

We were recently on the island with Lightcraft KL – who by the way managed to drive from KL to Mersing in 3 hours!!! – minds buzzing about lighting, effects, colours, placement. We tried out some LED lighting in the restaurant – which was much warmer than I was led to believe and amazing how much light a 3 watt “bulb” can give. We are just waiting now for their complete proposal to arrive!

Dominic Sio our “design man” also joined us and saw the island for the first time – more creative mind-buzzing, brain-storming, styling and fabric and colour sorting. Oh and we have our new logo thanks to Dom. Again not 100% finalised but look here for a taster.

http://issuu.com/stimulimagazine/docs/bb01

Night night. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Hopefully 2012 will be a great one for all!

Logos Logos!

I’ve been working with Kv, a graduate fresh from LASALLE College of the Arts who we’ve mandated to design our new Batu Batu logo. We sat together yesterday in The Coffee Connoisseur for a couple of hours, changing colours, changing fonts, moving things around. This is where we’ve got to…

Some opinions please…! Anything? Anyone? Preferences on colour? Do you like this logo? Do you prefer our old one (see it here)? Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thank you!

BRISC in a nutshell

It all started with dad chasing Debs from Wild Asia around Suntec City’s Exhibition Hall last October at ITB Asia asking how he could speak to this rather austere and important-sounding figure – Dr. Reza (the head honcho at Wild Asia). After a few weeks of text stalking, we finally arranged a rendezvous and met the not-very-austere-in-the-end Dr. Reza for dinner. It’s all a bit fuzzy in my head from there on but one day several months later, we sat round a table in the shade of the bar pavillion on Pulau Tengah and drew-up the concept for BRISC – Batu Batu Reef & Island Study Centre – a partnership between Wild Asia and ourselves.

BRISC in a nutshell? Basically, we Batu Batu are building our resort on a lovely untouched island that we really don’t want to spoil. Wild Asia has the know-how and contacts to help us achieve that aim (being a social enterprise whose stated aim is to “inspire and create positive social and environmental change”). It occurred to us that a good way of going about it was to create a not-for-profit entity which offers revenue-generating nature-based activities on the island (diving, trekking etc.) and used those revenues with (fingers-crossed) some external funding to run projects to conserve, preserve and proliferate life in and around the island.

BRISC will be located behind the tree line on the Long Beach – the loveliest beach on the island – and is being designed right now by 2 architects – Ian Hall and Seng Kheong – who are volunteering their time for the cause. It’s a very exciting project and I cannot wait to see the updated BRISC plans. Here’s a photo of the first-stage BRISC layout. Will post updates as they come in.

For the official blurb on BRISC – follow this link:

https://batubaturesort.wordpress.com/brisc-competition/

Have a good weekend!

Dave Bakewell’s Birds and Rock Pools

I wanted to point you towards a blog post by Dave Bakewell about a long weekend spent at an evolving Batu Batu with ourselves and some other friends from Wild Asia last month. Dave is a Wild Asia Associate and “birder” / bird specialist / enthusiast / expert based in Malaysia and has taken some great photos of birds in-and-around Pulau Tengah. He’s also taken some very good pictures of the island’s tidal reef or rock pools (all taken from above water). Do take a look – Dave’s post has the actual names and descriptions of the birds so I’ll leave you to investigate further there.

I’ll post more in the not-too-distant future about the weekend and the birth of BRISC (Batu Batu Reef & Island Study Centre) – a very exciting project! Until then – enjoy some of these lovely photos (stolen from Dave’s blog – thanks Dave!).

And one last pic of the BRISC founding team leaving the Pulau Tengah (as Reza points out – shame that Dato CJL was taking the picture and didn’t get into the pic or we’d have had 3 generations of BB/BRISC).

From left to right: Rastam (one of our head-builders), Mei, Dave, Chew, Mathieu, Cher, boatman, Winelyn, Dada, Shiya and Reza.

From a mossy tree trunk to a designer bar… almost!

I thought I’d show you some pictures of a tree that we found on the ground on some of our land near Kota Tinggi (mainland Malaysia). A great big cengal (pronounced “chengal” apparently an African Mahogany of sorts) tree trunk covered in moss which we think was felled back in the 1970s (apparently back then the price of cengal was so low – when land was cleared, the trunks were just left on the ground to rot – which incidentally it did not).

You might be wondering how this fits in with the development of a boutique island resort… Well – our plan is to turn the mossy trunk into several lovely designer pieces (bar counter, table top) – just like these:

So far the tree trunk slices look like this:

So we have a long way to go… But we’ll be back over the next few weeks to get the pieces trimmed, de-barked, cleaned-up and on their road to some (hopefully) great pieces for the hotel. We went to look at them with a local carpenter last week who is confident that he can effect the transformation. I’ll post some pics along the way. Fingers-crossed…

Last Thursday on Pulau Tengah

I’ve been meaning to post some photos from last week’s site visit to the island with our architects, interior designers and engineers. We had blue skies and sunshine all day, the sea was mirror-flat, the waters crystal clear. We swapped in our wooden fisherman’s boat for a fibreglass fast one for the sake of time efficiency (15 minutes from Mersing jetty to Pulau Tengah!). The only downside was that I didn’t have a single moment to swim or snorkel all day – although we did get a chance to take a quick look at the coral through the water when we arrived as the tide was extremely high and the water extremely clear…

Nevertheless, the trip was very productive. We have now finalised the placement of our swimming pool, decided on the final layout for our villa bathrooms, worked out where to put our children’s playhouse, given our engineers the problem of designing an economically efficient yet ecological waste water solution (based on the lay of the land and the layout of the resort) and have – I think – finally settled on a design for our bar.

Our attempt to cultivate some indigenous island plants (as screeners) in our “nursery” is working well and I’m excited to have found that the builders have made some great home-made carts which can be used to move luggage and all sorts around the resort once we operate. They are now used for carting around construction materials but once that’s done, they can be spruced-up with some sandpaper and re-incarnated as luggage trolleys. PLUS they match the villas (as they appear to be made from off cuts from construction).

Here are some of the photos from the day.

We arrived at high tide (almost 3m) and were able to go all the way onto the beach on our boat...

...where we were greeted with some delicious home-grown coconuts

Transparent waters - perfect snorkelling weather...

Looking north-west from the restaurant. Prime views of the sun setting over mainland from this spot - imagine loungey sofas and a cold drink of choice in hand.

Follow this walkway and you get to the "long beach" or "pasir panjang" where you'll find our beach bar and island and reef centre.

YP (our architect) and Hashim (one of our contractors) discuss the best width for individual steps. I think they decided on 30cm.

Sham (ID) deliberates on where to position the bar without blocking the view.

The cart!

Nurturing the "green leafy plant". If anyone knows its proper name, let us know.

A home-made rainwater harvesting system at one of the builder's huts.

This sandy path heads through the coconut grove to the southern villas.

Views of Pulau Besar from the bar with mainland in the distance

Leaving the island at the end of the day

Design inspiration: a short-short-list

In preparation for tomorrow’s day trip to Pulau Tengah with our consultants, I was compiling a short-list of my favourite design inspiration photos for Batu Batu and thought I would share a shortened-short-list with you. I use these pics when speaking to fabric and furniture suppliers, curtain-makers and any other potential partners to give them an idea of what we are trying to create on our island.

It’s interesting to see that from my catalogue of hundreds of images, I ended-up only picking ones from the Six Senses Resorts and the Alilas. If that’s the way Batu Batu turns out, I won’t be disappointed! Here you go – enjoy.

Six Senses Resort - Design Inspiration

Six Senses

Six Senses

Six Senses

Block colour cushions

Batik cushions at Alila Villas Uluwatu

Restaurant at the Alila Soori