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.

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Eating, lounging, “sourcing” – a working holiday in Bali

We recently returned from a week’s fact-finding / “espionage” / sourcing (i.e. the hospitality industry’s term for “shopping”) trip to Bali. Our first stop – Alila Villas Soori. We’ve been admiring the Alila-style for some time and I felt that it was highly important (!) for the sake of research and the resort to experience it first-hand. We were not disappointed. The resort is not particularly close to anything – the roads around are narrow and pot-holed – and once you’re there, you’re more or less just there. In fact, we didn’t leave the confines of the resort over the three days we stayed there – a good excuse to put those “sourcing” trips on hold and spend the time lazing about the pool and beach (when not running after our highly mobile toddler).  A few things we loved and learned from Alila Soori – the importance of understated, smiling, seamless service, the glasses of icey cold water (with orange slices) which appeared every time we put our bottoms on a sun bed, the lovely sliced wood tables – found all over the resort, their generous use of candles and lanterns at night, the in-villa nespresso machine, the excellent local balinese dishes served at Cotta over-looking the sea, great big breakfasts and the complimentary freshly-made baby food. The villa prices are steep – but I can highly recommend looking at Jetsetter from time to time where we got an excellent deal.

From Soori we moved further east, closer to the more densely populated tourist town, Seminyak. At 3pm on our first afternoon there, irritable with hunger and searching for lunch amongst hundreds of restaurants, we found ourselves at the lovely Cafe Bali – where we were all instantly calmed – my husband by the array of French newspapers on offer, our baby by a large fruit salad and me by the lovely decor and good food.

Other Seminyak highlights included the great variety of beach / resort wear collections ideal for Batu Batu’s boutique (Beachgold and Sabia being two favourites with lots of very floaty simple cotton/viscose summer dresses and simple sandals which I hope to stock on Pulau Tengah). Jalan Gunung Tangkuban Perahu in Seminyak was also a gem for furniture – shop-after-shop-after-shop of reasonably-priced pieces – but you have to be patient and have time as the road runs for several kilometres and there are hundreds of shops to sift through. One shop we came across had a great selection of restored and re-vamped old teak pieces – a few items perfect for our spa pavillion and resort boutique. There were also some colourful, old keropok (indonesian prawn crackers) tins in various shops – cheap and great to use as lanterns.

On our penultimate day in Bali, we met-up with Balinese-Dutch Tony – someone had suggested him to me through the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum. He took us to his house/shop, Naga Mas, near Ubud – several houses and out-houses overflowing with his antique collection – anything from whole Javanese houses to beautiful looms-turned-coffee tables, carved doors, trunks, sideboards, bits of boat – you name it! He also took us to Tepi Sawah in Ubud for the best ribs and crispy duck I’ve ever eaten  – do stop by if you fancy a meat-fix Balinese-style. But the best thing about Tony for Batu Batu is that he’s been in Bali for over 40 years and knows where to find quality items from parasols to batik, shell trinket boxes to stone carvings, lanterns to the do not disturb signs found at the Aman Resorts…

Finally, I thought it was worth mentioning our final stop on our final day – an excellent, laid-back, authentic beach-side Italian, Sticky Fingers on Echo Beach – where we ate very good freshly-made pesto with penne and dark chocolate cake whilst watching the surfers “ride the waves” in the distance (a nice change from the more trendy-chichi spots in Seminyak). And so with our stomachs full we headed at speed for the airport (as anyone who knows us well knows we are rarely on time) and just about made it on time to board our flight back home.

Next stop, next week – Yogyakarta, Java for more sourcing!

From beach bars to turtles – what’s it all about?

So, where do you start when you have a big blank page – or a big blank blog? And you’re new to blogging and dizzied by all the new words you’ve learnt over the last couple of days… Perhaps it’s best to provide some thoughts on why we’ve set this up in the first place.

There are two main reasons: Firstly – it is an excellent way for us to document our experiences from development through to the opening and running of the resort. A diary in words and pictures of our route – which we can look back on further down the line. There is so much to talk about and so many facets to this development. My musings from here on for the next year are likely to cover a wide range of topics from furniture and fabrics through to dive centre design, favourite beach bars to responsible management of waste water, vietnamese boat people to bamboo blinds, fair trade suppliers to staff uniforms, updates on construction to conversations with local fishermen, children’s activities to turtle and reef conservation.

The second reason for writing this blog is more experimental. I want to know whether our little hotel development can be influenced or directed by people out there via this blog. Can potential guests help us make decisions so that future experiences at our hotel are tailored to their preferences and needs? When we design our restaurant menus and meal payment structures, can the market provide us with their opinions so that we create something that we know people want and like? Can we stock our library with the right books by creating lists of top 10 books to read on a desert island and asking you to comment? Can we fill our iPods with music you want to hear when drinking a cold beer with sand between your toes? Can people more knowledgeable than ourselves recommend solar water heaters or provide suggestions on best boat designs for our use?

Until the next post, here are some pictures to keep you going.

Southern villas from the sea

The Long Beach - Pulau Tengah

Pulau Tengah from the air