A Brief History of Bali Tropical Boutique Hotels

radit mahindro
8 min readOct 6, 2019

It was all started in Sanur when Wija Waworuntu landed in Bali and built his private house in Sanur. Read the summarized history below:

  • 1962 — Tandjung Sari was founded by Wija Waworuntu (Sanur): The boutique hotel was actually built by Wija as a private leisure house for his family but eventually evolved to a boutique hotel. The hotel is considered one of the first hotels in Bali and the first hotel with tropical Asia style — later adopted by various Asia-based luxury hotel brands
A Brief History of Bali Tropical Boutique Hotels — Tandjung Sari
Tandjung Sari, Bali
  • 1962 — Bali Beach Intercontinental Hotel started its construction (Sanur): It was initiated by the Government of Indonesia and funded by war reparations from the Kingdom of Japan. The construction project manager leased four bungalows at the Tandjung Sari for their staff. The hotel was opened by Presiden Suharto in 1966
  • 1966 — Bali Beach Intercontinental Hotel opened its doors (Sanur): The hotel was managed by Intercontinental Hotels and is the first international branded hotel in Bali. At that time the Intercontinental Hotels was part of Pan American Airways. The hotel is now managed by government owned Inna Hotel Group and remains the tallest man-made structure in Bali
  • Late 60s — Villa Batujimbar was founded by Donald Friend (Sanur): A close friend of Wija, Donald invited British Sri Lankan born architect Geoffrey Bawa to develop his villa. The design of the villa is heavily borrowing elements from various water palaces at Klungkung and Amlapura — East Bali. The garden of the villa is designed by Made Wijaya
VIlla Batu Jimbar, Bali
VIlla Batu Jimbar, Bali
  • 1968 — Tandjung Sari Brochure: Wija was a member of the newly created Bali Hotel Owners Association initiated by Siegfried Beil, the GM of the Bali Beach Intercontinental Hotel. The idea of creating a brochure for Tandjung Sari ended becoming the “first guidebook of Bali” published in 1970
  • Late 60s until mid 70s — Celebrities: Tandjung Sari and Villa Batujimbar host various celebrities including Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Sting, Yoko Ono, and Jerry Hall
  • 1970 — Hotel Matahari (Sanur): Wija and Donald invited Australian architect Peter Muller to develop Matahari Hotel set in a land nearby the Villa Batujimbar. The hotel supposed to combine all of the best architecture elements from both Tandjung Sari and Villa Batujimbar. The project stalled and eventually cancelled due to lack of financing
  • 1971 — Regent International Hotels: The luxury hotel chain was founded by Robert Burns and Georg Rafael
  • 1973 — Bali Hyatt opened its doors (Sanur): The Bali Hyatt is the first international branded hotel in Bali that adopted Bali-style architecture on its main buildings; the guest room building was designed by Geoffrey Bawa while the lobby was mainly designed by Kerry Hill (some sources also mentioned Peter Muller) and the landscaping was designed by Made Wijaya
  • 1973 — Bali Oberoi opened its doors (Seminyak): After his unsuccessful Matahari Hotel project, Peter Muller and Made Wijaya were asked to design the Bali Oberoi together with Kerry Hill. Originally named, The Kayu Aya, the hotel is located in a remote area around Seminyak and is the first luxury hotel in west coast Bali
  • 1974 — Pacific Asia Travel Association/PATA: The construction project of Bali Hyatt was actually sped-up in order to be ready for PATA Conference. It was at this conference that the Indonesia Government and World Bank agreed to execute the project of Nusa Dua resort complex
  • Mid 70s — Donald Friend sold his Villa Batujimbar to Adrian Zecha: Adrian called his in-house designed, Ed Tuttle, to expand and refurbish the villa. The combination of Geoffrey’s original design and Ed’s addition is said to be the main inspiration for the future establishment of the first Aman in Phuket and Bali. Adrian’s Villa Batujimbar occupied Lot 5 of the originally planned 15-lot Batujimbar Estate, while Lot 6 was owned by Ong Beng Seng, who would later own two Four Seasons hotels in Bali and established their own brand, Como Hotels & Resorts, with his wife Christina Ong
  • 1975 — Indonesia born Adrian Zecha joined Regent hotels: Regent hotels became one of the best worldwide luxury hotel chain with iconic properties including Regent Hong Kong, Sydney (the first luxury hotel in Australia), London , Hawaii, Fiji, Milan, New York, Beverly Hills, and many more
  • 1976 — Jenggala Keramik: Jenggala Keramik was founded by Wija Waworuntu with her daughter Ade Waworuntu and New Zealand artist Brent Hesselyn. Their clients including Tandjung Sari, Alila Villas Uluwatu, Alilla Villas Soori, The Chedi Oman, W Retreat & Spa Bali, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, and many other restaurants
  • 1978 — Jimbaran Bay Hotel: Adrian and Siegfried Beil bought a land in Jimbaran. Adrian approached Kerry Hill to design a new beachfront hotel at Jimbaran. Unfortunately the hotel never got built. The ruins of the first foundations were later removed and the site became some ten years later the location of the Bali Intercontinental Resort
  • 1983 — Nusa Dua Beach Hotel: Following the master plan proposed by French consultant SCETO in 1972 and funding by World Bank in 1974, the Nusa Dua complex was built to host various 5 star hotels. Garuda Indonesia owned Nusa Dua Beach Hotel is the first hotel to inaugurate in 1983 followed soon by Club Med, Melia, and Inna Putri Bali (now Inaya). Subsequently in 1987 Sheraton Nusa Indah (now Westin), Sheraton Laguna (now The Laguna), Grand Hyatt, Hilton (now Ayodya), and the golf course
A Brief History of Bali Tropical Boutique Hotels — Amanpuri
Amanpuri, Phuket
  • 1988 — Aman: Adrian founded Aman resort with his partner Anil Thadani. Its first hotel is Amanpuri in Phuket, Thailand, designed by Ed Tuttle. All Aman resorts are notable for its minimalist architecture to complement the resort’s natural and cultural setting. Most Aman resorts don’t have lobby, reception desk, and even TV
  • 1988 — Regent Bali (Jimbaran): Kerry Hill was the original architect and he did manage to build a fraction of his design which was eventually scrapped. Made Wijaya appointed as the landscape designer for the hotel. The hotel is reported as the first luxury hotel to have all rooms equipped with private pool. The hotel is owned by Ong Beng Seng and was eventually opened as Four Seasons Bali at Jimbaran in 1994 following Regent International Hotels acquisition by Four Seasons. Made designed various gardens and landscapes of luxury accommodations including Bulgari (Uluwatu), Tirtha (Uluwatu), some Hyatt and Taj hotels, and the David Bowie’s house in Mustique Island
  • 1989 — Amandari opened its doors (Ubud): Designed by Peter Muller as Villa Ayu, the villa complex turned out to be a higher quality accommodation than the original plan. Peter approach Adrian to help. Villa Ayu included as part of Aman resort and then renamed to Amandari. The garden and landscaping of Amandari was done by Made Wijaya
  • 1991 — Como Hotels & Resorts opened their first hotel, Como The Halkin, in London.
  • 1992 — Four Seasons acquired Regent International Hotels: Most Regent hotels were rebranded to Four Seasons including Regent Jimbaran, New York, Jakarta, Bangkok, the Regent “Pretty Woman” Beverly Hills, and many more
  • 1992 — GHM: Adrian Zecha and Hans Jenni founded GHM. The GHM hotels flagship brands are The Chedi and its collection of ultra luxury independent hotels; The Legian (Seminyak), The Datai (Langkawi), The Setai (Miami), The Tanai (Turks & Caicos), The Lalu (Taiwan), The Nam Hai (Vietnam), The Leela (India), The Strand (Myanmar), and more. GHM launched their four-star boutique brand called The Serai with properties in Rajasthan, Luang Prabang, and Manggis
  • 1992 — Amankila (Manggis) & Amanusa (Nusa Dua) opened its doors: The hotels were designed by Kerry Hill and Ed Tuttle respectively. Kerry and Ed designed various Aman resorts worldwide until now
  • 1993 — Amanwana opened its doors (Pulau Moyo — Nusa Tenggara): This is the first Aman project by architect Jean Michel Gathy. Jean Michel Gathy also designed some GHM hotels and various Aman resorts worldwide
  • 1996 — The Legian opened its doors (Seminyak): The hotel is the first commercial project of renowned interior designer Jaya Ibrahim. Jaya would later went on to design the interior of almost all GHM’s independent hotels mentioned earlier
  • 1996 — Mandara Spa: The global spa management company was founded by Mark Edleson, a financial advisor at the GHM, with Thomas Gottlieb and John Pritzker (son of Jay Pritzker -founder of Hyatt) in Bali. The first Mandara Spa is located at the GHM managed hotel, The Chedi Ubud (now Alila Ubud)
  • Mid 90s — Lombok Oberoi opened its doors (Lombok): Peter Muller designed the Lombok Oberoi. Two other Oberoi projects in Ubud and Bedugul were cancelled for unknown reason
  • 1998 — Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan was opened: Similar to its Jimbaran counterpart, it is owned by Ong Beng Seng. Architect John Heah led the design aspect, an experienced that helped him entering the luxury hotel industry. John Heah designed Amanera and is now busy overseeing the design of Amanvari and some One&Only projects
  • 2002 — Alila Hotels & Resorts: The owners of GHM managed The Chedi Ubud and The Serai Manggis decided to manage the hotels themselves by forming a new management company, Alila Hotels & Resorts with Mark Edleson. The Chedi Ubud (now Alila Ubud) and The Serai Manggis (now Alila Manggis) were designed by Kerry Hill
A Brief History of Bali Tropical Boutique Hotels — Alila Manggis
Alila Manggis
  • 2009 — Aman at Summer Palace opened its doors (Beijing): The hotel is the first Aman project of interior designer Jaya Ibrahim while the architecture is by Jean Michel Gathy. Jaya also designed Amanfayun launched in 2010 and the interior of Amanikan also launched in 2010
  • 2009 — Alila Villas Soori opened its doors (Bali): The resort is designed by architect Soo Khian Chan whose portfolio including W Retreat & Spa Bali Seminyak and Park Hyatt Maldives. Soo also designed the Sanya Edition, Waldorf Astoria Sanya, and Four Seasons Lijiang
  • 2010 — Regent Hotels & Resorts: Regent International Hotels was acquired from by Formosa International Hotels Corporation and renamed to Regent Hotels & Resorts
  • 2013 — Bali Hyatt is closed for renovation: The hotel is scheduled to re-open in late 2017 as Hyatt Regency Bali
  • 2013 — Regent Phuket Cape Panwa (Phuket) & Regent Bali (Sanur) opened its doors: The interior of both hotels was designed by Jaya Ibrahim with some other collaborators
  • 2015 — Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran: The premier villas refurbishment project is considered as the last project by Jaya who died a year earlier. Jaya replaced the marble flooring with stone or timber. Some new artworks, fabrics, and custom-furnishing are used to keep the villas aligned with a traditional Balinese home
  • 2016 — LHM: The LHM hotel management was founded by the owner of The Legian along with Ralf Ohletz –who is also act as the President of Design & Concept at Regent Hotels & Resorts. LHM announced their second hotel, The Legian Lombok, located nearby The Oberoi Lombok
  • 2016 — Alila Villas Soori is rebranded to Soori Bali: Soori Bali joined Soori High Line (New York) and Bistro Soori (Singapore) forming a lifestyle brand, Soori, developed by Soo Khian Chan and his wife, Ling Fu

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