A Short History of Sanur, Bali

Follow the link or read some of the highlights of this interesting article on Sanur and Batujimbar’s past and their influence on the world. South China Morning Post, August 2008. Revelling in paradise

The very rich aren’t like the rest of us.

They like to mingle with each other in far-off places and spice things up with a smattering of talented, famous, attractive and amusing characters. A supporting cast of local working people, salt-of-the-earth types, plus a local nabob to sort out any problems completes the idyll. What they do not want around, queering the pitch and destroying the illusion, are people who are simply well-off.

Unfortunately the well-off are everywhere nowadays with their tedious hard-earned knowledge of what’s what, cluttering up the place, ruining landscapes and destroying half-decent restaurants. The illusion is gone. It faded in the mid-1980s from the last of its extraordinary venues: certain Caribbean islands and, most special of all, Bali.

By the time Carlisle left for Europe in April 1974, the three men had created what has become known as “Bali style” and commissioned architects of the calibre of Bawa, Peter Muller, Kerry Hill and Ed Tuttle to execute it. They were followed by architects and designers such as Grounds Kent, Cheong Yew Kuan and Bill Bensley.

Bali style can broadly be defined as the combination of a modern design sensibility in a Balinese environment using local materials and craftsmen, enhanced with the use of traditional artefacts and architectural items, and set in lush tropical gardens. It was a potent formula, the effect of which is still felt, having morphed through numerous variations from the inspired to the hideous. It has spread from Canggu to the Caribbean and Hawaii, from florid rococo to the barest Bauhaus. Or “white concrete tank traps”, as the guardian of all things Balinese, garden designer Made Wijaya – who arrived on the scene in 1973 as a young Australian called Michael White – pithily puts it.

The Tandjung Sari, by now with more than a dozen new villas added, was ground zero: the place to stay if you hadn’t already rented one of the villas in Batujimbar. It became the world’s first tropical boutique hotel.

Everything happened within a couple of kilometres of the beach. Batujimbar, now known for its stunning art-filled villas and lush exotic setting, lay at one end with the Tandjung Sari in the centre. For a change of scene, a short walk up the beach brought you to La Taverna, run by the enigmatic Macchetti brothers (who had established a popular eatery with the same name in Hong Kong in 1969), and art dealer Jimmy Pandy’s cafe and gallery. If beach life palled, Wawo-Runtu and Friend would arrange trips to artists’ studios and temples in the hinterland or along the road to Ubud.

The cast list reads like Burke’s Peerage and Gentry crossed with Fortune 500. The furnishings came courtesy of now-defunct style journal The Connoisseur and it was all dished up by Variety and French film magazine Cahiers du Cinema.

Monarchs, other royals, busloads of aristocrats and “old money” – including Queen Ingrid of Denmark, ex-queen Soraya of Persia, Princess Ira von Furstenberg, the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, Jackie “O”, the Rothschilds, Guinnesses, Tennants, Fords, Gettys, Rockefellers and Agnellis – beat a path to the balmy shores of Batujimbar in its heyday.

They not only hung out with media barons such as James Fairfax and Rupert Murdoch, and Australian prime ministers John Gorton and Malcolm Fraser, but would bump into such 20th-century icons as Lady Diana Cooper, former Indonesian first lady Dewi Sukarno, actors Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne, plus literary and creative types such as Cartier Bresson, Salvador Dali, Gore Vidal, Paddy Leigh Fermor, David Attenborough, Buckminster Fuller and I.M. Pei.

A younger set representing the second half of last century included Sir David Frost, Barry Humphries, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, Richard Branson, David Bowie and Iman, Elle Macpherson, Julia Roberts, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and Hong Kong fashion maven Joyce Ma. Even yogi Maharishi Mahesh, the Beatles’ guru, dropped by.

Bringing up the rear was Britain’s Princess Diana, who stayed in Friend’s old house in the mid-90s; a kind of final salute to past glories.

From South China Morning Post, August 2008. Revelling in paradise

2016-11-27T11:50:22+00:00August 1st, 2014|