In Travel

Step Inside Bali’s Stylish New Surf Resort

COMO Uma Canggu, Bali’s newest luxury resort in trendy tourist town Canggu, focuses on surfing and style. Here, tables are laminated with tie-dyed dots and swirls. Colourful cushions on deck lounges catch your eye. Fans whirl in a warehouse-style ceiling. And some of Bali’s best waves crash just beyond. Since opening in February this year, COMO Uma Canggu has set a new standard for surf resorts on the Indonesian island.

For starters, it’s located in Canggu. Just 30 minutes north of Seminyak, the surf village-turned-tourist town has some of the best waves around. ‘Best’ however, doesn’t necessarily mean ‘biggest’. According to the resort’s resident surf guide CJ Kimell of Tropicsurf, those ‘magic barrelling, left-handers’- the kind of epic Indonesian waves surfers flock to it for – are in the Mentawais Islands, East Java’s G-Land and Bali’s Uluwatu. What you’ll find in Canggu though, is everything else.

“The cool thing with Canggu is that you have variety,” he says. “You have the kiddie waves over at Batu Bolong, and then you have the beginner and immediate out front of the resort, which is amazing, right on our doorstep.

“They’re why most people come here. They’d be comfortable with those kinds of waves, size-dependent. And then, when you go over to Echo [Beach], a stone’s throw away, you have all the expert, high-performance waves. So there’s plenty to choose from.”

The resort is the third COMO property to open in Bali. With a brand ethos of connecting its guests with local culture and adventure while still allowing them to feel at home, the two COMO resorts in Ubud highlight the island’s countryside experience while in Canggu, it’s all about the surfing.

Of course you’re welcome to hit the waves on your own, but, for a little help in knowing where exactly to go and, not to mention, a filmed video and helpful critique of your form at the end, you’ve got the option of going with a Tropicsurf guide. Self-described as the “pioneers of luxury surfing”, the company partners with top resorts around the world, dispatching expert guides to help guests get the most out of their board time.

Then there’s the resort’s stylish setup and design. The work of landscaper Trevor Hillier and interior designers Koichiro Ikebuchi, who worked on the resort, and Paolo Navone, on its Beach Club, the indoor and outdoor spaces are both calming and wildly creative.

Guests are welcomed in an airy, hospital-white lobby punctuated with greenery. Just to the left-hand side of it is the resort’s spa, specialising in treatments based on both modern science and ancient Eastern wisdom, and, down a wide corridor to the right, is its wellness centre, complete with two yoga studios and a Pilates room. Further down is a healthy food-and-drink-serving juice bar called Glow.

The 119-room accommodation – basic rooms and suites all the way through to three-bedroom penthouses with their own rooftop infinity pools – are designed and styled similarly: minimalistic, yet functional and comfortable.

It’s those private penthouse pools that are particularly striking though. Accessed by steps leading up from the duplex’s master bedroom, they look out onto the resort’s sprawling site and ocean beyond, partially covered by a half-moon, slanted ceiling. The result is a juxtaposition of cosiness and expansive space.

Rooms are slotted into the resort’s main building and its neighbouring residence building. Wander through the latter’s breezy walkways, past the 115m-long lagoon pool undulating alongside it – conveniently offering base-level rooms direct access – and you’ll hit the Beach Club.

The resort’s only restaurant, where the room’s included buffet and a la carte breakfast is served, the Club is helmed by Executive Chef Dwayne Cheer who used his travels to inspire its global menu. A blend of natural and industrial with splashes of bright colour ­– think bamboo chairs, exposed support beams and turquoise tiling – it’s a modern, and much more thought-out, twist on a traditional surf shack.

“I imagined a space light and colourful,” says its designer Navone. “I loved the idea that guests could feel an instinctive and particular complicity with the environment, the magic of the place and the incredible melting pot of cultures.”

She says all style elements showcase Balinese craft traditions – from their skill in weaving natural fibres and in producing ceramics and glasses to their processing and carving of local wood and creating of Batik textiles.

“I wanted all these special craftsmanship to be in this project,” she says. “We chose bamboo and special skills of the craftsman from Bali to design the architecture of the bar, the Balinese black-and-white graphic to define the space, and a selection of patterns from Batik textile enlarged a thousand times to become huge to decorate the table tops.”

The result is an ideal backdrop for an evening spent listening to live acoustic tunes, knocking back fruity cocktails and watching the sun slink into the Indian Ocean.

Published 25 September, 2018