#YellowtraceTravels: Alila Uluwatu Bali Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace
Photography © Tom Ferguson.

 

For me Alila Villas Uluwatu was one of those places that existed in the periphery of ideal holiday destinations. After opening in 2009, it collected a swathe of awards for architects WOHA including the World Holiday Building of the Year at the 2010 World Architectural Festival, with the hero image being that of a timber batten clad pavilion cantilevering off a cliff beyond an infinity pool. It wasn’t until planning a trip to Bali with a friend that I turned my attention directly at the hotel, deciding to book based on a combination of design credentials and generally rave reviews.

 

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace
Photography © Tom Ferguson.

 

Despite having access in advance to a wealth of information about the hotel, including user reviews, photos and information provided by the hotel website, nothing really prepared me for how breathtaking the place really is. It occupies a private plot of coastal land around 45 min south of Denpasar airport, with the main hotel pavilions located on the cliff side and backed by four rows of private villas stepping up the hillside. Simply speaking the architecture can be divided into several main elements – low scale single storey stone loggias, lantern like frameless glass upper levels, floating flat roofs and lightweight timber batten clad pavilions.

The design language references both modernist and vernacular themes and is consistent throughout, with the stone loggias lightened by a stepped stone detail to both column and beam, the glass upper levels being inset from the base structure and the timber clad pavilions almost universally featuring a dramatic cantilever. Materials are natural and serene with a predominant colour of light stone broken up with accents of darker stone and the crispness of the glass elements. Timber battens are left to weather naturally beautifully offsetting the permanence of other materials.

 

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace
Photography © Tom Ferguson.

 

Six years on and the landscape by consultants Cicada Pte Ltd has settled, making a huge contribution to the experience of the place. The landscape design and maintenance juxtaposes crisply manicured lawns and clipped mass plantings with elements of controlled randomness including relatively wild growing roof gardens and draped cascading plants. This works perfectly with the architecture to make the resort feel like it has become one with the site, with the oft used (and sometimes clichéd) indoor-outdoor relationship being seamless and entirely justified as a description. Glass at ground level is rarely seen, with sliding and concertina doors disappearing into pockets or behind walls for those rare times they need to be used. External landscaped areas are often level with the interiors further blurring the boundaries and each private villa with its own pool embodied the same design principles throughout being in many ways mini versions of the resort as a whole. To cap it all off the hotel has impeccable environmentally responsible design credentials being a Green Globe 21 rated ecologically sustainable development.

The service was excellent and never without smile, and while the hotel is some distance from the main tourist parts of Bali, it’s certainly an amazing escape and once you’ve arrived there is really no reason to leave until (sadly) it’s time to go home. While it more than exceeds the requirements of a ‘resort’ hotel, it is definitely the combination of that with the architecture that makes me want to return.

 

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Alila Villas Uluwatu Photographed by Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace


[Photography © Tom Ferguson.]

 

About The Author

Tom Ferguson
Contributor

Tom is a practicing Architect with more than 15 years experience in small and medium density residential projects. Over the course of his career, he has photographed his own work as well as the work of others, along the way cultivating a great interest in the art and commerce of architectural and interiors photography. As a photographer who is also an architect, Tom has an understanding of the composition of built form, of materials and their qualities and of the importance of light in capturing the many moods of architecture. Having worked on projects of many sizes, Tom's ability to tell the whole story of a project from the most intimate interior details to the most heroic external architectural statements is second to none.

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