Villa Sungai Gold swimming pool, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Team Yellowtrace at Villa Sungai Cepaka Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Details, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Details, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Villa Sungai, Capaka, Bali.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

Bali is a destination that divides people into two groups – those who have never been, and those who travel there regularly. It seems there’s very little room for middle ground when it comes to Bali – I literally don’t know of anyone who has only been there once and hasn’t returned (or at least wished they could). Of course, I speak from a personal experience, as I fell into the “never-been-before” category until sometime in late 2010. Since then, Husband and I have returned to Bali five times (so far), both on our own and as a family. (For the record, traveling to Bali with kids is bliss, as the locals adore children, making them feel special and welcomed everywhere you go.)

Bali is a truly magical place full of sacred treasures, and locals are so incredibly warm, friendly and the most beautiful people one could ever hope to meet on their travels. Of course, being such a popular tourist destination, there are some horror stories to be heard, but trust me when I tell you that Bali is a little slice of heaven on earth, and if you stay away from the usual tourist traps and avoid being disrespectful to the local customs (which one would hope you do no matter where you travel), you will have the most brilliant time. In fact, if mass tourism in Bali isn’t your thing, and luxury seclusion and other-worldly cultural experience is what you are after, you’d better read on, as I’ve got the most perfect place.

 

Villa Sungai Gold Setting, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Sun Beds, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Setting, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceVilla Sungai Gold Details, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Cepaka Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Around Villa Sungai in Bali.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

Located in a remote village and hidden deep in the heart of the authentic Balinese village, lie two magnificent private villas – Sungai and Sungai Gold. Cepaka village may only be a relatively short distance away from the hustle and bustle of the busy and popular Seminyak (and a quick drive to Canggu), but the experience is worlds apart and entirely removed from the scars of commercial development, the chaos of transport and the significant impact of international tourism.

Here, an entirely different kind of experience awaits – the kind in which the time slows down and the worries of the world simply fall away. The “Villa Sungai Experience” begins from the moment you arrive at the airport, where we were greeted by our friendly driver and the Villa manager, MADE (who we were referring to as Yoda by the end of the trip due to his extraordinary wisdom). Armed with cool drinks, refreshing towels, delicious fruit and snacks, the trip to the villa set the tone for what was to become one of the most wonderful holiday experiences I’ve ever, ever, EVER had. Upon arrival, the staff at the villa greeted us as though we were long lost family – it was a truly overwhelming experience, and one I will never forget. Not only did we not ever have to touch our luggage, it felt as though our feet never even touched the ground, while soft frangipani petals lined the footpath* (*for the record, the latter part did not happen, but that’s literally how it felt – I was overjoyed and truly humbled by the next-level genuine hospitality experience).

 

Villa Sungai Gold swimming pool, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceVilla Sungai Gold swimming pool, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Villa Sungai Cepaka Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceTeam Yellowtrace at Villa Sungai Cepaka Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Yes, we really were there.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

As we descended down the cascading staircase into our villa, enormous mature trees on the property gently swayed in the breeze as though even mother nature was waving us hello. Upon entering the villa, many wow’s and sighs were let out by us all. It’s difficult to describe the magical feeling upon arrival, and in a way I don’t want to reveal it all and spoil it for you, in case you ever chose to stay here yourself (for the record – you absolutely should), but somehow once you walk into the villa and the gate closes behind you, you enter another parallel universe where a state of constant bliss prevails. More cool towels, welcome drinks and canapés are served, and the wonderful staff introduce themselves and help us settle in and feel instantly at home.

 

Villa Sungai Gold Interior, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceVilla Sungai Gold Interior, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Interior, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Interior, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Rooms, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Rooms, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Details, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Rooms, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Interior, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceVilla Sungai Gold Interior, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Living spaces and bedrooms of Villa Sungai.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

Both Villa Sungai and Sungai Gold (the smaller of the two) are laced with indulgent luxury, generous spaces and masterful attention to detail where nothing is left to chance. Everything in the villa is hand-made or custom-designed. In fact, the hand of master craftsmen and time-honoured materials had a profound effect on my consciousness from the moment we set foot in the villa. Local teak furniture is finished in chalky lime wash, seats are upholstered in traditional soft batik textiles, or masterfully woven from straw. Hand-cut flowers (tuberoses, to be exact) perfume the air with the most sublime scent, the linen smells amazing, the towels and sarongs are soft (yet super absorbent) beyond words… I really could go on and on, and I probably will, as I truly cannot speak of our experience highly enough.

 

Team Yellowtrace, Private Yoga Class at Villa Sungai Gold, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtracePrivate Yoga Class at Villa Sungai Gold, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Private Yoga Class at Villa Sungai Gold, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Private yoga class during our stay at Villa Sungai. In fact, the spontaneous way in which Luka joined in was probably one of my favourite motherhood moments. (Queue heart explosions.)
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

Of course once we were in the villa, we never wanted to leave, as here – although remote and supported by a relatively small team of staff – your every whim can be catered for. The glorious food, drinks, cocktails, massages, private yoga classes, kids activities, tours of any kind… You name it – it can happen. Villa Sungai’s unique point of difference is the feeling of ultimate luxury where you are isolated from the rest of the world, yet all the conveniences, and extreme indulgences of world-class variety can be yours simply by talking to one of the staff. What I mean by that is that the food was as good as dining in the finest restaurant anywhere in the world, as though the kitchen had a team of 25, catering to your every whim. Same goes with the cocktails, the massages and the rest. It’s absolute and utter bliss, and the most perfect contrast of grounding simplicity – such as waking up to the sound of village roosters, versus modern luxury – like the most perfect ginger margarita** ever. You know – epic shit! (** I may or may not have had a stupid amount of said margaritas each day. They were ridiculously yummy and hard to resist in a hot climate!)

 

Rice Fields at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Team Yellowtrace at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceDesa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceDesa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Rice Fields at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Rice Fields at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Scenes around Desa Cepaka, the traditional Balinese village where the Villas are located.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

One of the most striking aspects of staying at Villa Sungai and Sungai Gold is the remote location, and the authentic nature of Desa Cepaka. The cultural benefits of staying within a beautiful traditional village are compelling. The packaging of culture is inevitable with mass tourism, and in Bali, visitors typically encounter it through carefully choreographed performances. You won’t find anything staged in this authentic village. Evidence of daily life is charming and incredibly grounding – here people go about their daily business in the most humble conditions, but always with grace, and a smile on their face.

The walk through the local rice fields is especially memorable. As is the case in most Asian countries, rice fields have supported Balinese families for generations, and witnessing how hard these people work is a grounding and incredibly humbling experience. (Must always count my blessings and remember that deadlines/ cash-flow issues/ slow internet are all a walk in the park when compared to standing in the rice field bent over all day long to feed a family. I mean, seriously now.)

 

Rice Fields at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Rice Fields at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Desa Cepaka Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Desa Cepaka Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Team Yellowtrace at Desa Cepaka Bali Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
A walk through the local village is a must. One of the most authentic experiences we’ve ever had in Bali.
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 

Local men and women set out at dawn to their fields for ploughing, irrigating, planting, and harvesting. In the village compound they gather to make delicate and colourful offerings for their ancestors and Hindu deities, and carry out other village activities, which involve all members of the community. Balinese call this “gotong royong”, which means community teamwork, or helping each other. This community spirit, untiring religious devotion, and the fact that the people work closely with nature epitomise the Balinese philosophy of the interconnection between man, nature and the divine. There are no restaurants, cafes or even shops bigger than tiny stores selling the most basic supplies in Cepaka – just lanes of typical sprawling Balinese house compounds, several temples, and a handful of workshops producing some of the handcrafts that fill tourist shops in Ubud or Kuta. Staying at Villa Sungai made us absolutely become a part of this community, and it was impossible not to get caught up in the spirit. The Balinese take the mundane and elevate it to a celebration, giving thanks for every aspect of their life – a divine quality we can all hope to take into our daily life upon returning to reality.

 


Accommodation at Villa Sungai starts from $650 AUD per night. Team Yellowtrace were guests of Villa Sungai during our trip to Bali. All related thoughts, ideas and text in this post reflect our genuine opinion.

 

Villa Sungai Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Swimming Pool, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceVilla Sungai Spa Treatment, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Bedroom, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Bedroom, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Details, Photo © Nick Hughes | YellowtraceVilla Sungai Details, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Bali, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Details from Villa Sungai Gold (the smaller of the two villas, but equally beautiful, where we spent our final two nights).
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

Villa Sungai Gold Bali in the evening, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Bali in the evening, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Bali in the evening, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace

Villa Sungai Gold Bali in the evening, Photo © Nick Hughes | Yellowtrace
Villa Sungai at dusk. Take me back!
Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.

 


[Photography © Nick Hughes/ Yellowtrace.]

 

About The Author

Dana Tomić Hughes
Founder & Editor
Google+

Dana is an award-winning interior designer living in Sydney, Australia. With an unhealthy passion for design, Dana commits to an abnormal amount of daily design research. Regular travel and attendance at premier design events, enables Dana to stay at the forefront of the design world globally. While she is super serious about design, Dana never takes herself - nor design - too seriously. Together with her life and business partner, Dana is Boss Lady at Studio Yellowtrace, specialising in Design Strategy, Creative Direction and Special Projects. The studio takes a highly conceptual and holistic approach to translating brands & ideas into places & experiences.

One Response

Leave a Reply