Selasa, 18 Agustus 2009

State of mind of Seminyak

an evening at the poolside  of the oberoi

It is not entirely clear to many where the geographical boundaries of Seminyak actually lie. Then again, what was once a sleepy fishing village nestled in the shadows of touristic Kuta has, in the less than a decade, blossomed into one of the premier resort destinations in South East Asia. So what is Seminyak? Ask any of the boho ex-pats, jet setters, fashion mavens, gallerists and high-rolling hedonists that call it home and they’ll probably tell you that it’s not so much a place as a state of mind.

If any single factor sparked the evolution of Seminyak into the upscale destination it has become, it was the appearance of the trailblazing Oberoi hotel. Built in 1974 and bought by the Oberoi group four years later, it spearheaded development northward up the coast from Kuta and set a benchmark in terms of design and exclusivity that would not be matched for a quarter century.

Starting its life as a kind of peaceful suburb set apart from the bustling fairground atmosphere of Kuta, it was natural that Seminyak would develop at right angles to it. Where Kuta has long been the province of backpackers and package tourists (think high capacity hotels, global brands, large scale clubs and a veritable fraternity of touts), Seminyak evolved into a jet-set jumble of boutiquerie, crammed with high concept bars and lounges, designer shops, fine dining restaurants and ‘lifestyle’ villa resorts and residences.

The other vital thread that runs through Seminyak is of course the beach – a vast swathe of golden sand that stretches virtually unbroken from Ngurah Rai international airport in the south to the village of Pereranan 10km further north.

Here you’ll find some of Seminyak’s most refined – even iconic – tenants. Spread elegantly on a westward-facing beachfront bluff, Ku De Ta has fully lived up to its moniker since opening in 2000, earning itself international notoriety for fine dining, high design, unforgettable sundowners and cosmopolitan revelry with its legendary high season party series. Its recently added VIP rooftop lounge KUVE offers a whole new perspective on the paradisiacal location, accompanied by custom cocktails and tapas style delicacies like oysters, wagyu tenderloin and foie gras.

Just a beach stroll away is Samaya Villa & Spa resort, whose alfresco restaurant & lounge, Breeze, has become a favourite both for sunsets and dinners – think haute global cuisine amid reflecting pools, manicured lawns, pavilions and white stone verandas. A Frisbee throw further up the beach is another Seminyak institution, La Lucciola, a two storey wood pavilion that sees a steady flow of patrons from morning till midnight drawn by its immaculately turned out Mediterranean fare, sinful chocolate martinis and of course the ocean outlook.

Anantara is a relative newcomer to the league of oceanfront big hitters. The south beach style resort has been making waves with its outdoor shindigs featuring international DJs.

L to R : spa villa at sofitel seminyak, nutmegs restaurant at hu’u bali beachfront of the oberoi

Head inland, however, and there’s no shortage of impressive developments to swoon over. Sentosa Resort & Spa has established a stellar reputation with its spacious villas and designer club/restaurant facility – think irregularly cut stone facades, black mirror, centuries old frangipani trees and futuristic modular furnishings. They also host intermittent but invariably fabulous parties. On site Blossom restaurant meanwhile presents a mix of Thai and international cuisine prepared by talented Australian chef Chris Patzold.

Those with a penchant for audacious design – and five star comfort – need look no further than the Layar. The word means sail in Indonesian, a tribute to the elegant play of roof planes that characterizes each of these two and three bedroom villas – roofs that are detached from the walls, creating a radically different sense of volume and space within. Situated on a tract of land just behind the Laksmana road – where a myriad eateries and indie boutiques jostle for position – it’s the perfect pied a terre for the Seminyak socialite.

Jl. Laksmana – or Jl. Oberoi as it is often referred to – is almost a legend unto itself, with its ever shifting collage of dining and shopping options – catch some refined rock star couture at the new Religion store, which also houses sister brand Buddhist Punk. Billing itself as a champagne lounge, Red Carpet is soon to open its doors on the Laksmana strip, while mainstays like Italian restaurants Ultimo and La Lucciola and nearby Rumours with its cut-price steaks always do a roaring trade.

For exquisitely executed French cuisine, Kafe Warisan is unmatched in the area – and has been for more than a decade. Fans will be intrigued to hear that it will soon be shifting premises to a bigger site in Batu Belig – officially two villages on from Seminyak, but for many, more of an adjunct to its famous neighbour. For Asian street food given a gourmet twist, head to Sarong, with the added attraction of some maximalist contemporary décor with ethnic overtones.

There is something of a ritual to the Seminyak nightlife. It might begin with a dinner at any of the abovementioned eateries. Living Room and Hu’u Bar are hotspots for both eating and midnight mingling. But by two or three am, most head down to the Blue Ocean beachfront (where Bacio with its spacious dancefloor, sunken bar and VIP mezzanine, tends to draw the froufrou flock. But all roads lead to Double Six, Bali’s grande dame of nightclubs, a venue that doesn’t even really get going until three or even four am.

Whilst the appearance of new villas and restaurants has continued apace, there’s been an out and out boom in new boutiques over the last couple of years. Laksmana was once known as Eat Street, but a flurry of new clothing stores is making it more than just that. Notables include Dindarella, Lulu and Lily Jean for ladies fashions that run from cutesy to downright ostentatious. Both the newly opened Zuttion and Cornerstore successfully combine café and boutique concepts with effortless hipster credentials, while Simple Koncep Store (SKS) is the place for home ware design classics and immaculately cut Italian fashions.

sunset view over the pool at sofitel seminyak

On the Seminyak main drag, Sabbatha creates flamboyant leather accessories encrusted with stones and other curlicues while Pura Vida’s large-scale retro patterns and colours take you back to Rome circa 1960. For the ultimate in fine jewellery – and sensuous indulgence – head down to Jemme on Jl. Petitenget and splurge on their signature Diamond Cocktail - A bottle of vintage dom Perignon and a heart shaped pendant encrusted with more than 1/2 carat of diamonds resting at the bottom of the flute.

Once you’ve shopped, simply drop into one of Seminyak’s myriad spas – both Sentosa and Samaya offer treatments that will pamper you silly, as does the long standing Prana Spa at The Villas and Le Spa at the Sofitel.

To wrap things up, make your way to Biku on a Sunday for their Mystic High Tea served in a converted antique wooden joglo house - classic china tea service, scones, sandwiches and other delights, plus your future revealed in a swirl of lapsang souchong leaves…

After all of which you’ll probably agree that Seminyak’s a pretty nice state of mind to be in.



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