Food For Beauty at Alila Villas Soori

Photographs by Alila Villas Soori and Petty Elliott. Written by Petty Elliott for Now Jakarta 2014.


Throughout our lives, there are stimulants – things that energise us such as food, sport, scenery and even simple colours. When we digest pure, natural, wholesome food that tastes delicious, we feel good, having built up our reserves of energy. A session of yoga, a morning jog, or a game of tennis is a great feeling as we expend energy. Witnessing a beautiful sunset, fresh flowers or breathtaking scenery gives us a mental boost, and the appreciation of life itself. Great feelings bring out beautiful smiles and expressions – so perhaps whoever said it was absolutely right, that beauty comes from within.

In search of some much needed energy away from the draining lifestyle of Jakarta, I took a short break in Bali, staying at Alila Villas Soori in Tabanan, a blissful paradise between black sand beaches and rice terraces with mystical Mount Batukaru in the distant horizon. The area, a major rice region in Bali, is not far from Tanah Lot, one of the top destinations for visitors to Bali.

The Alila team offers many activities. Guests can spend time with local artists to learn about painting and crafts, study rice growing; explore local villages, markets, and temples and, one of my favourites, a visit to the famous jewellery workshop of John Hardy. Of course, you can just enjoy the beautiful resort without going anywhere.

I arrived at around 4.30pm at the stunning resort distinguished by luxurious contemporary Asian design and Bali’s stunning landscape. At my beachfront villa with private swimming pool, I enjoyed lemongrass tea before heading to the spa for my herbal compress massage. The senior spa therapist explained that all spa products were made locally with natural ingredients. She put some different oils and creams onto the back of my hand for a simple test in case of any allergic reaction – a thoughtful touch, for peace of mind.

The herbal compressed massage is inspired by a Thai treatment method. The whole room was full of fragrance from different spices. The treatment was followed by a steam bath for 30 minutes with the aroma of crushed fresh lemongrass and sliced lemon pervading the steam room. I enjoyed hot ginger tea before heading back to my villa feeling rejuvenated and full of energy.

Alila Villas Soori - Lemongrass


To keep things relaxed, dinner at the villa seemed a good idea and a chance to reflect on the importance of staying positive, and how good nutrition is so important to health, both physical and mental.

I believe food has to be real – and that means natural, nutritious and flavoursome. I believe in avoiding fast food and processed foods as much as possible, to protect oneself from preservatives, artificial colours and flavours.

On a beautifully arranged dinner table at the villa, the first course was raw and crunchy mixed vegetable salad with basil and raw peanut sauce with lime juice and a touch of chilies. This was Indonesian karedok but with a modern twist in the addition of sliced tomatoes. It had a perfect balance of acidity, a touch of spicy heat and creamy peanut.

The second course, a fillet of roasted barramundi was served with Manadonese dabu-dabu and some Balinese influence through the addition of sliced young lemon grass in tomato salsa and green vegetables. It was a delicious example of modern local cuisine celebrating the tastes of Indonesia. I passed by the dessert menu, preferring green tea instead.

My day had a splendid relaxing end – a visit by my spa therapist for some foot reflexology and so to bed with much expectation for a full day ahead. The next morning, I had English breakfast tea at 6.30am and dressed for my private yoga class at 7am. The yoga instructor arrived in perfect time on a beautiful morning with a powerful session against the soft light of the sun.

food-for-beauty-02Refreshed and with a keen appetite I went in search of breakfast at the Cotta restaurant which boasts a delightful beachfront view. After fresh juice and a serving of granola, yoghurt and strawberries, I set off for to the local market, 15 minutes drive away. I always make it a priority to visit a local market wherever I go. Markets are great places to see and experience local culture and discover new ingredients.

I returned looking forward to my ‘Journeys by Alila’ spa treatment. This session was centred on Balinese style massage including foodie facial treatments with choices of masks of cream of chamomile, clay and geranium; cocoa, coffee and coconut; ginger, cinnamon and turmeric or wild yam, papaya and lime. I opted for cocoa, coffee and coconut for my treatment, reminding me of the dessert I did not have last night. And so, relaxing!

Lunch started with sour and hot seafood soup with belimbing wuluh or sour finger carambola, a Sumatran dish, cooked to perfection. Next was roasted fillet barramundi with Bali sambal mata. I had dessert this time, which was a winner – young coconut with ginger granite ice. It was something different, light and delicious.


My visit to the salt artisan maker never happened, as we could not cross a swollen river. I enjoyed my second session of yoga in a day before getting ready for my health-themed five course tasting dinner at Ombak, the signature restaurant of Alila Soori.

My search for food for beauty continued with another spa treatment after dinner with a special bath water which consisted of the 14 herbal ingredients similar to the compress massage. It was my first experience of bathing with all these ingredients, which normally I used for cooking – sliced of fresh ginger, crushed mint, sliced lemon and a mixture of spices on the compress clothes with mixture of powdered of cloves, star anis, nutmeg, turmeric, lemongrass, aromatic ginger, daun salam (bay leaves), cumin, galangal, cinnamon, black paper, coriander and few drops of natural oil. I was utterly relaxed afterwards. It was wonderful to reveal the secrets of food for beauty, not only fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, but also familiar spices.


Written by Mary for


Perhaps the Heaven really exists and it is located in this small region called Tabanan, in Bali. There, in front of the crazy ocean that at every wave shows its power, on a black sand beach which sparkles like a diamond powder, it is located a resort where you can lose and rediscover yourself : Alila Villas Soori.

My arrival at the Alila Villas Soori was an escalation of emotions. Firstly I passed by taxi through a long and tortuous road between the perfects Balinese’s rice paddies, then the fantastic welcome by the Alila’s staff, and after the vision of my “luxury villa” with all the moderns  unimaginables comforts, with its wondows looking over a private garden with a fantastic swimming pool. It was really all studied in the details, there were also different beauty products “for her” and “for him” and even some special products dedicated to the tan. When the night came, the restaurant was a pleasant surprise and facing the ocean you could hear the sound of the waves breaking onto the beach. Yes, the beach… walking along it and going through a narrow footpath, you could get close to a small temple where you could also enjoy the most beautiful sunset I ever seen in the world. And a little farther on , lies the famous temple of Tanah Lot, one of the most famous and beautiful in Bali, which stands on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. But what I can’t describe, beyond the luxury and natural beauty of the place, are the emotions coming from the vibrant nature into which the resort was immersed and perfectly integrated. Magic.

















Our day in 10 photos ~ 19th June, Villa Idanna

Written by Brenden and July for “Travel the World with the Honeymoon Couple”

Julie and I woke early Thursday after an incredible afternoon and evening at the beautiful, peaceful, and very private Villa Idanna in the Sideman Valley.Though it’s rough setting the alarm so early on honeymoon, we knew we couldn’t miss the chance to see the sunrise slowly bring light over Mt. Agung and the mystic rice terraces.  After witnessing it for ourselves, we can definitely say that the tiredness we felt throughout the day was well worth the views and sounds we experienced.  As a point of note, Sideman Valley is being considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Landscape.

Once the sun was hanging higher in the sky, we headed back to our comfortable and warm mosquito-netted bed for a short nap before rising again for a self-guided trek through the neighboring farm land to the rice terraces and a local temples.  It was a humbling experience to interact with and see how the locals routinely spend their mornings, both men and woman, tending to their crop.  While walking in a rice field, Julie missed her step and ended up falling down a ravine and landing in the water-logged muck of the flooded rice paddy. You should have seen the field workers getting a good laugh!

Returning to the Villa, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast before relaxing poolside. It wasn’t hard to fall in love with the tranquility, peacefulness and romance this property and area had to offer.

After a traditional Balinese lunch, we checked out of the Villa and made the two hour drive to the stunning Alila Ubud resort.










Less is Simply More

Written by Jayne Heaton for Style Magazine Winter issue 2013.

The Alila Villas Soori resort on Bali’s southwestern coast defies the typical standards of luxury. Over decadence and wild embellishment are not what you will find here. Instead, guests will discover a simple kind of lavishness: an assembly of comfort with a discerning attention to detail. In Bali there is no need for over-zealous decoration-the mountainous backdrop, black-sand beaches and startlingly blue oceanic stage roar loudly enough on their own.


The estate, one of renowned architect Soo K. Chan’s most distinguished accomplishments, takes the vacation experience to new heights. This version of luxe is derived from a design that emphasizes not excess, but instead, a near-spiritual connection with nature, and a respect for the earth and its inhabitants. It’s an aesthetic that calms the mind and relaxes the soul.

Upon arrival at the resort, guests enter a cobblestone courtyard, dotted with manicured greenery and a shimmering pool. The court leads to a white terrazzo-floored reception pavilion, that’s so dreamy it looks as though it was built for the Gods. Darkly stained wooden pillars support a canopy of timber screens that evoke a sense of shelter, through the pavilion is still very much outdoors. This is the property’s first mark of the careful blending of indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as the contemporary Asian influence exhibited throughout the space.


Inside the pavilion, Asian lanterns glow and flickering candles atop metal pillars and warm light while the ocean breeze cools the air. Modern Italian sofas line the path to the foot of a beautiful infinity pool that pours endlessly, or so it seems, into the sparkling Indian Ocean – a view that has waited until this precise moment to show itself.

Chan-the founder and principle architects of Singapore-based SCDA Architects- describes this arrival process as a “choreography” explaining that each new element reveals itself in careful succession, one experience unraveling at a time.

Chan also happens to own the resort, which allowed for total freedom in its concept and design. “As an architect, I wanted the opportunity to be able to do a resort holistically,” he says. From interior to landscape and furniture to décor, Chan envisioned each element flowing succinctly together.

His ability to elevate a space into an authentic experience is what sets the Alila Villas Soori apart. The goal was to build something that was not only in accordance with EarthCheck’s environmental standards, but that would also “capture the essence of the locale” in an authentic way. Chan wanted to create a resort that would “go beyond just architectural or landscape sustainability,” and a third component was just as important to him. “Cultural sustainability preserves the way people in the village live and work,” says Chan. To accomplish this, careful integration with the land and culture was paramount. The result? “A symbiosis with the village.”

“The most important factors,”says Chan, “were the religious aspects, and also the rice-farming aspects.” Both play an important role for the Balinese people, and careful consideration was taken before building could commence. “We had to consult and work together with the village in terms of first getting access to the site because it passes through quite a few paddy fields,” he says.

When designing the layout, care was taken to avoid interfering with irrigation pathways from surrounding paddy fields. The solution was to incorporate working rice paddies into the resort’s core. Now, the fields come within a mere arm’s length of the villas. This problem-solving strategy, Chan muses, actually gives the resort more authenticity.


The resort’s proposed location would also have restricted access to one of the island’s important religious temples, so a processional route through the resort was charted.

The majority of the island’s residents practice Balinese Hinduism, which greatly influences daily life of the locals. “We built nine temples within the hotel itself, as advised by the religious head of the village,” says Chan. “He walked around with us, reacted to the site, and placed temples in different corners. Sort of as a guardian of the hotel.” The layout of the entire complex was planned around the positioning of these temples.

Above each doorway there are also hangs a talisman that is said to keep out spirits. “This is so important,” says Chan, “because almost all of our staff come from local villages; almost 80 percent. So if it is their belief, and we don’t integrate it into the hotel, our staff might feel that it’s not a safe place to work. You have to be very in tune with the culture.”

Being in tune with the culture was step one, but creating a harmony between the retreat and its incredibly beautiful surrounding landscape was another key concept behind the resort’s design. “We focused on capturing what a Balinese space is in a contemporary way,” explains Chan, describing a traditional Balinese space as a system of different compounds in the form of pavilions. A family home usually includes a living pavilion, a sleeping pavilion and an eating pavilion, each one physically detached from the others.

For the Alila Villas Soori, his translates into personal villas laid out as a series of three-walled courtyards made up of Paras Kelanting, a locally sourced grey-black volcanic rock. The stone comprises most of the resort’s exterior walls, and helps it blend seamlessly into the dark sand beach. The missing fourth wall leaves the scenic views unobstructed. Each villa’s entrance has a set of Balinese-proportioned double doors that open inward to a pristine entrance hallway that just happens to be outdoors. Once you enter your villa, as Chan describes it, “you’re still outside.”

Additional doorways lead guests into beautifully furnished bedrooms that offer a cozy retreat, complete with upscale comforts. Natural fabric area rugs add texture to smooth wood floors, while crisp silk linens adorn sprawling Java beds designed especially for the resort. Decoration is kept to a minimum with a focus on texture rather than adornment. The use of steel was avoided entirely due to the salty ocean spray mere steps away.


Elegant furniture in deeply shaded wood enhances the space, and was designed specifically for the resort by Chan himself. Though the plans were commissioned through Italian furniture company Poliform, the pieces were built in Bali using a local furniture company (belonging to Chan’s wife who employs local craftspeople) which minimized long-haul transportation.

The hotel does, however, import a few things. The sofas, for example, are brought from Milan. The reason for this, Chan says, is that “there is no concept of sofas in Balinese house. You sit on platforms, so of course we made it a bit more contemporary.”  Chan also lists a number of other technologies that were used at the resort, like satellite TV’s, quick Internet, clean water and green practices for harvesting rainwater (for the plants). “We didn’t let the technology overwhelm the feeling of the space,” says Chan. This explains why most of the screens and wires have been hidden out of sight. The result is a peaceful retreat that lets visitors escape from buzzing electronic clutter so they can feel rejuvenated.

Chan describes his resort as being a tranquil place where guests can really feel the spirituality of the site. Visitors enter the Alila Villas Soori in hopes of escaping their busy lives, and they return home with a touch of inner peace, a connectedness with the environment and perhaps even a plan to simplify their usual surroundings.

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