Set upon 5,000 square metres of glorious garden next to Cemagi Beach, Villa Semarapura more than lives up to its Sanskrit name, which translates as ‘temple of peace’. Beyond the villa’s rolling lawns of Japanese grass, the sacred sea temple Pura Gede Luhur Batungaus rises above the Indian Ocean, an iconic silhouette against the coast’s famed crimson sunsets.
Villa Semarapura was originally designed by long-term Asia-based expats as a spacious family home in classic Balinese compound style. After a no-expenses-spared architect-led transformation, it is now available to guests as a stunning contemporary-meets-traditional sanctuary with an abundance of both social and private living spaces, and a charming staff with strong attachments to the villa and total focus on making their guests happy.
Start the day with a gentle stroll along the near-deserted black-sand beach, followed by a hearty breakfast on the living room’s breeze-cooled ocean-view deck. After an energizing game of tennis, laze by the 20-metre pool and let the butler mix you a ‘Semarapura Breeze’ at the poolside bar and lounge. A leisurely lunch prepared by the villa chef and served in the dining pavilion’s air-conditioned cool might be followed by a little siesta or a reviving dip in the master suite’s jacuzzi, then a visit to the spa balé for a restorative massage. Evenings at Villa Semarapura are equally enchanting: sundowners at the sunset balé; a welcome dance performed by local villagers; a seafood barbecue on the pool terrace to the hum of the bamboo rindik played under a canopy of stars.
Venturing beyond Semarapura’s grounds, the villa’s insightful attendant leads fascinating tours of the neighbourhood, or why not head to Echo Beach for a surf lesson, or a round of golf at the nearby Greg Norman-designed award-winning Nirwana Bali Golf Course? Exploring further afield for a day’s sight-seeing is easy too, courtesy of Villa Semarapura’s 16-seat minibus and driver (extra charge). Those seeking boutiques, bars, restaurants and bright lights can head to Seminyak 15km away: the beauty of Villa Semarapura is that it’s far enough from the hustle of Bali’s most popular spots to forget they exist, yet convenient enough to explore them should the mood take you.
Villa Semarapura comprises a series of attractive pavilions spread over 5,000 square metres of gardens. From the villa’s Balinese entrance a covered walkway leads to the upper level of the spectacular ocean-view living pavilion at the heart of the estate. To the side lies the dining pavilion, kitchen and a double-storey building housing two of the villa’s five bedroom suites. Below the living room, a large media room opens onto a sun deck bordering the 20-metre swimming pool, with pool pavilion and bar lounge to the side. Within its own private garden lies the master bedroom suite, behind which are two more guest bedroom pavilions. Within the gardens are a massage balé and, at the highest point of the estate, a sunset balé overlooking the ocean.
All five spacious air-conditioned bedrooms at Villa Semarapura feature teak floors, sirap (ironwood) tiled roofs, paddle fans, King Koil mattresses, blackout and sun curtains, and air-conditioned black granite bathrooms. Each suite is equipped with a satellite TV, DVD player and Bose sound dock.
Flanked by water features and screened by statement architectural plants, the decadent master suite accords couples the most romantic and enticingly private retreat. The grand canopied king-size bed faces a comfortable lounge area decorated with silk furnishings, antiques and Indonesian art. A wall of glass sliding doors opens onto a large ironwood deck with Jacuzzi/plunge pool, double sunbed and breakfast area. In the gorgeous bathroom with walk-in rain shower and twin vanity, a large bathtub for two sits within a glazed alcove looking onto a private courtyard garden with alfresco shower.
Guest bedroom suites 2 & 3
Set at right angles to one another, each in its own pavilion, are two guest suites accessed across a lotus pond dotted with fountains and sharing a shaded pergola with daybed. Huge mirrors have the effect of doubling the size of these already spacious rooms, which are each furnished with a four-poster king-size bed, comfortable sofa and writing desk. The ensuite bathrooms and dressing areas are fitted with granite-rimmed bathtubs, walk-in rain showers and private gardens with alfresco showers.
Guest bedrooms 4 & 5
Stunning sea views distinguish the two guest bedrooms in the double-storey wing. Ideal for families, the rooms are linked by an internal staircase. The upper bedroom has its own entrance lobby, a second lobby with bar fridge and kettle, and a dressing area fitted with a wall of wardrobes and a trundle bed for two nannies. The bedroom, furnished with king-size bed and window seat, opens onto a private sea-view balcony with daybed and breakfast table. The large bathroom is fitted with a bathtub, twin vanities, walk-in rain shower and garden shower. The bedroom below, with twin beds that can convert to a king and a bathroom that mirrors the one above (without the garden shower), opens onto a large terrace.
Villa Semarapura’s open-sided living room on the upper floor of the living pavilion commands stunning ocean vistas and views of Cemagi’s captivating sea temple. This glorious fan-cooled space is designed in the style of a traditional village wantilan, or meeting hall, with a tiered roof soaring high above comfortable seating, Indonesian antiques and objets d’art resting on polished terrazzo floors. An ironwood veranda runs the full length of the living room, providing two further breakfast areas.
Directly below is the media room, where a massive upholstered sofa is set before a 60-inch TV and Bose multi-zone sound system that also feeds the living room, dining room, pool pavilion and garden. This light-filled air-conditioned room also houses a pool table and a ‘study’ corner with antique desk and book library.
Villa Semarapura’s dining room seems to float suspended above the garden, with water-walls on three sides and bi-fold doors that can be opened to catch the evening breeze or closed for air-conditioned comfort. From the circular dining table, which convivially seats 10 guests, spectacular views unfold across the pool and gardens to the ocean.
The view is equally stunning from the kitchen, where bar chairs line the granite-topped breakfast counter. Professionally equipped as a ‘chef’s kitchen’ with commercial oven and multi-burner stove, this is the stage for informal cooking classes as guests witness the villa team cooking up a storm. A service kitchen lies behind.
Villa Semarapura offers an abundance of outdoor living space within its gorgeous tropical garden. At its heart and flanked by lotus ponds is the huge ironwood pool deck flowing out from the media room, with eight upholstered sunbeds and other seating areas. To one side, an alfresco dining area is furnished with a table crafted from railway sleepers surrounded by 10 sturdy rattan armchairs – the perfect setting for lazy lunches and star-lit barbecues.
Facing the 20-metre swimming pool (which incorporates a shallow section for kids) is a living pavilion furnished with a pair of oversized daybeds and equipped with a sunken bar; the butlers are dab hands at mixing cocktails here.