Begawan Giri Estate was the first of its kind in Bali. Conceived as a group of 5 individual residences, each one enjoyed a unique and luxurious Asian architectural style yet was united by beautifully landscaped gardens and recreational facilities in a completely private 8 hectare estate. Begawan Giri Estate was situated in the hill village of Begawan, 15 kilometres north of Ubud and one hour’s drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport.

The site of Begawan Giri Estate was surrounded by a carefully created forest on an elevated promontory. It was reached only by a private road, bordered on one side by the Ayung River and on the other by the East River. In keeping with environmental concerns, only electric vehicles were permitted on the site, thereby avoiding noise and emission pollution. In addition to the development’s 8 hectares a further 3.5 hectares of rice and farm land were rented thereby protecting the views.

Begawan Giri Estate Details
The Source
The Source, no ordinary Western-style Spa, explored traditional beauty and healing rituals from Bali and other islands of Indonesia, complimented by the nature of Begawan Giri Estate. The aim was to celebrate the gifts of nature. Designed deliberately to capitalise on the beauty of the landscape, The Source represented the perfect environment to awaken the senses, and then to renew, restore and enhance the harmony between body, mind and soul.

There were no Spa buildings where the guest checked in at reception and where treatments were performed. All body work and treatments were offered in the privacy of the guests’ suites, in the garden of their residence, or in The Source garden ‘bales’ near the waterfall, situated fifty metres down the mountain side in the Water Gardens. Here there were three single bales and four double bales, each with an outside bath and shower.

In summary, what the creation of The Source achieved was to expand upon the popular notion of a spa and in fact, to re-define it to embrace a total experience of being.
The Amphitheatre
The Amphitheatre, resembling tiered rice terraces, was the setting for in-house guests to enjoy afternoon tea. A savoury and a sweet selection were complemented by Penelope Sach herbal teas. Large comfortable lounge sofas facing a wooden weaving table, and a large round marble dining table surrounded by comfortable chairs allowed the guests a choice of seating.

The Amphitheatre was where guests came together to see Balinese traditional dances, performed on the parkland in the late evening by the dancers of the five local villages. This was also the place where, at sunset, guests were invited to meet each other, and the Estate management in weekly cocktail parties.
The first of the residences built was Bayugita, completed in 1995 and entered via the kul-kul. Bayugita means ‘Wind Song’, where fresh breezes blow throughout. The stone used was a local stone called paras pila. The wooden carving in the entrance was taken from an original Nusa Penida door.

The same motifs were used throughout this residence in the stone carvings as well as all exterior doors. Many of the furnishings were antique, with rugs from Mongolia and Tibet. Bayugita’s colour scheme was blue and white, evident in rugs, old Chinese porcelain, batik cushions and prints.
Tirta Ening
The next residence, Tirta Ening, meaning ‘Clear Water’, was completed in early 1999. At the entrance were the lily ponds, placed here to give privacy to residents. The living dining area was surrounded by a fish-filled water garden, while below is the infinity edge swimming pool.

Japan was the inspiration for the pavilions created within water bodies, its master bedroom having its own waterfall and gardens, with a six ton hand hewn river rock for the bath.
Tejasuara, ‘Sound of Fire’, completed at the end of 1998, was inspired by the eastern island of Sumba. The 1,200 tons of stone were imported from Sumba. After Bradley visited the island four times to obtain the correct stone, a Chinese shop owner shipped it to Bali. This took ten months, and fifty trucks waited at the port to transport the stone to Begawan Giri Estate.

The large main poles supporting Tejasuara were the same as those used in traditional Adat houses in Sumba. Sacrifices and ceremonies were held in Sumba before any trees were felled, following which the trees were cut by hand and dragged out of 200 metre deep ravines. The main structure throughout is constructed from recycled ironwood telegraph poles and merbau, a local hardwood. Basket weave merbau panels form interior walls, while steps lead down to the pool, beside which is the fire pit, lit every evening to welcome guests. High style primitive, the owners’ homage to the island of Sumba, has been created.
Wanakasa, ‘Forest in the Mist’, completed in 1999, and straddling the south eastern hillside, was constructed around a group of trees – frangipani, lychee, and fiddle fig. These trees had to be kept intact and there are many mediums that say that this is where the spirits land at Begawan before continuing on to the Pura Dalam Temple. There are offerings laid here daily, and some of the workers even leave cigarettes for the spirit of the tree.

This was an extremely difficult site to design as well as construct as it is on a sheer promontory and the buildings are pole construction similar to those built in California and New Zealand. One noticeable component of this residence was the nine metre high Binkerei poles from Kalimantan, which supported the living/dining area. The whole idea for Wanakasa was to resemble a tree house, where guests woke up to a view of the morning sun.
Umabona, ‘House of the Earth Son’, which opened for guests at the end of 1999, occupies the site of the Bamboo House where the Gardners lived for four years while the gardens were under development.

The residence itself was inspired by the Majapahit era. This Indonesian dynasty existed in the 13th and 14th centuries, and as the only things remaining from this era are the candi, the temples built in terracotta, the building was a conceptual interpretation of richness in its carvings, and its use of silk. The teak is recycled teak found in all residences. On first entering Umabona, guests would notice that the whole building has been surrounded by white gardenia, white jasmine, and white Spattadile.

This was a richly carved ornate residence with a central pool which descends into a 20m pool flanking the southern-most side of the property. There are western views, overlooking the Ayung valley, on a clear day when you can see Batu Karu in the distance.
The Villas
Occupying the western slope of the property, the villas completed in 2002, bask in the afternoon sun and are the ideal place to enjoy views of the valley set against glorious sunsets. With each villa having its own swimming pool, kitchen and living and dining areas, the villas address more completely the question of ‘privacy’.

The styling of the villas, both architecturally and from an interior design point of view, is unmistakably Begawan Giri Estate. The sense of a personal space with the distinct sense of home has once again been achieved by Debora and Bradley T. Gardner, who gave this  villa complex their same keen attention from the start of the project.

The Villas have been ascribed names in celebration of the aspects of Nature’s world – Karas Kanaka (Golden Stone), Pita Linggar (Golden Space), Chandra Murni (Pure Moon), Giri Antara (Distant Mountain), Sukma Taru (Spirit Tree), Gesing Kanila (Bamboo Whispering) – and relate back to the elements which named the original five differently themed Residences on the Estate.

Malaysian architect, Cheong Yew Kuan, continued working on the Annex, harnessing his architectural talents towards the fulfilment of the Gardners’ artistic goals. The couple also closely supervised the landscaping of the villas.
Biji, meaning ‘seed’, was chosen to suggest something that was new, growing and developing. It was an open restaurant – with its view unhindered by walls or windows, down across the vegetable gardens to the Ayung Valley. The green glass of the tables and the kitchen area, created especially for Biji by the Japanese craftsman, Seiki Torige, blended with the green of the forest.

Biji Restaurant offered everything the modern world desired in terms of a restaurant; design, accessibility and innovation. Design and food brought excitement for the diner who found himself in a drinking, eating and most importantly meeting space.

A special feature of Biji was the open kitchen, with its gas fired woks and ovens. Guests could sit at the counter, overlooking the kitchen, or at the bar, watching dishes being prepared. Vegetables were picked daily from the gardens below, fish and prawns were raised in the pools, while chickens and pigs were raised by the local villagers. Brunch on Sunday provided a multitude of dishes, to be eaten while watching the gamelan and the local children with their dance teacher.
The Kudus House
Next to Biji is the Kudus House, with its breathtaking views of the Ayung River valley providing traditional Indonesian dishes. This old Javanese house was purchased by the owners in Kudus. It dates back to the 1880s with a history of three generations of occupants.

Traditional Kudus houses are finely carved, both inside and out. The style emanated from the 15th Century when a Chinese immigrant, sent there to teach Islam, also practiced what is known as the Sun Ging style of carving. His students learnt this from him, and were employed by the nobility to carve the woodwork in their houses, to show their high social status. The designer of this specific house came from Jepara, a town which is still well known for its woodcarving skills. The floor is tiled with traditional motif terracotta tiles, the earthy colours matching the oiled wood.
The Water Gardens
A Holy spring, Tirta Empul, flowing out from the hillside, became the source of the water for the Water Gardens, a place of exceptional beauty, constructed over three years to create natural swimming pools, surrounded by Fern Palms, along with 2500 hard wood trees planted throughout the gardens.

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