The Balinese have a philosophy of life: the Tri Hita Karana, that is evident in the way they approach daily life as well as in their rituals.
It’s easy to feel that philosophy at work when you are soaring in a treehouse overlooking the majestic Ayung River and watching the sun set across the Sayan Ridge. It’s a place where even non-believers can be just a little bit closer to believing that there must be a god (who else could create such breathtaking sunsets), where you feel in great harmony with nature (you are in the treetops after all), and with each other (it’s a perfect romantic hideaway).
We were invited to be amongst the first guests to experience the newly built Chiara’s Treehouse at Bambu Indah, an eco-luxe boutique hotel outside of Ubud where antique Javanese wood homes are nestled into the landscape alongside the newer bamboo architecture of Ibuku. A bamboo elevator, suspension bridges and stone staircases connect the houses to the natural pools on the edge of the river below.
The resort itself is currently closed due to the pandemic and like other venues, they are using this time to regenerate and refresh and in the case of the treehouse – to build. Ibu Indah is owned by Cynthia and John Hardy, the treehouse designed and built by daughter Chiara and furnished by daughter Elora (Ibuku).
Whilst that meant the restaurant was closed and we didn’t have the full Bambu Indah experience, in return we had the silence of the jungle, the natural pools to ourselves, the chance to do a sneaky explore of the other houses, and a peak into the logistics of building and maintaining jungle valley homes (ziplines are involved).
There is no ladder to climb to this treehouse. Instead, a suspended spiral stairway wraps around a nearby tree with a bridge to cross you to the treehouse nest.
And it is definitely a nest! There are no corners – the floors curve upwards and outwards at the edges giving you the sense of being cocooned. Not a place for the littlies or anyone with a fear of heights (but to be fair you wouldn’t have booked yourself into a treehouse)! The adventurous instead wonder how to get closer to the edge and if hanging over the balcony is even possible (It’s not but lying on my belly on the floor to peek over the edge was an option I seriously considered).
The bamboo nest is suspended between two trees and fitted out in signature Ibuku style. Cocooned bed pods (one downstairs, the second loft-style), all natural materials, bamboo furniture, hammered copper walk in shower, and loads of organic curves. The welcome materials remind us that the AC is there only if you really need it and that immersing yourself in nature sometimes really does mean exactly that! Insects and the odd creepy crawly are a small trade off for the wellbeing boost being in a natural environment provides. It’s hard to beat falling asleep to the sounds of nature.
I admit to using more water than a sustainably minded traveller should! The waterfall shower with its unobstructed view of the jungle, after a day of cycling in the nearby ricefields, was the cosiest place to be on our second rainy afternoon. The attention to sustainability is evident beyond the bamboo building materials. Organic locally made bath products and linen towels add to the eco luxury experience.
While we look forward to Bali tourism returning to normal and returning to Bambu Indah to experience it to the fullest, there was still something very special about our weekend. Those who are lucky enough to be in Bali throughout the pandemic have had the opportunity to experience the island, and venues like Bambu Indah, in a way that we haven’t experienced before and probably never will again. Bali is beautiful when it’s quiet, but it’s also an economy in crisis with tourism venues suffering the most.
Our thanks to our hosts and to their wonderful staff who made sure our stay was magical.
Bambu Indah is currently closed due to the pandemic. This review is independent and was not commissioned, but for transparency, we were guests of Bambu Indah via a personal invitation from the Hardy family.