Insights into the Elang Private Residence in the Bawah Reserve, Indonesia
It's the ultimate in secluded luxury on your own private island.
The newly opened Elang Private Residence is the owner's holiday home that is available to buy in full. Bawah's remoteness, eco-credentials, and beauty make it the ideal place to escape completely. The dormancy period means the secret hasn't been fully revealed after a pandemic closed Bawah for more months than it's been open.
Flying here by ferry and amphibious plane feels like a trip back in time since it takes off on wheels and lands on floats. Pilots give a brief security briefing ("if you fancy a swim, there's a life jacket under your seat"). This is a charming way to arrive.
This small archipelago is made up of six islands, including Bawah, its largest. Tennis courts, spas, a boutique, 36 villas, a restaurant, trails through a primary forest, massages, and open-air massages are just some of the amenities at this resort. The most difficult decision of the day might be where to picnic or where to snorkel.
Only six villas are available at Elang, as well as a restaurant and saltwater pool flanked by a clubhouse and spa. Four other uninhabited islands are located in this marine reserve, all within swimming distance of each other.
Five one-bedroom villas on Elang - Ficus, Lychee, Yucca, Cycad, Satigi - and the two-bedroom Longhouse are all thatched with local palm leaves. With recycled teak and copper, hand-hewn rock, and flotsam furniture, the interiors are decorated in tropical blues. Stone staircases leading into the water make the seawater so clear that you can see marine life without a mask.
In addition to over-water villas and beachfront villas, there are also forest villas on the main island of Bawah. Sim Boon Yang, a Singaporean designer, constructed the islands using bamboo, driftwood, and recycled materials.
Elang offers both guest-directed dining and chef-driven dining, including lamb satay on sugarcane skewers, seafood with mango sambal, and slices of rare beef with tiny pots of rendang sauce. You can eat at The Club House, The Beach House, on Bawah or in your villa - or anywhere else, like a deserted beach or a sandbank.
A laid-back poolside bar, The Grouper, can be found on Bawah itself, or up the hill, the Jules Verne can be found for sundowners. A canopy restaurant called Tree Tops or a beach restaurant called The Boat House offer dining options. Additionally, guests can choose to dine privately on the islands. The island's permaculture gardens produce much of the organic produce served on the island.
Spas are located on Bawah (Aura and Hill spas) and Elang (Kayu), where guests can receive daily massages (free with their stay). The chief deep-tissue specialist, Retno Pardengganan, who also specializes in reflexology and head massage, gave me one of the most intense massages I've ever received. Local ingredients such as coffee, cocoa, and raw honey are used instead of branded products for masks, scrubs, compresses, and wraps. The products are made from organic coconut oil, ginger, lemongrass, aloe vera, ginger, tonka bean, and lime essential oils. Pilates and yoga classes are also offered daily (as well as SUP yoga), as well as guided meditation and two gyms (one jungle gym, one air-conditioned). In the hotel industry, wellness and wellbeing are becoming increasingly important, so it's important to keep an eye on this trend.
A quick boat ride from Singapore, Batam is an Indonesian island within the Anambas archipelago, 80 minutes away. Flights, ferries, shuttles, and other logistics may seem daunting, but Bawah staff handled them seamlessly. From Singapore, it takes three to four hours to get there.
Bawah was once a military outpost of the Indonesian army due to its location between Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo. You can still see the red and white stripes of the Indonesian flag painted on rocks around the shoreline. The closest inhabited islands are a couple of hours by boat away, and the local economy is based on fishing and farming.
Singaporean shipping magnate Tim Hartnoll once anchored here on a sailing holiday to discover these sheltered lagoons and lush islands. In addition to creating a hideaway resort that respects the natural environment, a marine reserve was also planned to restore coral reefs that had been damaged by dynamite fishing.
As well as being gentle, the staff are fun, witty, and joyful, such as Rini, who can answer almost any question regarding the property or its projects; Nintya – with her perfect English – who handles landscaping and permaculture; and Julian – who likes to practice his English accent ("butt-ah with your bread?"). It seems that everyone on the island is committed to giving you the best holiday possible, from the boat drivers to the housekeeping staff to the gardeners.
Overdevelopment, palm oil plantations, plastic waste and water pollution have destroyed many of Indonesia's 17,000 islands, which is why Bawah and its fierce environmental program are so important. Floating solar panels, one of Southeast Asia's largest arrays, are visible at the hotel, which has put conservation at its core. A zero-waste program is also available, as well as rainwater catchment and desalination systems. In addition to reforestation and skill training, the Bawah Anambas Foundation works with local communities to combat destructive fishing techniques. New polyps sprouted from artificial frames on the seabed during a dive, part of a coral regeneration program. A constant beach cleaning program is in place here to maintain the coastal mangroves. Seashells placed under glass cloches throughout the hotel showcase the hotel's reverence for nature, perhaps best exemplifying the hotel's philosophy.
In addition to snorkeling (black tip reef sharks, hawksbill turtles, sting rays), it offers a robust diving program. Between July and October is the best time to see hatchlings released from a turtle nesting project.
Using wireless, silent disco-style headphones, they can also organize treasure hunts, movie nights on the beach and guided meditations. In addition to boat trips and art and cooking classes, Indonesian Batik making is also available. Guests will traverse the outer islands and overnight in the elements in Bawah Survivor, an escape room/scavenger hunt launching soon.