Eco-Friendly Sensation

Published 29 August 2016   

Location:
Belitung island – Indonesia

Words & Photos:
G. LOPEZ

The Arumdalu Private Resort on Belitung Island is sure to become one of the world’s premier Eco-friendly luxury resorts, so FRV’s G. Lopez took some time to soak it in and became entranced by its amazing splendour.


Grand entrance
The gates to Arumdalu.

Seven years ago, Pak Agus Supramono and his family didn’t have it in their heads to build one of Indonesia’s most breathtaking, eco-luxury resorts. But a chance family adventure to find the freshest shrimp on Belitung Island quite literally lead them down a path that offered such amazing beauty that building a resort eventually became, as they say, “a no brainer.”

I sit across from Pak Supramono’s son, Albert, the C.E.O. and visionary for Arumdalu Private Resorts. We’re in Arumdalu’s signature restaurant, Sahang, which means ‘pepper’ in the Belitung dialect. The naming of the restaurant as such gives me the first indication of many of the owner’s pride in incorporating the local culture with their five-star resort – a theme of charming respect and admiration that will echo throughout my stay.

Albert excitedly reels off the story of how his family, whose main business in Jakarta is engineering machinery for heavy duty industries, stumbled upon the land that would five years later become Arumdalu, when mid-sentence his attention is snapped toward the beach just metres away. “Look at that,” he says, indicating a sky and sea that are nearly identical in blue, “this is an incredible time of day out there.” A view he must have seen now 1,000 times is still able to snatch his attention with such command. And for more than a second, I too lose myself in it, and begin to understand his unbound excitement about Arumdalu.

BB_SUNRISE_14

Just about every view from Arumdalu is sublime, bordering on surreal. Sunrise over the Java Sea and the granite rock formations that dot the entire coast of Belitung.

The resort sits on the fringe of a tropical forest, boarded on the south-east side by 800 metres of one of the most picture perfect, white-sand, blue water beaches one could find anywhere in the world. As if the powder-like sand and the crystal clear water aren’t enough of a marvel, the beach also features magnificent formations of granite that complete the dreamy land and seascape as they protrude timelessly from the Java Sea.


Opulence meets rustic
Each of Arumdalu’s 10 private villas is spacious and well appointed.

Belitung Island is somewhat of an enigma within the parlance of Indonesia’s tropical destination discussions. If not for its rise to national popularity thanks to the highly regarded film Laskar Pelangi (an adaptation of the equally popular novel by Andrea Hirata), the island, and its amazing beauty, may have been completely overlooked or ignored because of its recent history as a tin-mining locale.

Situated off the east coast of Sumatra, a short fifty-minute plane ride from Jakarta, in the Bangka-Belitung island chain, Belitung is slowly gaining traction as a tourist destination thanks to recent discoveries of unexplored beaches such as those discovered by Albert and his family a few years ago.

Arumdalu, which takes its name from the Javanese night-flowering jasmine, and the truncated Indonesian word, harum, which means fragrant and dalu which means night, occupies 2.5 of the forty-five hectares owned by the family. There are no worries, not now or ever, of anyone disturbing this little slice of heaven they found for themselves and are now sharing with the world. I, for one, am certainly glad they didn’t decide to keep it all to themselves. This place is, indeed, very special.

BEACH1
Paradise found?
View from atop a granite outcrop down onto the resort.


One of Arumdalu’s “chapels” atop a massive granite outcrop.

It’s not necessarily all the appurtenances of luxurious travel that captivate me here; there’s no mistaking Arumdalu can compete with the best of them in the five-star resort arena. With ten, exquisitely-appointed, private villas, featuring private swimming pools, gazebos, luxurious baths and perfectly appropriate solitude and romanticism, Arumdalu has the makings to become one the most talked about resorts in Indonesia.

The restaurant serves the most ingenious cuisine, with produce sourced from Arumdalu’s own farms, and seafood snatched from the neighbouring sea. The staff, made up mostly of local farmers and fishermen who have been trained to hospitality perfection, are accommodating, knowledgeable and friendly as can be. I feel as if each is my personal butler, trained to tend to my every fancy.

Yes, this place is luxurious, but all that is almost easy to forget, believe it or not, because Arumdalu is about so much more than luxury. This place has a purpose, a soul, which distracts my attention away from the lavishness and brings my focus to something altogether more thrilling and, in fact, more important – the conservation of the Belitung environment.


Cool sensations
View from the “cooling” gazebo, across the pool and into the villa.

“When we built Arumdalu we hardly cut down any trees and our goal is to continue to be as self sufficient as possible, while conserving the environment as much as we can.”

They’ve done a pretty good job so far. Where they could have built a much bigger and environmentally intrusive resort with the land they have, they kept it simple – quaint even. Each of the ten villas are surrounded by beautifully lush tropical gardens. Walkways are made from stone and locally sourced recycled timber. The grounds are almost exactly as they found them the day they arrived, with the exception of their added rows of fresh vegetables, rice and flora – ingredients ready for Arumdalu’s in-house chef’s picking for use at Sahang.

The family’s passion for nature and the environment, coupled with their expertise in engineering has afforded Arumdalu some inspiring technologies that help define the resort’s eco-friendly philosophy.

They’ve developed a hydroponic-like, precision organic farming system that allows them to grow all manner of produce, including high-altitude fruits such as strawberries, just meters from the salt and sand of the Java Sea. Air-conditioning units are rigged to water heaters, thus providing each of the villas on the property an endless flow of piping hot, energy-neutral water.

BATIK_02

Arumdalu sits on the fringe of a tropical forest, boarded on the south-east side by the most picture perfect, white-sand, blue water beaches one could find anywhere in the world.

The stone blocks that make up a large part of the construction of the villas are an amalgam of Belitung sand and cement molded from recycled rubber from their machinery company. The stone emulates the look of the natural granite found nearby and acts as a perfect insulator that keeps rooms cool and air-conditioner requirements to a minimum. Wastewater is fully recycled for crop irrigation. Each morning the seaweed is raked off the sand, reestablishing it’s pristine whiteness for the coming day, while the seaweed is used as an ingenious fertilizer for Arumdalu’s bevy of crops.

By now you might be getting the point. While many resorts may boast about their “green” efforts, but fail to execute, the very foundation of Arumdalu, both literally and in their eco-philosophy is steeped in their efforts to provide the world a shining example of a place where luxury and eco-friendly meet without sacrifice to one nor the other.

To me, that’s what tropical travelling is all about. Yes, it’s delightful to have all the bells, whistles and accoutrement of upscale accommodation, but at some point we should always ask ourselves, at what cost did it arrive to us? There’s no question that at Arumdalu one gets the very real sense that the environment around you is actively growing, even flourishing, throughout one’s stay. Guilt-free luxury that pampers and provides while nature benefits as an equal partner. The best of both worlds. You really couldn’t ask for more.

BB_AFTERNOON_08

windmill

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *