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  • Chidozie Uzoezie

Jumeirah Bali: A Stunning Tribute to Majapahit Empire



Jumeirah Bali is a visual and sensory celebration of the island’s romantic allure. Blending spectacular nature and references to Hindu-Javanese history, the resort’s striking architecture reinterprets Bali’s legends for the modern-day traveller.


Sitting gracefully on the beach area of Uluwatu, the stunning cliffside resort is a collaboration between Martin Grounds from Grounds Kent Architect, who developed the architectural concept, and Jean-Michel Gathy from Denniston International, an interior design consultancy. Wrapped around the property are the sprawling gardens designed by Late Made Wijaya.



The vision for the all-villa luxury resort was to connect Bali’s past and present in a verdant water-based sanctuary of luxury. In response, Martin Grounds created an overall design narrative centred on the golden era of Majapahit empire and its role as a sanctuary for Bali’s ruling elite.


The last Indianised kingdom in Indonesia, it reached its apogee in the mid-14th century, becoming a significant power in the region while maintaining regular relations with China, Champa, Cambodia, Annam, and Siam.


Architecturally, one of the characteristics of the maritime empire was its clusters of pavilions concealed by imposing walls, including those used for bathing and socialising, terraced royal gardens, and exquisite water features.



Throughout Jumeirah Bali, these traditional spatial elements are used to reveal a sumptuous water palace that celebrates the magic of life and romance of Bali.


Furthering the story are the three spectacular swimming pools. Their sizes and positioning mirror Majahapit’s legendary reservoirs: Kolam Segaran in the centre with smaller Balong Dowo and Balong Bunder flanking it.


During the empire days, the reservoirs signified happiness and prosperity, ensuring the people of Majapahit always had access to water for drinking and irrigation.



The main swimming pool at Jumeirah Bali is known as Kolam Segaran. Boasting stunning sunset vistas and a panoramic view of the shimmering turquoise hues of Dreamland Beach down below, it is rightfully considered a focal point of the resort.


Another architectural highlight are the scenic replica ruins of Trowulan, the site of the eponymous capital city of the Empire, carved with depictions of Majahapit’s second monarch, Jayanegara.


Through the sacred portal


Drawing on the island’s heritage, Jumeirah Bali’s indoor-outdoor architecture reflects Bali’s adobe vernacular, as well as creating a seamless flow between the architecture, interior, and landscape.


Indigenous tactile, natural materials combine with luxurious modern comforts to transport guests to an authentic Balinese haven of understated elegance with an opulent touch.


As guests arrive, they pass through a grand Balinese gate guarded by a winged mythical creature, a stone stature of Singa Ambara Raja. Local culture, full of symbolism, considers gates to be important portals that connect the physical world and the spiritual realm.



Overhead, two mythical winged creatures in the Majapahit tradition guard the passage. On the way to the lobby, an enchanted garden reveals itself behind a giant red Bodhi tree, a powerful Buddhist symbol.


The 120-year-old tree serves as a link between Jumeirah Bali and the Majapahit Empire, where it was known as the “tree of awakening” and traditionally planted at the entrance to royal dwellings and religious sites.


The surrounding courtyard featuring a traditional Javanese pendopo pavilion, a grove of heritage trees, and multiple water features creates a sense of calm, inviting guests to relax after a long journey as they take in the stunning Indian Ocean panorama unfolding at their feet.



Exquisite detailing, such as the intricate wall carvings telling the story of Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic from ancient India, or floral Patra carvings and Majapahit-style swing doors create an ambiance that is timeless and serene.


Thanks to the 11-hectar site’s cascading topography, guests can experience the surroundings at multiple levels.


Landscaped terraces, carved step-wise up a gentle coastal slope, take guests from the upper lobby level down to the piazza and villa levels where the soothing sound of the ocean is ever-present. Royal quarters Jumeirah Bali’s 123 spacious villas are a carefully choreographed composition of light and space.



Drawing on the “water palace” design narrative, Grounds Kent Architect ensured that guests are never more than a few metres away from a gurgling stream or a fountain inspired by a royal purification pavilion from the Majapahit era.


Starting from 210 square metres, the one- and two-bedroom villas feature sublime tropical views of the garden or the Indian Ocean and offer pockets of private space for concentration and calm.


Each villa comes with a private pool, outdoor living area and a landscaped tropical garden for guests to indulge in a spiritual, secluded, and soulful experience.



To root villa interiors to the location, the Denniston International team incorporated outdoor showers and covered pendopo pavilions overlooking the sunset horizon into the design, instantly transporting guests to a royal Balinese summer home.


The stately four-bedroom Royal Water Palace marries Balinese and Javanese influences to create a sense of exclusivity and ultimate seclusion, as well as featuring a unique glass elevator that takes guests down to the beach level where a natural cave converted into a high-tech, temperature-controlled wine cellar houses an extensive collection of fine vintages.


Sensory delights


Akasa Gastro Grill, Jumeirah Bali’s specialty restaurant, is situated on the topmost level and offers awe-inspiring views across the island’s crystal blue waters and stunning sunset panoramas.


By the restaurant’s gate, a majestic Singa Ambara Raja statue offers protection to all those entering.



As guests settle down for dinner in a venue that tells the story of a royal family entertaining an intimate group of friends, they are offered vivid glimpses of the splendour of a powerful empire long gone.


The restaurant will also feature a unique underground cellar that is poised to be the resort’s wine connoisseur playground.



Jumeirah’s signature Talise Spa pays homage to the majestic influence that the Majapahit Empire experienced shortly before its collapse, bringing with it to the Island of the Gods Turkey’s world-famous bath-house culture.


A 1,705-square-metre heaven of tranquillity, it features Bali’s first royal Turkish hammam; steam and sauna facilities, including a Vichy shower; and five private treatment rooms, where soulful ‘Divine Therapies’ promise tip-to-toe indulgence and energy rebalancing amid boundless panoramas.

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