Nicola Billens

Well it is. The fact that Alila Uluwatu is rated one of the most eco-friendly hotels in Bali has to be seen to be believed (and believe me you want to see it).

This architectural wonder perched high above the surf of Uluwatu is the hallmark of luxury, but also of sustainable tourism. It was the first resort in Indonesia to receive the highest level of certification from EarthCheck as a Best Practice Building Planning and Design (BPDS) development.

Alila Uluwatu

The pictureque clifftop infinity pool filled with recylced water and sunset cabana

Keeping it local

Built within the contours of the land, everything about this 65 villa resort has been carefully considered to minimise its environmental impact, from the use of recycled Indonesian wood from old houses and local white stone to the volcanic water soaks that feature throughout the resort.

Alila Uluwatu lobby

The white stoned lobby, very un-Balinese

Alila Villas Uluwatu is in an architectural class of it’s own – it’s modern, innovative and sleek and the architecture is purposely not Balinese. The resort sits about an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta on the Bukit Peninsular, which was a separate island to Bali until the forties so the architects felt no need to conform. The fact there are few shrines and temples to be seen in the area is testimony to this (Uluwatu Temple being the only real exception).

Using shade and the breeze to keep things cool

Using shade and the breeze to keep things cool

Over 60 percent of the friendly staff are from the nearby local area and Badung regency and have been trained in the art of hospitality. They receive as much as ten hours a month of ongoing lessons which ensures the level of service remains superb and staff retention is high, with some employees having worked there since 2009 when the resort opened.

Walkways designed in harmony with the contours of the land

Walkways designed in harmony with the contours of the land

Designed to minimise impact

Air conditioning is limited to the villas and only a few public area such as the spa, wine room and yoga pavilion. Open-aired walkways both capture the breeze and frame picturesque glimpses of the blue sky, sea and gardens manicured with native flora, inviting you to explore beyond.

Alila uluwatu walkways

Despite the overtly luxurious feel to the villas, the eco-standards stretch further than you’d think and whilst there is no solar energy, everything has been thoughtfully designed to reduce energy use. Natural ventilation and shading, using the building’s thermal mass and passive solar design permeate throughout.

Using lava rocks and water to keep things cool

This water feature uses lava rocks and water to cool the villa and provide lighting

Lava rocks on the villas’ flat rooftops both absorb the heat in turn keeping the rooms below them cooler, but also form part of the water capture system that fills the stunning swimming pools. Next to the outdoor shower is a water feature to reflect sunlight into the villas (reducing use of energy for lighting) and also to absorb the Balinese heat – again to lessen the demand for air-conditioning.

Alila Uluwatu villa

A luxurious one-bedroom villa

Other sustainability features of the hotel include the A La Carte breakfast instead of buffet (reducing food waste), sourcing local fresh product (reducing transport waste), using off-white, air-dried sheets (reducing use of bleach), recycled sewage water for use on the gardens, LED lighting with dimming and presence detection plus a multitude of other thoughtfully planned eco-friendly touches.

Alila Uluwatu

Sandy and dry landscapes in the region mean water conservation is essential

The deliberate use of sustainable/recycled materials and commitment to measure greenhouse gas emissions, energy and fresh water usage, waste water discharges, and to minimise solid waste puts Alila Villas Uluwatu at the forefront of eco-friendly luxury and sets the standards for others to follow. Whilst there will always be room for improvement (for example using more renewable energy), this gorgeous resort is proof that eco does not need to mean rustic.