Up Now

All The Way With Impiana

Seminyak’s first villa resort gets a reinvention as Impiana Villas Seminyak.

Oh, if these walls could talk, the Seminyak tales they could tell would fill a book.

It began as a single villa, home to Australian expat Jim Elliot. Located in Jalan Kunti, the spacious villa with its signature yin and yang pool was one of the first rental villas in Seminyak and before long, the idea spread and spread.

By the time The Villas in Seminyak was sold to its Malaysian owners and became Impiana Private Villas Seminyak, the property had grown to encompass two sites, with 50 private pool villas and two spas including the iconic Prana Spa and Chill, the home of reflexology.

It is almost two years since Impiana took over. Much of the original architecture has remained. It’s been buffed and polished, the alang alang roofs have been replaced in most villas and the signature yin and yang pools, inspired by the original villa, sparkle with personality and new tiles.

A modern reception area has been built on the street to replace the discreet reception that existed. A new restaurant, Oswego, has also been added to compliment the existing Prana Garden restaurant, which is now overseen by an Indian chef, offering authentic Indian food.

All in all, this is a refurbishment that honours the original design and for many, this is great news, as the property holds a special place for so many of us, who have stayed, wined, dined and been pampered here. And yes, partied.

The property offers one, two and three bedroom private pool villas. Each is surrounded by beautiful gardens and Balinese-inspired walls that offer both peace and privacy.

With open living and dining areas, kitchens and lush, tropical gardens, this is a sanctuary within busy Seminyak. As an older property, built on a large plot of land, it also offers more space than many modern villas. The design of the villas themselves has been copied many times over, yet this property is the original and bears all the hallmarks of a classic.

Circular open living spaces, with vast alang alang roofs, are the defining feature of the two and three bedroom villas. The three bed villas also offer a third circular guesthouse, separate from the main villa, otherwise they are very similar.

Indoor/outdoor bathrooms are another defining feature and can be found in all the villas. Created from terrazzo in warm colours, with creamy stone and tile, they speak volumes about Bali and they have been lovingly restored under Impiana’s management.

The one-bedroom villas vary in design, some are two stories, with a mezzanine, and others laid out on one floor. The recent upgrades have included polishing all the terrazzo, replacing the furniture to update the interiors, and retiling the outdoor areas, yet still retaining the original character.

Impiana is a well-known resort company in Malaysia. The expansion to Bali has seen them purchase two existing properties, The Seminyak Villas and a beautiful, private villa overlooking a temple and the sea, in the peaceful Canggu village of Cemagi.

The Impiana Villa in Cemagi is a stunner. Formerly a private home, it has six guest rooms, including a self-contained joglo, a swimming pool that overlooks the sea and a private tennis court and family games room. The gardens are laid out like a golf course, and the sea temple it overlooks is reminiscent of Tanah Lot, without the crowds. It’s a popular wedding venue and great for families and groups.

Along the Sayan terrace, where luxurious resorts including The Amandari and The Alila Ubud reside, Impiana is creating its third property. A luxurious spa resort that will include a second Prana Spa, inspired by the first. The company hopes to launch this by the end of this year.

Returning to Impiana in Seminyak, I couldn’t resist a peak at the villa where it all began. The island’s first yin and yang pool remains, the rest is a distant memory. Here a seven-eight bedroom modern villa is being built. Construction is well underway when I visit. Located directly behind the new reception area and the modern Asian meet Western Oswego restaurant and bar, it will be the resort’s premium property.

Oswego, inspired by Impiana’s KL-based wine bar, is a modern, open space for casual dining. With both Asian and Western menus, it has been designed in soothing colours of cool blue with wood. It’s a clear sign that times have changed, but not so much. The Villas long time Chef, Wayan, is behind the stove bringing years of experience to this fresh, new space and giving Impiana Villas a presence on Jalan Kunti.

For those who have visited in the past, it is a sign of the times that this is now a bustling tar road. In its day, Jl. Kunti was little more than a gravel track with a smattering of local warungs and a single villa. It’s reassuring that its history is reflected in the current resort, that Prana Spa remains largely as it was designed and that progress has only improved this property. If only walls could talk, or perhaps it’s better they can’t.