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The Seminyak’s Star Rises

With new blood in the kitchen, The Seminyak Beach Resort carves a niche in Bali’s iconic beach enclave.

There’s a definite divide in Seminyak between the old school elegance of resorts like The Oberoi, and the new breed of sleek, modern resorts like Alila and W. The Seminyak Beach Resort and Spa bridges both, providing modern luxury with the classical charm that is the hallmark of Balinese hospitality.

Set on four hectares across a stunning beachfront, The Seminyak resides where once an older resort sat, and despite the land size, the resort is relatively small with just 150 suites and 12 private pool villas, ensuring that it retains its character as a tranquil oasis in bustling Seminyak.

The appointment of a relatively young chef with a solid restaurant background, as opposed to a classically trained hotel chef, speaks volumes about where the owners are positioning themselves on this competitive strip.

Chef Josh Job knows a thing or two about running successful restaurants. The Byron Bay native has been working the kitchens of Watercress and Milk and Madu in recent years. Before that he did stints in Nusa Lembongan and at The Beach House in Gili Trawangan.

As Executive Chef of Good Food Brotherhood, the group behind the vibrant venues that expanded to include street food classics Ulekan, Bangkok Hustle and Schmurger Burger, Josh knows how to please a crowd. At The Seminyak he takes on his most challenging role to date and is relishing the opportunity.

“I have a pretty firm philosophy about food. It has to be honest first of all, whether you’re talking about a rijstaffel banquet or a salad. I lean towards a healthier style of cooking, lighter and more modern but if my guests want Indonesian or Thai, I want to make sure it’s authentic,” he explains over lunch at the resort’s main dining room, Santan.

The resort has two restaurants, a stunning intimate cocktail and wine bar and a private dining room where a string of events are planned.

“The private wine dinners are where we can really show off and we have some great chef events planned. For the main menus I want to make sure that more than anything the flavours are true and authentic. We offer a good wine list and some creative cocktails,” he continues.

After months of tweaking the existing menus and revising the recipes in line with his healthier approach to modern dining, he is ready to roll out the first of his new menus. First up is breakfast at the resort’s beach club. Sanje is a hidden gem, with a fabulous position overlooking the ocean, it welcomes outside guests who can walk in off the beach.

The laid back beachfront restaurant and bar, Sanje, is a find for those who want an alternative to the glamorous venues that line this stretch of beach. With a beautiful pool, weathered wooden furniture in a mix of styles, day beds, large and smaller tables and sun beds, it offers a fresh and modern menu and a laid back charm.

It borrows its influences from Santorini and Sicily, mingling fresh flavours, big salads, a barbecue grill offering lemon and herb-scented seafood and meat with casual beach bar classics. Without the high priced minimum spend, guests can stop in for breakfast, lunch, sunset cocktails or simply a coffee and a swim.

With his background, you just know that breakfast will be a highlight here. The chance to linger and enjoy the sun and a swim in the beautiful pool is a bonus. With a swim up bar tucked away in one corner and spacious day beds lining the sand, it’s a fairly sure thing that once discovered, this little gem won’t be forgotten.

Although the rain prevented us from sitting at Sanje, we ordered off the menu. I chose a delicious seafood pasta, a perfect tangle of spaghetti generous with tender scallops, fresh prawns, mussels and tuna. It tasted of the sea. The chef also chose a pasta, a creamy carbonara, al dente and brightened up with the addition of fresh asparagus.

The main hotel dining room, Santan, is a large open wantilan where Asian food is the mainstay of the menu. Here Josh wants to focus on both Thai and Indonesian recipes, keeping it authentic and retaining the charm of a Balinese resort.

“This is what a lot of our guests really want. As part of the Luxury Hotels groups, we get a lot of guests from Europe and Australia as well as Asia. The bar is set high and they expect quality as well as honesty, integrity and authenticity,” explains Josh.

This is also where various cultural events are staged, as well as the themed evenings held on the sprawling lawns overlooking the sea.

Aside from bringing his health-oriented fresh menus to Sanje to create a beach bar and restaurant that will cater to both in house guests and visitors, Josh is quietly excited about the new venue he is creating at the front of the property.

Klass and Brass is the intimate cocktail bar that has its own entrance at the front of the resort.

Josh is re-launching Klass and Brass as a speakeasy cocktail bar, with a hidden entrance, a password to gain entrance and a menu of top shelf cocktails.

“This project is going to be a lot of fun, perfect for a girls’ nights out, party and celebrations and also a place to come for an intimate cocktail. The concept doesn’t really exist in this part of Seminyak, a real alternative to the bigger clubs and nightlife destinations in the area,” he continues.

Off the bar is a beautiful private dining room and wine room. This is where he can really play, and yes, “show off”.

“We’ve done a few already and we have had some Michelin-starred chefs come in as guests so far and we plan to do more events in the future.”

The stunning room sports a long table that easily seats 12. Lined by wine fridges on one side and large windows along the front, with formal curtains to create an intimate space.

This is also where he has introduced the rijstaffel dinners. The traditional Indonesian feast will require a minimum of four guests, up to 12, and will offer multiple courses of beautifully prepared Indonesian dishes.

The departure from hotel chef to a forward-thinking restaurant chef sets The Seminyak Resort and Spa apart from its neighbours and is a sure sign that the resort owners want to introduce a modern food philosophy to the luxurious property.

Attracting outside guests to a very crowded and competive part of Seminyak will be no mean feat. With Ku De Ta to one side, The Legian, The Samaya and La Lucciola to the other, this is a big leap. One that Chef Josh Job is approaching with his signature cool, calm, organized and creative style. There’s a palatable excitement within this stylish resort and it feels as though its time to shine has arrived. S.D.