Banyuwangi: A Destination for Discerned Travellers
What to note about Banyuwangi's history, legend and where to stay when visiting the city.
“Local legend has it that this was the first area of the whole world to emerge from the ocean." Such is what is often said about Alas Purwo National Park, one of the many natural wonders that can be found in Banyuwangi, the largest regency in Java located on the easternmost tip of the island. The remote national park is also home to the world famous Plengkung surfing beach on Grajagan Bay, more popularly known among the surfers as G-Land.
Once a thriving trade centre known as Blambangan, Banyuwangi was later ruled by the Majapahit Kingdom but maintained its independence when the Kingdom collapsed and became the last remaining Hindu Kingdom in Java. It surrendered to the Balinese kingdoms in its effort to seek protection from the Sultanate of Demak, and remained under the Balinese rule for more than a century during which it adopted strong Balinese influences to its culture, much of which can still be seen today.
Located only an hour away by ferry from Bali, a visit to Banyuwangi leads to breathtaking volcanic scenery on the Ijen Plateau which offers more spectacular natural wonders such as the Blue Fire phenomenon, ignited sulphuric gas that emerges from the cracks at the bank of the Ijen Crater.
The richness in history, natural resources and culture makes Banyuwangi irresistibly attractive to the discerned travellers, and thanks to its newly revamped infrastructure, which includes the first green airport in Indonesia with direct flights from Jakarta and Bali, it quickly became the rising star of East Java for nature and adventure tourism.
Since opening its doors just a year ago, Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi has also attracted widespread attention with its sweeping views of the Bali strait, expansive green landscape and a modern, sophisticated design.
The 116-room property spans on a site of 15,000 sqm directly overlooking the Bali Strait. It references the 1960s high-rise beach resorts of Acapulco, Miami Beach, Rio de Janeiro and Surfer’s Paradise, in which four and five level buildings produce a small footprint of the site, as opposed to low rise buildings spread over it.
Designed by PT NXST Architects & Planners, who has worked with the Alila Group for more than 25 years, Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi is the first property to be developed by the new hotel brand, with a challenge to retain a sophisticated design at an affordable price for its guests. The success and influences of the Alila properties have intentionally filtered into the DNA of Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi, and it can be seen throughout the property.
A sense of luxury is offered not by expensive finishes and details but with expansive open spaces and the generous use of single, well-selected finishes. As explained by the designer, “Our design strategy is to give each space one material detail that allows other surfaces to be unfinished”. Examples of these can be seen at the lobby, adorned with beautiful random andesite pavings. At Casabanyu Restaurant and Bar, traditional Javanese-patterned tile and timber work is used only at the buffet area, allowing other surfaces to be off-form or skim coat concrete.
Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi also looks for strong links with local history and architectural patterns. Upon entering, a grand pavilion inspired by the traditional Banyuwangi house design from the indigenous Osing tribe welcomes guests. Modern nuances are achieved by redesigning the timber frame and screen structure which lead onto a soothing water garden. The triangle motif of the pavilion can be found in a typical Osing family home where three small windows provide light for cooking. The pattern is further developed into a concrete roster screen for ventilation, rain protection and minimal maintenance at upper floor levels.
The size of the central garden space supports a super scale and graphic design strategy. The triangle pattern on the four-level walls comes from main street Banyuwangi, while the layout of the large circular planting beds are visible from the upper floors.
Rooms of Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi were developed over many years of testing designs. As explained by NXST Architects, it was agreed that guests mostly travel light and stay a few days, so an open room with views from the entry to the terrace was the final choice. The vanity is open and the robe has no doors. Only the shower and toilet are private.
The room finishes are simple and inexpensive allowing inclusion of elements usually found in luxury hotels such as hidden ceiling air-conditioning and built-in terrazzo furniture. Banyuwangi batik fabrics, brightly coloured in green and yellow and often featuring the Gajah Oling motif which is one of the oldest batik motifs in the region, are used for bed runners, yukata and napkins.
It is also evident at Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi that the garden is given as much attention as the buildings. The central grass area and original palm tree grid organise the site and focus on the magnificent sunrise view over Bali Strait. The pool is set low on the grass so only the umbrellas can be seen. Meanwhile the restaurant, bar and pavilion are located to the side of the property, creating more space for a green landscape to soothe the eyes.
With such sophistication in design, it is little wonder that Dialoog Hotel Banyuwangi has successfully marked its presence on the map as a popular new destination in Indonesia. Equipped with great facilities that include a well-designed spa offering simple yet excellent massages, and coupled with the beauty of its surroundings and homage to its locale, one can look forward to relaxing at the infinity pool, sipping drinks at the beachside bar, or enjoying a healthy meal at the restaurant as the day goes by slowly. Stunning mornings invite, when towering coconut trees are awash with the spectre of an amazing sunrise.