​​Martin Palleros on Maintaining Balinese Architectural Identity

Photography By Martin Palleros and Andaz Bali

With an architecture degree from Argentina, a master’s degree from the United States and founding different design studios in Singapore, Thailand and Australia, Martin Palleros is very much an international man having extensive experience with a deep understanding of different cultural perspectives. Indeed, it’s all useful insights into life for someone whose work focuses on providing design studio services for resorts and hotels that seek out the best in architectural aesthetics. Indonesia Design recently spoke with Palleros, who founded Tierra Design (Thailand), about his most recent work in designing the unique Andaz luxury resort in Sanur, Bali.

Martin Palleros

What was the initial design brief from your client?
Our clients had the land next to Bali Hyatt, which is today known as the Hyatt Regency. The initial considerations were to extend the Hyatt Regency or a new resort under the Hyatt brand. After some initial studies and discussions, we decided to design and build the Andaz resort. Apart from all the technical considerations, the design brief was to create a resort that offers an authentic Balinese experience. We took opportunities from the best land to view and retain exciting, beautiful trees. We also decided to use local materials but through a contemporary expression with a combination of local artwork through the property to capture the essence of Bali.

How and why did you incorporate Balinese Village aesthetics and architecture into your design?
The project conception was in collaboration with Hyatt and was inspired by some of the traditional Balinese Villages (or locally known as “Kampung”) as well as the context of the Sanur area, which remains one of the most traditional neighbourhoods in comparison to many of other areas like Kuta, Seminyak, and others that have lost their Balinese identity.

With these in mind, the idea was to create a timeless and unique Balinese Village experience for the guests staying at Andaz through scale, materiality, and strong integration with nature, but with a contemporary architectural expression. Most of the original large existing trees that have been planted through the years by the owners have been well cared and integrated as part of the design. The material selection also was an important consideration, using brick [traditionally used in the Sanur area], timber, Alang Alang roofs and local stones to reinforce the Balinese experience.

Why aren’t there many rooms with a sea-view? Aren’t sea-view rooms the main selling point for luxury resorts?
The site is a rectangular land with the shorter side overlooking the sea. The difference between Andaz and many other resorts is that they mostly rely on the sea-view to sell their rooms. The resort is about facilitating different experiences for the guests to discover. So, for guests at Andaz, sea-view rooms are not a must. The resort has a lot more to offer than just sea views. Guests can choose various room types, with ocean panorama, pool access, beautiful garden scene, small intimate pool landscapes, and village square view. This variety in choices and experiences is what sets Andaz apart from other resorts.

What was your approach to making the Andaz an art-and-design focused luxury lifestyle hotel that was unique amongst hotels you’ve designed and among other hotels in Bali?
The way we always approach our designs is from the context of the project-starting from the broader context, in this case, Indonesia, and moving to the closer context, Bali, Sanur, and then the site-specific considerations like existing trees, immediate neighbours, and so on.

This is what makes Andaz Bali a unique project and an experience that makes it impossible to translate anywhere else. Andaz will always be a timeless and amazing resort.

To what extent has the Hyatt influenced your design choices with this project?
As I mentioned earlier, Hyatt was involved from the beginning of the project and were an integral part of the design process and vision for Andaz Bali. We worked closely with Andreas Stalder, senior VP, F&B operations & product development at Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, who spent a substantial amount of time in the past at Bali Hyatt and made a significant contribution with his experience and vision, which we have translated through the design.

Why do all the fish ponds scatter throughout the resort, including in the villa units?
Water is an essential part of life, particularly for the people of Bali. Therefore, it was essential to incorporate water as part of the guests’ journey and experience. Water gardens do not only work visually but also serve as relaxing and interactive garden elements.

What parts of the project did you think came out best and which ones could have been done better?
I am pleased with the outcome. I believe we have succeeded in the main objectives. We have created a unique resort that is functional, with a good level of quality and with a true Balinese unique experience.

We spent a substantial amount of time working on the design, reviewing and adjusting many things until the project’s completion.

I cannot think of any part I would like to change. I am confident Andaz is an exceptional resort that guests from across the world will enjoy for many years to come.

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Aulia R. Sungkar
Writing has always been his passion and endeavour since his college years in the 1990s at the University of Arizona. Flash forward, the Jakarta-based writer and entrepreneur has contributed hundreds of various writing pieces to esteemed publications and does copywriting projects for corporate clients from many industries.
Martin Palleros
Andaz Bali