This luxurious hideaway started with noble intentions of improving the livelihood of the local communities with profits from it’s organic farm, Eco resort and wellness retreat. But all that aside, there is something mysteriously charming about this sanctuary-like resort that’s worth discovering.
Walking around Kaliandra Sejati after the rain is like spooning ais batu campur (ice dessert with mixed jelly condiments) into your mouth on a hot day. There’s always something different tasting that pops to tantalise your taste buds as you savour every spoonful.
The Kaliandra Sejati eco resort and farm is charming even in the pouring rain. And more so when the rain has stopped as the mist blanketed paths lead you to surprises that seem mysteriously hidden.
As the car drove through the gates, after the 1 hour 45 minutes journey from Juanda Airport in Surabaya Indonesia, it went across a wide expanse of open land before it parked under an enormous banyan tree.
The architectural intention of building around its natural environment was significantly evident in details of how structures, no matter how prominent, did not stand out jarringly against the backdrop. At a glance it looked like a regular Javanese resort. But standing on the porch of one of the basic chalets, while waiting for the rain to stop, my mind captured the mesmerising downpour falling from one level of foliage onto another and eventually cascading down stone steps into a pond.
It was almost a poetic moment. I knew then it was the beginning of an adventure. Kaliandra Sejati is named after the flowering plant that is native to tropical America, Calliandra Haematocephala or commonly known as the red powder puff that is rich in antioxidant properties.
This resort and eco farm is run by the Kaliandra Foundation that was set up to better the lives of the community via jobs and produce. A quick explanation by the communication officer revealed a heartwarming story of the owner Pak Atmadja whose birthplace was the nearby village in Pasuruan. An architect by profession, he decided to build this resort so that the villagers would have jobs and land to grow organic vegetables for sale.
“Pak Admatja’s heart is always with the people. When he heard that the community wanted a football field, he built one for them near the resort,” one of the staff remarked.
The rain had stopped and it was time to take a walk to our accommodation a short distance away. We heard it was really luxurious but we could not imagine until we came face to face with this sprawling French inspired villa, the Villa Leduk. It made me feel like the kids in the movie, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ when they came to the other side of the fantasy through the wardrobe.
Peacocks of various colours, white and turquoise, roamed freely and coming close to walk alongside us and paths were well laid out with much of the foliage on the sides intact. The interior decor were a little ornate but befits the design of the building in all its luxurious splendour. Despite its lush natural environment and the great outdoor, accommodations were kept spotlessly clean. This feeling one gets in this part of the resort is evidently very different from the traditional Javanese part when we first entered.
You can help but be constantly curious and surprised at how this building that seemed like it had been transported from the other side of the world could blend so well in this environment. As curiosity took us deeper into the well-manicured gardens, we were greeted by a similar villa nearby. We were told that was Pak Atmadja’s home.
In the fenced up grounds of the villa, deers and peacocks roamed freely. The walkways were clear and free from undergrowth which make a stroll after the rain pleasant and cool. Near the organic garden, tresses of long roots hang like a curtain over the path to the organic farm.
Plots of the land are allocated to individuals from the community to cultivate with support of the foundation. Caretakers of the plots will share the produce with the Kaliandra Foundation which will take to packing and sending them to retailers in town.
This treasure find of a destination which is almost 20 years old is immaculately maintained. It also has accommodation for large groups as well as backpackers.
Text and photos by YY Chen