Retreat F+B

W Retreat & Spa | Bali                              W Retreat & Spa | Maldives

Poole Associates has designed 7 areas at the 3rd W Retreat & Spa in the world, located on Seminyak Beach, Bali Indonesia

Click on the links below for the design story of each space, and additional photos.

Welcome Center | villa sales

Villa Arrival | villa lobby  

Fire | all-day dining

Great Room | ballroom

Wet | [facilities only]

Starfish Bloo + Ice | signature restaurant and bar

Woobar | beach club


+ the owners rep office
































starfish bloo

Hip replacement

The coolest kid in Bali doesn't even go by a single name - just the letter W

The hipster lounging by the pool was, by all definitions, cool. He had a laidback, lazy way about him that made him appear nonchalant and disaffected instead of chronically lethargic and in need of a Red Bull. The full force of the tropical humidity was futile in its attempt to flatten his magnificent Bieber hair. Even his Wayfarers, so overused by armies of lesser beings in their unsuccessful attempts at style victory, looked effortlessly right on his suitably sullen face. It was all rather impressive for a 10-year-old.

Do not belittle my belittlement at the hand of a pre-pubescent punk by settling on an unfounded assumption that I am not in fact a bronzed beach god resplendent in my swim shorts and pecs - because you would be absolutely right and my feelings would be a little hurt. The combination of a T-shirt, board shorts and flip-flops lends most beach-vacation denizens an air of relaxed bohemia. On me, however, it lends an air of homelessness.

While I adore beach holidays, "beach cool" is a look that simply doesn't work on inactive, anaemic me, resulting in the appearance of having been rudely displaced from one's natural environment. Like a jellyfish at a cocktail bar holding a dirty martini. Still, while I am accustomed to being told to put a shirt on because people are laughing too hard, finding myself coveting the style of someone less than a third my age was embarrassing even for me.

But, I suppose, that's a good gauge of a beach resort's hip quotient: When even the cool people's children are cooler than you.

The W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak is a bit of a misnomer. It's not so much a "retreat" into a quiet cocoon of nothingness as it is a full-scale advance into the spotlight of everything. It is the epitome of that old adage "see and be seen" - evidence of which can clearly be observed in the fact that you wouldn't pack your comfortably tattered Frankie Say Relax T-shirt for a stay at this beachfront property but you would bring along a pair of expensive heels.

In fact, on a previous visit to the W Bali, my travel companions and self-styled Bali party experts insisted that we get off our vacationing bums and leave the Bose-speaker-enhanced comfort of our hotel room to go off in search of the notoriously fabulous Bali nightlife - only to find that everyone else was headed for the latest hotspot on the island: Our hotel.

It was inevitable that the resort would become a major player in Bali's party scene. Kinda like how the pretty girl raised by a former cheerleader mum has no choice but to end up prom queen. Part of that reason is its location. No one goes to Seminyak in search of quiet nirvana - for that you schlep it up to Ubud to hang out with Julia Roberts' toothless medicine man in Eat Pray Love. In fact, one doesn't "schlep" at all in this well-heeled, trendy enclave of upscale restaurants and cocktail bars. Seminyak is a candy shop for urbanites with a taste for big city pleasures that just happens to be located on a tropical beach.

The other reason is in the property's blood. W, as Eva Ziegler, global brand leader, W Hotels Worldwide and Le Meridien hotels, will remind you, has redefined the hotel experience. Meaning if you think about the traditional hotel model as a rather homely lady with a room to spare and dinner on the stove, the design-focused, cool cat W would be her younger, naughtier sister with a twinkle in her eye, cocktail in her hand, and stamina to last for weeks. Its signature service philosophy is, after all, "Whatever/Whenever". In short: You want it, you got it - as long as it's legal, the W staff coo. And now it's jazzing up the beach resort experience.

Going out while staying in

As is the W way, the reception is also the bar, or the W Lounge, as it is called. Striking tones of pinks and purples rule the design roost, accentuated by quirky touches of waddling silver ducks and a "nest" of giant rubber eggs. The general effect, set to DJ-"curated" music, is less checking into a hotel and more turning up at a club with luggage in hand. Except unlike being in a club, people are smiling instead of appearing insufferably miserable.

On the terrace outside, oversized day beds face the gorgeous beach, overlooking the pool and all its Wayfarer-wearing inhabitants soaking up the sun. The mood is both club-cool and relaxed - meaning not so relaxed that one can exhale completely and let the gut hang out.

The 158 rooms, I was glad to discover, are some of the largest in Bali, with the majority blessed with lovely balcony views of the Indian Ocean. Waking up to the sounds of waves crashing is not something this city boy is accustomed to and I quickly learnt not to leave my music playing with the iPod docking station all night. There are sounds more relaxing, I discovered, than Mazzy Star. A large, open-concept bathroom suggests that these are accommodations for couples and friends with benefits rather than a pair of football buddies. There are also 79 pool villas ranging from one-bedroom retreats to indulgent three-bedroom compounds for families, fabulous parties, or individuals who require enough space to roam as buffalo do.

Not that you'd be spending much time holed up in your room (even newlyweds need to eat at some point). The point of staying at the W Bali, as I discovered, is having the luxury of being able to have a night out without actually going past its gates. Designed with the property becoming a Bali hotspot in mind, W Bali features a variety of F&B options. Nibble and sip at W Lounge, or sit down for something more substantial with a bottle of wine at Fire, a grill restaurant with fabulous steaks and a gorgeous buffet option.

Cocktails and a boogie-woogie are to be had at WooBar, a three-story playground on the beach for grown-ups fond of the joys of inebriation. At the resort's official opening, we were treated to a gleefully groovy set by DJ Dimitri from Paris.

For a more relaxed but equally boozy time, I recommend seaside beach club Starfish Bloo for pan-Asian cuisine dished out in front of stunning beachfront views. It's where I let a late morning melt into a lazy afternoon and into a decadent sunset over cava, ceviche and hot-stone-grilled morsels of wagyu heaven. I accomplished absolutely nothing that day but a feeling of blissful happiness. I was most proud of myself.

Best of all, in the privacy of darkness after the sun had at last dipped below the horizon, I finally exhaled deeply and let my gut hang out. I even rubbed it contentedly - keeping one eye open, you'll understand, for fear of being judged by a 10-year-old.

This trip was made possible by W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak

Check out the "play + unplug" deal, from US$525++ (S$675++) per night (minimum two consecutive nights) for an ocean-facing room for two, including daily breakfast at Fire, US$100 daily Whatever/Whenever credit per room and two sunset cocktails at WooBar. Offer valid till March 31, 2012. Or experience a one-bedroom pool villa, from US$499++ per night for two, including daily breakfast, complimentary wi-fi, unlimited access to Sweat fitness centre, and access to Hot Stone Bath and Cold Plunge at Away Spa by W Hotels. Go to for info and reservations.




W Bali :

W Bali - Seminyak Retreat & Spa, a new found playground along the shore of Seminyak. Just north of Kuta, it is a trendy enclave highly-concentrated with concept restaurants, chic cocktail bars and clubs. Designer boutiques, eclectic galleries, ubiquitous collections of decorative arts and luxurious spas predominate here. Seminyak is the pulse of fashion, mostly comprising designers from Indonesia and in-between regions. Sun, Sand, Sea and Surfing destination. Aptly known as "Island of Gods", nestled in the Indonesia archipelago and has WOW-ed millions of travelers.

welcome center | villa arrival | fire | great room | wet | starfish  bloo + ice | woobar

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