Just north of the infamous Kuta Beach area, Seminyak is the hot spot for the “stylish” Bali visitor, all those lovers of fashion, shopping and design.
Known for its high-end spas and hotels, the area has developed rapidly over the last five years and while increasingly congested, it retains a semblance of its backwater village roots.
“Seminyak was always the place that people lived in Bali,” explains Sophie Digby a former Japan Times writer, long-term resident of Bali and publisher of The Yak, a very hip, very glossy magazine.
Having lived in “Yak”, the area’s nickname, for over 10 years, Sophie is the perfect guide, particularly if you’re interested in fashion and design. With her advice I grabbed some unique shopping experiences.
SHOPPING IN SEMINYAK
First stop on my whirlwind shopping tour of Seminyak was Quarzia on Jalan Laksmana, also called Oberoi after the famous Bali hotel. Home to silk and cotton creations from Simonetta Quarti and Marco Lastrucci – a textile designer and financier from the Italian fashion industry – Quarzia offers a unique take on batik.
Top quality silk is imported from China, the fabric patterns are designed by Simonetta, batiked and dyed in Ubud by local craftsmen, then cut into elegant creations with Italian flair.
The techniques might be indigenous but the colours and designs are European. Prices are reasonable: A long patterned silk skirt for about $200, a fabulous silk wrap dress for $250, cute baggy shorts for $95.
Quarzia also sells menswear – silk and linen print shirts and shorts and one-off hand-printed tees from well-known Indonesian artist Yusuf Olla – as well as great leather belts, bags and casual sandals.
My second stop was at sKs – SimpleKonsepStore – a spot I’d been told in advance was a “must visit”. It didn’t disappoint. Everything from the stark gray concrete exterior, the enormous orange metal door and low-slung display areas to the actual labels is super stylish.
Owned and run by Paola Zancanaro – who started her fashion career at Vivienne Westwood and continued it with Giorgio Armani and Prada – sKs carries its own labels as well as importing a select few, including Melissa shoes and Westwood jewellery and, since it’s a lifestyle store, homewares by Kartell, Artemide, Flos and Alessi .
But it’s the in-house labels that stand out. Coquette is young, casual and comfortable with short shorts, tees and stretchy dresses in bright colours, priced from $85 for the shorts. Stella Rissa caters to “real” women with beautiful draped jersey dresses from $225, cashmere cardigans for $250 and cotton city shorts in gorgeous, rich colours from about $70. Nakal is sKs’ menswear label; it has absolutely stunning cotton and linen graphic printed shirts and shorts and well-tailored blazers ranging in price from $100 to $250.
sKs also carries fabulous accessories from Indonesian and international designers; I fell in love with, and bought for $250, a butter-soft leather shoulder bag from Katsunori Ueda – an elusive individual who, rumour has it, worked in the Japan fashion industry before moving to Seminyak.
My “Rika” bag is absolutely perfect in its simplicity; no “bling”, no logos, no metal hardware. It is perfectly proportioned, the interest coming from the basic structural design, and has secret pockets. All Katsunori Ueda bags do.
These are just two of the five or six “must visit” stores in Seminyak that cater to visitors with discerning taste. You should also check out Wksshp13 on Jalan Petitenget, home to local designer Johnny Ramli’s handcrafted jewellery and bags in exotic skins; Street Dogs on Jalan Laksmana for really affordable “crafty” metal jewellery and Innuendo by Bali-based French designer Catherine van Osch, whose designs are delicate, feminine and classic.
OTHER STUFF TO DO
But to leave Seminyak without a visit to something called Potato Head Beach Club is to not have really visited the Yak. Set up recently by Ronald Akili and Jason Gunawan – art collectors and owners of Ark Gallery and sister cafe Potato Head in Jakarta – this beachfront venue stands out for its amazing architecture and 1950s swimming club vibe.
Knocking Ke De Ta off its perch as Seminyak’s top nightspot, everything from the original retro furniture to its “flying saucer” in-pool bar means that Potato Head Beach Club is now the place to be seen.
Under the enormous curved wall constructed of old window shutters is a neat shop with a range of quirky-cool clothing labels and, apparently, the only original Dr Martens in Bali. Dannika Zen and so clothe offer haute hippie tops and dresses from around $100; there is menswear from Emmelyn for about $70 and at the other end of the price range, one-off items from Ikat Timur for about $400. The shop also has great bikinis, “environmentally friendly” bags and even cute kids clothes.
Potato Head Beach Club is just a few minutes walk from the new W Retreat & Spa Bali. Known around the world for its original foray into hotels for party people, the New York brand has brought its special mix of funky sounds, fine food and fashionable experiences to the perfect spot in Bali.
Guests can party the night away, indulge in every kind of edible (although it’s more B&F – Beverage & Food – than F&B), swim in the gorgeously organic shaped pools or get a spa treatment at 3am (the Away Spa is open 24 hours) while also enjoying the more cultural aspects of Bali. For discerning visitors, who care as much about the decor as they do about service or price, W Retreat & Spa Bali is the place to stay.
While Bali as a whole continues to offer visitors everything from cheap ‘n’ cheerful to isolated gilt-edged 5 star, areas like Seminyak sate the appetite for a more stylish holiday.
The author visited Bali courtesy of W Retreat & Spa Bali, located at Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali, 80361, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 4738106, email@example.com or go to www.starwoodhotels.com/whotelandspa/bali for details.
PLACES TO SHOP
Jalan Petitenget, #198 Unit B, Kerobokan, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 8133 8648049, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jalan Lesmana (Jalan Oberoi), #3A, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 8133 8505557, email@example.com
sKs – simplekonceptsstore
Jalan Lesmana (Jalan Oberoi), #40, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 8123 6754518, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jalan Laksmana (Jalan Oberoi), #60, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 737819
Jalan Laksmana (Jalan Oberoi), #117, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 732602, email@example.com
PLACES TO VISIT & EAT
Potato Head Beach Club
Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 4737979, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jalan Petitenget, #21, Kerobokan, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 738202, closed Mondays. Go to www.sardinebali.com
This is a great place to eat in Seminyak, as much for the ambiance as for the food. An entirely hand-built, non-nailed bamboo structure placed in the middle of a traditional padi field, Sardine restaurant is exotic and romantic.
PLACES TO STAY
W Retreat & Spa Bali
Jalan Petitenget, Seminyak, Bali, 80361, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 4738106, email@example.com
Jalan Batubelig, Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia. Tel: +62 (361) 7337955, firstname.lastname@example.org
A mini estate of 14 individual, two and three storey beachside villas that offer up to 55 rooms in total – you can hire one or as many as you need as they can all be separated by gates and fences. The all-white, minimalist decor reminds you of Spain – it should as that’s where the owner and designer hails from – and it’s just minutes walk from the W Retreat & Spa and Potato Head Beach Club if you get lonely.