Bawah Reserve, in the remote Anambas Islands in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, is reopening to guests September 1, 2022. During the 2.5-year closure for the pandemic, they’ve been busy expanding to a sixth island, renovating and adding new accommodation categories, and even installed a new floating solar farm.
Getting to Bawah Reserve
Like other private island resorts, you get to Bawah Reserve via seaplane. Most travelers depart from the island nation of Singapore, home to Changi Airport and some of the best air connections in the world with direct flights to about 400 cities. The private seaplane flight from Singapore to Bawah Reserve takes about 80 minutes. It’s also possible to travel to Bawah from Bali, Jakarta and other Indonesian destinations.
Highlights of Bawah Reserve
Accommodations — 36 suites, lodges and villas — are spread over private islands in a pristine marine conservation area. Of these, 22 are beachfront and 11 are overwater bungalows. Bawah has 13 beaches, three lagoons and 100 hectares of lush forest.
Water-based activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, standup paddle boarding, and sailing. On land, hike through the forest, play tennis and croquet, stargaze without light pollution, or rejuvenate in the spa. Bawah Reserve offers several classes too. You can learn how to pair chocolate and whisky, paint batik, prepare cocktails and Indonesian dishes like nasi goreng and sambal, and even learn how to make the traditional Indonesian turmeric tonic called jamu kunyit asam.
Bawah Reserve’s rates are inclusive of all meals, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. There are three restaurants which serve Indonesian and international cuisine with an emphasis on organic fruits and vegetables from the island gardens and fish from nearby waters. You can also go on a castaway picnic, a cruise, or even enjoy breakfast served atop a paddleboard in the calm lagoon waters. Mixologists at the Jules Verne bar make classics and innovative cocktails like Sweet Moluccas, which has sweet-sour gandaria fruit, fresh ginger and mint, ginger ale and tequila.
Brand new for 2022
A solar panel farm, the size of a football field, was recently installed and provides the majority of the power to Bawah Reserve. It makes Bawah the first island in Indonesia — the country of 6000 inhabited islands — that;s powered by a renewable microgrid. The solar farm is hidden from sight, but you can take a walking tour to see it if you’re curious.
Accommodations-wise, Bawah Reserve has six new lodges built onto a cliffside. Called Elang Private Residences, they’re for guests over the age of 18. All six lodges and the entire island they’re on are available as a takeover for up to 20 guests. While Bawah Reserve reopens September 1, 2022, the private Elang residences open in November 2022.
On Bawah Reserve’s main island, there are new two-bedroom villas — some with infinity pools overlooking the lagoon and some with garden pools. Connected by a pavilion for dining and lounging, they’re ideal for multi-gen travel or groups of friends. Also new in 2022 are the redesign and new furnishings for the 11 overwater bungalows.
A true eco resort
Sustainability was the focus when Bawah Reserve was first contemplated, designed and built, and continues with its day-to-day operations. Singaporean architect Sim Boon Yang designed the resort which is predominantly built from bamboo, recycled wood and stone from the six islands.
Creating the reserve meant protecting the islands from dynamite fishing as well as from all fishing. The closest island is 30 nautical miles away, so Bawah is an independent ecosystem made up of coral reefs, mangroves and forest. Arboriculturalists estimate that some of the islands’ trees are 2000 years old.
Drinking water is from the desalination plant, rainwater is collected, and wastewater is cleaned via a series of aerobic, non-aerobic, UV, pond, and reed bed systems. Most of the resorts’ power is from solar energy, including the new-for-2022 solar farm.
Bawah Reserve offers guided walks to learn about their organic farming and how the previously uninhabited islands were carefully turned into the eco resort. The Anambas Foundation was created in 2018 and helps protect local flora and fauna and provides educational and community development programs.
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