Finding a resort near a National Park is not unusual. But Plataran L’Harmonie Menjangan in Bali’s west goes one step further; it is built from the ground up to interface with the National Park’s natural ecosystems and indigenous wildlife species, as well as sustaining the local community and culture. By James Teo.
Bali, May 28 2019. Plataran L’Harmonie is a nature based ecotourism destination located just outside West Bali Barat National Park, right on the westernmost tip of the island. Right next to the busy Java ferry route, the Park offers a stunning range of flora and fauna including dense monsoon forest filled with evergreen diadem and wild grasses, some 15 endangered flora species and hundreds of native birds and animals as well as the native deer, including the endangered Bali Starling and the Sunda Pangolin (scaly anteater) and plenty of native banteng, or wild cattle. And that’s without mentioning the 110 species of coral just offshore.
Envisioned as a world-class ecotourism destination, Plataran L'Harmonie was designed by award winning eco-planner Hitesh Mehta to cater for visitors looking for an understanding of the preservation and protection of the parks natural ecosystems and wildlife species. as well as quality accommodation and a variety of wellness and leisure facilities.
“Ecotourists are on the rise in Asia and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of eco-lodges and eco-tour operators,” says Mehta. “Many operators are looking to offer things like ‘direct and tangible economic and social benefits’ as well as a nice place to stay,” he says. Things that improve local livelihoods, including training and capacity building, fair wages and benefits, community development, health care, and education are all part of the deal today, at resorts like Plataran he adds.
As part of its mission statement, Plataran pledges to be ‘dedicated to the protection of its nature, wildlife and landscape.’ The resort organises several nature conservation programs which involve various stakeholders and that provide environmental education to employees and the local community – as well as visitors. These include the Love Nature Education Programme (LNEP) that provides environment education in seven elementary schools in the locality.
Visitors are encouraged to learn about and join in with these efforts: its Scientific Education and Research Centre (SERC) shares knowledge about the preservation of biodiversity, community development sustainability, and cultural diversity with visitors in a practical way that they can take back home when they leave. Examples include the Endemic Tree Planting Programme that nurtures the native ecosystem and helps maintain a fast disappearing flora on the island.
The resort offers a range of accommodation and dining, based around either Ocean, Forest or Mangrove themes. The 17 villas offer what the owners bill as “the epitome of luxury, privacy and comfort in a unique eco retreat, at one with nature in the midst of the forest or right by the ocean.” That’s a big call, but they live up to it pretty well.
The villas start with a cosy but elegant one-bedroom Forest Villa, on the edge of woodland and entwined with nature. They feature a real stone bathtub an outdoor terrace, and the sound of nature in the trees. At the edge of the lagoon, the Ocean Villas have the same tranquil forest backdrop, but offer breathtaking views of the ocean as well. These also boast the signature stone bathtub in an outdoor bathroom – it sounds weird but is in fact so soothing you will likely fall asleep in it. Out the back, watch deer pass by while cooling off in a personal plunge pool. At bedtime, you can sink back into a draped four-poster below a glazed roof as the stars wink at you.
Nestled inside the edge of the mangroves, Ocean Mangrove Villas offer a different theme, with a semi-outdoor bathroom to enjoy the sounds of the water’s edge as you bathe, and a spacious outdoor terrace to chill with ocean views or just hang out and relax in privacy.
Lastly, two-bedroom Forest Villas are ideal for family retreats. Again set at the forest edge, they offer a connected terrace, outdoor and indoor bathrooms with stone bathtub and shower, and a spacious garden of tranquility in the wilderness – these are the biggest with two bedrooms and can take up to four adults plus 2 children. All rooms have TV, iPod dock, mini-bar, drinks, bath products and torches in case you want to wander in the forest at night.
Outside the rooms, there is a range of eco-based activities including mountain biking, jungle trekking, kayaking and snorkelling, as well as birdwatching, horse-riding and more.
“This first phase of (Plataran’s) development paves the way for continued development of innovative ecotourism-related structures and activities,” says the management proudly. “We are very proud that Plataran Indonesia … is trusted to manage the West Bali National Park as “a new world wonder” and as a world‐class eco‐tourism destination,” added Yozua Makes, CEO of Plataran Indonesia.
The resort’s sustainable credentials extend beyond wildlife management. It gives employment priority to the residents of nearby Pejarakan village; this means some 90% of Plataran employees are locals, with a real interest in maintaining the environment for their children. Plataran also actively promotes the use of local, not imported, produce. It is involved with a dedicated programme to support local farmers and introduce a sustainable and productive agricultural system that helps supply local produce to the resort’s kitchens. It also supports a new fertiliser programme that uses horse manure to produce organic fertiliser that is then given out free to local farmers.
As a place to get away from the rat-race, Plataran Menjangan is as good as it gets. Admittedly it’s quite a drive from Denpasar Airport, and it can’t deliver absolute silence, as manager Zulkifli R. H. says: “ … I can't say it's completely quiet, because you can hear monkeys and deer and birds. But we can guarantee there’s no traffic!”