Peter Muller (1927 – 2023)
Peter Muller first came to Bali in the early 1970s following an invitation from Wija Waworuntu and Donald Friend to develop a hospitality complex bigger than Tandjung Sari. After touring Bali and studying Balinese local houses and buildings, Muller presented the concept of a ‘Balinese village’ style of resort and named it ‘Hotel Matahari’. The design of Hotel Matahari heavily emphasised on the importance of Balinese craftsmanships and local materials such as river and volcanic stones, timber, coconut, and thatched roof. He combined it with the layout of traditional Balinese village with freestanding pavilions grouped in a walled courtyard instead of rooms housed in clustered buildings found in typical modern resorts. Each pavilion was designed to have its own separate bathroom with large wardrobe, sunken bathtub, shower, and its bedroom is to be surrounded by sliding glass windows to allow natural lights and sea breeze entering the room.
Due to lack of room inventory and extravagant pavilion size and amenities, this concept was deemed irrational from the perspective of commercial business and eventually abandoned. Waworuntu and Friend continued to pursue their idea of developing a new hospitality complex in Sanur which would then be known as the Batujimbar Estate, partially designed and completed by renowned architect Geoffrey Bawa. Two of the lots were once owned by Adrian Zecha, founder of Aman, and Ong Beng Seng, owner of two Four Seasons resorts in Bali – Ong’s wife, Christina Ong, founded COMO Hotels & Resorts in 1991.
The site of this Hotel Matahari is now occupied by Hyatt Regency Bali (then named Bali Hyatt), mostly designed by Palmer and Turner except the lobby which was designed by Kerry Hill who stayed in one of Batujimbar Estate’s lot throughout the project. Ed Tuttle was at some point also involved in designing some interior furnishings of Bali Hyatt. Kerry Hill and Ed Tuttle would then design multiple Aman resorts around the world.
Kayu Aya and The Oberoi Bali
After the cancelled project of Hotel Matahari, Muller designed Kayu Aya as a private estate for a wealthy American developer, Charles Osborne, in Bali’s west coast area, Petitenget. Kayu Aya was born in 1973 and soon gained popularity from international crowds due to Charles Osborne’s quirky hospitality. High profiles from Salvador Dali to Princess Grace of Monaco once stayed at Kayu Aya. By the mid-1970s, Indian-based The Oberoi Group bought Kayu Aya and Muller was commissioned to design its transformation into The Oberoi Bali. Muller applied some elements of Hotel Matahari in this project albeit on a smaller scale for economic reasons. The Oberoi Bali opened in 1978 complete with bar, restaurant, and mini amphitheater, becoming the first genuinely five-star luxury beachside resort in Bali and before long enticing the likes of Mick Jagger, Henry Kissinger, Gianni Versace, and David Bowie. Similar to Tandjung Sari in Bali’s east coast, The Oberoi Bali grows gradually hence the layout is scattered across its more than seven hectares land.
Muller went on to design three more resorts for The Oberoi Group in Indonesia: The Oberoi Bedugul (cancelled), The Oberoi Ubud (cancelled), and The Oberoi Lombok (opened in 1997).
In late 1980s, Muller’s Italian friend, Gabriella Teggia invited him to develop a private estate located above a sacred site in Kedewatan, Ubud. The pair invited another Italian, Rudy Giusti, who was then the General Manager of Hotel Bualu in Nusa Dua (Hotel Bualu was at that time part of Sekolah Tinggi Pariwisata), to be the third partner. As partner, Muller had total liberty to design the estate and he completed the design in just eight days by basically revisiting the concept of Hotel Matahari and adapting it into a mountain resort. During the construction, Muller realised that they needed more investment to complete the project. He invited Adrian Zecha, who just opened the first Aman (Amanpuri). Zecha agreed to be involved as the fourth partner and he brought in banker Mark Edleson to oversee the financing. The project eventually completed and opened in 1989 as Amandari, retaining the design and architecture elements originally developed for Hotel Matahari: Balinese village layout, freestanding pavilion wrapped in lush courtyard, sliding glass windows, large bathroom with wardrobe area, separate shower, and outdoor sunken bathtub.
Muller described Amandari as ‘the ultimate concept for a hotel in Bali’ in which culture and destination are more important than style, and where he was the architect, the builder, and one of the four original owners himself. The Balinese village concept of Amandari has since been replicated countless times in Bali until now.
Following this project, Mark Edleson introduced Zecha to Indonesian developer Franky Tjahyadikarta. Zecha and Tjahyadikarta collaborated to develop Amankila in East Bali, opened in 1992, and Amanjiwo, opened in 1997 – both resorts were designed by Ed Tuttle. With Tjahyadikarta, Edleson also went to become a partner of General Hotel Management (GHM), founded by Adrian Zecha and Swiss hotelier Hans Jenni. The pair developed two resorts in Bali, The Chedi Ubud in Payangan and The Serai in Manggis. Other GHM properties in Bali included The Legian Bali in Petitenget, located not too far from The Oberoi Bali. Edleson and Tjahyadikarta founded Alila Hotels & Resorts in 2001 and ever since renamed The Chedi Ubud and The Serai to Alila Ubud and Alila Manggis, respectively.
Gabriella Teggia was involved in the creation of Amanjiwo by proposing a land nearby Borobudur, originally spotted by Rio Helmi, to Zecha and Tjahyadikarta. Following the Amanjiwo project, Teggia purchased the Losari Coffee Plantation in Central Java and renovated and renamed it to MesaStila. Teggia is known to still own undeveloped land nearby Amankila in East Bali.