Words: Kirsten Durward
Photos: Monica Tindall
Reaching MĀUA, Nusa Penida* is a voyage across land and sea. First, take a 40-minute fast boat from Sanur and then enjoy a wonderful ride through forested hills before arriving at this tranquil and breathtaking spot. Set high above Gamat Bay to the northwest of the island, the property is barely visible on arrival. Nestled into the hillside and blended into nature with local stone walls and living rooves, the environmental principles behind MĀUA are immediately apparent. From the reception through the restaurant to the pool, the spa and the room, one word keeps resonating: ‘view’. You can’t help but feel your spirit soar as you gaze out onto all this space, natural beauty and ever-changing sky.
*Nusa Penida is a less-developed island off the coast of Bali. It has been gaining a reputation for its pristine beaches, natural forests, and dramatic vistas among able-bodied travellers searching for a low-key nature-based travel experience. Find tips to save time and advice for transport here.
MĀUA is named for the language and culture of the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Maori culture emphasises understanding and appreciation for the environment while developing harmonic relationships with nature. These principles form the heart of MĀUA, which as a brand, represents sustainability, environmental preservation, and cultural understanding. The interior and exterior design exclusively uses natural and recycled materials. The recycled ironwood used throughout the rooms is particularly stunning.
Integration with nature is apparent from every angle of the property. The sense is we exist in tandem with the natural environment, and it supports us in many ways. It’s delightful. But the central element that threads through MĀUA for us is the infinite views. Wherever you sit or stand on this property, wherever you stop, your gaze falls on an expansive and restful outlook. It’s genuinely uplifting, and I feel that staying here over time must bring a lot of inspiration.
Every MĀUA guest enjoys a luxury villa with a private infinity pool and a view. The larger villas also have small private gardens. Our one-bedroom luxury villa immediately appeals to our sense of the aesthetic with its sophisticated and elegant sustainable style. The scene stealer is, of course, the expansive deck with the panorama over the infinity pool, across the sea, forest and sky beyond. I would happily sit here for days.
Understated natural tones and textures soften the slightly industrial room design, and everything is carefully arranged to take advantage of that view. The huge central bed is comfortable and firm. We could easily while away the hours here, just gazing through the panoramic windows. There is also a generous daybed, a well-positioned desk area and inviting sun loungers on the deck, giving plenty of places to relax, read, or work if you must.
A clever room design disguises the ensuite areas, giving the bedroom a much more integral and relaxing feel. On pushing through solid ironwood doors, we find that our bathroom continues the indoor-outdoor environmental care theme, with sustainable products and no plastic visible. We love the simplicity and holistic ambience of the space, the polished stone sinks, the tree in the shower and the openness to the elements yet fully protective design. Through the other door, we are rapt with the amount of storage space and surprised to see unusual goodies such as dried apricots and locally produced dark chocolate in the room snack basket.
The room safe holds laptops, the hairdryer strong enough to dry my thick hair quickly, and the cable TV holds a range of international news and movie channels. Most importantly for us, there is a very steady internet connection, and should you need it, 24-hour room service from smiling and helpful hotel staff. We had an adaptor delivered, wine opened for us, our pool light turned off; nothing was too much trouble.
KŌWHAI restaurant offers semi-outdoor seating. In line with the MĀUA concept, all the furnishings are from natural or recycled materials. Once again, we marvel at the delightful open outlook before our thoughts turn to the menu and food concept.
We have a half-board package which includes breakfast and lunch. The inclusive lunch menu offers a range of western and Asian options, many of which are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. The a la carte menu has a broader scope, including an array of seafood dishes.
Some food choices we particularly enjoy included Ginger Pumpkin Soup, Ikan (fish) Satay, Vegetarian Lasagna, Indonesian Chicken Curry, Pepes Jamu (Indonesian dish with mushrooms and vegetables steamed in banana leaf), Pumpkin Risotto and Green Salad with pickled watermelon and goat cheese. Vegetables, herbs and spices come from the property’s organic garden.
For breakfast, we explore a plethora of fresh delights. Although there are several traditional western and Asian choices on the menu, we mainly selected the fresh and healthy options, including Island Green Breezy, a smoothie bowl with no dairy and plentiful local fruit with spirulina and coconut, and Island Green Goodie, packed with vegetables and protein, which I reflect is actually my perfect brunch dish.
Monica’s eggs are poached to perfection and accompanied by a plentiful smashed avocado green salad. Eschewing our healthy track, I also test the Danish pastry and discover the lightest, butteriest, flakiest pastry I have found in Asia. A delightful surprise.
The food at KŌWHAI nourishes both body and spirit and is fresh, plentiful and tasty. It is also beautifully presented in the hands of smiling servers Astawa, Angga and Fredy.
A central asset at MĀUA is the 22m swimming pool positioned to take advantage of panoramic views of Mount Agung, Gamut Bay and the surrounding tropical forest. Aroha bar is poolside, offering plated snacks and signature and classic cocktails, amongst other beverages. There is a small but well-equipped gym for those who need daily workouts. The Spa also enjoys a restful outlook over the sea, and in this gentle, inviting atmosphere, you can try a range of massages, rituals and beauty treatments.
MĀUA offers a few entertaining activities, Monday is cocktail making, and Thursday features an acoustic band in the restaurant. However, the island is made for excursions, and reception staff will happily help you arrange a tour to discover the scenic delights of the islands, or to enjoy snorkelling, diving or viewing boat trips.
I travel a lot, and it’s not often I arrive in a place that instantly soothes the senses, somewhere I would happily stay for a week, reading and writing and sleeping. MĀUA is one of those rare places where you can feel yourself unwind completely. The solidity of the structure offers feelings of security and contentment, while the natural environment brings a sense of tranquillity. The menu is small but thoughtfully crafted to provide options for multiple dietary preferences, and we truly enjoyed the nourishing and freshly prepared food. The property delivers on sustainability principles with the beautiful spirit of the Nusa Dua islanders pervading throughout to enhance the guest experience. For who can resist service from smiling people with flowers in their hair?
Reasons to visit MĀUA: Revive and reset in nature, sustainable travel, panoramic views, smiling, friendly service, and generous portions of fresh, tasty, healthy food.
MĀUA, Nusa Penida
Gamat Bay Street,
Nusa Penida Island, Klungkung,
Phone: +62-361 620 8999
WhatsApp: +620811 3800 8999