Life

Tembi Ndeso Resort: Modern
facilities, old Javanese
charm

Visitors relax in one of the traditional-style buildings found in the Tembi Ndeso Resort complex. (JP/Slamet Susanto)
Visitors relax in one of the traditional-style buildings found in the Tembi Ndeso Resort complex. (JP/Slamet Susanto)

True to its name, the recently opened Tembi Ndeso Resort in Bantul uses buildings and materials taken from traditional Javanese villages to create a holiday complex replete with traditional ambience.

Specializing in the research and preservation of Javanese culture, the Tembi House of Culture built the resort next door to its facility south of Yogyakarta.

The ndeso (village) atmosphere is felt upon entering the resort. Seven traditional Javanese buildings have been relocated from different parts of the island and placed in a neat row inside the complex, which covers an area of about one hectare.

Likewise, many of the resort's structures make use of materials from old Javanese buildings.

Four of the Tembi Ndeso's buildings are in the Javanese limasan (pyramid) style, one in the West Java style, while another combines limasan with modern architecture.

Other buildings strike a balance: Built according to original specifications, they are made from traditional materials. Buildings were named after the town or region from which they were taken.

"All the buildings are original. Only the roof tiles are new," resort marketing manager Herlambang said.

His team had been searching since 2005 for the buildings and materials, which had to be in good enough condition to survive the removal and relocation process, he added.

A guest swims in the resort's pool, which overlooks green rice fields. (JP/Slamet Susanto)

A guest swims in the resort's pool, which overlooks green rice fields. (JP/Slamet Susanto)

The resort's ndeso atmosphere is enhanced by the beauty of the surrounding landscape and pools have been placed throughout the resort, with live fish, water plants and fountains that mimic the sounds of village streams.

It's not only the buildings that create an atmosphere of an old ndeso. Most of the resort's furniture dates back to an earlier period, including antique tables, chairs, cupboards, amben (wooden or bamboo platforms for sleeping) and mirrors.

"The use of new furniture has been minimized. Although much of the furniture is old, all the pieces are still in good condition," said Herlambang.

Floors in the resort have been covered with traditional black tiles, and Javanese torches light the way in the evening.

Each building possesses a modern open-air bathroom designed by a specialist to be surrounded with high natural stone walls that provide the utmost privacy.

Guests can enjoy a morning dip in the resort's swimming pool, which has been modeled after a belik, a traditional pond with continuously flowing water.

Overlooking a green rice field, the pool is the perfect place to watch birds hunting for a morning meal or farmers at work in their fields. If the morning sky is clear, guests can even catch a glimpse of Mount Merapi in the distance.

The resort also offers a wide array of delicious Javanese dishes, some 264 in all, including as many as 60 traditional sambal (chili sauces).

One traditional Javanese dish on the menu is the exotic buntil, scraped coconut meat mixed with teri (tiny sea fish) and spices, wrapped in a papaya leaf, then boiled in coconut milk.

Other traditional foods include krecek (fried, crispy buffalo skin), gudeg (jackfruit cooked in coconut milk with spices) and jengkol (tree beans).

Selections from the menu are served three times a day.

Guests can attend performances next door at the Tembi House of Culture or in nearby Yogyakarta.

The resort management also prepares cultural tours.

Accommodations range from Rp 386,000 (US$40) to Rp 918,000 ($100) per night for two people and an additional Rp 99,000 ($11) per extra person per night, breakfast included. Buildings can accommodate eight to 15 people.

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