Isle of Spice

Sun and sand find their match in the restrained interiors at Southeast Asia’s new Sanchaya resort

Set in a coconut grove on the Indonesian island of Bintan, the colonial-style Sanchaya resort overlooks cerulean seas and a white-sand shore.
Set in a coconut grove on the Indonesian island of Bintan, the colonial-style Sanchaya resort overlooks cerulean seas and a white-sand shore.
Courtesy of the Sanchaya


For a place smaller than most counties in Texas, the remote Indonesian island of Bintan has an outsize history. Once a stop along the shipping routes that brought previously little-known spices such as cinnamon and cardamom to Europe and the Americas, the isle has played host to the usual bands of pirates and sailors. But it’s a new breed of wanderer that’s turned this tropical locale into a destination for design lovers with sybaritic tastes.

Isle of Spice

Interiors were designed by Carl Almeida of the Bangkok firm P49 Deesign. Here, chrome accents, latticework mirrors, and herringbone floors enliven a gray-tone guest room.
Interiors were designed by Carl Almeida of the Bangkok firm P49 Deesign. Here, chrome accents, latticework mirrors, and herringbone floors enliven a gray-tone guest room.
Exteriors were inspired by the traditional "black and whites" (colonial bungalows) found in Malaysia and Singapore.
Exteriors were inspired by the traditional "black and whites" (colonial bungalows) found in Malaysia and Singapore.

Much of that is thanks to a clutch of stylish hotels that have opened over the last few years. The most recent addition is the Sanchaya, a colonial-style estate on a former coconut patch near the coast. Steeped in the region’s historic architecture, the 21 freestanding villas are furnished with pieces made of teak and Javanese woods and sourced throughout Southeast Asia, as well as antique wood rocking chairs and Chinese lacquered armoires. Decorative accents—from vintage maps and landscape prints to ceramic plates and blue-and-white vases—nod to neighbors including Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand.

A lofty Thai-inspired villa features wood paneling and ebonized pieces made from teak and Javanese timber.
A lofty Thai-inspired villa features wood paneling and ebonized pieces made from teak and Javanese timber.
Isle of Spice

In the Great House, public spaces take a more eclectic approach to decor. Canvas-upholstered dome chairs mix with tufted leather chesterfields and birdcage chandeliers in the library, a dimly lit meeting space that feels like a well-kept living room. The bar ups the ante with layered rugs, bronze task lamps, and marble-topped bistro tables. The nine suites skew rustic with blond wood detailing and a subdued brown-and-gray color palette that feels airy and light; blink and you might be in California. But the latticework patterns that appear on mirrors and bamboo club chairs bring you right back to where you are: on a tropical island in a quiet corner of the world, and there’s nowhere else you would rather be. —Jennifer Fernandez

The entrance to the resort's Great House.
The entrance to the resort's Great House.

I'm the former Deputy Editor at Lonny.
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