It is hard to define the Batukaru stay as it maintained the feel of a home while providing one of the most luxurious private experiences that included full board and housekeeping. The experience comes with close interaction with dogs and cats that make it their responsibility to guard you in your room while you sleep at night or accompany you while you walk around the estate.
The main focus of the retreat is on eco-sustainability. The use of plastics is kept
To a minimum and food served are organically produced or purchased locally from other organic farms. Wayan is committed to grow food and coffee plants using biodynamic methods that includes controlling every nutrient through the development of an organic compost or fertilizer. I came here to get away from the stress of city life, but I left more aware of farming sustainability, eating properly for the body and an appreciation for dogs and cats in a natural habitat.
The location of the retreat is quite good with the entrance of the UNESCO Jatiluwih rice terraces at the base of steep climb up to the estate (25mins Walk downhill, longer to climb uphill but just give the host a call to arrange for a pick up). To the left of the base of the estate is its Batukaru cafe which serves both coffee from the estate and a beautiful view of the famed rice terraces. The heart of the 10hectare coffee plantation is located 1000m above sea level. At its heart is where the living spaces are-filled with people who want to reacquaint themselves with nature and nature’s beauty.
The accommodation is priced to include full board per person per night. Children below the age of 12 are priced lower and I made my reservation well ahead of time.
The nine meals I had over 4 days was excellent and honestly, blew away expectations of vegetarian food. Compliments to Roy for cooking so well that I did not miss meat or dessert. Not at all!
Meals were served beautifully plated - a feast for the eyes and stomach. They were well planned to give the taste buds variety without compromising on nutrition density. I enjoyed the fresh teas served at each meal. Each tea was unique and made with whatever leaves or herb foraged from the plantation. Martina was our host and tea maestro. She made our stay special with her warm but professional-level hospitality. She pays attention to our preferences and habits and strives to keep us and our stomachs happy. She made some recommendations for our stay and always reminded us not to be stressed about getting things done but to enjoy the relaxed lifestyle afforded by the retreat.
Activities by the resort include a plantation walk about, trek to the waterfall, jungle foraging and soon, hot spring baths. Most of the activities incur additional charges of US10-15 per person.
I stayed at the Canopy room because of its modern design combining nature with man-made construction. It is built on the slopes of Batukaru and while it has no walls, it still felt private. There is the option to roll down the blinds for additional privacy but I only resorted to it to block out the bathroom patio lights from the villa above the Canopy room. From the king sized bed, one can enjoy the break of dawn. The day bed is spacious and can sleep an adult. The room itself is huge and has 3 different sitting areas for tea drinking, reading and lounging. The bathroom and toilet are located below the room and accessed by a flight of steps. Furnishing and fixtures are high quality and the water pressure is good for a shower. There is a bath tub but I did not use it as it was drought season during my stay. Good quality eco-friendly Shampoo and body gel are provided. I enjoyed using them as it was gentle to the hair and skin. Not drying at all.
The king sized bed is comfortable with a spring mattress and mattress topper. The quilt is warm and sheets are changed for every new stay. In line with the focus on eco-sustainability sheets and towels are changed every three days for longer staying guests.
Getting around from the dining, living areas and room requires effort as it involves quite a number of steps to cover 40m. At the altitude of 1000m above sea level, be prepared to pant and take short rests as you trek up or down. It’s not so bad for the villas built closer to the heart of the estate. While the Canopy can accommodate 2 pax, the other villas can accommodate from 5 pax and above.
Temperature at night can fall to 16 degrees in October but an additional layer will help keep one warm through the night.
WiFi is strong most areas except at the Canopy room. While the WIFI signal is strong, the internet connection can be choppy so don’t expect fiber speed downloads and uploads. Even mobile signals are weak in most areas and you have to stand at a certain spot near the kitchen to get a signal to make a call.
Most visitors to Jatiluwih will come as a day trip but that is a real pity as there are many trees around the rice paddies and it makes sense to stay for at least 3 nights to enjoy the fresh mountain air and the explore the beauty of the UNESCO site, waterfalls and fresh water springs.
I met with Wayan - the owner- on the second day of my stay and she took me around the plantation. In the hour, her passion for biodynamic farming using organic plant and animal waste to build a powerful nutrient dense supplement for healthy plant growth and development ignited my conscientiousness in organic food consumption. She showed me the delights of harvesting Fruits and vegetables from the estate that later became part of my dinner and breakfast. The berries we plucked were literally from tree to mouth. It was a wonderful, eye opening evening with Wayan.
I would recommend staying at Batukaru coffee estate as it provides an unforgettable experience that is authentic, passionate and that truly brings a city dweller back to nature in the gentlest manner. Time passes very fast here as I enjoy the place, the site, the relaxation and the conversations. You may not meet Wayan or Martina as they have their own schedules at the estate, but the retreat is set up that guests enjoy the estate in an intimate setting with someone taking charge of providing the creature comforts to make the stay a memorable one.
I don’t recommend the place for people who have OCD, dislike close interaction with dogs and cats, have mobility issues or weak knees, who disregard instructions to throw toilet paper into the bin to prevent choking the toilet bowl and contaminating the septic tank, who are unwilling to do their part for the environment, whose lives depend on being connected (by internet) at all times, who must eat meat, or have unrealistic expectations of mountain/farm/eco-sustainable living.
Pro Tip: bring books and board games (some available at the living area), some warm clothes for the night, pre-downloaded movies and music, trekking shoes (for the rice paddies and plantation walk), Walk barefooted around the villa, visit the cafe every day, cover all the treks at the rice paddies, see the sun rise, bring a hair dryer, bring a torch. Most importantly, where possible, bring someone you love to share the experience.
Thank you Wayan, Martina, Sony, Roy, Chubby, Jim, Lannie and Chik for being a part of my fond memories here.