From a Balinese hideaway to forest villas in southern China, these eco-conscious lodgings celebrate the strength and timeless beauty of bamboo.
1. Naman Retreat; Da Nang, Vietnam
This beachfront wellness resort to the south of Da Nang balances its whitewashed contemporary villas with jaw-dropping communal buildings by Tokyo-trained architect Vo Trong Nghia, who is pushing the boundaries of bamboo construction in Vietnam. Enormous trumpet-shaped columns hold up the restaurant’s thatched roof, while a vaulted conference hall doubles as a wedding venue. Bending the bamboo stalks into sweeping curves was no mean feat, requiring a four-month process that involved fire, water, and air-drying.
More information here; villas from US$367
2. Bambu Indah; Bali, Indonesia
Longtime Bali residents John and Cynthia Hardy have made waves not just with their eco-friendly Green School and Green Village outside Ubud, but also the rustic-chic hotel whose name means “beautiful bamboo.” The property delivers that in spades, thanks to a series of buildings created in tandem with daughter Elora’s architecture firm Ibuku. These include the West Sumatran–inspired Minang House, the months-old Riverside Warung restaurant, and two recently added guest pavilions.
More information here; doubles from US$145
3. Crosswaters Ecolodge & Spa; Huizhou, China
Hidden amid the folds of Nankunshan National Forest Park, 85 kilometers northeast of Guangzhou, Crosswaters lies in an area inhabited by more than 5,000 Hakka villagers whose main source of income is harvesting bamboo to use as scaffolding in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Acclaimed Colombian bamboo architect Simón Vélez paid tribute to that cottage industry and the natural context in his designs, creating 53 bamboo-canopied rooms and villas alongside a fanciful covered bridge—all built with the expertise of local Hakka craftsmen.
More information here; doubles from US$395
4. Soneva Kiri; Koh Kood, Thailand
Bamboo and wood are the dominant materials throughout the 36 villas and guest facilities at Soneva’s eco-luxe playground on the north shore of Koh Kood, Thailand’s fourth-largest island. While the canvas-roofed poolside bar So Spirited is the place for sundowners and homemade ice cream, families should not miss The Den, a giant play house molded from bamboo with multiple levels. Shaped like a gliding manta ray, its dramatic form and flowing interiors are sure to instill a childlike wonder in adults.
More information here; villas from US$970
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Grass Roots”).