On The Sparkling Indonesian Isle Of Gili Gede (Where You Won’T Find Crowds Competing For Beach Space), An Intrepid Sydneysider Designed The Villa Of Her Dreams
When Belinda Darvall first set foot on Gili Gede, the white-beach Indonesian island off the coast of south-west Lombok, she wasn’t intending to stay long term. A former events manager and mother-of-four based in Sydney, Darvall had planned to whisk her three daughters away for a quick tropical escape. But following a chance introduction to a notable NSW expat, the chef and restaurateur Matthew Blundell, her plans changed.
After much success in Australia with popular dining establishments including Pegrum’s in Paddington and The Kentra in Double Bay, Blundell had moved to Indonesia to establish two luxury resorts in the Gili Islands. Seeing an opportunity to open a third on remote Gili Gede—just four kilometres long and home to only a few fishermen’s villages—he took Darvall to view the site. It was there that love blossomed—both for the island, and between the pair. “I found myself falling for this very handsome man who was doing all these fantastic things over there,” Darvall, 55, recalls, “and I was looking around at this idyllic paradise with its pristine beaches—this untouched place [the likes of which] you just don’t ever see—and I fell in love with the primitiveness of it. I said, ‘I’d like to buy a little cafe here one day.’ ”
Darvall decided to build a holiday house so she could visit the island when the urge to escape struck again (the cafe came later). Real estate options on Gede were scarce, but she found the perfect location in a plot of land set high on a hill, affording 360-degree views down to a coral reef below.
“My brief to the architect was that I wanted a shoebox [shape], open on both sides for the breeze to just sweep through, [so] you could look at the water and sky all day long,” she explains.
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