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Located on a 40-hectare estate, just within an hour’s drive away from Indonesia’s city hub of Surabaya, lies Kaliandra Eco Resort and Wellness Retreat, a grand property that captures the essence of an Italian establishment hideaway—an escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The resort’s owner and architect, who is also a philanthropist by choice, Atmadja Tjiptobiantoro, shares with Indonesia Tatler his dream of helping the less fortunate. “Ever since I was a young boy, I always had this urge to help the underprivileged. I even thought of becoming a doctor, but I didn’t think I had the ‘bandwidth’ of going through all those years of attending medical school,” he says.

However, life happened and Atmadja studied architecture in Sydney before working for a firm in Los Angeles. He then returned to Indonesia and ran his family business as well as founding a design firm, Morposa Griya Cipta. At the age of 55 upon retiring, he finally decided to pursue his childhood dream of helping those who were in need.

Most would recognise him as the man behind the Palladian-style establishment in East Java, but none would be able to identify Atmadja’s true calling behind Kaliandra Eco Resort and Wellness Retreat: the Kaliandra Sejati Foundation. All the profits from the luxury resort are injected into this foundation, which he set up in 1997. Its goals include improving the living standards of the local community, conservingthe rich cultural heritage of the Javanese, and protecting the area’s natural resources.

“Another aim of the foundation is to bring together the mountain and the people who are living around it. The mountain is a source of livelihood for the people, but is not being utilised sustainably. Excessive logging is slowly depleting the mountain, reducing the amount of clean water sources,” Atmadja explains.

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The resort features traditional Javanese rooms, cottages, and bungalows, a wellness retreat, two swimming pools, a gym, as well as restaurants serving organic produce straight out of the resort’s own organic farm. Staff members at the resort take the initiative of training farmers nearby to produce the best-quality fruit and vegetables to be sold by the resort. This method of training allows for farmers to grow as individuals and in their income. “Those farmers who work with us are able to triple their income,” says Atmadja.

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The concept of Kaliandra Eco Resort is unlike any other hotel in the country. Separated into different segments, Roemah Colonial consists of 20 rooms, and there are five bungalows and 15 other rooms. The resort also offers a section to students, with 25 rooms in which accommodation is made more affordable than in the rest of the resort. Meanwhile, the main house is called Villa Leduk and has four executive suite rooms in one pavilion, and another with the master suite complex for Atmadja who loves to stay and entertain his relatives and closest friends here when guests are many.

This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstand, or subscribe here.