On an island not wanting for beach clubs, how does one new arrival differentiate itself from the next? A faithful adherence to the CMYK colour spectrum is certainly one way to make a splash, as only Hotel Tropicola can testify to.
Tropicola is the largest project to date from the group behind the nearby Seminyak stalwart venue, Motel Mexicola, and closer to home, Bondi Beach’s Bucket List. Not content with providing a single function, however, Tropicola’s intention is to serve as both beach club, restaurant, rooftop bar and hotel – or at least, it will once the expansive beachfront venue’s successive stages roll out over the coming year. First off the rank, however, is a 60-seat restaurant helmed by the chef Steve Skelly; a rooftop bar and event space with vast, uninterrupted views toward the Buket Peninsula to the south and north to the Tanah Lot temple island will follow soon; and the final stage, a 60 room hotel, will aim to bring accessible luxury to the island, with rooms starting from $100 per night.
Until then, it’s hard to look past the venue’s distinct design elements. Sprawling across 7000 square metres, Tropicola’s aesthetic is unabashedly eighties leaning and comes courtesy of MASH Design director James Brown, who was responsible for the interiors of Mexicola, Adelaide’s Africola (in which he’s also a co-owner), Melbourne’s Hotel Jesus and Bucket List, amongst others. It’s apt, then, that he should have taken design cues from the operating team’s extensive travels around the globe to far flung destinations where luggage isn’t the only thing that comes in excess, like Miami, Acapulco, Tulum, Playa del Carmen and Palm Springs.
Where the latter destination is concerned, it’s possible to discern the influence of the photographer Slim Aarons’ imagery, particularly his iconic Poolside Gossip photograph, in the overall feeling at Tropicola. Primary colours, clean lines and crisp whites all find a parallel in the venue’s fixtures as well as in the uniforms of its staff as they ferry jackfruit Tropicoladas and Arak N Roll espresso martinis from three bars spread across multiple levels to the venue’s two pools. The tongue-in-cheek cocktails come courtesy of beverage director, Denny Deluca Del Paso, and like the food offering, they double as an irreverent yet honest expression of the island and its poolside friendly fare using local fruit and Balinese Arak infused with Kintamani coffee beans and mandarin peel to shake up otherwise staid classics.
The kitchen of British-born chef Skelly centres around wood fired and grill-style food that skews heavily toward fresh, local seafood and low fuss, minimal intervention dishes. There’s a raw salmon salad; tuna tartare; a ‘super green salad’ with cos lettuce, pistachio, zucchini, edamame and piquant leaves; a nontraditional take on the classic prawn cocktail featuring young coconut, cucumber, avocado, chilli, lime and tajin; as well as a dish of baked squash with burrata, zucchini flowers and macadamia. On the heavier side, there are grilled prawns with chilli and herb dressing; wood grilled whole market fish or lobster dressed with parsley and lemon; or a dry aged one kilogram Tomahawk steak served with fermented chilli butter and watercress salad to provide ample sustenance.
Where successive courses and the remainder of the venue yet to come is concerned, you may want to leave room yet. At Tropicola, it appears, more most certainly is more.
Tile and cover image: Supplied