BALI'S GODDESS OF GROOVE
With its nostalgic-modern style, Luna2 private hotel in Bali is the first of Melanie Hall’s boutique properties to appeal to a niche market of discerning world travellers—and pay homage to her architect father.
Bali is called the Island of Gods, but surely the deities have never seen anything like Luna2, the private hotel that interior designer Melanie Hall opened in southwest Bali in 2007. Located on the beach in trendy Seminyak and named after the first spacecraft to land on the moon in 1959, Luna2 is an exclusive-use, five-bedroom property that ...
"We provide ‘cosmic spaces for jet-setting lunatics.’ Our rightfully demanding guests are seeking more privacy and intimacy, with the services of an exclusive hotel.”
... takes just one booking at a time. Every care, no matter how big or small, is tended to by a staff of 24.
Directly next door to Luna2 private hotel is Hall‟s new project, Luna2 studios. This "studiotel‟ has a restaurant, Lunaplex 16-seat cinema, Pop! lounge bar and just 14 open-plan guestrooms. It is due to debut in early 2013 and is the first of four planned properties to open in the coming years (with others slated to appear in Phuket, Thailand; Niseko, Japan; and Lombok, Indonesia).
To set foot into Luna2 is to step into the mind of Hall. From the sliding glass-walled façade to the ‘60s-inspired furnishings, everything about the ultra sleek and chic private hotel reflects her background and sensibility. Luna2 is very much a tribute to her late father, well-known architect Alan Chambers, who instilled in her a love of modernist architecture. She even referenced many of his photos and drawings in designing Luna2.
“I see things through my father’s eyes, and I trust he is looking down at me with a smile,” she says. “He traveled the world to soak up as much great architecture as he possibly could. He photographed and documented masses of Oscar Neimeyer’s works, in Brazil; Le Corbusier’s ‘Fort of Chandi,’ in Chandigarh; and timeless modernist wonders, in South Beach Miami.”
Her dad once designed a house for a friend in Lancashire, England, with a river running under it and a lit-up dance floor in the basement lounge bar. Though a river won’t be running through Luna2 studios, it will feature a lighted dance floor in its underground lounge bar, Pop!
Having grown up in the Caribbean and Nigeria, Hall has a real tropical-meets-urban flair. She spent the first few years of her life in Tortola, where her father had a practice and worked on the reclaiming of the main harbor, amongst other residential projects. The family (mum was an educator who met Alan at Liverpool University) then moved to Nigeria (where they had previously lived from the 50’s) for six years before she and her three brothers enrolled in a British boarding school. She then joined her parents in St. Lucia for the final couple years of secondary education.
“My father lived in the tropics for about 40 years, and I never saw him once wear a pair of shorts or sandals,” Hall fondly recalls. “He was impeccable in his style, smooth as James Bond. He ingrained a certain amount of etiquette in all of us.”
After a year of college back in England, she became a management trainee at Harrods, where she ultimately worked for five years as a sales manager in menswear. “It was the best training one could ever start off with in life,” she says. “It was like being in the army. I was awarded several bottles of Champagne by Mohammed Al Fayed for my high levels of customer service. I even approached him to allow me to hold the first of what became many charity balls. I had weekly meetings with Al Fayed, and he would sit with his feet up on a stool, and say, ‘Okay, Melanie, what do you want from me today?’ And then say to his secretary, ‘Give Melanie my Harrods account number. She needs to shop for auction prizes at my expense.’”
In 1992 at age 25, Hall became Polo Ralph Lauren’s Head of Visual Merchandising in the U.K. for two years during which time she opened 40 “shop-in-shops” (i.e. Polo Ralph Lauren shop in a department store) in the U.K. and Europe. She then moved to House of Fraser, where she was the Head of Visual for Men’s and Children’s Wear for all 50 stores.
“Life was good,” says Hall. And it would get better. In 1996 she moved to Hong Kong to become Calvin Klein's Head of Creative for Asia Pacific, overseeing the roll-out of new cK Calvin Klein stores, including the space planning, displays, and interiors for all stores throughout southeast Asia, while living in a fantastic studio apartment in the infamous Lan Kwai Fong party district. A couple of years later, she moved to Jakarta to get engaged to her boyfriend, banker Stewart Hall. She also started her own interior design company, working closely with several of the country’s top architects to outfit homes and businesses with her own custom-designed furniture and carpets.
Just as her store-opening role in the fashion industry led to her start her own business, so did interior design and broad travel inspire her to get into the hotel business with her husband, who serves as CEO. “I couldn’t help it! It found me!” says Hall, who keeps a modernist walled enclave in Bali but has recently set up home in Singapore so that the couple's three children (age 9–13) can go to the best schools. “We saw such a clear gap in the market for providing holidays for jet-setting lunatics, singles, and couples, with or without kids. And with my love of design and Stewart’s business and finance expertise, combined with the fact that we have both lived in scores of different countries between us, it all just slotted into place.”