August 17, 2011
Back in the ’90s, when I was traveling frequently to Bali, I met and became friends with the inimitable Linda Garland. Hailing from Ireland, Linda had been in Bali for 20 odd years by that time, was mother to two lovely boys, had become the doyenne of Bali and an internationally renowned designer, and was the mistress of one of the most beautiful pieces of property I have ever seen, located just outside of Bali’s cultural capital, Ubud. Linda had built a large, round, thatched house. But the building was almost an afterthought; it had come slowly and only after she had walked every inch of her land, after she had sculpted and planted it, creating something of a marvel.
I shared Linda’s passion for bamboo and became involved with her non-profit, the Environmental Bamboo Foundation. She hosted festivals on her property to raise money and awareness for bamboo. She had a stream of guests – unknown, famous and infamous – coming to stay, to rest, to marry, to play.
More recently, Linda has created a lovely retreat for paying guests who wish to feel the authenticity of a Bali that was. Yoga and spa are available of course and her food, always considered the best on the island, is a highlight of one’s stay at Panchoran. But it really is the land and its feeling of remoteness, the staff and their long-standing affection for Linda and her home, and their combined knowledge of the island which can raise the level of a traveller’s experience to a whole different plain that is remarkable here.
Panchoran is a dream.