Brunei’s first solar powered luxury resort, The Abode Resort & Spa, is targeting an expansion to 70 villas in five years with sufficient market demand from local and international visitors.

The Abode opened last December with 10 riverfront villas – each as standalone tent-styled chalets – which are able to accommodate a maximum of 56 guests in total. General Manager H. Kumar said they have been fully booked on weekends and are at least half occupied during weekdays.

The Abode’s expansion on its two-hectare site is currently being done in phases, with the next 18 villas expected to be completed later in August, which will be treehouse-styled within the surrounding forestry.

The additional villas will be similarly powered through their solar farm, which currently generates 1600KW a day, with the inverters also storing excess energy in batteries for on-demand use.

“The whole project of 70 villas will take between three to five years, and will depend on the markets and demand; COVID-19 (travel restrictions) are currently a challenge (in predicting future demand),” said Kumar.

“The whole project is envisioned as “eco” – it’s the shareholders vision to have it be off-grid while also using recycled materials for the construction and limiting single-use plastics on site.”

Accessible through Jalan Labu, The Abode is approximately five to 10 minutes drive from the Sultan Haji Omar Ali Saifuddien (SHOAS) Bridge, and is considered a landmark hospitality development in Temburong.

The district’s other eco-style lodges and accommodation are clustered in Batang Duri, with the sole hotel located in the town of Bangar. Labu’s visitor appeal is also expected to receive a further boost with the future development of Labu Casting Yard into a new commercial zone with shops, restaurants and recreational facilities.

The initial listed cost of The Abode was $4.5 million, built by Eco-Green – whose portfolio includes developing the Kiulap high-rise 118 Residence – with Eco Bumi Arkitek as the project’s architect. The Abode currently hires 32 employees, the majority from Temburong.

More facilities in the works

Of the 10 river facing chalets: eight are branded as superior-styled studio units featuring one double bed. The other two are family units – each which has a living space and two ensuite rooms; one with a double bed, while the other room features a double bed and four bunk beds.

Keeping within the glamping theme, all chalets are air-conditioned with electricity and piped water supply; there is mobile connectivity at the site, but no WiFi in the rooms. Extra beds are available on request.

The Abode site is largely made up of large open tents with modular structures beneath which function as the lobby, restaurants, and meeting spaces which are connected by open walkways. There are also three connecting tent domes that are enclosed which feature a sand playground area for children, a general games area, and a movie screening room.

The site also features three swimming pools; one for adults, another for children, and a splash or lounge pool. For dining, all meals are currently served at the Sunset Lounge facing the river, and prepared at their central kitchen under the same tent where their main restaurant is due to open next month.

Separate huts built within the surrounding forest will function as private spas soon, with spa services currently provided upon request inside the guests’ room.

Guests can also have the option for up to 10 activities including hiking trails that can be adjusted to individual fitness levels and done at different times of day; river cruises using their catamarans; and movie nights. Trips to the Ulu Temburong National Park can also be arranged.