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Cilu Bintang Estate

Cilu Bintang Estate - Banda Neira

Cilu Bintang Estate located on the original spice island of Banda Neira provides luxurious accommodation for travellers who choose to enjoy the rich cultural and historical heritage of the Banda Islands, action packed days of sport fishing, and spectacular diving, yet wish to maintain a degree of comfort and cuisine.

Located within metres of Banda’s most significant historical monuments, this typical spice baron mansion is a charming blend of vintage architecture and modern convenience surrounded by a lush formal garden. Soothing ornamental waterfalls enhance an understated elegance.

Dinning at the Estate is an epicurean delight. The chef is a master of enchanting Bandanese traditional and the ever popular Indo Fusion cuisine. Many of her recipes are featured in the internationally acclaimed cookbook Spice Island Delights.

"Freely profiting from mansion, servants, and kitchen, often did we bless our kindly host his generous offerings to our good cheer... " Unknown Dutch colonial official, circa 1850

Located on Banda Neira, Cilu Bintang Estate, is owned by direct descendants from two of the Spice Island's oldest families. Pak Rizal Bahalwan (Abba) and Ibu Dila Thalib trace their ancestry through several illustrious ancestors to the beginning of the Dutch colonial era. Nurtured from childhood in the rich colourful bandanese culture, Pak Abba and Ibu Dila, (Pak and Ibu are terms of respect), are well aware of the importance their community places on its ancient heritage and culture. They actively sustain, and frequently participate, in traditional cultural events on the islands.

Their patronage has been critical in preserving such traditions as the famous Banda kora-kora races and cakalele dances, as well as the teaching of traditional values, skills, crafts, and "secret knowledge" through their on going support for Adat Houses, (special houses where community "secret knowledge", history, and heritage are conserved and passed on through the generations). Several important moments in an islander's life can only only occur within an Adat house, where the appropriate regalia is preserved. Guests at Cilu Bintang are occasionally invited to observe portions of authentic cultural rites not open to the general public. Since these are genuine ceremonies, not staged for tourists, it is difficult to predict if, or when, one will occur.

Pak Rizal Bahalwan (Abba) traces his ancestry through an ancient line of Arab spice and pearl traders. His great grandfather was an eclectic intellectual who established several schools on Banda Neira and became friends with Mohammad Hatta and Sutan Sjahrir during their exile on the islands. His mother originated from Lonthor. Having been immersed in traditional Bandanese culture from his earliest days, Pak Abba studied German language and culture at Patimura University in Ambon. Collecting and preserving the history, legends, and traditions of his beloved Banda Islands is a lifetime passion. Abba is a keen collector of antiques - including old cannon, maps, and photographs. He enjoys big band music from between WWI and WWII, exploring, and sharing his wide-ranging knowledge of the Banda Islands.

Born on the Banda Islands, Ibu Dila Thalib, traces her ancestry through two ancient spice trading families. Her father descended from the oldest Arabic trading families. Her mother originated in the village of Lontor. Her family are successful spice traders. Ibu Dila was one of the island children adopted by the legendary Des Awi, who sponsored her study of Management Skills at the Academy of Higher Education in Jakarta. Considered the finest chef on the islands, her recipes are featured in the renowned Banda Islands cook book, Spice Island Delights. She also enjoys gardening, shopping in the market, teaching, reading mystery novels, and community service projects.

Conserving the Banda Island's pristine environment is important. Visitors will note several elegant methods employed by Cilu Bintang Estate to reduce the impact their guests have on the local environment.