After countless visits Bali, we returned from our first trip to Lombok in May (of which I’m sure will be many more), and I’m compelled to write a post entirely on the subject of the hotel that we stayed at, and yes of course all the trimmings that came along with it.
Lombok is the next island along to the east of Bali, separated by the Lombok Strait. Most tourist activities are focused around the Kuta area in the south, and the north eastern Sengigi area. In Kuta you’ll see lots of surfers, and travelling east up the coast there are beautiful white sand beaches, each one more beautiful that the next. The waves roll quietly and softly onto the sand unlike the huge beastly, crashing waves of Bali, and the beaches are clean! My favourite day in the south was spent on Selong Belanak Beach, about a 25 minute scooter ride from Kuta.
In the north, Sengigi is close to the capital of Mataram and the old airport site and is therefore a larger hub for tourists and local expats, with lots of bars and more hotels to choose from, as well as shops, which you will be hard pressed to find in the south. A little further northwest is the Medana peninsula, where you’ll find a few luxury resorts such as the Oberoi and Tugu Hotel. Nestled in between these two is the loveliest of all, The Lombok Lodge boutique hotel. Believe me when I say that there is nothing else like it on the island, and indeed, with all the travelling that I do, I can honestly say it is one of the nicest places I have stayed at.
It was not just the luxury lodgings, nor the food, nor the attention to detail and service, activities, the smaller details or the beauty of the surrounding areas. What makes this hotel so special is that every single thing is done perfectly, and you are made to feel at completely at home – everyone literally knows your name.
The design of the hotel is really ahead of it’s time on Lombok, a developing island where high-quality architecture is difficult to come by, as are skilled construction teams and quality materials. The architect is Belgian-based Italian designer Vittorio Simoni – he has created 9 low rise suites, which are terraced so that each suite has a view of the ocean. It is a truly functional space, and whilst the land on which the hotel is situated is not actually that big, The Lombok Lodge feels quite grand.
The people are a big part of making this place what it is; some of the staff were trained at the nearby Oberoi Hotel, whereas others had no official hospitality training. Regardless of this, the whole team are super sweet, friendly and eager to help and make your stay as special as possible. What makes a huge difference is that the Belgian owners of the hotel stay there for half of the year, perhaps that’s why the standards are so exceptional.
The Resort Manager, Mangsur Y Wayan, is a true perfectionist, and makes sure that everything is always running smoothly. They contacted us prior to our stay to make sure all was in order, suggested several itineraries of things to do whilst we were there, gave us a late check out when needed, made no fuss when I forgot to cancel my spa booking, left notes on our pillow every night, printed out our boarding passes when we were in a rush and delivered them to us by the pool, and offered to clean our sunglasses whilst we sipped on our complimentary pool smoothies … I could go on and on.
And now to the food! All daily rates and packages are offered on a half-board basis, with breakfast and dinner for two included. Now, this kind of arrangement may conjure up images of Club Med buffets – we stayed at the Novotel Lombok in Kuta in the preceeding nights, and let me tell you, the food left much to be desired! However, there is no need to be concerned with the Lombok Lodge, in fact the food is one of the highlights of our stay. All of the breakfast pastries are baked in house, and the croissants were spot on. The breakfast choices were super yummy (and if you like it, the rice porridge was excellent), as were the normal dinner menus, and the special rijsttafel menu (which was charged as extra). The chef, Wayan Jiwa Raga, honed his skills on German cruise ships, followed by stints at the Oberoi Lombok and Mosaic restaurant in Bali.
During the day, we toured the Gili Islands on a private glass bottomed fishing boat (a catamaran option is also available at a higher rate), we snorkeled and spotted a sea turtle, rented a bike for an hour and rode around Gili Trawangan, then ate lunch at the Mahamaya Resort on Gili Meno. This was followed by a walk through the heart of the island, where we spotted the run down hostels and yoga platforms of the long-gone hippies who first came to Meno, before all the activity started to move exclusively towards the shoreline.
If you don’t want to do the private option, the Lombok Lodge also offers shuttles to and from the Gili Islands – it’s a great way to spend a day.
After proof-reading, it sounds like I’m being paid (in free stays at the Lombok Lodge? I wish!) to write this, but really, I only have stellar things to say about it because it was a stellar hotel, and I can’t wait to go again. No doubt they would probably welcome us back like a long lost family member.
I hear whispers that Dragonair may start a direct route to Lombok in the not so distant future, and that would certainly be easier than flying through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bali. Lombok doesn’t have all of the convenience, the nightlife or the restaurants of Bali … hell, the southern part didn’t have roads until not too long ago! But that is part of it’s charm – it is like visiting a land that is unspoiled and untouched by the traveling masses, where wireless coverage is not readily available and we internet junkies have no choice but to read a book, or catch a wave.
THE LOMBOK LODGE
MAHAMAYA BOUTIQUE RESORT, Gili Meno
Tel: + 62 (0)888 71 55 828
Sneak peak at the Lombok Lodge breakfast menu …
And the Mahamaya lunch menu …