High Living in Lombok

by James Carys

Luxury Lombok. Two words that, until I started perusing the Internet, I wouldn't necessarily have put immediately next to each other. There's no question that in the next few years there will be an upsurge in visitors to Bali's rustic neighbouring cousin with the building of a new international airport that will dwarf that of Bali, not to mention our friends from Dubai recently investing 600 million dollars into developing an Emirates palace style resort.
So, before it all gets right out of hand in Lombok we scooted over to the island to take a very early glance at the luxury end of the accommodation sector and experience the warmth, curiosity and hospitality of the Lombok people. Did I mention the jaw dropping unspoilt landscape, awe-inspiring sunsets (yes, they're even better than on Bali) or the fact that this is the place to escape the marauding crowds of peak season Bali when all you're really after is a deserted beach and a feeling of really travelling the tropics?
Grab a martini, pack a map and hit the shores of Lombok in style with hello bali and treat yourself to a break in a brave new world.
First stop Senggigi, mainland Lombok and a couple of nights in Villa Quisia.
Villa Qusia
Staying in very top end private villas in Bali can leave an infinite dent on the wallet if you're anything less than super wealthy, so it comes as a surprise to learn that the villa rate for the extremely gorgeous Qusia starts at only US $650 ++ a night in peak season and dips to only $425 ++ in the low season months. Compare the size, scope and facilities of Qusia to that of a similar breed of villa in Bali and you'll be looking at saving around $1,500 bucks a night.
Sure, you may not have the luxury of hopping into a taxi and hot-footing it down to some world class Seminyak restaurant or partying all night with the jet-set elite of Bali but you'll be nearly two grand richer and that equates to a few crates of Dom Perignon by the 25 metre infinity pool as your personal chef whips up an ocean fresh barbeque whilst the sun slinks down over a distant Bali.
With three master bedrooms, an entertainment room with state of the art flat screens (don't forget to pack those DVDs you bought in Bali), a private study and library (with Internet connectivity), brand spanking new gym room and lush garden overlooking Mt Agung on the horizon, Qusia is a top end retreat from the world - quite literally an affordable slice of decadent living.
Bali based Dutch architect Joost Van Grieken has tastefully composed an artistic and refined atmosphere taking full advantage of the mountain location to make you feel as though you simply drift between the main villa, pool and outside dining areas. Distinctive teakwood tree trunks and Suar wood dining table are flanked by tasteful Balinese wood sculptures and inviting sofas gaze out over your own private ocean view.
Perfect for couples seeking a romantic interlude, for families wanting to spend some quality time together but even better as a party venue where you can book out neighbouring Villa Qunang, crank up the sound system, crack open the bubbly and keep it going all day and night without having to worry about anyone next door complaining.
Should you manage to drag yourself away from the villa for any length of time your personal butler will arrange any number of activities and excursions into the cultural heartland of Lombok or simply whisk you off down the mountain to a private beach all of your own.
T: (0370) 693 800

Fancy 18 holes with hardly anyone else out on the course?
The Kosaido Golf Club is to be found to the north west of Lombok set in a coconut plantation overlooking the azure ocean out to the Gilis.
The emphasis is on relaxation rather than any serious, strenuous activity but the course can be fairly challenging on a number of holes.
Arrange for transport from any one of the Senggigi hotels or the nearby Oberoi – even better is to charter a speedboat from neighboring Gilis and arrive in style on the beach at hole four.
T: (0362) 226 46

Kelapa Villas, Gili Trawangan
There was once a time when the best one could hope for in the way of accommodation on Gili Trawangan might be a hammock and a bottle of mosquito repellent for company. It's true that there are some parts of Gili's Air and Meno that are still like that but more later on the rustic charms of Meno as we lift the lid on that island's best accommodation option. For now we're in the thick of the action on Trawangan, it's hot (way hotter than Bali), heaving with backpacker types on the main thoroughfare and it's about time to flag down one of the passing cidomos (horse carts) and make tracks up to the Kelapa compound of luxury villas way away from the hustle of the busy main street.
Kelapa (being Indonesian for coconut) is perhaps unsurprisingly located in the middle of a plantation of palms towards the northern shores of Trawangan and because of the lack of development in the general vicinity is as completely conducive to peaceful relaxation as one could wish on this the busiest of the three Gilis.
The open design of the villas invites the outside world right into your bedroom with views of the pool, berugas (Sasak interpretation of the gazebo) and outdoor garden streaming into your own private hideaway. You have the choice of 1, 2, 3 and 4 bedroom villas but with only ten units available to rent booking in advance will be absolutely necessary in the busier months. Five of the ten villas are 3 bedroom costing between US $345 and $390 per night whilst the single 1 bedroom unit is $185 stretching right up to $620 for the flagship 4 bedroom Villa Cinta (prices are subject to 21% government tax and a US $40 surcharge during the peak months).
Of course, being on the party island of the Gilis you'll want to be out an about so mobility is an issue resolved with one of the easy rider bikes (single gear but mercifully no real inclines to deal with on the island) on loan from Kelapa. It's a ten minute ride down to the nearest bars and restaurants on the main part of Trawangan or if you head to the north shore round the back of Kelapa you'll find the charming Karma Kayak restaurant serving Tapas as the sun sets majestically over the islands.
If you simply can't bring yourself to leave Kelapa then rest assured that private catering can be arranged with the services of a personal chef once you've selected what you want to order from the shopping list, or simply order from the in-house menu. Kelapa is a fuss free option for those with a family in tow and babysitting facilities can be provided on request as can masseuses should the stresses of such tranquil surroundings become too much for you.
T: 081 237 56003

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