Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Hotel Vila Ombak
Gili Trawangan Island, Lombok
West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
+62 370 6142336
Located on Trawangan Island, the largest of the 3 Gili Islands just off Lombok's Northwestern coast, Hotel Vila Ombak is an exceptional luxury property on the coast of Indonesia’s tropical paradise.
The hotel is reachable by flights from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Surabaya or Bali that take only about half-hour to one-hour flight time to Lombok International Airport. From there, arrangements are made for a car service that will take you to a wharf at Teluk Nare, where a fleet of yellow speedboats will transfer you and your luggage to the hotel’s landing on Trawangan beach.
Do NOT be turned off by the look of the wharf. When we arrived in our minibus that took us trough a scenic drive along the western coastline of Lombok, we were let out in front of an alley that is located between what looks like a commercial laundry (which might or might not belong to the hotel) and a low warehouse. Accompanied by a security guard, you walk through the alley, with locals lounging on traditional bamboo platforms by the seashore, to the jetty on the beach and then board one of the speedboats. Since we were a group of 10, the guard also acted as a porter carrying our luggage together with the people crewing the speedboats.
The hotel is lovely, featuring deluxe traditional huts, bungalows, cottages and villas scattered in a fragrant, flower-filled tropical garden. The rates are based on a per couple-basis.
I stayed in a large air-conditioned deluxe Family Bungalow room, with Queen and California King beds, and a semi-open shower and bathroom, decorated with live plants and large bamboo images. The shower gel, shampoo and conditioner amenities - as well as the bath soap - were in hand-made, green pottery containers, and there were slippers, Japanese-style flip-flops, and bathrobes in the large closet between the bedroom and the bathroom. In the front of each porch, under an overhang supported by bamboo poles, was a comfortable settee with earth-hued pillows and a rattan table, and on the other side a rattan chair and table. My room was part of a complex of 4 rooms-in-a-single-story-bungalow, and there was a number of these complexes surrounded by the garden.
There were also a number of seaside villas and cottages individually located in other parts of the surrounding garden. The reception, was in an independent building by the pool, decorated with traditional bamboo furniture and carved screens.
The main restaurant, called the Seahorse Restaurant, serves buffet-style breakfast with egg- waffle- and pancake- stations, lots of fresh tropical fruits, fresh-squeezed fruit juices, breads and cakes, coffee and assorted tea infusions, and traditional Indonesian breakfast dishes, like noodles with spicy peanut sauce, and shredded chicken & white asparagus in a chicken egg drop broth.
In the evening, the Seahorse Restaurant offers fine dinning with exceptional service in an open-air setting. The kitchen of Chef Santi is one of the best I have experienced in South East Asia. Actually, the dinner we had at the Seahorse was the closest experience that I had during my entire Indonesian trip to a fine, Michelin-star deserving meal.
We started with an amuse bouche of cubed red and gold, lightly pickled, beets.
The appetizer was wood-grilled prawns with two sauces. Then pumpkin soup in a Tequila-glass, with chive spears and lemongrass.
The fish course was a lightly grilled piece of herbed mahi-mahi on a bed of spicy sauce, with mango cubes and Asian pear.
The meat course was charcoal grilled filet with puff-pastry spears and steamed baby Chinese cabbage, with 2 sauces.
The dessert was a chocolate cylinder topped with white chocolate and a drink of flavoured infusion with a mint sprig.
This hotel also has another less formal restaurant, in the same arcade that also houses a fashion shop, diving excursion office, a travel agency, a medical office and other hotel-associated businesses. There is also a bicycle rental shop and a handicrafts shop in other buildings.
The suites are either in seaside villas or in two-story traditional cottages towards the back of the garden. They can house 4 to 6 guests and are set up either as a living-room with couches that convert to double beds and an upstairs bedroom reachable by an outdoor staircase, or as a two bedroom suite with adjoining living room. They all have spacious bathrooms that are semi-open or fully enclosed and air-conditioned.
In the garden are giant chess sets, backgammon sets, and other games where guests can test their skills; there are also beach beds, cabanas with tables and chairs, and chaise lounges under umbrellas on the beach. The beach is lovely very fine white sand made from pulverized coral. The sea-side promenade that extends beyond the hotel’s grounds is packed with businesses not associated with the hotel; restaurants, bars, discos, dive shops, souvenir stores, massage parlors, tattoo parlors, and other local establishments. Even though it was shoulder season, they were all full till the early morning hours.
The part of the island where hotel Vila Ombak is located is a playground for every age, every pocket and every inclination.
© November 2012 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.