Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Travelling the Indonesian Islands - Part II - This Time In Style


Luxe Travel in Indonesia

Dear Readers, until now, we have erred on the side of the backpacker/traveller in terms of experience and location.  Today, we are going to examine the luxury end of the spectrum, and give you an overview of the very best and exclusive places to go in Indonesia.

The question must be posed:  does expensive necessarily mean best?  And if so, how much better is best?  Is it really about the location at all?  Or is it more about the level of accommodation, opportunities and service?

As we said in our last post, Indonesia is an enormous place, and although we would love to examine each island separately, we would end up going on forever!  So we are going to pick the best of the best.



We’re actually going to start off in the same place as we did in our previous post, on Java, where you find the capital, Jakarta.  On the same island is of course, Borobudur, the World’s largest Buddhist temple.  We of course took you there in the last Blog post, where we were all suitably blown away.  So if you want to blow your budget as well, you might as well go big or go home:  Amanjiwo is built with Borobudur as your backdrop (www.aman.com)  One of the most significant and historical monuments in the World as you backdrop is undoubtedly pretty cool, and in fact, you can walk there in 25 minutes…The residence itself is built to resonate and revere its location, as a sort of temple-like destination made entirely from local paras Jogja limestone which is a sort of blush colour which of course looks amazing at sunrise and sunset.  The suites are clearly made to make the most of the architecture and surroundings with a chilled, temple-like theme at all times.  If you fancied the Dalem Jiwo Suite, with Borobudur views, personal butler, private entrance and driveway, private 15m green Javanese stone swimming pool, personal bar, bathrooms with sunken outdoor baths, etc etc etc it’s yours from £2,967 a night.  In fairness, they have some great ideas when it comes to dining:  private picnics by the riverbank or even a private Indonesian BBQ served at a candlelit, rose petal strewn table in your suite on in an isolated spot in the grounds…



Next, we visit Sumba Island, and so to Nihi Sumba (www.nihi.com).  This won best hotel in the World 2016 and 2017, and would appeal perhaps to the slightly younger traveller, looking for physical activities.  With a more laid back vibe, and certainly a big push towards eco-friendly, you can visit the island’s villages and ancient sites, but also go on spa safari, swim beneath a waterfall or go horse riding if you wanted to.  Also, it’s a mecca for surfers, Sumba being famous for its “left hand wave”.  Their strapline is “the edge of wildness”, with Nihi Sumba meaning “a destination with meaning”.  It’s all about the experience, and if you wished to experience the whole five villa Mandaka estate at the heart of the resort, it’ll cost you £9,397 per night, but that is for 5 villas, so it’s not as scary as it seems…They also have luxury tree houses which look tremendous fun, and villas right on the beach, to catch the famous wave.  All meals are included and you can eat with your feet in the sand and a relaxed, laid back vibe.  The whole place looks a dream.



Next we return to the Aman group, but this time Amankila in Bali.  This is a secluded seaside resort nestled next to the Lombok Strait.  Aman resorts are known for their destinations within destinations, and like our visit to Amanjiwo and its incredible location within walking distance of Borobudur, Amankila is located in Karangasem, an extremely traditional area of Bali (far away from the backpackers, one might hasten to add) so you can access the region’s Royal past, untouched countryside and local crafts without stumbling over too many drunken Brits…).  Regarded as the best hotel in Bali, Amankila means “peaceful hill”.  A recurring theme with Aman Resorts is that they try and emulate the architecture of the surroundings, so this time, expect to find thatched-roof suites on stilts and a three-tier infinity pool “spilling down the hillside like a cascading rice paddy”.  Should you wish to take the Amankila suite, overlooking the beach and Amuk Bay with private butler, large terrace and private pool, you’re looking at the same price as its sister resort in Java.   Amongst the stunning spa and multitude of activities there is also various options for dining, including a private dinner for two, right on the beach.



Staying in Bali, we’re going next to the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (www.fourseasons.com).  Occupying 35 acres of beachfront, you can get onto the beach from the resort (which we always thought was a pre-requisite but you have to watch out for these, as many traveller have made this mistake when booking:  beachfront with no access to the beach isn’t as rare as you might think…we digress).  The villas each have a private plunge pool and are located in tropical gardens.  You clearly have a choice, but they are beautiful, very private with indoor/outdoor living a theme.  Like all the above resorts, you can also have a three or four bedroom villa with private butler, yogi, dining etc etc but you have to ring them to get prices, so one can’t really make a proper comparison, but for a normal villa, you’re looking at about £1,704 a night.  Dining is an exciting prospect, with the opportunity to watch 9 chefs prepare local cuisine at the same time in front of you at 9 different stations which looks great fun.  You also have the option of in-villa dining, sunrise breakfast, and of course, a very cool beach club.



No luxury blog would be complete without the obligatory “private island”.  This time it’s Bawah Private Island (www.bawahreserve.com) which you’ll find is 150 miles North of Singapore and accessible by seaplane.  The island only accepts 70 guests at a time and is in fact 6 islands containing 13 white sand beaches, 3 lagoons and 300 hectares.  Its whole philosophy is integration and love for the environment, in a luxurious way, of course, plus its own amphibious seaplane looks pretty cool.  It’s an all-inclusive experience (apart from alcohol and diving, plus only one spa treatment per day) but it seems pretty flexible in terms of your options, from picnics on the beach to fine dining.  You really want to go for an overwater bungalow where on one side you get the sunrise and on the other, the sunset…literally paradise.  You’re looking at about £1,913 per night.  If you fancy a cocktail in the tree canopies, head to their Jules Verne Bar and pretend you’re an explorer.  They also have other options such as fine dining, a relaxed beach bar, or indeed, private dining.  Your whole experience is completely customised to you and what you want to do, so whether you’re active, or if you prefer a spa, or to just do nothing, it’s tailored to your needs.

Alila Purnama
So chaps, we could go on all day, but we won’t (check out the 6 star floating ship called Alila Purnama (www.alilahotels.com) at Komodo Island that will take you on a cruise with a difference, too).  There you have it.  A flavour of the very best, most luxurious, top residences in Indonesia.  We do admit that perhaps we were a little reticent at the start of this Blog post, the thinking being that if you’re already in such a beautiful place, do you really need to spend thousands to stay at some swanky resort?  Surely the place alone is enough?  And although perhaps we still agree with that assumption, having researched these mind-blowing places, a little part of us is very sold.  If you’re going to do it, and you can afford it, then do it properly.  Even if you save up and it’s a once in a lifetime trip, or even if you were to go to this magical place and perhaps just spend a few nights at one of these resorts, we might, in fact, have changed our own minds.  Something that really stood out, was the conscience of these resorts, and how they are so keen to be eco-friendly as well.  This, especially in such a largely unspoiled place as Indonesia, is so important.


So what about you?  A private island?  A villa with a butler and a yogi?  Or would you still prefer a youth hostel on a beach?


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3 comments:

  1. Glad you like it as much as we do, John! Which island is your favourite?

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  2. I have just read this, it's really interesting. I am not a backpacking sort of person and it's really nice to see a Blog about luxury travel from a travelling point of view. Thank you. I look forward to the next one.

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