Bali ignites the imagination of an island paradise, but it’s the lesser known island neighbor of Lombok that lures today’s adventurous paradise seeker. When I arrived I found an empty tourist information booth, an undiscovered island, and an oasis at Hotel Tugu.
The Hindu Past of Lombok at Tugu
The drive from the airport can seem long if you find yourself behind a banana truck through the lush jungle mountainous passage. But once you arrive, you may not want to leave. A pristine white sand beach, immaculate designed suites and bungalows, and the Hindu architecture all set the the mood.
Guests disappear into their own private retreat, but none can avoid feeling the presence of the past. The grounds tell a story of a time and a place. They speak of a history. It is a time before the current rule and a time well before the Dutch arrived. And when you are sipping afternoon tea, you find yourself dreaming about the romance of this era.
Gangga Waterfalls and the Gili Islands
At Hotel Tugu, guests will be asked, “What’s your program?” The question translates to, what are you doing today? What activities? In paradise, sometimes, you just want to relax on the beach or even in your private pool (well I do), but staff will ask about your program. And when you do decide to do something, Hotel Tugu offers great excursions.
No trip to any exotic part of the world filled with tropical jungles is complete without a hike to a waterfall. On Lombok, one excursion will take you to three waterfalls with amazing views of the terrace rice fields as you climb up in elevation. In fact a hotel guide came with our driver and a guide to the falls. For safety or service, I am not certain, but it made for an enjoyable hike nonetheless.
Also, Hotel Tugu operates a private traditional boat that takes you and your guests out to the gorgeous Gili Islands for the day. A full day excursion will have you snorkeling the reefs and searching for sea turtles along with enjoying a day at sea.
So, you will have options to add adventure to your program. I am glad I did, but I am also glad I spent a day with no program at all.
Dinner Under the Stars
Dinner can be reserved under the stars. Guest can select the Hindu Temple or simply on the sands of Sire beach. I selected the beach and after the Lombok sunset the candle lit dinner table was set and ready for dinner. The setting resembled true paradise and so did the food. Delicious.
Yet as good as the food was, the most cherished memory was a moment of peace and understanding. There at the footsteps of a Hindu temple served by a Buddhist waiter shortly after the Muslim call to prayer (Lombok is mostly Muslim, and you will hear the ‘call to prayer’ unlike Bali) I gazed up at the stars and located the Southern Cross constellation. Perfect, in paradise we all get along. I knew it.
It’s Lombok, not Bali
Still largely unknown, some label Lombok as “Bali from the 1920s” and hope it remains an unspoiled undeveloped island paradise. Yet plans exist to expand the airport and continue construction. Either way, the island is still dearth of tourist infrastructure and that includes mosquito control. The hotel provides many citronela candles for you and it was a non-issue, but definitely be aware if you want to explore the entire island.
Recommendation Summary: Hotel Tugu brands itself as the art, soul and romance of Indonesia. If that sounds like you, then this is your place. It’s the idyllic setting for a special romantic getaway and even a honeymoon. And because the distance is so great, consider it a longer stay. I’d either make it a 3 night minimum and a part of a multi-stop tour of Asia (such as two weeks in Bali and Lombok) or perhaps book ten full days of bliss. A three night package that includes most of the activities I mentioned in the Bhagavat Gita Suite lists for 2100 USD.
stay luxurious, Craig
Additionally, I’d like to thank Hotel Tugu for providing the photograph of the suite and dinner on the beach.