“We are here”, whispered Mr. New Yorker as he tapped me on my left shoulder to steal my attention away from the calming scenery of lush green paddy fields, jungles that went back as far as the eye can see, and a seductively inviting blue ocean. We have finally arrived at the Oberoi Lombok, after a long journey from London’s Heathrow airport.
As I peeled myself off the car’s comfy leather seats, which had transported us nearly 2 hours from the island’s airport to the northern part of the island where this Oberoi resort is located, I was greeted by a warm stream of fresh island air. As we entered the resort’s grounds, a smiling hostess wrapped a plumeria flower garland around our necks and bowed their head in appreciation of our arrival to these stunningly beautiful place of theirs.
And beautiful it sure was! Despite the long drive, the view that awaited us inside the resort more than made up for any sense of fatigue.
You are literally transported to another world with the place exuding an effortless feel of calm and tranquillity. As you pass through the open-air lobby desks, it is difficult not to be awestruck by the 40 metre infinity-edged pool that descends into the ocean beyond. With plenty of sunbeds and traditional wooden huts surrounding this tranquil centrepiece, this was an area that our afternoon hours in the days ahead were spent recharging the batteries and catching up with a few inspiring reads.
It is said that the sea here is cleaner than the island’s more popular sister, Bali. And while the resort’s beach isn’t big by any stretch of the imagination, it felt comfy and private. Very often, you could be the only ones strolling through the powdery sand collecting small seashells along the way and admiring the view of the Gili islands, as well as volcanoes, in the distance.
Once check-in was complete, we were escorted to our slice of heaven!
This slice of heaven at Oberoi Lombok comprised a private, ocean facing villa along the shore with a rolling glass door that opened onto a generous-sized balcony with direct views of the ocean. The classically styled 4 poster bed (and what a bed it was) was adorned with draping fabric that acted like curtains surrounding all sides of the bed. The bathroom featured a double sink layout (meaning that Mr. New Yorker had his side of the bathroom and I had mine!), a cosy marble bathtub that sunk into the floor and was filled with fresh flowers and a separate rain shower room.
The rooms, grounds and upkeep of the entire resort are impressively well-maintained with attention to detail second to none. In short, this a place you come to for that ultimate secluded and luxurious getaway.
After a long and relaxing shower, I changed into one of the two bathrobes provided (one a lighter material than the other) and caught up on some emails as well as to truly take in the surrounding views on the terrace. Meanwhile, Mr. New Yorker decided to take a quick nap on a hammock just a couple of minutes’ walk away from our villa.
We used the rest of the afternoon to familiarise ourselves with the grounds before taking refuge from the intense heat in one of the private wooden huts overlooking the pool. With attentive pool side service, complimentary bites and afternoon tea, I wasn’t sure if dinner was necessary on our first night here!
However, we are foodies and our curiosity to find out what was on offer at the Oberoi’s Lumbung restaurant, combined with the staff’s willingness to reserve a table in a romantic spot, meant that we found ourselves dining at a candlelit table under the stars. The table even had our names written on a banana leaf. Again… attention to detail clearly coming through in everything they do.
For entertainment during our first evening meal here, some traditional Indonesian artists had journeyed here from the island’s capital to provide the soundtrack for the evening.
Given it was our first night here, we opted for the 3 course Indonesian menu as we were excited to experience the local cuisine, which we knew would be packed with spices and flavour. The stand-out dish for me was the steamed Mahi Mahi (type of local fish) carefully wrapped in banana leaf and served with steamed rice, while for Mr. New Yorker, it was the ox cheek rending bathed in chilli and spices that really hit the spot. One thing to keep in mind when you dine here at night, is that the amount of food can be especially generous. Outside of the food you order, you are also provided with complimentary bread, some local crackers, an amuse-bouche that changes every day and small sweets to finish off the meal.
On a positive note, eating to your heart’s content is encouraged here, as there are plenty of activities to burn off those calories. During our week’s stay here, we were kept busy with activities like snorkelling with sea turtles around and spending time on the Gili islands, wood carving, early morning yoga, painting and day trip to the island’s phenomenal waterfalls at the foot of Mount Rinjani. Oh, and did I mention the fantastic fitness facilities?! Here, there’s a well-equipped gym, outdoor tennis court (you can even get some tennis lessons if you’re a beginner) and spa to get that relaxing massage after a long day of exploring.
At the end of our first night, I drifted into a deep sleep surrounded by the peaceful sounds of ocean waves and geckos on our thatched roof calling for attention. Tranquil, paradise-like island living doesn’t get much better than this. It’s also that rare sort of place where you arrive as guests and leave as friends. A place that is difficult to leave but where you will have created many special memories. And that’s what being transported to another world is all about.