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The Oberoi Lombok is the pretty younger sister to the Oberoi Bali’s Grande Dame. Both were designed by the same architect, Australian Peter Mueller. It is located on 24 acres of lush landscaped grounds behind a pretty secluded beach overlooking the Gili Islands on the quieter northeast corner of Lombok, a beautiful mountainous island with a predominantly Muslim population. Lombok offers a more low-key alternative to Bali.
The hotel’s centrepiece is a spectacular series of palm-tree-framed pools overlooking Medana Beach and surrounded by the airy main lobby, restaurant and bar. In the centre is a 40-metre wet-edge swimming pool, while the other reflecting pools, some stocked with poi fish, cool the warm tropical breezes. Covered open-air pavilions offer shade during the day.
There is a marvellous array of beautifully curated Indonesian primitive art, including masks, arrows, stone tools, and shields throughout the public areas and in all the villas and pavillions.
The Oberoi Lombok shares the same executive chef as The Oberoi Bali and he has trained the staff well so that it features the similar superb (and diverse) cuisine.
The staff members at the Oberoi Lombok are also exceptional and offer attentive and thoughtful service.
Arrival and Location
The Oberoi Lombok is accessible via a 30-minute flight from Bali or direct from Sydney or Singapore.
Hotel transfers are made in a comfortable four-wheel drive and take approximately two hours through the mountains or along the coast. You pass through traditional Muslim villages along the way.
The Oberoi Lombok has 30 pavillions and 20 villas built out of coralline rock with traditional steeply pitched thatched roofs. These are dotted around the expansive property.
The spacious villas are located in walled courtyards (some with large private swimming pools) which feature an elevated dining pavilion overlooking the Bali Sea. The air-conditioned bedroom has state-of-the-art music systems, satellite television, IDD telephone and computer data-points. The entire property has free WiFi, which is always appealing.
Each villa bedroom features a large four-posted teak bed as well as several comfortable couches and chairs. Expansive decks offer great views through the palm trees toward the water.
The marble bathroom overlooks a beautiful private courtyard and features a marble sunken bath, two separate vanity areas and a walk-in closet that is accessible from both the bathroom and bedroom.
I also had a peak at the pavilions and thought they offered an excellent more affordable alternative. The rooms were very large and the bathrooms also offered a sunken bath overlooking a private courtyard. The furnishings were of the same high standard as the villas and each pavillion also had a private deck.
There is a spacious Royal Villa with additional lounge in mini kitchen and a luxury two-bedroom villa, both with large swimming pools, which are ideal for families.
I was mightily impressed with the quality of all the meals at the Oberoi Lombok, especially since the property is located in the remote Northwest section of Lombok, itself much less developed than Bali.
The Sunbird café, which overlooks the sea, offers breakfast and light snacks throughout the day. There is an incredible array of breakfast offerings including Indonesia Nasi Goreng and puffed Indian bread with potato curry to the whole spectrum of Western offerings. I particularly loved the in-house smoked Tasmanian salmon with chive sour cream and Avruga caviar on a bed of crispy potatoes. Of course the tropical fruit platers and fruit drinks were also superb.
The airy Lumbung (rice storage house) restaurant is where we enjoyed our evening meals on tables dotted around the terrace beside the pool. We were spoiled for choice with an extensive array of Eastern and Western dishes. We loved the lumpia, crunchy seafood spring rolls and vegetable rice paper rolls with Asian dips, and the Lombok-style grilled lobster served with tomato sambal and sweet potato curry.
On our final night, we enjoyed a romantic candlelit dinner in one of the poolside bures where we enjoyed a marvellous array Indonesian specialties.
The Tokek (gecko) bar is a terrific spot to watch the sunset from its terrace.
On special evenings, Indonesian feasts are also served on the beach, surrounded by candles.
The resort has its own PADI certified Dive Centre down by its private pier. This is also where you can pick up a kayak to paddle around the bay.
We enjoyed the hotel’s very popular half-day trip to the Gili Islands on the hotel’s small speedboat. First we stopped at a popular snorkelling spot to explore pretty coral gardens and multi-coloured fish. Next we moored at the largest Gili Island, Gili Trawangang, which has a turtle sanctuary with dozens of baby turtles in large pools. We took a quick tour of the little car-free resort town on a colourful cart drawn by a small pony and saw dozens of small guest houses, dive shops and outdoor cafes. Back on the boat, we watched dolphin riding the bow waves before we stopped at Gili Air to enjoy a delightful picnic lunch prepared by the Oberoi at a laid-back outdoor café, which served terrific margaritas.
We also had a fabulous time planting coral right out front of the hotel in Medana Bay. This is a terrific initiative of the Oberoi Lombok in conjunction with a nearby fishing village as a way to restore coral in the bay that has been destroyed by destructive fish bombing practices. The night before we gave our names for the fishermen to paint on heart-shaped cement ‘coral holders’. The next morning we hopped on their outrigger boat to motor out to the site in the bay and don snorkels and masks to watch them place the cement on racks. Then they handed us pieces of staghorn coral and we dove down a couple of metres to place them in our heart-shaped holders. All in all a thoroughly gratifying experience.
The hotel also offers excursions into the hinterland to go hiking, see waterfalls and visit traditional villages. We took a ride in a brightly coloured horse-drawn cart to the Tanjung market as well as visiting a traditional Sasak village.
Other adventures, which are also perfect for families with children, include releasing turtle hatchlings from the Oberoi’s site on Medana Beach and Chinese lantern lighting on full moon nights where you attach a wish to a paper lantern which you light with a candle and release into the night sky.
Specially designed children’s activities include woodcarving, fish feeding from the jetty, learning Indonesian games, decorating Lombok pottery, kite making and learning Sasak dance and Rindik music.
Guests also have use of a well-equipped gym, a tennis court, and snorkelling equipment.
An Amphitheatre by the beach is the location for evening performances of local Sasak dances.
The beautifully designed health spa offers a host of massage therapies from Balinese to Ayurvedic, as well as facials and wraps. I enjoyed a sublime Balinese massage in a flower-filled, open-air pavillion followed by an outdoor shower in a private courtyard.
The Lux Traveller Loves
The classic design of the buildings in lush gardens overlooking the Gili Islands
The flawlessly prepared dishes of both Eastern and Western cuisines.
The charming and attentive staff members who always went above and beyond the call of duty to offer guests a special experience.
Once you reach the Oberoi Lombok, there are so many interesting things to do but it is important to realise that it is a long two-hour car ride to and from the airport. Boat transfers are available from Bali to a nearby harbour, but these often don’t operate if the weather is bad.
While the boat trip to the Gili Islands was an enchanting experience, we were disappointed that our boat was rather ordinary compared to the many elaborately painted traditional outrigger boats that many other hotels used.