While Bali is Indonesia’s most popular destination, its lesser-known neighbor – the island of Lombok – is a hidden jewel that families should consider exploring. And when there, Hotel Tugu is the ideal place to call home.
While Lombok is only a 20-minute flight from Bali, it’s then a two-hour car ride from the airport to Hotel Tugu. But don’t let that dissuade you. A stay at Hotel Tugu will leave a lasting memory. Plus, it provides a much-needed respite after navigating the crowded and bustling island of Bali.
Hotel Tugu sits on the pristine sand of Sire beach on the Bali Sea. Unlike the rough and unpredictable Indian Ocean travelers experience on Bali, the Bali Sea is calm, warm and inviting.
Many luxury properties in Indonesia tend to have a modern, minimalistic feel, but Hotel Tugu aims to capture the art, soul and romance of Indonesia’s history. The owner of Tugu is the largest antique collector in Indonesia, and he designed the hotels (there are a handful throughout the country) to house his collection and share it with travelers. Antiques fill the lobby, line the walkways, and decorate the rooms. Travelers are immersed in Indonesia’s culture, simply by setting foot on the property. There’s also a museum store on site, where many antiques can be purchased.
Hotel Tugu offers eight styles of rooms and suites. The Bhagavat Gita (translated to “Song a Heaven”) oceanfront suites are a popular choice. These suites have high thatched ceilings, massive antique doors, bathtubs carved from boulders, and private plunge pools overlooking the ocean.
Many guests of Hotel Tugu spend their days lounging by the infinity pool or snorkeling at the beach. But a popular adventure is a 20-minute dragon boat ride to the Gili Islands. (This magnificent dragon boat was designed and created by Tugu based on folklore — the story of the Sea Dragon King, who lived in the waters off Sire beach. This is a story worth hearing when you visit the property.)
The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands. The lifestyle on the islands is relaxed and laid-back – no cars or motor scooters are allowed; transportation is limited to horse-drawn carts or bicycles. The water around these islands is crystal clear, and filled with coral reefs and brightly colored fish – it’s a snorkeler’s paradise. Tugu will provide all the snorkeling gear needed, and the boat’s captains are eager to search for the perfect spot for families to explore (in and out of the water).
While exploring the Gilis, a peek at the turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno (the middle of the three islands) is a must. This sanctuary was established to help ensure the ongoing survival of sea turtles common in this area. Because turtle eggs are often snatched by predators, the locals now search for the eggs and turn them over to the sanctuary. Here, they’re placed in secure incubation areas, where they can hatch naturally. When the baby turtles are strong and healthy, they’re released into the sea. Travelers can help release the turtles, by making a donation to the sanctuary. These donations help keep the sanctuary up and running.
Back at Hotel Tugu, a private cooking class is another popular activity. The class starts with a visit to the local market, where travelers are submerged into the daily way of life for the Lomboknese. The guests return to Tugu where they prepare a small feast at an outdoor kitchen area.
Other on-property activities include an herbal drink class (guests learn herbal mixes used for healing and rejuvenation), a pearl cultivation class, and a drum and dance class. There’s also an abundance of off-site activities that Hotel Tugu can arrange, from golfing to exploring waterfalls to visiting temples.
All guests at Hotel Tugu receive a complimentary 15-minute massage at the spa. But once guests get a glimpse of the spa, they want more!
The spa is an open-aired temple lit by oil lamps. Aromas from flowers (that are considered holy) and incense fill the air. Popular treatments are the volcanic and sea shell facial, the stress relaxing massage, and the herbal/milk bath. Guests can also schedule yoga or mediation sessions on the roof of the temple.
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Editor’s Note: Photos by Christine Roher except where noted.
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