Remote but by no means isolated, deliciously private, flanked by an almost-deserted beach and blessed with one of the most beautiful panoramic views on earth, Villa Sapi is a rare treasure on the island of Lombok.
Sapi – meaning ‘cow’ in Indonesian – is an unusual name for a villa, but before it was developed into the architectural wonder that it is today, the property was a simple piece of grazing land for cows, the most prized possessions of any Indonesian farmer and representing the family’s status, wealth and happiness. It’s only fitting that the owners decided to name their villa in honour of these graceful creatures. Sapi is quite the cherished prize, and its title fits it to a T-bone.
Villa Sapi is Fantasy Island come to life, with avant-garde architecture, wide open living spaces, five bedrooms, a funky home-theatre, three swimming pools plus a kids’ pool, a tennis court and an in-ground ‘Hobbit Hole’ guesthouse. A fine selection of artwork in all forms of media includes a steel wall sculpture, which, in the context of the villa’s Bauhaus design borrowings, ‘makes perfect sense’.
The staffing is effortless. The chef and head butler have both worked for the prestigious Oberoi Hotel Group and their experience shines in the service and on the plate. In fact, the fixed daily charge for three gourmet meals is an absolute bargain. The chef will discuss your preferences and then blow you away with his creations. The rest of the all-male crew are friendly yet super-discrete. The manager is also Oberoi alumni and will organise a slew of activities, including boat excursions, road trips, bike rides and dive tours, to keep everyone amused.
Villa Sapi is extremely suitable for a family, a group of friends, or – if you can afford it – a couple alone. Having all this beauty to yourself in such a gloriously romantic location will ignite enough sparks for a lifetime.
The only negative thing about Villa Sapi is the inevitable departure, because guests will want to stay there until the cows come home…and that’s no bull!
|Size||Sleeps up to 10, 5 bedrooms|
|Family friendly||Great for children of all ages, Suitable for people with restricted mobility|
|Notes||No pets allowed, No smoking at this property|
|Luxuries||Private indoor pool|
|Pool||Private indoor pool|
|General||Air conditioning, TV, Wi-Fi available|
|Rooms||5 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms of which 7 Family bathrooms|
|Furniture||Double beds (5)|
|Outdoors||Private indoor pool|
Lombok, Bali's beautiful next-door neighbour, rarely receives the attention she deserves. Although there are only 35km of sea between these two islands, the physical and cultural distinctions are considerable. Towering mountains, mighty waterfalls, pristine white-sand beaches, magnificent coral reefs, pearl encrusted shores, a unique Sasak culture and tranquillity are among Lombok's many charms.
In general, Lombok entices the more adventurous travellers who have, perhaps, already explored Bali and are hungry to journey further afield. The island is also a haven for those in search of peace and quiet. A visit to Lombok is an opportunity to explore a natural paradise, trek the Rinjani National Park, enjoy some fantastic diving and snorkelling, surf some of the best waves in Indonesia, and encounter a traditional, rural way of life exposing a fascinating integration of Muslim and Hindu cultures. Visitors are welcomed at the splendid Sasak festivals and Hindu ceremonies, and the island produces some remarkable handicrafts. In the tiny villages artisans can be seen at work creating textiles, baskets and pots.
Predictions in the early '90s that Lombok was following fast on the heels of Bali in terms of tourism were never actually realised. Likewise it is a misconception to view Lombok as the Bali of 20 years ago, comparisons are inevitable but contrasts are marked and the two islands differ in almost every respect.
The beaches in Lombok are beautiful. The roller-coaster road hugs the dramatic coastline around cool coconut groves, sweeping bays and towering headlands. Although there are a few luxury hotels and villas in the area north of Senggigi, huge expanses of Lombok's shores are totally undeveloped with just a few small villages dotted inland. Many of the beaches are festooned with candy-coloured jukung. These traditional canoe-shaped fishing vessels are crafted from a single hollowed out tree trunk, with bamboo outriggers and a distinctive prow decorated and shaped like a marlin's head. Some of the island's most spectacular coastal scenery can be found on the southern shores. Windswept sandy beaches and picturesque bays are separated by headlands and awesome rocky outcrops. The glorious crescent-shaped beaches of Lombok's Kuta (often confused with Bali's Kuta) and Tanjung Aan are famous for their surf breaks, and when the tide is out, the bays turn into shallow pools of turquoise water.
In October 2011, Lombok's long awaited Bandara International Airport opened near the township of Praya, about 40km south of Lombok's capital, Mataram, and approximately a two-hour drive from the north-west of the island, which is home to most of Lombok's luxury private villas. Although this new airport currently (Jan 2013) only offers international flights from Singapore (Silkair) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Air Asia), regular connecting flights from Bali's Denpasar Airport take only 25 minutes.
The relatively unknown area around the village of Tanjung on the north-west coast of Lombok is gradually evolving into the island's main villa location, with new properties now springing up (around Sira Beach in particular), albeit slowly. Tanjung itself is an attractive market village with stalls overflowing with indigenous produce, including blocks of locally harvested tobacco.
Located right beside Sira Beach is the Lombok Golf Kosaido Country Club, a scenic 18-hole championship course, which challenges golfers of all levels and is open to the public. The Oberoi Lombok Hotel and Hotel Tugu Lombok (an atmospheric, antique chic hotel with a restaurant and bar open to outside guests) are perhaps Tanjung's best known residents.
The tiny port of Bangsal (4km) is a stepping off point for the Gilis whilst Teluk Nara (6km) is where the high speed ferries from Bali arrive. Senggigi, 23 kilometres south, is the most developed tourist area on Lombok (one of the few spots on the main island with any nightlife), yet still pretty quiet and laid-back. Finally, the Rinjani National Park (59km) is full of untamed jungle, wildlife, waterfalls and a volcanic peak just waiting to be scaled.