The Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort.
The quaint Lombok air terminal.
After a few days in Nusa Dua, Bali, my traveling companion Ben and I were off to Bali’s sister island, Lombok.
Our Lombok adventure began with the cab driving cousin of our Bali driver, Budi, who dropped us off at the Bali domestic airport for the short flight to Lombok. The international terminal was modern and clean but the domestic terminal was a different experience. There was no ID check matched to boarding passes. Security was such a breeze.
Lombok travel options from Bali are the cheap four hour ferry or a 20 minute plane ride, which we took. It was November, the monsoon season, and it was raining as we loaded ourselves into a Pan Am-era plane after waiving bon voyage to the people on the tarmac.
When I sat down, the armrest fell off and I noticed that an emergency exit sign was wired shut with some type of copper wiring. We were two of the “western” looking couples onboard, and the Spanish couple also had whispering concerns about the flight. An announcement in Javanese came over the intercom and we were off. As the plane gained speed a luggage compartment latch snapped as the nose began to lift, It was my shortest flight; we ascended and descended in a matter of 15 minutes for more tropical paradise.
Natural lushness at the tropical Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort.
Lombok is predominately inhabited with an animistic Islamic culture called Sasak. They have a specific dress and a style of housing. Lombok is named after a chili pepper. Lombok is what Bali once was before it became the popular vacation spot.
The Muslim culture on Lombok is far removed from what is seen on TV; one form of Islam is only found on Lombok. The scenery on Lombok is stunning. Often during our short three days on the island I felt deserted as a castaway – lush, green. and natural.
We passed small villages on the route to the Sheraton Senggigi (pronounced Sen Gee-Gee) Beach Hotel. I was all ready grooving into the slow island pace We arrived at the Senggigi Beach Hotel and met up with Lilis, whom is with the hotel; she had arranged numerous activities for us.
Our sunny Senggigi beach.
We were tired and wet from the tropical rain, but of course wanted to explore the resort and the beach. I grabbed an umbrella. Ben decided he didn’t need one and we walked down to the ocean. The salt and pepper sand was moist under our feet and the water was warm as we dipped our toes into it. Wooden fishing boats lined the beach in an orderly fashion. Senggigi Beach is a stretch of half moon shaped coastline on the western side of Lombok, one of the few places on the island open to outsiders.
The exquisite Resort lobby.
The grounds at Lombok’s only 5- Star resort, the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Hotel, were beautiful; tall palms swaying and frangipani and heliconia lining the property. The grand lobby had a rustic tropical infusion feeling, like an outdoor island lodge.
The hotel features 161 rooms, 14 suites, and two private villas (about as big as my entire house), and all were recently remodeled and updated with new decor.
Our deluxe ocean terrace room.
Our ground floor room had sliding glass doors that opened up to the Indian Ocean breezes. I eyed the modern furniture and famous Sheraton “Sweet Sleeper” bed.
This resort is the top resort on Lombok. It has splendid luxuries, yet rustic. We viewed two opulent and posh villas fit for celebrities. They each come with a private pool, private entrance, and direct beach access.
The executive suites have either one or two bedrooms, separate living area, dining/ conference table, and a spacious veranda that overlooks the ocean.
My favorite area of our deluxe ocean terrace room was in fact the terrace. Dark wood slat flooring was gentle on the feet; loggia shaded us from the tropical rain; an oversized chaise lounge was the perfect place for late afternoon and evening lounging and listening to the waves.
In fact, the first night we spent on Lombok, the gentle rains had left lingering clouds in the dusk sky which presented a sunset unlike any either of us had ever witnessed — purples, oranges, and fiery reds backing the beginnings of a cobalt moonlit night.
Executive suite living room.
That evening we had a prix fixe dinner at the hotel’s main restaurant, Kebun Anggrek. The dishes were perfectly plated and everything we tasted was wonderfully infused with the influences of Indonesia, India, and Thailand.
We had a starter of Tandoori lamb and chicken and squid. Our main dish of Lombok Prawns with Vindaloo dip accompanied by the Mexican staple of flour tortillas was hands down the best prawns we ate while in Indonesia. For dessert it was a twist on the classic Indian Samosa, a decadent chocolate, banana samosa tinged with mint.
We were up around 6:30 the next morning for a walk on the beach. The rain had succumbed and activity was spreading. A quaint market had been set up as fishermen departed for the daily catch; men, women wore head wraps; children frolicked in the warm ocean. We stirred up much interest on the beach, perhaps due to our western looks and tattoos which were not common on Lombok. One gentleman asked us to take his boy back to America with us.
Exterior of Kebun Angorek restaurant.
Kebun Angorek is near the beach.
Later we linked up with Lilis for breakfast on one of the traditional wooden boats plying Mipah Bay — our first of several voyages on one of the skinny, outrigger like crafts. We navigated north up the coast for spectacular mountain views. Valley after valley of lush dense green jungle provided photo opportunities. The crystal clear water was a deep aqua forest green. After rounding a bend we were in the calm and gentle Mipah Bay.
Ben jumped into the water and told me he could feel tropical sea lice stinging his skin; from the guide book we knew they were uncomfortable but non threatening. So I took the intrepid plunge as well.
The spa uses natural Lombok products.
Later that afternoon the resort’s Laguna Spa therapists provided a quaint but fine spa service for us. The wave crashing ocean side massage ended with a cup of refreshing ginger tea. The Laguna Beach Spa provides a comfortable atmosphere in which to relax and reenergize. The highly-trained therapists deliver a wide range of facial and body treatments, massages, and beauty treatments. At Laguna Beach Spa, an exclusive range of treatments use the Thalgo range of marine beauty products, together with essential body care treatments from Bali and Java, using locally-derived natural products.
Hatchlings get a free ride.
Hotel guests can sponsor green or leatherback turtle hatchlings. These little babies are taken care of under the kind and gentle wings of landscape supervisor, Marzuki, who gave us a friendly wave; he explained guest funds purchase turtle eggs from the traditional local market, thus saving them from becoming a “delicacy”. The resort’s conservation efforts incubate and hatch the eggs, allowing the turtles to develop naturally, crack their own shells and peak their beaks into their new life and birthplace at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort. Once old enough they are released into the ocean.
Marzuki gave Ben and I each our own little hatchling and explained that we needed to bring them to the shore, place them onto the sand and not help them into the water. Within minutes we had named our turtles after our friends Budi and Sugeng from Nusa Dua, Bali.
Sugeng was quickly off, flapping his flippers towards the sea, leaving his prints in the sand. Budi stayed back and then realized it was survival of the fittest. Documented cases reveal the turtles often return 25 years later and I hope that Mr. Budi and Mr. Sugeng come back for another visit to the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort.
Spend an afternoon at the pool.
We spent our afternoons playing Jenga at the outdoor lounge, sweating profusely on the tennis courts, and drinking Ankars (a lesser known Javanese beer) by the pool featuring a slide through the mouth of a smoking tiki god. Ben decided to rent a kayak and check the surf around the point, but he was waylaid by two boys who said they had walked 45 minutes from their village to practice their English. Ben could not say no. I went through two tropical storms sitting under the oversized umbrella on my pool chair until Ben returned from English 101.
The resort’s Bawang Putih Grill.
The hotel offers a special romantic Paradise Dinner; guests enjoy a four course meal in an intimate outdoor cabana on the seashore. Mr. Wedia, our private waiter, provided us with phenomenal on point service and he enhanced our meal with his conversation and genuine care for our happiness. Upon our arrival there were plates on the table that said, “Welcome Mr./Mrs. Davis to Paradise Dinner”. I guess our matrimony had become complete.
Faun over the fresh prawns.
We dined on jumbo prawns with a pineapple salsa, a palate cleansing lemon liquor sorbet, and then continued to our main course of grilled Lombok lobster and Australian tenderloin served with local market fresh vegetables. I would certainly recommend this dinner to any couple staying at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort.
We stayed at six resorts during our trip to Bali and Lombok and the Sheraton Senggigi Resort wins my #1 vote for best ways to spend your day — activities were limitless. In addition to the above and below mentioned activities, the resort also offers cooking classes, scuba arrangements, and fishing expeditions. The hotel concierges can accommodate any Lombok wish!
Cruising to the Gili Islands.
Our last morning on Lombok, we jumped back on one of the wooden boats and cruised out to a tiny island called Gili Trawangan. After a quick 45 minute boat ride we landed on the shore that many backpackers and travelers enjoy visiting. There are no cars or motor bikes on the Gili Islands(there are actually 3 Gili Islands) and the main method of traveling is either by a horse drawn cart, bicycle, or your own two feet.
Our guide took us snorkeling right from shore. Although the current was strong, our guide knew exactly where to go. The water was the clearest I have ever experienced and the best part was the sheer drop off into the oceanic abyss 50 feet off the coast. I felt like a big fish in an even bigger aquarium.
We quickly dried off due to the equatorial heat; tropical clouds were rolling on shore. We had a bite to eat and were joined by seven local short tail cats that swept by our feet hoping for a scrap or two.
After three days of bliss on our way back to the Mataram airport we stopped at the monkey forest and fed peanuts to the little gray monkeys.
Last call for Ankars at Sunset Bar.
At the airport we hung around the Sheraton lounge waiting for one of only two gates to be designated for our plane. Since it was still raining we were delayed for a few hours. We decided to have an Ankar and started up a conversation with a couple of guys at the bar. They were in a band called Peter Pan which turned out to be the biggest rock/pop band in all of Indonesia. Who knew? Their flight was also delayed so it was fun trading stories of musical and travel interest.
At last, we heard, “Flight #1 to Denpasar, Bali now boarding at gate #1.” We flew out just as we arrived — in the rain. On the 15 minute flight returning to Bali, I thought fondly of our turtles. I hoped to return to Lombok and find myself lounging in the sun at the Sheraton Senggigi Resort, well before our turtles Budi and Sugeng find their way back to Senggigi’s pristine shore.
To contact or book a room at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort:
Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort
Senggigi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia
Jalan Raya Senggigi KM 8
PO Box 1154, Mataram 83001
Phone 62 370 693333
— Feature by Michelle Schoser, Jetsetters Magazine San Diego Correspondent; photos by Michelle and courtesy of Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort.