“Eco-friendly luxury on a serene private island in Indonesia - just 2 hours from Singapore”
A scattering of 15 Zen-like stilted wooden beach houses, each with 1, 2 or 3 bedrooms, lines the western coast. They're generously spread across 5 hectares - and the island's remaining 10 hectares are a wildlife sanctuary - so the place doesn't feel overly crowded (though we fear it would if more were built).
Each house is open to the elements and has been created using driftwood and thatched grass alang alang roofs. The 2- and 3-bedroom houses have spilt-level, spacious wooden walkways between the bedrooms and bathrooms.
Décor is cream and white with polished wooden floors. Rooms are enhanced with seashell-embellished furniture, cosy sofas and wooden deckchairs on the verandas, which face the ocean. Ceilings are high and vaulted with fans; windows are open and unglassed. Downstairs is an open sand-floored lounge area complete with daybeds and a massage sala. Each house has an iPod dock and speaker system.
The bedrooms are all on the upper floor and feature kingsize four-poster beds draped with mosquito nets and dressed with luxurious white cotton linen; this is changed every other day. Bathrooms are artfully crafted from natural stone and wood; you get a shower and basic toiletries such as shampoo and body wash.
Sustainable energy is the overall focus. The houses were designed to not need air con, using fans or open windows instead (hence the houses are all sea facing for that breeze).
Meals are created using fresh, seasonal and local ingredients; menus change on a day-to-day basis. Guests get 3 meals a day (it's a lot of food), which are taken at a communal table in the open-sided, sand-floor restaurant at the beachfront clubhouse. If you want more privacy, secluded picnics can be arranged on the beach or on a neighbouring deserted island.
Although not exactly fine dining, the resort serves up tasty simple fare in generous portions. The service is slick and attentive. The highlight of our stay was a seafood lunch: generous portions of juicy baked snapper, steamed bok choi with soy and garlic, fresh Niçoise salad and vivid saffron rice, followed by a warm, rich chocolate torte.
Dinner was a choice of tender steak or freshly caught fish with a rustic tomato pasta, a selection of stir-fried or steamed vegetables, and a melt-in-the-mouth dessert - ours was an apple tart. Breakfasts are quite basic - tropical fruit, cereal, and eggs with toast - but are still satisfying.
Cocktails at Nikoi are the order of the day - and priced very reasonably for a private island. Yogi (the famed bar manager) has an inventive streak and dishes up his own tried and tested cocktails alongside regular classics. The favourite - his ‘Yogicolada’ - was creamy (fresh coconut cream) and fruity with a nice kick. All drinks can be served in any of the 3 bars, or taken back to your villa.
i-escape's Best for Kids Awards 2013
Winner: Robinson Crusoe category
This is a great place for kids - the staff are very attentive towards children and are genuinely delighted to take them on walks and adventures. They can take care of kids of any age, and babysitters are always available.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Some 2-bedroom houses have 1 double room and 1 twin room (others have 2 double rooms). Some 1-bedroom houses have a separate sleeping area with bunk beds, ideal for children.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The informal Kids Club runs activities everyday, from making shell necklaces or bows and arrows, to nature walks, rock climbing and jetty jumping. Older children can enjoy watersports (including a floating trampoline), and the staff keep younger children entertained in the evenings with pirate treasure hunts and open-air screenings of children's films.
Food can be served in your beach house or in the restaurant and you can also order picnic hampers. Children are charged at half an adult rate. It is usual for children's meals to be served separately from adults' meals, so let the staff know if you want to eat together. The children's menu changes daily, but popular dishes include fish and chips, roast chicken, hamburgers and, of course, fresh fruit.
Because the island is surrounded by coral, toddlers and babies might need aquasocks.