CHECK IT OUT BAWAH ISLAND, INDONESIA
Fans of barefoot luxury have a new address — a remote eco-resort in the southern Indonesian Anambas opening at the end of this month.
Catering to a maximum 70 guests in 24 suites and 11 overwater bungalows, Bawah Island resort is tucked away on an untouched archipelago in a marine conservation area made up of five small islands, three lagoons and 13 powder-white sand beaches.
Three hours from Singapore via ferry and private seaplane, the resort lies half way between the Malay Peninsula and Borneo in the South China Sea; development has been low key and everything on the island built by hand, with no heavy machinery involved.
The unfussy but very smart tented safari suites are tucked into virgin jungle near the sand with recycled teak floors and private decks looking out to stunning lagoon views.
Natural finishes include driftwood, bamboo and recycled timbers, while the large bathrooms use recycled copper.
Resort facilities include a tree-top restaurant and wood-panelled library, three bars and a beachfront infinity pool. The Aura Wellness Centre offers tailored yoga and Pilates classes as well as meditation and reiki sessions.
This part of Southeast Asia is well known for snorkelling and diving and the island represents a kind of Robinson Crusoe paradise with clear waters and untouched forest. Pesticides are banned as is fishing or anchoring in Bawah’s waters and guests can enjoy a range of marinebased activities as well as forest hikes.
DON’T MISS: Exploring the “river” by canoe at high tide, a wonderful journey following an arm of the sea squeezed between mangroves and the island and leading to a beautiful lagoon with a long beach. DINING IN & OUT: Executive chef Omar Bernardi favours a free-flowing approach to island dining. In the tree-top restaurant, he’s planning no fixed or a la carte menus but dishes will be prepared each day based on what’s available locally and in the onsite permaculture garden and to suit guests’ preferences. If you fancy a picnic on the beach, Bernardi suggests the likes of green Asian gazpacho followed by slow-cooked octopus with pineapple. By the pool, have the kitchen rustle up the likes of lamb nasi goreng burritos. Leave space for dessert at dinner with signature dishes including Balinese black rice pudding with cardamom and white chocolate ice cream.
ASK THE CONCIERGE: At sunrise, guests can search for turtle nests on Sanggah Island; later in the day, take a tour of the kitchen gardens with resident permaculture expert Jonathan.
CHECKING IN: From $US1960 ($2503) a couple a night including round-trip transfers from Singapore, all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, daily laundry, minibar and activities. More: bawahisland.com.
ALSO TRY: The Brando, French Polynesia; Nihiwatu, Sumba Island, Indonesia; Cempedak, Indonesia.