That Light Though
A new resort in Flores brings luxury to an untouched part of the island, and swift access to a World Heritage Site. Rather than intrude, it blends and flows. UNESCO
GO AHEAD, JUST TRY to stop snapping photos at dusk at the paint-still-drying new Ayana Komodo Resort, Waecicu Beach (ayana.com; doubles from Rp5,097,500), where all rooms are ocean view. Every incremental dip of the sun brings a new wave of Kodachrome, each more dramatic than the last, a fitting curtains down at the first luxury hotel in Labuan Bajo, which is nestled on a hillside, wings stretched to present all the beauty of Flores.
Boarding the back-loading prop plane at dawn in Bali, it started to sink in that I was headed somewhere special. Only so many passengers fit on this wee flight; only so many travelers come to Labuan Bajo, launchpoint to Komodo National Park, home of those giant dragons. An hour up and down and a quick drive to the resort, and I was simultaneously off the grid and swimming in that Ayana embrace. Which felt all the more special since the property prioritized recruiting locals to train to their top-notch standards. Witness: my own paparazzo, who, unrequested, followed me with my phone lens as I paddleboarded around the bay.
There's a stellar snorkeling spot off a private island a two-minute speedboat ride around the corner (look out for the deep maroon clownfish), and a glassbottom boat for those who don't want to take the plunge. The pièce de résistance is the custom, ninebedroom, liveaboard phinisi that begs you to plan a grand excursion on it and sail with 100 or so of your nearest and dearest out into the salmon sunset. I suppose a private diving trip will suffice, too. The showers in some of the cabins have floor-to-ceiling windows, and the master suite has a clawfoot tub— both of which offer divine views for end-of-day awe.