Wel­come to Flores


Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia - - SPONSORED SERIES -

THE WORLD’S LARGEST LIZARD might not be the first thing you think of when try­ing to con­jure “lux­ury,” but maybe that’s be­cause there’s never been a five-star gate­way to Ko­modo Na­tional Park be­fore. AYANA Ko­modo Re­sort, Wae­cicu Beach is the pam­per­ing launch­pad to a plethora of nat­u­ral won­ders. AYANA’s re­cre­ation team will guide you to the park, a UN­ESCO World Her­itage Site and Man and Bio­sphere Re­serve, where rangers in­tro­duce you to the world’s largest lizards, the up-to-three-me­ter-tall Ko­modo drag­ons who of­fer such rich evo­lu­tion­ary in­sights. At the junc­ture of two con­ti­nen­tal plates, the park has a wealth of unique en­demic wildlife, and strong cur­rents bring dol­phins, dugongs, sea tur­tles and whales for your spot­ting plea­sure. AYANA’s glass-bot­tom boat was cus­tom-built for this! Be­fore the ho­tel came along, the high­est-end way to ac­cess th­ese an­i­mals has been via live­aboards. Though we smugly note that the re­sort has one of their own: a su­per-luxe, nine-bed­room, phin­isi-style yacht, AYANA Lako di’a, which makes for a mag­i­cal dive-trip home base (or the most im­pres­sive sea­far­ing wed­ding lo­ca­tion ever). Back on Labuan Bajo, there’s a two-tiered pool for chill­ing, a plush spa, an ocean-view gym... wait, ac­tu­ally, all the rooms are ocean-view, and most pro­vide a clear hori­zon sight-line from your tub! You’ll eas­ily spend an en­tire af­ter­noon at the re­sort’s pri­vate islet, tucked two min­utes around the cor­ner, where the bay is a kalei­descopic co­ral gar­den, teem­ing with life. If you need a lit­tle break from snor­kel­ing with Nemo and his pals, just swim up to shore and kick back in one of their lounge chairs with an icy beer or roselle tea, on the se­cluded sandy beach manned by a friendly AYANA life­guard. The eas­i­est way to get a sense of place? Pad­dle­board out past the pri­vate pier and about-face. Time it right and you’ll catch a pro­pel­ler plane tak­ing off through the trees, as­cend­ing through the val­ley, dis­ap­pear­ing be­hind the hill down which AYANA Ko­modo cas­cades, and reap­pear­ing to soar into the cerulean skies. The small­ness of the air­craft will drive home how few peo­ple come here, the swift­ness of its de­par­ture will have you shak­ing your head in pity for those who leave. Ah, never mind. Eyes on the hori­zon. Your at­ten­tion will quickly refocus to the seren­ity of th­ese lit­tle-tram­meled In­done­sian seas. ayana.com; dou­bles from US$500 (sub­ject to 21% tax and ser­vices).

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