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THE BRAND-NEW AYANA KOMODO RESORT, WAECICU BAY BOASTS EASY ACCESS TO SOME OF THE WORLD’S MOST SPECTACULAR WILDLIFE.
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).