Lombok Adventure ….. Svarga Resort
I, like most travellers now, spend a lot of time researching my holidays, poring over Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet and travel sections of the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and The Guardian to select my destination, a form of holiday foreplay …. but of course budget is what largely influences where Mr H and I decide to lay I our hat and when. Mr H informed me early in 2015 that we did not have a Maldives budget this year, (I had no idea at that time about the Florence trip and endless FortyTen celebrations he had planned for me!!) I took to the Internet in search of our next holiday destination. I like the sort/filter button that allows you to list holidays in ascending prices. Easy to see then what falls into the budget. Long Haul in September offers great value in comparison to some of the nicer European resorts and service in the Far East is second to none! Not to mention that once you arrive, eating out and transport is usually far cheaper than the UK and the rest of Europe.
And as soon as I narrow down my searches by location I then check out the ‘Terrible’ listings and try to find a balance on what I might deem to be terrible … lizards in a tropical location sadly are a force of nature and I think it is unfair to ‘mark down’ somewhere if there seems to be a bit of ‘wildlife’ in your open air bathroom.
So when I chose our resort for Lombok, Svarga which translates as Heaven, I was not swayed by the No Alcohol policy, nor by the promise of many steps to the pool and restaurant … Instead I chose to embrace the imposed health drive … No temptation of a lunchtime bottle of rosé here and if you wanted to eat you HAD to climb the steps. There is a lift which in our three and a half week stay we used 3 times. The climb to breakfast each day only served to heighten our appetite for a healthy breakfast and the views from the restaurant over the infinity pool and a swathe of palm trees to the sea and further to Bali’s Mount Agung was just reward. At the end of our stay we could just about get to the top and still hold a conversation albeit slightly breathless!
The hotel is Indonesian owned and designed, contemporary Javanese bleached wood furniture, open air bathrooms and neutral palate results in a bright modern hotel far removed from the more traditional Balinese style hotels seen closer to town. In fact Svarga seems to be one of the first to have adopted this style with other hotels opening up a little further North in Mangsit.
The hotel offers a one way shuttle service into nearby Senggigi- several trip advisor complaints bemoaned the fact the shuttle was a) one way b) only ran until 5pm c) was not always available. In answer to those complaints … Town is only a 15 minute pleasant downhill walk affording you the opportunity to get some great views of the coastline not to mention numerous offers of ‘transport’ from passers-by. For those that couldn’t manage the walk a taxi was rarely more than 5 minutes away, most of the nicer restaurants in town also offered a shuttle service in the evening …. And the most we ever paid for a taxi from hotel to town was ….. (Including a tip) the princely sum of ….. 75p ….. A little over 1 USD! Hardly cause to forfeit stars on the highly influential Trip Advisor site methinks.
Another bugbear on Trip Advisor was the no alcohol rule …. Svarga do not conceal their policy, do not prohibit alcohol on the premises they simply do not sell it and there is a wine store and bar just along from the hotel … So I can only imagine those that are ‘disappointed’ have not looked at the hotels website.
The true strength of Svarga aside from the design and stunning setting is its staff. They were the sweetest, most accommodating hotel staff we have ever met. From the room boys, to the Spa therapists, waiters, reservation manager Agus and resort service manager Zul, each and everyone took time out of their busy day to spend time making sure that we had our day planned out and everything we needed. The reception team included a delightful group of giggling girls who conjured up images of the excitable Three Little Maids from Mikado. The restaurant team ran out for a local herbal all cure-all (No More Gas!/Antiginan) when Mr H was struck down with the Lombok Trots and the complimentary extras we received throughout the trip added to our stay and hotel experience.
We organised a couple of trips through the hotel and others through an independent driver. On balance they each had their merits. The hotel driver escorted us everywhere, carried and watched our bags while we were in the sea, joined us for lunch and was full of interesting Lombok facts, insightful about his Muslim religion, knowledgeable on the economics of Lombok …. Not to mention bearing a striking resemblance to Barack Obama.
Heavenly service in a heavenly location …. Svarga