Lombok: Qunci Villas, Senggigi.

We left hotel Okawati in Ubud, Bali at 1.30pm for a 4.20pm flight from Denpasar to Lombok thinking this would give us plenty of time.  However, we hadn’t accounted for the horrendous traffic jams on account of all the road works every few metres – which got us a bit freaked as the trip seemed to take forever.  Finally got to the airport by 3pm and then had to walk what felt like miles to get to the Gurada check in counter.  Not surprisingly, as the third busiest airport in Indonesia, the place was chaotic!  Note to self – next time (believe me, there’ll be a next time!), add another half an hour for stress free ride to airport.

A twenty minute flight found us arriving in the early evening at Lombok’s new international airport, situated in Tanak Awu, in the Central Lombok District, about 30Km (or an hour’s drive) South East of Mataram, capital of West Nusa Tenggara.  We find our driver waiting for us – Farosh – who spoke excellent English and so we decide early on that we’ll hire him for the next couple of days.  As soon as we flew over Lombok, I knew we’d enjoy the place – verdant green everywhere, dotted with trees and villages and with what looked like a really good road system.

We were headed for the west coast of the island, to the township of Senggigi, and onto the Qunci Villas – not the cheapest of accommodation choices, but a five star experience for a third of the price, and well worth it we thought.Slide1Whilst not our usual choice of accommodation, we chose the Qunci Villas as much for its location as for all its various glorious amenities – Brunyfire had an ulterior motive as it was a fairly central spot to the various activities she’d planned, especially considering the extensive use of taxis that we had to employ to get around the island.

From a design perspective, Qunci Villas had a certain appeal – here minimalism met traditional Indonesian architecture, all connected by a series of integrated pavements linking individual villas to the pools, bars, restaurants and spas…………P1020427……intermingled with magnificent gardens (scrupulously maintained by an army of discrete workers, all working by hand to keep things quiet and calm for the pampered guests).P1020571Water and flowers featured throughout the whole complex and its activities……….P1020572……..not only in the many gardens and ponds…………Slide1…….but also in the general day to day details.Slide1Qunci’s owner and developer, American Scott Coffey, credits the art that is featured throughout the complex, as making it unique (check out the online magazine that features all the Qunci Villa artwork: Qunci Inspired: Art, A Key to Hospitality).

As a potter, I was intrigued with the amount of both locally produced pottery (as used in the restaurants)………P1020442……..and specially commissioned ceramics around the place that included water features and wall installations, much of which was produced and installed by fellow International Academy of Ceramics member, South African potter Hennie Meyer.

I preferred some of the more subtler pieces by Meyer and these, once again, included flowers – these pieces incorporated the numbers of the individual villas and were replenished daily with fresh flowers.P1020568Hardly surprising that water features so strongly in the design layout of Qunci Villas, established as it is along the shores of Senggigi with its intriguing black sand.  P1020430Three infinity pools separate the guests from locals on the beach who try and sell you anything from saris to surfing lessons…….. P1020530………..from fresh fish cooked on an open fire in an old oil drum……..P1020435

P1020521………..to a trip in a traditional outrigger.P1020535Lombok’s culture differs from Bali’s in that it is the product of a complex cultural mix.  Islam arrived during the 16th century and over time the dominant ethnic group – the Sasaks, who today make up 85 per cent of the population – became Muslim.  Every morning (it became our wake up call) and throughout the day, the call to prayer could be heard.  And no, she’s not praying.  This was my personal spa carer and masseuse!P1020541P1020439P1020441Mount Agung in Bali from Qunci Villas, Lombok.DSCF7629Enough of the luxuries – Brunyfire had some serious research to do…………

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