For some people, travel to Indonesia may conjure images of shanty beach hostels and self-discovery trips à la Eat, Pray, Love — but this year’s list of our readers’ favorite resort hotels underscores the upscale side of the destination. Top-tier international hotel are creating an array of luxury travel experiences around the nation’s diverse charms.
All of this year’s winning properties can be found on the same island — except one. The outlier is Nihi Sumba Island, an eco-friendly resort set near a major surf break on Sumba, one of Indonesia’s southernmost islands. The property, which T+L readers have voted the best hotel in the world for two years in a row, continues to up its game after a rebranding last year by entrepreneurs Christopher Burch and James McBride. Guests can go spearfishing with locals, visit Stone Age sites and traditional villages, and, of course, surf the epic waves. Nihi Sumba’s success speaks to a larger desire for excursions and accommodations that go beyond the big-box beach resort experience, said one reader. “This is a hotel than cannot have been created by hoteliers. It was created by maverick individuals and honed by professionals.”
With the exception of Nihi Sumba, however, 2018 is very clearly the year of Bali. Its velvety stretches of sand and crystalline waters won over readers at two of this year’s winning properties, the Alila Manggis and the Mulia Bali, both beachfront hotels. But activities go beyond the sea: at Alila Manggis, staffers can arrange for you to meet a Balian healer or ride bikes down Mount Agung. At the family-friendly Mulia, kids can take Balinese dance or flower-arranging classes.
The other two resort hotels are located inland, speaking to Bali’s appeal as more than “just” a beach destination. They are close to Ubud, the cultural heart of the island, set amid the rice paddies and rain forests of Bali’s central highlands. Said one guest of this year’s first-place property, which also happens to be the No. 1 in the world: “We can find beach resorts in other countries, but this unique hotel, in a beautiful river valley in the jungle, is one of a kind.”
So what property is this year’s best resort hotel in Indonesia? Read on to find out.
Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
Claiming the top spot in this category — and No. 1 in the world overall — is the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, which also ranked No. 1 in the world back in 2005. This 60-room property, a collection of suites and private villas overlooking the Ayung River, is the ultimate rain-forest retreat, thanks to its serene location and plethora of on-site activities (think complimentary yoga classes and temple tours). Among the property’s many highlights is its Sacred River Spa, which offers chakra ceremonies and traditional Balinese healing rituals. But it was the resort’s majestic location that really made an impression with T+L readers. Said one fan: “The grounds are very well kept, and the scenery was heavenly and serene, with gorgeous jungle vistas. From our villa we could see our private pool, the Ayung River, and the rain forest beyond. Spectacular!”