HIDDEN TREASURE OF OPULENCE
LOCATED ON THE NORTHEAST SHORE OF LOMBOK, LIES THE ROMANTICALLY ECLECTIC TUGU HOTEL ON SIRE BEACH. NESTLING NEXT TO A SPARKLING TURQUOISE SEA AND OVERLOOKED BY MAJESTIC MOUNT RIJANI LIES THIS HIDDEN TREASURE OF OPULENCE AND MYTH MELDED INTO A TRULY UNIQUE DESTINATION.
Upon entering you know you have entered a hotel like no other. Reception is within the Rumah Ampenan, which is a traditional house that was once home to a Malay gentleman. Richly furnished in antiques and dark wood you begin your wonderous journey through a rich tapestry of the history of Lombok and beyond. The Tugu Lombok is more than a hotel it is an architectural storybook.
Anhar Setjadibrata, a medical student who then went on to become a collecting antiquarian, founded the Tugu hotels. His quest began on a starlit beach when a priest showed him a precious 16th Century ‘cupu manik’ that the priest used to sprinkle holy water over the sick. Many years later, he acquired the cup, and also established the Tugu Hotel Bali to preserve the beauty and culture of Indonesian antiques as ‘boutique museum hotels’, utterly unique and seeped in a timeless history.
Tugu Lombok is located on six hectares on Sire Beach that is kilometers of unblemished white sand beach leading into glittering azure waters, surrounded by tall, swaying palm plantations whispering gently in the wind. It is inspired by the romantic Hindu Sanskrit epic the Mahabharata. Ancient Hindu gods and goddesses permeate the lush gardens and are evident with their mystical presence in the décor of this sublimely distinctive property. It was built around the inspiration of the Hindu past of Lombok.
The Nagarakertagama is a Hindu poem written on a palm leaf in the 14th Century that was discovered in Lombok by the Dutch historian in 1894. Once translated the poem gave great insights into the Hindu past of Lombok as part of the Majapahit Kingdom. This was one of the greatest empires of the region lasting from 1293 to around 1500, and was one of the most important Hindu empires in history.
There are eighteen suites of three different categories and one honeymoon house. The house is called the Puri Dadap Merah and is based on the design of the Red Aksobya Temple of Javan scriptures. An amazing and sumptuous mixture of textures and colours mingle, to make up this magical, mysterious house. It cascades out into a mosaic petal pool overlooking the ocean and up to the heavens in a private spa and dining terrace on the temple.
The Bhagavat Gita suites are the largest of the other rooms and are in a sophisticated colonial style. Entered through a little secret garden path and imperious tall, carved doors into a luxurious room dominated by a vast four-poster. Every comfort exists within these refined suites, furnished with exquisitely elegant antiques and adjoined to a verdant garden and private pool overlooking the beach.
These rooms are designed to be very much like your home as the ethos of Tugu is to make their guests feel like they are in a private residence. Enjoy indoor or outdoor dining areas, a deep, sensuous bath under the stars or slumbering by the pool in your outdoor bale with a view of the waves lapping in from the Lombok Strait. Aloon – Aloon and Kampong Lombok villas are also available and have the same lavish cozy quality, without private pools.
Wander through the grounds with the sea constantly twinkling beside you and you will be greeted at the Bale Kokok Pletok Restaurant by the impressive and imposing design. This open air dining room and wedding hall was inspired by the Hindu legend of the Goddess Dewi Sri, who was turned into a rooster and her brother a snake by their father. She was returned to her human form by the Gods and her statue is the predominant feature of the building along with the cock head and snake that run along the roof.
The restaurant serves a variety of delicious local and international specials but the signature theme running throughout is naturally seafood that is caught literally moments from where you are on the bountiful turquoise sea. It is best to enquire what is fresh and have it steamed into a Lombok curry or grilled to perfection. Local delicacies are served everyday at high tea and you can relax at anytime of day on cushions that lead straight into the infinity pool that sweeps towards the sea.
Scattered throughout the gardens you will come across various statues of Hindu deities. These are designed to symbolize the eternal quest between the spiritual path to bliss and earthly desires. The theme carries on as you arrive at the Hening Swarga Spa, which means Heavenly Silence. This is an utterly distinctive building that rises up to the sun based on the architecture of ancient temples.
Once inside it is time to indulge in some relaxing treatments. A whole host of decadent massages using traditional herbs and aromas are available and can also be enjoyed as a couple. The spa combines western and traditional Indonesian concoctions to create some sensual sensory experiences. Again the spa is open air and part of the serenity is hearing the breeze blowing off the ocean and over you while having your massage, melting away stress and leading to pure tranquility.
The beauty of the Tugu is the myriad of surprises that lie within this fantastical place. The gallery and shop are a hidden treasure trove spilling over with antiquities and objects d’art. Through the trees a meditation space in the Sang Hyang Barong Temple, a beautiful and ornate edifice lovingly preserved. Small bamboo pagodas with beds or intimate dining areas scatter the beach and twinkle by candlelight at night. A cocktail can be enjoyed in the Lara Djonggrang Bar that could easily be an antiquarian drinking den in the Tibetan High Plateau, or enjoy a sunrise breakfast floating aboard the dragon headed antique boat with views to Mount Rinjani. Adventurers can go diving, snorkeling and mountain trekking. Or step back with traditional cooking classes or local cultural experiences.
It is this intriguing meld of traditional elegance and eccentric history that has evolved into such a personalised property. The main affect on ones senses is that of a mini kingdom full of artifacts creating an intriguing and mythical landscape imbued with an otherworldly atmosphere that is irreplaceable and impossible to replicate, much like the holy cup that gave birth to Tugu Hotel Bali.