Dec 19, 2008

Travel - Barefoot Luxury in Indonesia

Ed Peters

"Boutique" is no longer chic: the next generation of Asian resorts is all about "barefoot luxury" — an upmarket restatement of the backpacker beach holiday, stressing simplicity and raw nature. Nikoi Island,, is a good example.

Ringed by white-sand beaches and coral reefs, and lying some 53 miles (85 km) southeast of Singapore, the Indonesian island of Nikoi comprises 37 rainforest-covered acres (15 hectares). The six two-story thatched beach houses (nine more are due to open in mid-2009) were built using driftwood. Double-vaulted roofs draw hot air up, so there's no need for air-conditioners. Guests will search in vain for televisions, but there are iPod speakers, stone-floored open bathrooms, a pavilion for massages and direct access to the beach. (For more travel tips and stories visit

Meals are served on a dining-room table carved from a 30-ft. (9 m) slab of driftwood. Guests can also head out for a picnic on a nearby deserted island. A quartet of bars comprises the pre- and postprandial entertainment.

Two swimming pools have been sculpted among granite boulders on the north side of the island, and there are ample opportunities for sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling and rock-climbing. Movies are screened outdoors, and a nightly beach bonfire provides the perfect chance for stargazing. Mainstream destinations like Phuket and Bali used to supply au naturel pleasures such as these; the good news is that Nikoi is not going to change.

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