We wanted to skip the beaches on Bali in our eternal search for that special place. After the crowds of Bali, Lombok feels like quiet backwaters, and many say it is like Bali 30 years ago. I can’t tell, but today the villages on this predominantly Muslim island seem less prosperous than in the neighbouring island and the popular Senggigi tourist township looks like it’s glory days are well over. At the same time the new international airport and hectic building sites along the shore suggest Lombok is going to see an increase in tourism. As soon as we arrived to our hotel, I saw why.
We wanted to stay in a villa and right on the beach and chose the highly rated Qunci Villas (prices starting at about 400 RM/villa) a short drive from Senggigi, and about 1,5 hours from the airport. We took a quick and eventless 30 min flight from Bali but you can also fly directly from KL. Our friendly driver organised by the hotel took a detour to some local weavers’ shops – if you want to get to your accommodation quickly, turn down any offers for shopping or sightseeing on the way, there is a quick and a slow road to Senggigi.
The hotel is set on a sweeping beach looking across the sea towards Bali. The two long swimming pools are right by the sea with ample sun loungers. There is also an adults-only swimming pool for those honeymooners. The hotel is not a family resort as such: no kids’ club or slides here. Instead, there are surfer dudes happy to give a lesson on the beach just outside the hotel and you can always organise a trip to the nearby Gili islands. Trips are also available for those whose idea of a holiday consists of hiking volcanoes. The resort is definitely family friendly and there were many families with young children.
The food is a gorgeous mix of local ingredients and international style and there are healthy options for kids. We ventured to the restaurants in Senggigi but didn’t think they compared with Qunci. Along the same beach there is a cheap and cheerful warung for those days when you just want a nasi goreng and a Bintang – and a smaller price tag.
Local ladies sell (rather persistently) sarongs on the beach, and there is some good shopping in Senggigi (here I found the Buddha head heaven I thought I would find in Bali). Lombok is home to some amazing craftsmen and women, and next time I will make sure I have time to venture out to the villages that specialise in different traditional crafts. It was nice to see that the security of Qunci Villas was lenient on the locals trying to earn a living by selling stuff and services on the beach, and who were more than happy to have a chat on the island matters.
The praise for Qunci Villas on hotel review sites is well-founded. The grounds are beautiful, villas tastefully decorated and the sunsets (and 2 for 1 sundowners) are unbeatable.