The speedboat was hitting the waves – almost like hitting cement – really hard, jarring my back repeatedly. An uncomfortable yet thrilling ride indeed.

But I gave thanks for the super speed as it took only 10 minutes to reach the jetty in Gili Trawangan from the Lombok harbour points. That assuaged my seasickness worries as the seas can be quite choppy.

I was even more thankful for having chosen Hotel Vila Ombak as my accommodation of choice for my two nights there. They not only arranged the speedboat but their jetty is a private one for hotel guests only, and you basically arrive at the doorstep. When I saw the options for the general public – long queues, overloading of passengers and goods, harassment from the many touts, the 25-minute journey, and having to dock at the main jetty – I again offered a silent prayer of gratitude.

The rest of the resort-like accommodation doesn’t disappoint. The gardens are quite well landscaped, with various spots to relax in. What first greets you is the sight of the main saltwater pool with a jacuzzi; it’s on the smallish side but with a great view of the sea, which is just under 100m away. There is also another pool called the Hidden Pool at the back, closer to the rooms.

The Hidden Pool, and the Superior Lumbung Terrace units (on the right).

The Hidden Pool, and the Superior Lumbung Terrace units (on the right).

My room, a Superior Lumbung Terrace (total: 72 units), was right in front of that pool. There are units on both the ground and first floors, all built in the local Sasak style. Most units have double beds as this is very much a couples’ island (read: romantic). The bathroom is reminiscent of Bali-style ones as it is almost as huge as the room, and comes with an outdoor (open-air) shower. Each porch has a long sofa and a hammock, which I found to be a nice touch as it embodied the lazy chill island feel.

The buildings are kind of old but that’s not too surprising as this is the pioneer international hotel on Gili T (as some are wont to shorten Trawangan to), with all of 17 years in operation. So the TV was old-style, and there was only one plug point in the room, and another in the bathroom, and the lights were old-school (dim – again, perhaps the right word should be romantic). Everything else that you would expect in an international-standard room was available.

There are other accommodation options – traditional style Lumbung Huts (perfect for romantic couples), Deluxe Ombak Rooms, Deluxe Family Bungalows and Akoya Pool Villas (single room and two rooms). When I was there, the hotel only had five units available and the weekend nights were overbooked. So, yes, this place is pretty popular.

While Vila Ombak provides complimentary WiFi in their public spaces and the rooms, it proved to be more of a pain than a help. It was practically down for most of the period and the speed was quite slow. If you really need to use the Internet, perhaps get a local SIM card which comes cheap.

They have three restaurants here. Lunch and dinner are served at the fine dining Ombak Joglo Restaurant. I tried dishes from the lunch and dinner menus, and they were quite nice. You have to try the Ayam Taliwang ala Vila Ombak as the dish is a Lombok speciality. It is supposed to be a spicy BBQ sauce on chicken with eggplant – tasty but its “spiciness” is for Western palates.

You can also try the Ikan Rica Rica, a pan-seared fish with salsa sauce. It was quite refreshing and definitely fresh. There are a few local dishes but mainly on the menu are the usual Western dishes. According to the staff, their main clientele are Indonesians, Australians and other Westerners though more Asians are now coming through.

The night scene in Gili Trawangan is vibrant and colourful.

The night scene in Gili Trawangan is vibrant and colourful.

If you like all things Mexican and a more laidback atmosphere, their Ipanema restaurant has all the popular dishes from that country.

The buffet breakfast at the Seahorse Restaurant has a good mix of local and Western dishes normally found at any international hotel worth its salt.

You can get a great massage/ scrub/ facial at their Roemah Spa. My two-hour Balinese massage followed by a body scrub and milk bath was very good under the expert hands of their masseuse.

If you want something more constructive, they actually have carving lessons where you can learn to make traditional Lombok craft. Or if you’re more energetic and adventurous, there is an in-house Ombak Diving Academy. Gili T is the third island after Gili Meno and Gili Air which have spectacular beaches and snorkelling and diving opportunities. The hotel can arrange trips there and also glass-bottom boats, banana boats and canoes.

And if you’re feeling queasy or have some minor cuts, the only health facility on the island is within the hotel grounds.

There’s a lot more to do on the island as it is party central for Lombok; there are a lot of nice restaurants, bars and clubs that close at a decent hour. The crowd here is energetic and fun but also not over-boisterous or disruptive so the vibes are pretty good here.

You can hail down a traditional horse cart (or cidomo) in front of the hotel to get around the island if you don’t fancy walking or riding a bicycle.

You can hail down a traditional horse cart (or cidomo) in front of the hotel to get around the island if you don’t fancy walking or riding a bicycle.

If you stay at this hotel, there is a bonus: Right smack in front you get to observe some spectacular sunrises. But if you’re a sunset person, not to worry: Take a cidomo (a horse cart) to the west of the island where the hotel’s sister property, Hotel Ombak Sunset, is famed for their sunset vantage point. You can also cycle (bicycles available at the hotel at very good rates) there as these are the only modes of transportation on this small island (3km long and 2km wide).

Oh, yes, on a parting note: Please do not say Gili Islands as that is redundant. Gili means small island in the local lingo.

Hotel Vila Ombak
Gili Trawangan, Lombok,
West Nusa Tenggara – Indonesia
P.O. Box 2010 {83355}
Phone: +62 370 6142336