Luxury camping on a beach on Lombok ticks all the boxes, writes Holly McDonald
Remote; beachfront; quiet; romantic: the new Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp on Indonesia's Lombok ticked all the boxes - and even managed some moody weather for my two-night stay.
Its location, 90 minutes from the island's airport, the last 11 kilometres over a bumpy, almost-not-there road built during the second world war, has that first box covered.
Once there, forest gently cuddles a private sandy cove that looks across the Timor Sea towards the neighbouring island of Sumbawa. Tick.
Five bungalows of recycled wood sit just behind a dune from where you'll be lucky if you see a fisherman come ashore once during the day. Tick.
Mosquito nets are draped over the beds, a lounge for two beckons on the spacious veranda and the restaurant glows under dappled candlelight in the evenings. Tick.
Jeeva Beloam is the very definition of "glamping": staying in a stunning location, literally off the grid - the power is supplied by a generator - without leaving any creature comforts behind. I'm impressed even before I see my bungalow. The simple, tasteful rooms are positioned for maximum privacy. Small touches make a big difference, like two kinds of pillows on the bed and reading lamps inside the mosquito nets that cast an excellent, buttery light.
Local fabrics are used, adding a splash of colour; otherwise woods and neutral tones create a serene environment. There is no television; no Wi-fi.
The bathroom has solar-powered hot water but is low on amenities, with just body wash and shampoo in the shower (no bathtubs - you're camping, remember).
The room lacks any literature on the hotel and facilities. But the staff - unfailingly friendly and professional - fill me in on the activities on offer, such as snorkelling, kayaking, cycling and trekking in the surrounding hills.
The next morning I go snorkelling at nearby Pink Beach, then retreat to my veranda to read and watch the storms rolling across the horizon out to sea. There is blissfully nothing to do.
The marquee-covered restaurant, set above the kitchen, has a huge kilim on its wooden floor, with several lounges "inside". It's open to the surroundings with glass sliding doors at the front that are more symbolic than functional; there are more lounges outside and deckchairs on the dune leading to the beach.
Full board is included. The menu has a Western orientation with an emphasis on seafood and local touches. I try the goulash soup, open tuna sandwiches, a refreshing cucumber and grated coconut salad, and mahi-mahi with sambal and vegetables. It would have been good to have a few snacks on offer in the room to nibble on between meals.
The surf isn't heavy here, but is rough enough during the unseasonal weather to keep me out while alone. I watch fishermen bring a haul to shore. I sip a coffee, made local cowboy style from the thermos of hot water in my room, and watch other fishermen line-catching fish around a headland. Dragonflies flutter past and I listen to the loud sing of insects as the sun sets. The birdsong in the trees is better than any music I could play from an iPod.
This rustic luxury must make Jeeva Beloam one of the loveliest secluded resorts in Southeast Asia. Bring books. Bring a lover. Bring snacks.
Jeeva Beloam Beach Camp
is located about 58 kilometres from the new Lombok International Airport
Getting there: Fly from Hong Kong through Singapore (with Silk Air to Lombok), Kuala Lumpur (AirAsia), Jakarta and Bali (Garuda Indonesia for both)
Rates from US$295 per couple per night, including board, airport transfer, tax and select activities