Tag Archives: Island Destinations

Eco Rustic | La P’tite Kepa Homestay, Kepa Island, Sumba, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 29, 2010


Nature at its best. Resplendent and abundant. La P’tite Founder, Cedric swimming in the azure waters with his daughter Lila [R]

Your closest brush with castaway tropical island life a la Robinson Crusoe may probably await you at this little gem of accommodation in the least known regions of Eastern Indonesia.

La P’tite Kepa Homestay is located on a small idyllic island called Kepa (Pulau Kepa in Indonesian), in the middle of Pantar Strait, the heart of Alor archipelago. Just 5-minutes by boat from Alor Kecil village, on Alor main island west coast, this is a central place to explore Alor Islands and the dive sites.

If the first thing that struck you was the hotel’s decidedly Euro-skewed name, you paid attention well.

La P’tite Kepa Homestay is the brainchild of Cedric & Anne Lechat, a French couple who became smitten with Alor Islands when they traveled there in the late 1980s. The eco-friendly homestay is a vision of that love, built in stages over the years, and involving the immediate community every step of the way. Fred & Anne had been practicing eco- and sustainable-tourism principles long before it became the buzzworthy catchphrase it is today.


La P’tite Founder Cedric and a big catch of the day (Marlin) [R]


Upstairs sleeping area of the Lopo traditional Alor house. The sleeping quarters are in the attic, the only enclosed area of this open-air pavilion.

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Green & Chic | Suka Island, Riau Archipelago, Indonesia [2]

By Dian Hasan | July 28, 2010


The Pool Pavilion, the “heart” of Suka Island, where guests mingle and food is served upstairs in the dining area.

When you think of Singapore, the words idyllic, rustic and laid back, are probably not the first thing that would come to mind. A modern Asian nation with a dynamic economy is more likely. Singapore is situated at the crossroads of East and West, and trade has been the foundation upon which Singapore’s economic miracle has been built.

One often forgets, however, that urban Singapore that likes to call itself Garden City, is an island. To the North lies the Malaysian Peninsula that continues on to the Asian continent, while to its South is Indonesia’ Riau Archipelago, a group of islands that include the industrial and shipyard-based Batam, and Singapore’s favorite island playground, Bintan. Further afield are small islands, mostly uninhabited that are the furthest image of urban life.

And here you’ll find Singapore’s best-kept secret: Private Islands that offer the bare-foot luxury commonly found in the Caribbean. Tropical isles, with nothing but thatch-roof huts (no worries, electricity and modern amenities are standard features…). You’d almost have to pinch yourself of thinking you’re in Bali.


The pool and Pool Pavilion area, the “heart” of Suka Island.


The Treehouse Villa, built of sustainable materials using driftwood found in the surrounding islands. Pulled into place using plenty of manpower [below].

So put your leisure thinking cap on, and start imagining swaying palm trees, a tropical breeze, white sand beaches, and the soothing sound of the ocean… all this on an private island you can have for yourself.

From the same creative hospitality minds that run Pulau Pangkil Private Island Resort, comes Suka Island (Pulau Suka in Indonesian), a pleasant 3-hour ferry ride (approximately 100 km) from Singapore, the embarkation point for the majority of our guests. Continue reading

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Green & Chic | Suka Island, Riau Archipelago, Indonesia [1]

By Dian Hasan | June 18, 2010

When you think of Singapore, the words idyllic, rustic and laid back, are probably not the first thing that would come to mind. A modern Asian nation with a dynamic economy is more likely. Singapore is situated at the crossroads of East and West, and trade has been the foundation upon which Singapore’s economic miracle has been built.

One often forgets, however, that urban Singapore that likes to call itself Garden City, is an island. To the North lies the Malaysian Peninsula that continues on to the Asian continent, while to its South is Indonesia’ Riau Archipelago, a group of islands that include the industrial and shipyard-based Batam, and Singapore’s favorite island playground, Bintan. Further afield are small islands, mostly uninhabited that are the furthest image of urban life.

And here you’ll find Singapore’s best-kept secret: Private Islands that offer the bare-foot luxury commonly found in the Caribbean. Tropical isles, with nothing but thatch-roof huts (no worries, electricity and modern amenities are standard features…). You’d almost have to pinch yourself of thinking you’re in Bali.

So put your leisure thinking cap on, and start imagining swaying palm trees, a tropical breeze, white sand beaches, and the soothing sound of the ocean… all this on an private island you can have for yourself.

From the same creative hospitality minds that run Pulau Pangkil Private Island Resort, comes Suka Island (Pulau Suka in Indonesian), a pleasant 3-hour ferry ride (approximately 100 km) from Singapore, the embarkation point for the majority of our guests.

The journey normally involves catching one of the international ferries to Bintan, land transport across part of Bintan and then a high-speed boat trip to the island. Some groups chose to arrive on their private yachts.

The Rembang Villa, one of the two villas converted from vintage Javanese Joglo houses made of solid teak, shipped from Central Java and reconfigured for Suka Island. Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic Afloat | El Aleph Luxury Phinisi, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010

Few people realize that Bali’s immense popularity as a world travel destination has made it into a cruise center, transporting divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores, West Timor, and further afield. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.

Bali’s cruise industry is mostly made up of  the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats.

Until recently, however, most of these majestic crafts were better looking on the outside. The interior was reduced to an afterthought. Mostly rustic and traditional, not that much different from the ambience in the fishing villages where the Bugis seafaring people craft Phinisis by hand.

Luckily, some forward-thinking liveaboard operators, understood that the market was looking for something better. Something with an umph! Hence, designers were commissioned, some style quotient got kicked in, and voila!…  a new crop of luxury phinisi emerges. El Aleph clearly belongs to this club of lookers.

El Aleph offers among the most spacious traditional sailing yacht plying the exotic Indonesian archipelago and beyond, in sheer luxury. Broad-beamed and well-ballasted, El Aleph offers unmatched stability and comfort. A symphony in 100-year old tropical hardwoods – her teak finishes more reminiscent of a fine guitar than of a ship – no detail has been left to chance in ensuring your comfort, safety and enjoyment.

Bringing together traditional Phinisi design and 21st century technology, El Aleph was built in South Sulawesi (Celebes), Indonesia’s hub of traditional handcrafted schooner ship-building. Featuring tropical hardwoods by Bali’s finest cabinetmakers who spent more than 200,000 man-hours on the final fit-out.

El Aleph offers a unique opportunity to explore the fascinating Indonesian archipelago – and beyond, to Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and the Andamans – in luxury and total privacy, far from the crowded marinas and touristed beaches of the standard Asian cruising destinations. Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic Afloat | Seven Seas Luxury Phinisi Schooner, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010

Few people realize that Bali’s immense popularity as a world travel destination has made it into a cruise center, from where cruises carrying divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, FloresWest Timor and further afield. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.

Bali’s cruise industry is mostly made up of  the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats.

Until recently, however, most of these majestic Phinisi were better looking on the outside, and the interior was reduced to an afterthought. It was all rustic and traditional, not that much different from the ambience found in the fishing villages where the Bugis crafted Phinisis.

Luckily, some forward-thinking liveaboard operators, understood that the market was looking for something better. Something with an umph! Hence, designers were commissioned, some style quotient got kicked in, and voila!…  a new crop of luxury phinisi emerges. Seven Seas is a clear precursor. Continue reading

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Sleek & Chic Afloat | Archipelago Adventurer II, Luxury Phinisi Schooner, Indonesia

By Dian Hasan | July 21, 2010

Unbeknown to many visitors who are familiar with Bali, that the island has evolved into a cruise center, from where cruises carrying divers and surfers ply the oceans east of Bali to explore Lesser Sunda Islands of Sumba, Sumbawa, Flores and West Timor. The leading attraction in these waters is of course the Komodo Dragon (Varanus komodoensis) giant monitor lizard that inhabits the island that forms the Komodo National Park.

Unlike the cruise industry in Alaska, Florida, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean, that are centered on large-scale cruise liners, Bali’s are mostly the smaller, human-scale live-aboard ships fashioned from the traditional Phinisi schooners and converted into modern ocean-plying sail boats. Venturing into Indonesia’s many diving and surfing sites in Derawan (East Borneo/Kalimantan), Wakatobi (Southeastern Sulawesi/Celebes), LembehGangga, Sangihe, Talaud (all four in North Sulawesi), Banda (in the Moluccas), and everyone’s ultimate destination: Raja Ampat in West Papua.

Most of them are just that – traditional – offering a rustic experience, not too dissimilar from the way the Bugis people built the original Phinisis. Now finally a sense of design that brings a level of sophistication unseen before, is emerging.

Archipelago Adventurer II represents this new breed of cruise ships. Luxuriously appointed, with clean modern lines, gourmet food, tasteful amenities and furnishing incorporating good design. A breath of fresh air indeed.

An excellent example of fusing the historical and the modern. The hull and exterior are made of traditional Indonesian wood and give the boat a sleek classic feel; unabashedly modern featuring a brushed-metal alloy finish, and contemporary furnishings.

Being such a large vessel at 35 meters with additional interior space, there is an abundance of lounging area both inside and out, whether in the large air-conditioned lounge equipped with full entertainment facilities, the dedicated dining room, relaxing with cocktails on the shaded upper deck, or tanning on the expansive sundeck.

With 10 beautifully finished en-suite cabins and an emphasis on fine dining, a trip on the Adventurer II through the Banda Sea is an experience in relaxation and luxury living, coupled with days full of world class diving. If you’re enriched air certified, then why not take advantage of the free nitrox usage onboard.


Just like in the Caribbean, Banda and the surrounding islands are home to some of the best preserved European forts in Asia. Fort Belgica, built by the Portuguese, Banda Island. Photo: Tony Ferndez

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Movie helps put Indonesia’s idyllic Belitung Island on the travel map

By Dian Hasan | July 16, 2010

As a travel destination, Indonesia has long held captive the imaginations of many. Arresting sights for the world’s culture- and nature- hungry travelers. Stunning natural environment, an intriguing culture, and beguiling flora & fauna to match. And of course a myriad of idyllic tropical isles to spoil your choice. The world’s largest archipelago is home to over 17,000 islands.

Here’s just one lesser-known island: Belitung (English: Billiton), Indonesia’s tin island renowned for its white sand beaches and giant boulders, similar to those found on Seychelles Island in the Indian Ocean. The small group of tropical islands surrounding Belitung are blessed with clear blue sea, lush tropical forest, and sterling white quartz-like sandy beaches with diverse shapes of stones, fenced by coconut trees. Surrounded by straits and bays, the sea around the islands is calm and shallow and has beautiful underwater scenery.

Located on the east coast of Sumatra between the South China and the Java Sea, Belitung is historically known for its tin mines and pepper. The island was in the hands of the Biritish from 1812 until they lost control and handed it over to the Dutch through the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.

Belitung shot into prominence thanks to the popularity “Laskar Pelangi (Rainbow Troops), a movie based on a novel by the same name from Indonesian author Andrea Hirata. Both the book and movie shattered new records for Indonesia, and the much-acclaimed movie garnered several awards at International Film Festivals. The movie single-handedly put Belitung on the travel map and renewed people’s interest in it. Belitung’s magnificant beaches with their giant boulders were featured generously prominently in the movie. The book was translated into English by Angie Kilbane.

The movie has attracted a new crop of visitors, intrigued by the film’s setting in Belitung. Travel agents and hotels now offer “Laskar Pelangi” sightseeing tours based on the many filming locations across the island. Accommodation choices in Belitung are fairly limited, but this is changing as more hotels come being built. Here’s a look at some of them.

Belitung’s newest hotel, Hotel and Klub Billiton, is a modern take on a tropical resort. Incorporating an old Dutch colonial office building that today serves as hotel ballroom, Hotel and Klub Billiton is managed by the same team behind The Dharmawangsa luxury boutique hotel in Jakarta.

The hotel has a unique historical atmosphere of the Chinese, the Dutch and the early era of the Republic of Indonesia. It is located in the city of Tanjung Pandan, the capital of Belitung Islands.

Hotel & Klub Billiton can make arrangement for island and sunset tours, barbecue lunches on a private island beach, swimming in the natural lagoon. Fishing, snorkeling, and diving are also available. And for those who are less inclined for water-based activities, have a choice of trekking to Gunung Tajam to see a beautiful waterfall, explore the many tine mine sights, as well as Belitung’s other historical sites.

The small but smartly-furnished hotel features 24 rooms, a pool verandah coffee shop, swimming pool, meeting rooms, and a Grand Ballroom in a Dutch heritage building.

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