06 August 2014

Komodo 3 ways: from local luxury to vacation extraordinaire

Flores archipelago: A feast to the eyes

Peaceful, rather slow and with a friendly-looking tongue-ticking gaze, the Komodo dragons were anything but the fierceful, dangerous and vicious animals portrayed on National Geographic. Make no mistake, they can be aggressive but probably when the heat is turned on lower than in the sunny summer months.

The beast

Although there is no clear agreement as to when and where these lizard looking creatures come from their current whereabouts are easy to determine. Visit Rinca or Komodo Islands in the Flores archipelago of Indonesia and you are likely to spot a few roaming around the ranger stations.

Island bliss

Flores is a hard to reach relatively uncomplicated archipelago not only known for the Komodo dragons but also for exquisite diving opportunities as it is part of Asia's Coral Triangle. Flights into Labuan Bajo with Garuda have only just been resumed finally connecting the archipelago to the rest of the world with an airline that is not banned in the West.

The area is still a gem to be discovered and there are three options to do so: cheap and cheerful live aboard boats with matresses on deck for the night; simple accommodation in and around Labuan Bajo or luxurious pampering. On the latter, the sky is the limit.

Plataran Komodo

A recent addition to the Southeast Asian hotel scene Plataran Resorts are owned by a local Indonesian looking to promote the country's most famous landmarks. Properties are in Borobudur, Bali, Jakarta and Komodo with new resorts scheduled to open in Sumba and Bromo.

Infinity pool

The Komodo resort is 15min by boat from Labun Bajo' Habour and it has an exotic feel with dark hand carved cabanas on the beach. 

Dining lounge

The design and details throughout the resort remind travellers they are in Indonesia; The open dining room is a wooden structure with intricate carvings on the ceiling reminiscent of Borobudur temples. The coffee table is made of a glass resting over a large wooden Komodo dragon.

The cabanas

The 8 cabanas have a porch, a small room and an attached bathroom. Some of them have two bedrooms and all are spaced out on the manicured gardens and beach. As opposed to some of the uninhabited powder sand islands on Flores Plataran's beach is made of a rougher beige sand.

Cabanas on the beach

The resort's infinity pool is a welcoming spot to relax after a long day diving or chasing dragons and it merges into the sea from the sun loungers. We enjoyed some of the most beautiful sunsets on the bay.

Low tide sunset

As the resort has recently opened some hiccups are expected but often compensated by the staff's friendliness. If you are coming to see the dragons or to dive the resort is not the best location. Instead, Plataran has a range of traditional Indonesian boats for charter which will take you around the area. wake up in a new location every morning and explore the archipelago without wasting 4-5h a day to reach your destination. Best of all, with Plataran you will not have to break the bank. Their boats start at $800++ per day for up to 4 people.

Plataran's Phinisi

Alila Purnama 

Purnama docked at the Harbour

Featured on BBC's Fast Track and more recently in a large spread on Conde Naste Traveler Purnama is the latest addition to the portfolio of exclusive properties and expeditions of the Alila brand.

Main deck

Boasting 3 decks and 46m long the boat is described as the most luxurious in Asia. Although originally designed for private bookings they also offer individual cabins on some of their dates. The itinerary includes trips to Komodo, Raja Ampat and Ambon all three bringing the remotest parts of Indonesia closer.

Alila which is Sanskrit for "surprising" aims to be "Surprisingly different" through Resorts, villas and now, sailing expeditions, that create a reaction. 

The Komodo expedition was launched at the end of 2013 and will resume from November 2014 until the end of March. Lasting 6 days, guests will have the opportunity of diving, snorkeling, exploring lonely beaches, trekking on Rinca to see the dragons and diving the exquisite waters of Flores onboard a luxury floating hotel. In keeping with Alila's spirit of sustainability the furniture is made from locallly sourced teak and ratan

Master Cabin - Source: Alila

The highlight is the Master Suite with wrapparound windows and 180 degree views of the infinite blue-green-brown of the Flores archipelago. The remaining suites are charmingly appointed and flanked by the curved walls of the vessel's belly.

The ridiculously blue waters of Flores

Luxury comes in the form of an onboard spa offering massages on deck or on secluded beaches. A large deck with oversized sundecks for relaxation or star gazing and gourmet meals. The boat is equipped with its own PADI dive center with qualified dive masters. Fishing, snorkeling or yoga are also available. 

The 16 man crew is great at silently anticipating needs; Come back from diving to a refreshing freshly prepared drink, consider laying down on a sunbed and the umbrella will be raised.

Chasing dragons

If you can afford it, Purnama goes beyond the extraordinary to show that the difference between the good and the extraordianry is often on the unnoticed details.

Cabin rates start at $12,500++ per couple for the 6 night package all inclusive


The word Aman Resorts evokes the ultimate in luxury and with 3 properties in Bali and surroundings they show they know how to build Godly resorts. 

Arrival at Amanwana

Amanwana is a mix of tented wilderness camp bliss and luxury sail boat for charter. The recommended expedition includes 5 nights onboard Amanikan, Aman's coastal cruiser, and two nights on land at one of their hiddeaway tents on Moyo island.

Jungle tent

Amanikan is a 32m triple decker with 3 cabins on the main deck. The master cabin also features 270 degree views and a large outdoor deck. As opposed to Alila's Purnama all of Amanikan's cabins have sweeping views of the area.

Interior of the tents

Hosting up to 6 guests Amanikan is available only for private charter with rates starting at $28,000++ for the 7 night expedition.

View from above the bay

Reaching Amanwana is an adventure on itself. Guests can choose to fly on one of the scheduled weekly flights to the resort's island on charter their own helicopter from Bali providing seclusion to the next level. Floatplane anyone? Also a possibility.

Moyo island

You thought Alila's Purnama was luxury? Aman is opulent down right extravagant exhuberance.

Have you been to Komodo or Flores in one of our three ways?

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