Nikoi Island is a very special place. It's clearly the realisation of a great deal of hard work and visionary design. The staff are wonderful and they go to great lengths to personalise your stay and make it extra special. The food is tasty and well prepared and the location is exquisite. As with any eco project, you are asked to accept a few compromises and this includes a lack of privacy (and in our case, sleep!). I want to state upfront that any disappointment reflected in this review was due to my lack of homework and not a reflection on Nikoi's service. Take the matter of tranquility for example. The island epitomises the romantic notion of a tranquil escape for the weary executive but much of this experience depends on who occupies the cabins either side of you and the ratio of adults to children on the island.
There were a large number of children on the island when we arrived and there really was no way to find a peaceful place to sit comfortably (especially by the pool, beach or bars). The cabins are beautifully designed but their open-air structure means that it's not just the sea breeze that blows through your room at 2am. Above the soothing sounds of the waves gently lapping on the beach, you hear every word of your neighbors arguments and every scream of their 18-month old baby. The staff do their best to keep couples and families at a companionable distance but this wasn't possible during our stay (as they apologetically explained) due to the large number of families in residence. At meal times, we were told that separate dining areas are usually reserved for guests without children, but sadly this wasn't possible when we arrived. To their credit, the staff did offer to serve our dinner in our cabin but we declined this option due to the large number of mosquitoes after a heavy rainstorm. The other deal breaker for us was the noise of the local fishing boats starting their boat engines between 3.30 and 4am. I realise the owners have very little influence over this but it really had a major impact on sleep quality!
The cabins themselves are stunningly designed but very basically equipped. We really didn't miss the aircon or TV and we can live without a bathrobe, hair dryer and mini-bar. But it would have been nice to have a face cloth or hand towel and I wish I'd brought some basic amenities like hand soap, tissues, cotton buds and body lotion. Perhaps this is all part of the eco compromise. I guess it's easy to bring your own.
We would also respectfully suggest providing a few clothes pegs to keep the mosquito net closed. The nets over the bed aren't quite big enough and the gusts from the fan create frustrating openings for pesky mosquitoes and other flying bugs to sneak in and feast on unsuspecting flesh!
The one 'unnecessary' luxury in the cabins is the iPod docking station and speakers. In our case, this meant we were obliged to listen to our neighbour's choice of music (namely children's songs on repeat at 6am) due to the lack of walls and windows. We joked that the whole place felt (and sounded) like a glamorous campsite. This was exacerbated by the fixed menus and inflexible dining times. We certainly didn't go hungry but when we tried to ask for orange juice for breakfast we were politely told that "it's only water melon juice on Mondays"! The whole communal dining experience wasn't quite what we expected but it looked like the families with children were having an awesome time! The desserts were particularly delicious.
Despite these grumbles, we were sincerely impressed with the integrity and passion of the whole team at Nikoi and the house reef made for some wonderful snorkeling. It is a rare treat to visit a luxury resort (sorry, 'eco lodge') that is entirely staffed by a local team. It proves that with visionary management and a great team spirit, you can achieve five star service and save the planet. Perhaps we'll come back some day when a good night's sleep is lower down our priority list!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nikoi Island is a 15 hectare private island just 85 kms from Singapore and has long been regarded as one of the most stunning islands on this unspoiled coast. Ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs of spectacular color and diversity, Nikoi is for those seeking a true private island experience and the comfort of a destination dedicated to responsible tourism practices. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Nikoi Island Bintan Island, Riau Islands
- Nikoi Island Hotel Bintan