New on the map is the luxury private island of Cempedak in Indonesia, which opened in March this year. Baroque Travel finds out all about this exotic paradise
Ten years ago, Australian hotelier Andrew Dixon and his partners opened Nikoi Island, a private island resort in Indonesia’s Riau archipelago. After the success of this magical island retreat, Dixon has just released his next project, another private island just a short speedboat ride away from the first, located just 91km from Singapore and 9km from the coast of Bintan.
Cempedak Island is a paradise isle comprising 42 acres of rainforest and secluded white sand beaches with giant boulders. Dixon has built just 20 villas on the island, each secluded and hidden from the others. Designed by New Zealand-born architect Miles Humphrey, who is famous for creating the renowned Ritz Carlton Mandapa Reserve in Bali, the villas are built out of sustainable bamboo, recycled teak and rubber wood, with thatch grass roof that are crescent shaped to capture the cool breezes and release hot air; this keeps the villas cool without the necessity of air-conditioning. The result is dramatic and quite unique. All of the villas either have a plunge pool or direct access to the beach as well as breathtaking sea views.
A stay on this exquisite private island may sound as if it’s a Robinson Crusoe adventure, but it isn’t. Not when every luxury is thrown in for good measure, such as organic linens on the beds, private saltwater swimming pools and sprawling terraces that lead directly onto a white sand beach.
All villas feature a spiral staircase leading to a second floor bedroom with folding glass doors leading onto a balcony and an en suite bathroom. Downstairs is a lounge area with a guest bathroom, a bar, large deck, sun loungers and a private plunge pool. Beds are draped with generous cotton mosquito nets and each villa offers an iPod speaker system and free WiFi.
Whilst Dixon’s passion for adventure, outdoor living, nature, great food and good wine is evident on both of his island resorts, Cempedak is extremely stylish and luxurious. Guests enjoy superb cuisine, sunset drinks in the cocktail bar, which is raised high above the treetops, and a variety of activities, including a grass tennis court, numerous water sports such as snorkeling and scuba diving and an opportunity to explore this untouched paradise where sea otters swirl in the shallow water, rare silver-leaf monkeys swing in the trees above and sometimes the endangered pangolin makes an appearance. And let’s not forget the wealth of birdlife, which includes hornbills, eagles and kingfishers.
Life on the island is at a slow, leisurely pace, making a stay at Cempedak a popular escape for those looking to get away from the bustle of modern city living. This island, like sister island Nikoi, has been created with great sensitivity to the environment and the local culture.
The owners have created The Island Foundation, which gives a portion of each guest’s payment to an education program for villagers across the archipelago. There are already six (soon to be seven) learning centers running classes in various subjects, including nutrition, hygiene, creating crafts from recycled materials, English language, IT and more.