Bali is booming and that is precisely why Lombok, the island immediately to its east, has been marketing itself as an alternative. For visitors searching for the tranquil paradise Bali used to be, there is much to commend Lombok, and the Tugu Lombok, www.tuguhotels.com, is one of a number of hotels that have opened to cater to travelers who want to get away from Bali's bars and cookie-cutter condos.
There is a significant Balinese population on the island, and the Tugu Lombok's designers have drawn inspiration from their Hindu culture perhaps a little too enthusiastically in parts. At the Lara Djonggrang bar, guests sip cocktails under lanterns depicting angry spirits and sit between statues representing innocent servants turned to stone. A large rooster deity perches atop the open-air lobby and looming at the far end of the E-shaped infinity pool is a sculpture of Vishnu as an enraged 10-faced giant.
The hotel's setting in a lush palm plantation on the northwest of the island is serenity itself. So is the villa accommodation. This ranges from the sweet and simple Kampong bungalows to the sprawling, top-of-the-line Bhagavat Gita villas. The latter are housed in converted colonial-era buildings and feature lush gardens, outdoor bathrooms and private infinity pools overlooking the ocean.
Guests can take hikes up Mt. Rinjani and diving trips to the nearby Gili islands, but most can be found on the hotel's pristine beach, which is lit every evening by flaming torches and candlelight. Such serenity won't last forever, of course. Emaar, the U.A.E. real estate company, is already building a massive resort, marina and golf development on Lombok. We therefore suggest that you get yourself over to the new Bali before it starts to look too much like the old one.