INNIT LOMBOK, WEST NUSA TENGGARA, INDONESIA
Using only concrete, glass, stone, and wood, the barefoot resort designed by Andra Matin and d-associates is the epitome of laidback luxury. SPACE travels to West Nusa Tenggara to experience oceanfront Innit Lombok first hand.
Words by Jess Miles | Images courtesy of Design Hotels
Between ‘luxury’ translating to opulent displays of grandeur, and ‘minimalism’ denoting Scandinavian aesthetics, the world of hospitality design is in need of a shake-up of late. And this is it. Nestled in the serene Ekas Bay of West Nusa Tenggara’s largest island, Innit Lombok is a hidden escape of untouched white sandy beaches, an oceanfront restaurant, and currently, seven architectural beach villas. With no restrictions to the design brief from owner Michal Tyles and a blank slate, three of Indonesia’s most renowned creative minds set to work on creating what would become a defining example of minimalistic materialism, in the rawest sense of the words. Andra Matin and d-associates with Gregorius Supie Yolodi and Maria Rosantina at the helm crafted the design of Innit Lombok using just four fundamental materials: concrete, glass, stone, and wood. With a deep respect for the natural habitat and a commitment to maintaining local culture, their vision was to create a borderless experience between architecture and nature, while supporting and honouring the surrounding community.
Just a 30-minute flight from neighbouring Bali, it’s a stark transition landing on the lesser-trodden Lombok. Departing the airport, the noise is left behind and the drive ahead reveals a landscape of undulating rice paddies dotted with coconut trees against the backdrop of Lombok’s infamous volcano, Mount Rinjani. It’s a relief to see much of the land still untouched by intrusive tourism development, and an exciting prospect to be en route to a destination that works to sustain this. Reaching Awang Harbour, fishing boats large and small are a plenty, whilst local children kick around a football and tend to a litter of puppies. In between it all, the ever-hospitable Innit team are ready and waiting to whisk us across the bay on Innit Lombok’s very own traditional wooden charter boat.
Perhaps in perfect timing, we approach Ekas Bay just as the sun goes down behind us, illuminating the land ahead. The captain gestures toward the shoreline in a way that tells us we’re here. Designed with the overarching aim to build a contemporary resort while leaving the surrounding landscape as untouched as possible, you’d be forgiven for not spotting Innit at first glance. Concealed in the greenery of the opposing hillsides and rising from the sand below, the seven beachfront villas reveal themselves only on closer inspection of the shore. The engine stops, the salty sea breeze softens, and the Indonesian flag at the helm of the boat slows to a gentle dapple. Disembark barefoot into the shallow water with the sand between your toes, as you’re greeted on the beach with a fresh iced butterfly tea – violet from the infusion of native Clitoria ternatea petals plucked from the hillside above. Arriving at a hotel has never been more memorable.
As dusk hits the two-storey villas look particularly sublime, as an ambient glow radiates through the slat Raju wood façades and beams soft silhouettes across the ground. On beach level, the sand continues underfoot and flows seamlessly throughout the open-fronted living and dining space. Minimalistic yet luxurious, sofas conceived by Indonesian designer Alvin Tjitrowirjo for the brand Yamakawa Design, alongside bamboo and wooden pieces by the Indonesian studios Eva Natasa, Kalpataru, Santai Jogja, and Somewher, as well as bespoke dining tables and kitchen counters from hand-made polished terrazzo complete the space. Entirely exposed to the elements but finished with a considered curation of furniture, the design effortlessly merges indoor and outdoor spaces, reimagining the concept of outdoor living for its tropical setting.
Continuing the seamless flow, a gently inclined cement ramp flanked by stone pillars stretching from the sand to the roof leads up to two secluded bedrooms with stripped-back interiors. Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows replacing external walls create a seamless transition to the balcony areas, which are enclosed by the exterior wood slats that wrap around the whole upper floor. Both falling asleep and waking up here is bliss, with nothing but the sound of the lapping ocean to empty your mind. There’s never been a better wake-up sight than the front-row view of the beach only obstructed by a waning coconut palm as you open the balcony shutters concealed within the façade. Bamboo abundantly climbs up between the villas providing privacy, but more importantly, a complete sense of space and relaxation as light dapples through both the shoots and slats into the rooms. The interplay of space, light, and raw materials throughout the design is something that needs to be experienced in person.
Staying in the end villa also offers parallel views over the striking black-tiled 35-metre-long infinity pool, which separates the villas from the onsite restaurant, Anakampung – the name being a play on the Indonesian translation for ‘village’. Within the restaurant, a large sharing table enough to fit 20 people sits centre stage to encourage communal dining and a sociable atmosphere, whilst additional tables spaced across the two ironwood decks allow guests to connect as much or as little as they please. The designers and owner also worked closely with the fishing village inhabitants who have always lived on the site and have now become part of the very fabric of Innit Lombok’s hospitality, working and learning new skills during construction, and now supplying the restaurant with freshly caught seafood. As well as the architecture, food is also a primary part of the guest experience at Innit Lombok – with a menu by Indonesian chef with global Michelin-starred experience, Matthew Angga, using only the freshest of local ingredients, including corn grown next door, and fish caught daily. Through food, guests have the opportunity to engage with authentic cultural experiences, not only through sampling Indonesian cuisine, but as we did by joining local spearfishermen on their daily runs or selecting lobsters right from Innit’s own open-water floating farm in Ekas Bay. After a day out on the seas, we returned to see Matthew setting up the beachfront barbeque pit ready for sunset grilling as we handed over our catch. Skewered on bamboo sticks, the fresh lobster was slowly grilled over an open fire stoked by coconut husks. Casual and laid-back, but an entirely indulgent and completely unforgettable experience.
Whilst whiling away the days with Innit virtually to ourselves is a tempting proposition, the thought of what to come is even more exciting. On a tour of the rest of the site, I’m told that the seven beach houses are the beginning of a more expansive project with a hotel and residences to follow, under the same key principles as the original concept. Located on an elevated position on a hill peering over the bay and the current development, will be the Innit Residences. Aiming to have 27 residences in total, land plots are available, or there are 1, 2 and 3-bedroom villas – each with a private infinity pool – which will be managed by Innit Hotels and Resorts. The last phase of the build will include The Bridge Hotel, which will connect the two surrounding hillsides with one linear building hosting 26 ocean-facing rooms, masterfully blending architecture and nature into one luxuriant experience.
Exuding an authentic and unpretentious charm, Innit Lombok embodies the spirit of Indonesia by showcasing local brands, designers, and natural materials sourced directly from the surrounding region. Grounded in its approach, the resort seamlessly integrates the use of indigenous wood, stone, and concrete, reflecting a genuine connection to the local environment. With a commitment to highlighting the rich cultural heritage and resources of the area, Innit Lombok stands as a true testament to the beauty and craftsmanship of Indonesia.
Yes, it all seems like a dream. And as I write this back at home, I begin to think perhaps it was.