we stayed at this resort after being recommended by family friends who knew the owner, though we had no idea what to expect.. after a ridiculous 12 hours of travel to get to the island (including a delayed on both ends tanker ferry that took over 5 hours, followed by an hour or more car trip and another rickety fishing boat escort to the island itself) whereby the owner did not tell us it was possible to fly to lombok for only around 250, 000 rph, we were nothing but dismayed at how far we'd traveled for something so shabby. we were given a room in the deluxe villa (approx 40 dollars a room per night) which has two bedrooms, a living area and balcony overlooking the ocean. the room is meant to have hot running water and be the second best on the island. the hot water was a cold dribble from the tap, and was salty (though you are warned about this), the main living area had animal droppings all over it. the rooms smelt musty, moldy and were unclean.
we checked out the budget rooms (around 20 dollars a night) that were closer to the main eating area and they were on much the same level so we decided to take one of these so save ourselves the long and rather dangerous walk to the latter.
the budget rooms are some of the worst ive seen in my life. unclean, and seemingly have been so for a very long time (there was extremely old rubbish in our bin from previous guests), our room was built on a slant which gave a very disorientating feeling. the bathroom has a pathetic cold salty water shower and toilet that flushes by pouring water into it (our friends wouldn't flush) and smell like sewage every time you use water or the toilet which filters into the room and is unpleasant. the bed was hard and you could feel the springs. the pillows seemed to be made of sand or something similar-heavy and falling apart. there was a ceiling fan that wasn't near the bed to keep cool under but it didn't have much affect, was extremely loud and cut off when the power went off from 5am till 530pm every day. when it rained the room and bathroom leaked.
the dining area was nice enough, set out like what you'd imagine the mess hall to be like on a school camp. there was pool table, chess and darts to keep you entertained, but were all horribly outdated and in need of replacing.there is a very limited drinks and food menu, and a tv in the corner with a pile of pirated dvds to watch. i would have slept in this room as it seemed cleanest had i not been asked to leave by 12am so the staff could sleep.
the kitchen was unclean and messy every time i had an opportunity to look in- other then the American owner the staff have not been taught English and were unable to understand my orders or converse which made hospitality extremely difficult. i saw this as a main flaw to his staff- had they been taught English they would be able to communicate with guests and i believe this would create a more welcoming feeling. the food was average to bad, not fresh, with no knowledge of western cooking, and the Indonesian food mostly coming from frozen meals or packets (ie. the nasi goreng) and was very overpriced for what it was. i have never been sick in Bali and am not particularly cautious but this food made me extremely ill for my journey back to mainland Bali.
waking up with no power and no ability to cool down we spent the day swimming. there was hardly any beach with the tide high, and the swimming area unguarded i felt a bit unsafe to swim there. thought the water was beautiful and mostly clear. a few friends went snorkeling in the morning and said aside from the stingers (they leave marks guys) it was quite beautiful but not the best they'd seen, especially for the price. we walked to what we were told was a shop that sold goods to have some variety from the restaurant and it was a simple local store selling Indonesian goods for the local village. we were the only ones of this island that were western and were unable to get off the island without notice or funding. the surrounding villages and local community was Muslim and walking around in a short dress i felt uncomfortable and disrespectful, though i was not warned of this. i am someone very respectful of different cultures as i have Javanese relatives.
the owner of this hotel is mostly polite and friendly, but we is in it for the money and overcharged us for a few meals and accommodation, and tried to discourage us to take the domestic airlines back to denpasar (which was cheaper then the speedboats or ferry and faster) and suggesting morning boat rides and snorkeling which i found to be very annoying as we were simply trying to find the best way to get off the island as i was sick.
all in all i think this place has lost its spark and is not worth the travel distance. there is nothing around the area on the mainland to do, nor is there much to do on the island that cant be done elsewhere more comfortably and at a more competitive price. the rooms are run down and uncomfortable by most standards and even as a budget home stay are pushing their luck.
despite having a few good memories with my friends here (who made this experience bearable) i would definitely give this place a miss.and i am NOT exceptionally fussing, exaggerating or one to complain about the Indonesian standards.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Secret Island Resort is a Eco friendly small resort with a very good small beach in front. We are slowly rising up to a 3 star quality hotel in a 5 star location. There are now 7 units with solar hot water and now there are 2 'Bungalows over the reef' available. These are stable units attached to a dock within easy walking distance to the Restaurant and lounge. These two bungalows over the water are the only ones in either Lombok or Bali. The snorkeling is great nearby and the fishing is still good to. SIR operates a 9 meter sport fishing boat called 'Scorpio' that is very good for touring the 12 South west gilis and snorkeling to. ... more less