Monday, January 7, 2013

Nikoi Island - perfect family time

I love family vacations!  Who doesn't?  But this one was special because it was pure family time with no distractions.  Just complete togetherness!   Some of my favorite family photos from Nikoi.  Mateo's always behind the camera so I don't have many of him...

Niko's got a thing for Shirley Temples

This little one has given up on baby food, even w/ no teeth she wants what everyone else is eating!

Here's Ethan behind the camera having a go.

Nikoi Island - ferry, resort & food

It was such a pleasure to just ferry / car / boat to Nikoi.  Much easier than flying and dealing with airport stress.  The kids had a wonderful time, though Lulu doesn't seem too sure about the life jacket she had to wear:

Quite a stunning journey.  I thought it was two boats only, I didn't realize we had one hour through the whole island of Bintan which was actually pretty cool to see the landscape.

Arriving on Nikoi can pretty much guess who declared this private island as his own:

Monitaur Lizards roam freely!  

Asian hospitality is amazing as usual.  My kids all have a thing for the ice-cold towels and welcome drinks at any resort:

Our beach house was a kid's dream come true - it's pure outdoor living, no air con, solar-heated showers (i.e. mostly always cold!), bunk beds for the kids, gorgeous view of the sea, the sound of waves through the night was my favorite part.

The resort is one of my favorites so far in all my Asia traveling.  For our family's style, it's better than Marriott vacation club (so big) and better than Club Med (too many people) - and we certainly thought we loved these types of resorts before.  The staff is there if you need them, but leaves you to relax and enjoy your time.  I think it's not for everyone b/c you have to be good with bugs, lizards, etc because it's true outdoor living and the food, while to me amazing/delicious, is very Indonesian based.  We loved it!  The kids' meals were perfect too, a lot of dishes reminded me of the Filipino dishes my kids love.  They don't have a buffet, they just have ONE set menu each meal.  It worked for us, but I could see how it couldn't for everyone.

My Ella tried everything from seafood to marmite on toast to every single tropical fruit.

There's our beach house from the distance.

 My kids thought the staff were the greatest people on earth!  They truly were.  Nikoi believes in hiring locals and only the General Manager is western, everyone is local and there's a real family feel to it all.  In the brochure, they ask clients to be patient with the staff because some are just learning English.  So I see again, how if you have lots of needs and you get frustrated not being able to communicate, you wouldn't like it.  Our needs were pretty simple and basic on a beach vacation so it worked for us.....also no phones, wifi only at the bar, so a true disconnect which we loved.  Again, some people may not like that.  I loved the business model of it all.  Definitely more European in mentality and judging by all the Europeans who were there, it definitely fills a nitch.

Another reason it worked well for our family is that even if Lulu needed a nap, I was never holed up indoors waiting for her to wake.  I could just sit outside and still enjoy it all!

We loved all the Indonesian food.  We loved the food so much we asked to meet the Chef (a great big jolly Indosian man from Sumatra).  I loved talking to him about how they work with local farmers to get the best/freshest ingredients, what it takes to get food to the island, mixing local foods with western's all about FRESH on this island.  He also works with allergies of course, and he said he said in all the four years Nikoi has been in operation, nobody has ever had any issues.  His pastry chef was pretty amazing too.  I brought a stash of Swiss chocolate b/c in Asia we never get enough good chocolate on vacation but we didn't even touch it, which means, resort desserts sufficed!

My favorite local dessert - glutinous rice with coconut milk served with jack fruit and pumpkin...even Mateo ate it and loved it and had seconds...OK so we had thirds but that's b/c we had to finish the kids' desserts.

The first thing I did when I got home was book our
next trip there.  Easter already sold out so we're 
going for October break instead.

Nikoi Island - water joy!

The kids spent so much time jetty jumping!  I'm not a fan of this but I have to remember I used to jump of cliffs and jettys in my youth with no fear.  

Brave Niko!

The kids were too busy with beach and other things so we only went to the pool once, and mainly for Lulu to swim a little.  It's natural water built into the gorgeous limestones.


Nikoi Island - natural beauty

 Every morning before the other kids woke up, Ethan and I would set off for our morning hike around the island (takes about half an hour only) and you go through beautiful coastline, climbing small mountain, lime stones, rain forest, mangroves - Nikoi is all about conserving the island and they have done a truly beautiful job.

Nikoi Island - Kids paradise

There's a very informal kids  camp - the staff feel more like big brothers and sisters to the kids - nothing is rushed and there is no schedule.  Ella loved collecting seashells and making them into necklaces and bracelets.  Yogi (below) was incredible at carving and cutting wood into serious weapons that provided hours of play!  

It's a small island (and there are no other resorts) so kids can roam freely - what an adventure for them!  Even Niko knew how to get from our house to restaurant to Yogi's place.  Fishing and rock climbing was a hit...but most of all, just roaming freely in nature was wonderful for them.