LOMBOK, or more precisely Mandalika Lombok, is finally welcoming its first flux of both local and international visitors– with its inaugural MotoGP race happening this November – as it hosts the World Superbike or WSBK Mandalika, followed only a few months later by the International MotoGP 2022 fixture in March.
Lombok Mandalika is now easily accessible through southern Lombok’s recently expanded airport, being geared up and able to welcome visitors from around the globe, or domestically from Indonesia’s impressive archipelago. As the country itself proclaims there is ‘Unity in Diversity’ and this is certainly the case on beautiful Lombok Island.
Only an hour and forty-five minutes from the capital of Jakarta, or just thirty minutes from neighbouring Bali by plane, Lombok is a fabulous place of delightful adventure and discovery. It is relatively unspoiled with azure waters, white sand beaches that are framed by rolling lush hills reaching upwards to endless blue skies. For sure this is venue that the MotoGP world is going to greatly look forward to coming back to again and again. The Madalika Circuit is situated right by these very same beaches and waters, with the hills behind. Once you arrive at Lombok International Airport, it is now but a ten-minute drive directly to Tanjung Aan Mandalika, on the beautiful new By Pass, stunning in itself as it cuts through the natural landscape – it almost seems a shame that the journey is a mere ten minutes.
The Mandalika Project is impressive in that during the last couple of years when most of the world was on a ‘sleepy’ lockdown – ITDC (Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation) took full advantage and managed to not only complete its circuit, an airport expansion and By Pass, but also give us an International Hospital (which is operated by Siloam whom are highly reputed on other islands assuring hassle free collaboration with international insurance companies), a sizeable University Campus – which will focus on tourism and in particular hospitality, a desalination plant ensuring eco-friendly water services, as well as a solar panel farm (aiming to be one of the largest capacity solar outputs in Indonesia).
Whilst all this is on offer along with the Mandalika Cultural Village in much loved Kuta (which honours locally owned stalls of art and crafts and countless performances) Mandalika has managed to maintain 51% green space, as guaranteed. ITDC also supports and is fulfilling the basic needs of the community and corporate social responsibility (CSR) at Mandalika by partnering with the Invest Islands Foundation who are dedicated to four main initiatives for the underprivileged of southern Lombok i.e. Women’s Empowerment, Waste Management, Accessible Education, Eco Initiatives (such as tree planting etc.).
Accommodation in Mandalika is also attracting international hotel brands, with the Pullman now 80% complete and looking to be fully operational by March 2022. Although not directly in Mandalika, but just thirty-minutes away in stunning Torok Bay, the Gran Melia Resort and Spa is set to open all of its stylish doors by the end of 2024. The foresight of the Novotel means that its room and villa capacity were ready well ahead of time in anticipation of Mandalika’s completion.
As far as entertainment on offer, the Mandalika Circuit is definitely right at the top of its game. MotoGP is hotly anticipated in a country that holds the majority of fan base globally of televised spectatorship until now. So as a nation host, Mandalika Lombok, Indonesia will not be lacking in enthusiasm. For those who search a more daring and for sure memorable experience outside of spectatorship, then the majestic volcano Mount Rinjani of more than 3,700 meters (the second highest in Indonesia) is not for the faint-hearted. A healthy ascent can be arranged, best peaked during the months of July and August. Teeming with Lombok’s diverse fauna and flora, the experience of Rinjani covers a lush richness of nature and spectacular panorama, regarded as one of the best climbs of South East Asia.
Diving and a multitude of other water sports are hugely popular, and surfing has been a not so ‘well-kept secret’ amongst those who chase the thrill of the waves on Lombok for decades now. The surf community seeks out the breaks of Gerupuk Bay nearby and several more not too far off. Desert Point is for the more experienced up for the challenge, with no line-ups at all.
The beauty of this coastal area named Mandalika is literally legendary, for the sea plays a big part not only through sport – having been a fishing village for centuries.
Mesmerising Princess Mandalika was renowned through the island for her jaw dropping beauty and many Princes sought to impress her to win her hand in marriage, often battling over her. Rather than be impressed, she was distraught at such aggressive behaviour and decided to restore peace back to her land – resulting in her flinging herself off a cliff in to the sea as the ultimate sacrifice. When her body was recovered from the waters, all that was left in her place where thousands of brightly glowing sea worms, known locally as ‘nyale’. This legend has given rise to ‘The Bau Nyale Festival’, which means “catching sea worms” in Sasak, the local dialect. The festival occurs annually in February in accordance with the Sasak calendar, which is the tenth month, and always close to the full moon.
Thousands of people congregate along the coastline of Mandalika’s own Kuta area, mainly Segar Beach, to enthusiastically catch the worms on this one night per annum. It is the local’s belief that the ‘nyale’ are the reincarnation of Princess Mandalika. They revere them as sacred creatures that bless fertility and prosperity to all who celebrate the festival, and ultimately, consume them. All this is very creative as the locals naturally are. Weaving, pottery, and rattan craft works are some of the talents that can be found at Sade Traditional Village just ten-minutes north of Kuta Mandalika. Here you can see how the Sasak’s humbly live as well as catch live dance and musical performances, or the fiercer displays of stick fighting. In all Mandalika Lombok has come a long way over the past 5 years, and has something to offer for all tastes.
The Mandalika Project is designated as the next world-class destination. A different version of ‘Bali,’ with an eco-tourism focus, a special economic zone (SEZ) and is part of the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation’s (ITDC) first project in Nusa Dua (Bali). The Mandalika project is a special development that incorporates an environmentally friendly approach. Many developments around the world are focused on the return on investment (ROI), and while this is important for investors, we are coming to a place in this world where we need more than a focus on ROI. The focus on sustainable development will be of core benefit to the Mandalika project, other benefits will include: Designated as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) for the agricultural and ecotourism industry, Benefits for investors in terms of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, An Island Tourism Model benefit for surrounding areas, Short flight from main airport hubs – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand & Australia, A major driver in increasing land values, Infrastructure development supported by the government as one of the priority “10 New Bali’s” initiative, Under 30-minute drive from Lombok International Airport, Mandalika will be the 5* Asian destination to visit, A major driver in increasing land values in Lombok. Mandalika seems promising for Lombok tourism. If you have a plan to travel to Indonesia, you can includes mandalika in your bucket list.