Karin and Stef’s journey establishing the amazing resort of Lombok
Four years ago, Karin and Stef lived in Geel, a village in the Antwerp region.
Stef always kept the idea that one day he would emigrate. He studied languages; English and Italian. Karin was a teacher and had to get used to the idea of emigration.
The couple got married and welcomed two sons within a few years, so emigration plans faded away for a while. The children grew up with the family traveling together during the summer holidays. They started to discover the south of France and fell in love with Languedoc, and so their focus shifted from Italy to France as a place where they wanted to take over or start a B&B.
Their eldest son graduated and found his first job in Jakarta. He packed his bags, said goodbye to everyone, and moved to the Indonesian metropolis. Karin and Stef visited him once or twice a year. Since they didn’t want to fly so far just to visit Jakarta, they started traveling through Indonesia and fell in love with this part of Asia.
Java, Bali, Sulawesi, Flores and also Lombok. Funnily enough, it was Karin who suggested one evening, “What if we emigrated to Indonesia instead of France?” Stef needed time to get used to this idea. After a while they made the final decision: they would not move to another country but to another continent.
They went looking for a suitable location and decided to go for Lombok. They saw him as apure” island, it is in full development, of course, with all the consequences, but the nature, the climate, the people, the cuisine, the culture and the daily life gave them the best feeling. Investing in land and construction is still very affordable, with the budget they had planned for the south of France, they could do a lot more in Lombok.
At the beginning of 2019, they left Belgium for good. Their youngest son moved to Bali – where he still lives – they all quit their jobs, sold their homes and cars, liquidated all their household affairs – all the proverbial bridges were burned and the only way was forward.
Stef was lucky enough to immediately find a job in Lombok in construction; the sector in which he also worked in Belgium for more than 25 years. As a result, it quickly found its place in this sector which is organized very differently from Europe. He still works with his company (www.synergylombok.com) as a consultant, guiding investors, who often do not reside full-time in Lombok, through the construction process, both in preparation and during construction. .
The original plan ofdo something in tourismwas brought back to life. In October 2020, they bought land in Serangan, a sub-commune ofselong Belanak, south Lombok. From there, everything went very quickly; the design started while the land was being prepared and they started construction at the end of February 2021. Everything went very smoothly and by mid March 2022 their Amazing Lombok Resort was almost ready to go live with seven bungalows with swimming pool for 16 people in total and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Indonesian government has invested heavily in the construction of a circuit south of Lombok, where the first Moto GP was held from March 18 to 20, 2022. The demand for hotel rooms far exceeded the supply, it was therefore important to have everything ready this weekend. A few days before the date, in consultation with the contractor, it was decided to give the green light. All rooms were fully booked in less than five minutes. It took a few more stressful days to get everything completely ready. The last window was installed, literally as the first car with guests pulled into the parking lot. But everything was ready, and Karin and Stef were super happy.
They held their breath for this first weekend, going from zero to 100% operational, with a whole new team of staff. They hoped the electricity would hold and the WiFi would continue to work with so many users. As expected, everything went perfectly! The staff did a great job, guests were very excited upon checkout and quite proud to be the first guests at this amazing resort in Lombok.
Karin and Stef were proud that the word “Surprisingwas mentioned so many times that first weekend. With the resort they are focused on giving every guest a good feeling and providing a great vacation offering great food, peace and quiet trips to all that Lombok has to offer.
They have now been operational for almost two months. The grass is there, the plants are starting to grow and everything is getting beautifully green. The restaurant menu is expanding and regularly offers “special dishes”. For example, a real vol-au-vent will soon be on the menu, and they will organize Belgian Waffle Sundays. Belgium is a small country, but the cuisine has a lot to offer, and in their restaurant they want to offer a mix of Asian and other cuisines.
Do they miss Belgium and life there?
Friends and family are far away, but Skype and WhatsApp offer plenty of solutions. Karin misses the life of summer festivals and therefore travels to Belgium every summer to participate in a few festivals. They won’t find Duvel on a terrace in Lombok. But the stress, the traffic jams, the boring nine-to-five life? No, the rhythm in Lombok is very different. There is also work to be done. But the atmosphere, the climate and the circumstances make everything very different.
Would it be possible to go back to five years ago? They would do the exact same thing.