Until four years ago, Karin and Stef were living in Geel, a village in the Antwerp region.
Stef has always held onto the idea that one day he would emigrate. He has studied languages; English and Italian. Karin was a teacher and had to get used to the idea of emigration.
The couple wedded and welcomed two sons within a few years, so emigration plans disappeared for a while. The children grew up with the family travelling around together during the summer holidays. They started to discover the south of France and fell in love with the Languedoc, and so their focus shifted from Italy to France as the location where they wanted to take over or start up a B&B.
Their eldest son graduated and found his first job in Jakarta. He packed his bags, waved goodbye to everyone, and moved to the Indonesian metropolis. Karin and Stef used to visit him once or twice a year. Since they didn’t want to fly that far just to visit Jakarta, they started travelling around 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 emigrate to Indonesia instead of France?” Stef needed some 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 opt for Lombok. They saw it as a “pure” island, it is in full development, of course, with all consequences, but the nature, climate, people, cuisine, culture, and daily life gave them the best feeling. Investing in land and construction are still very affordable, with the budget they had foreseen for the south of France, they could do much more in Lombok.
At the beginning of 2019, they left Belgium for good. Their youngest son moved to Bali – where he’s still living – they all quit their jobs, sold their house and cars, liquidated all their household stuff – all the proverbial bridges were burnt and the only way was forward.
Stef was lucky that he immediately found a job in Lombok in construction; the sector in which he had also worked in Belgium for more than 25 years. As a result, he quickly found his way into this sector, which is organised very differently from Europe. He still works with his company (www.synergylombok.com) as a consultant, guiding investors, who often do not reside in Lombok full-time, through the entire construction process, both in preparation and during construction.
The original plan to “do something in tourism” was brought back to life. In October 2020, they bought a plot of land in Serangan, a sub-municipality of Selong Belanak, in southern Lombok. From then on, everything went very quickly; the design started while the plot was being prepared and they started the construction works at the end of February 2021. Everything went very smoothly, and by mid-March 2022, their Amazing Lombok Resort was almost ready to become operational with seven bungalows with a pool for 16 guests in total and a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Indonesian government has invested a lot in the construction of a circuit in the south of Lombok, where the first Moto GP was held on 18-20th March 2022. The demand for hotel rooms far exceeded the supply, so it was important to have everything ready by that 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 days of stress to get everything completely ready. The last window was installed, literally just as the first car with guests pulled up in the parking lot. But everything was ready, and Karin and Stef were super happy.
They held their breath for that first weekend, going from zero to 100 percent operational, with a completely new team of staff. They hoped the electricity would hold and the WiFi would continue to work with so many users. As was hoped for, everything ran perfectly! The staff did an excellent job, the guests were very excited at check-out and quite proud to be the first guests at this Amazing Lombok Resort.
Karin and Stef were proud that the word “Amazing” was mentioned so many times that first weekend. With the resort, they focus on giving each guest a good feeling and providing a super holiday offering nice food, peace, and quiet trips to all Lombok can offer.
They have now been operational for almost two months. The grass is there, the plants are starting to grow, and everything is turning beautifully green. The menu in the restaurant is being expanded and they regularly offer “special dishes”. For example, a real vol-au-vent will be on the menu soon, and they will be organising Belgian Waffle Sundays. Belgium is a small country, but the kitchen has a lot in store, and in their restaurant, they want to offer a mix of Asian and other cuisines.
Do they miss Belgium and life over there?
Friends and family are far away, but Skype and WhatsApp offer many solutions. Karin misses the summer festival life and so travels to Belgium every summer to grab a few festivals. They will not find a 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 turn back the clock to five years ago? They would do exactly the same.