Nikoi is a private island owned by a small group of expatriates who have lived in Asia for most of their working lives and share a passion for the outdoors, nature, food and wine.
The group was put together by Andrew Dixon, an Australian who arrived in Asia from Sydney in 1998 and soon became disenchanted with the standard of holiday accommodation on offer. It was either ea-ridden shacks or opulently garish marble and crystal chandelier decorated ve star hotels. Cultural sensitivity, vernacular design and simple luxuries seemed unheard of.
Inspired by his own childhood beach holidays, where they were left to explore the natural environment and entertain themselves, he believed there had to be a better alternative. A desire to explore destinations close to Singapore took him to the island of Bintan, a short ferry ride from Singapore. Disappointed by the resorts in the north of the island they began to explore the undiscovered East coast of Bintan.
A chance meeting with Peter Timmer, an American who had been living
on Bintan for many years, led to the development of the Nikoi Island of today.
“Together with Peter we hired a tiny shing boat for the day to take a look at a nearby island which was reputably for sale,” Dixon says.“Further out to sea we could see Nikoi in the distance and couldn’t resist the temptation to explore it.” “We expected to be confronted by owners, upset by our landing, but instead were left to explore Nikoi’s white sandy beaches, pristine reefs, extraordinary rock formations and cooling rainforest in peace.”
“It was hard to believe a piece of paradise could remain uninhabited and untouched a mere 50 miles from Singapore.” The prospect of acquiring Nikoi inevitably came with a great deal of responsibility to the investors in terms of preserving the natural environment and beauty of the island.
It raised the question of how to incorporate construction techniques that were appropriate to the environment and potentially appealing to like-minded holiday makers.
Timmer, who has a passion for building with local materials, has developed a style of architecture that blends both vernacular design with massive pieces of driftwood to create dwellings in which the natural materials are gracefully intertwined with modern simplicity. Building began in earnest in January 2005 after Timmer was engaged as the principal designer and project manager. Timmer’s unique design incorporates a double vaulted roof which acts like a chimney stack drawing the hot air up and keeping the houses cool avoiding the need for air-conditioning. Working on site he has masterfully sculptured the houses, swimming pool and various bars around the natural canvas he began with, such that these structures have a real sense of belonging.
“This is ‘Luxury Survivor’ the like of which has never been seen before in this region,” Dixon says. The design of the beach houses and their layout over a 5ha site means Nikoi can accommodate a range of different groups. It appeals both to families wanting a special weekend escape and couples seeking romance, tranquillity and seclusion.
The ability to hire out the entire island for groups of up to 60 is also attractive for corporate groups wanting to focus on team building or
smaller style conferences. The island has also become popular for groups of friends celebrating milestone birthdays and other occasions. In May 2007 Nikoi was opened to the public and has fast become a popular destination for
Singapore expatriates and visitors from further a eld. return some as many as 6 times a year.
Nikoi Island is fully booked on weekends months in advance. With weekday bookings lling up fast it appears the secret of Nikoi is well and truly out.
In 2009 the owners of Nikoi formed The Island Foundation to help the local community develop in a sustainable manner. One of Asia’s most successful NGO’s the Population & Community Development Association (PDA) has agreed to provide access to their vast experience. In 2010 The Island Foundation was registered as an International charity in Singapore. To date 7 learning cenres with over 500 children registered for English and IT programs. In addition the Foundation has been villages develop original artisanal products which we marketed and sold by the Foundadtion under a retail brand called Kura Kura.