A Rare Location
    Category: Forbes Life By : Sarah Moon Read : 2366 Date : Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 06:14:21

    Courtesy of Dwianto Wibowo

    The Thousand Islands, or Pulau Seribu, just off the coast of Jakarta have been an easy getaway location for harried Jakartans, and are dotted with resorts that range in quality, popularity and price. Among the better of these is the Isle East Indies, a resort island that is exclusively for private rental. By renting it, one can have full personal use of the entire island (about one hectare in size). At a stated rate of $1,950 a night, with a 3-night minimum, one gets accommodations for eight, food and drink (except alcoholic beverages and soft drinks), and roundtrip transportation from Jakarta aboard a luxury yacht.

    Purchased by David Salman in 1994, a property owner with land in Seminyak and New Zealand, the island underwent a hefty amount of careful renovation. Originally meant as a vacation spot for Salman's family and friends, he opened it to the public in 2007. The island is available for rent all year except January to March.

    Pulau Seribu has been gaining new attention with Governor Joko Widodo's plan to promote their tourism potential. Currently, there are 36 state-mandated recreational islands, and of these, only 13 have been developed. Most of these remaining 23 islands remain uninhabited or home to small fishing villages. While the government catches up, private investors such as Salman are capitalizing on the tourism opportunities there.

    Salman started to admire the island, originally called Pulau Kaliage Kecil, from afar over twenty years ago. From a rented cabin on a nearby neighboring island, Salman would swim across to explore the then uninhabited, not-for-sale island. Although the island had suffered environmental damage, he saw the potential and spent two years working to purchase the island.

    Once he secured it, he began began making repairs, starting with the construction of a natural stone breakwater to prevent further shore erosion. The second major change was his own reef-protection program, in which he educated local fishermen on how to preserve the surrounding reef and personally dived underwater to reattach corals. The landscape and flora were also hand-designed by Salman; he chose indigenous plants including pandanas and casuarinas, both of which are accustomed to salty breezes and sandy soil.