In today’s article we go back in time to look at the construction of our sister resort on Lembeh. In this photo series, read how a muddy hillside was transformed into a full-fledged boutique resort in less than 7 months time…
Whenever the chance for a day trip to Lembeh-in-progress came up in 2017, I was quick to join and document the project. The result is the “photo essay” below.
March 2017 – humble beginnings
After obtaining all the necessary permits, we started clearing the land by the end of 2016. Rumors of a new resort soon started in the village of Batu Riri. Obviously, people were happy with a new chance of finding work.
The 2nd of March 2017 marks a special day, and everyone in the neighborhood is invited. This is because today will be the official start of construction. Our team visits from Thalassa Manado with a few supplies and a ton of food for the workers and invited guests.
Jakob (l) is one of our senior staff and Lembeh’s construction supervisor. He calls the island his temporary home while overseeing construction during the next few months.
From the village next door (Batu Riri), the local priest arrives with a small entourage of village heads and notables. He holds a sermon to bless the land and the building process. During his speech he thanks Simone for creating opportunities for work.
Wet mud doesn’t stop anyone from wearing their Sunday best.
Pictured here is the laying of the first stone. Village heads, the priest, Thalassa staffers and other notables all take turns laying a stone. Naturally, people are too polite to fail so everyone is basically saying “you first”.
April 2017 – the foundations
Where only a month ago there was nothing but mud, now there are basic shapes forming the start of buildings. This is the formwork for the swimming pool’s concrete structure.
With a digger, the slope was dug to be terraced. Natural stone walls form the now-familiar base of the resort’s layout.
Almost everything is done by hand. Guests & friends help out by passing buckets of concrete to be poured into anything that requires it.
The supply boat does non-stop runs, picking up and dropping off building supplies, food, tools, personnel and so on. Because we can’t use our dive boat for this, we hire the boat on a contract basis, making its owner quite happy.
Hard work makes workers hungry, and traditionally, the task of cooking falls on the women. There’s nothing like a plate of spicy nasi goreng for lunch after some construction action.
June 2017 – it’s all coming together
Kids from our school in Tongkaina join us on today’s trip. A large shipment of garden plants is brought from Manado, destined for Thalassa Lembeh’s lovely central garden.
A few months of solid building results in everything truly taking shape. Here we are standing in our kitchen. The two door openings will provide access to kitchen storage later.
This will be the Sabar, our pizza bar. To the right is the aforementioned kithen.
The pool is nearing completion. This will be the place where our guests will look out into the Lembeh Strait, Bintang in hand.
We’re looking out from the Santai, our main restaurant building. The two buildings in the back are a temporary kitchen and supply storage.
August 2017 – adding the details
Pressing fast-forward again, we now approach the final stages of construction. The main pool and sunbathing area is virtually done.
The bungalows are nearly done, and it’s easy to see how attractive they will become once finished.
The dive center is still missing windows, but it’s looking very promising already.
Dutch couple Kees and Anika join our team as resort managers, looking forward to their new home for the next two years. But before construction is done, they work & live with us at Manado to get settled in.
October 1st 2017 – we’re open!
We are officially open! Our first guests have already booked their stay to join the opening ceremony. Students from our school perform a traditional dance routine…
…and Thalassa Manado staff sing to give the new resort all their blessings. After the ceremony it’s time for (what else) food!
So there you have it. In broad brush strokes, this is how our small but great sister resort on beautiful Lembeh was built.
A special place
Thalassa Lembeh offered Simone and the team a chance to do something new and different.
Obviously, we’re biased, but we think it turned out to be a wonderfully cosy place.
After the pandemic has settled down enough to allow travel, we can’t wait to welcome you again.
We hope to see you all soon!