After our journey through Lombok we travelled to Manado, an area located in North-Sulawesi. We checked in at a lodging called the Gardenia Country Inn (Link), which is located between the various mountains surrounding the town of Tomohon. It is about 800 meters above sea-level and it took us roughly two hours to get there from the Manado Airport due to the heavy traffic we encountered going up the mountain.
Our first impression after arriving at the hotel was literally like: “What is this place?”
In the dark, the Gardenia Country Inn was kind of spooky, too shadowy for comfort, and there hung a strange atmosphere about at night. Our arrival was met with some confusion from the side of the hotel staff. We arrived around nine o’clock at night, which is not that late really. But I felt they acted as if we intruded upon them in the middle of the night. Weird. We later learned that the staff, through some miscommunication with a travel agency, thought we would arrive at twelve in the afternoon. It was an honest mistake and that happens sometimes. That’s ok. But the way we were treated felt as if we arrived at a haunted hotel from a horror movie the way the staff acted and how the place looked.
We were also told that the kitchen was already closed and that the chef went home so we could not order anything despite having had no dinner and being super hungry. Eventually, I guess the staff felt sorry for us and they would make us some nasi goreng or fried rice. That was cool of them. They said that usually you would have to order dinner at least two hours in advance. Such a strange rule if you ask me. It is similar to something we experienced in the Rinjani Mountain Garden hotel in Senaru, Lombok. It just so happened both were “garden” themed accommodations, is there a trend I’m missing?
Later that evening they did come back and brought us some fried rice, which was very welcomed as we were starving. We went to bed afterwards.
The next morning we woke up early and our opinions of the hotel vastly improved, except for the fact that some of our belongings were stolen during the night. We left our cigarettes and lighters outside on a table on the patio the previous evening. And they were gone the next morning. Luckily, it wasn’t a major theft, but it is still theft, so I really have to mention that you will have to be careful of your possessions while staying there.
The cabin that we stayed in, named Blue Ginger, was quite basic. The bed and mattresses were great though and I had such an amazing sleep there. The cool mountain air probably helped as well. The shower lacked pressure and the shower felt sad, but at least there was some hot water. Weirdly enough, the room lacked a telephone. The reasoning was that the lack of a telephone would provide guests with a more authentic remote getaway holiday. But then on the other hand there is a television in the room, which kind of defeats the whole getaway experience. Anyway, moving on, the room was neat as it was mostly made out of wood. Depending on your choice of religion your mileage may vary on the fact that little crosses of Jesus decorate most of the rooms (for me it was a bit creepy).
I can say that the Gardenia Country Inn looks so much better during the day. The inn is surrounded by beautiful gardens with a ton of plants and flowers, and a stunning view of the nearby Lokon Mountain. The garden is really well-maintained and looked very clean and neat. I loved it. There are also some greenhouses on the vicinity and I like how most of the plants have been named for easy identification. It is also quite a good place to do some birding or bird spotting as I saw so many different kinds of birds there.
In the morning we had breakfast in the inn’s restaurant and it was simple and tasty. It tasted homemade, which was quite a nice surprise. There were only two other guests in the hotel at the time so it was really quiet. Breakfast was served in the Farm House, a very beautifully designed wooden restaurant with amazing views of the Lokon Mountain and garden. Unfortunately, the fishponds in front of the restaurant were dried up and undergoing some construction work and renovation. Still, it is an amazing location for a breakfast and lunch.
The Gardenia Country Inn is a perfect getaway location and wouldn’t mind returning here for a day or two. The view we had during the breakfast was spectacular. Great clear mountain views.
In the end, we did like the Gardenia Country Inn despite some little negatives. We only stayed here for a day, but we managed to experience most of the place. The cooling mountain air and the garden atmosphere are really the main draws of this place and they do work in relaxing oneself. The views of the environment are very pretty and you can get a great rest there. Just keep your possessions secure, your wits about, and don’t forget to order your dinner early and you will have a great time here.
When it comes to mountainous areas in Sulawesi, you can’t really go wrong. Most of it is quite pretty and interesting. Instead of North Sulawesi, places such as the amazing indigenous land of Tana Toraja and the popular weekend getaway destination of Malino also offer some amazing experiences. With so many different options, Sulawesi is just pretty amazing overall.