People fall in love with Nika. They can't help themselves coming back, year after year, drawn irresistibly by its beauty and personality. Yet, just like in human attraction, the resort won't necessarily appeal to everybody who encounters it.
Designed by an Italian and owned by an Italian, the guests were Italian for the first twenty years of the resort's life. Over the last few years other nationalities have discovered it, fallen in love with it too, but not quite made it their own. The ambience is still Italian; the look is loose white linens and cottons with open necks showing rich tans. You might say Nika today is cosmopolitan with Italian characteristics.
The unique aspect of Nika is the level of privacy you can have when you want it. Each land room is hidden in a wreath of greenery and has its own private beach, defined by a groyne on either side. The groynes, sometimes large, will disturb some more than others and they do mean you can't walk around the island, but that is the nature of a holiday here: undisturbed intimacy mixed with sociability when you wish.
A single sandy path runs in an oval around the inside of the island. It leads you through an equatorial garden of flowers and shrubs, shaded by arches of white and purple bougainvillea and the blazing red flowers of the flame tree, passing the majestic banyan tree that gives the resort its name. Grey herons nest in the banyan tree and lovebirds, along with others, delight the walker with the uncommon sound of birdsong.
The owner Mr. Balasi's love of gardening is seen again in the model fruit, vegetable and herb plot. The fresh produce finds its way onto the dining table where, famously, the quality of the ingredients is integral to Italian cuisine. And in this we have another of the reasons to fall in love with Nika.
With one restaurant only and a small number of guests, all on full board, the chef is able to prepare perfect plates for the evening meal, served at your table from an à la carte choice. With candlelight and the moonlit sights and sounds of the lagoon coming in through the open arches, it can't fail to be romantic.
Breakfast and lunch are buffets, which are also very good though the piped music of old standards might rankle a bit with some.
Evenings are generally very quiet but the daytime sees several popular excursions to local inhabited, uninhabited and desert islands. These are all very reasonably priced, which, I must say, is true of everything on the resort and very welcome. A long-time speciality of Nika is trawling for big game fish. Ibrahim, a local, is considered to be the cleverest fisherman around and many a guest comes back especially for these trips.
The dive base has been run for many years by Rainer and Robert who now completely understand the wishes of Nika's guests. They provide personal dive courses and diving trips in small groups that the clients appreciate. They appreciate not having to even wash their equipment too.
Snorkelling is excellent here and easily accessible from every room. The lagoon too is ideal: clear, sandy, not too shallow and not too big. The beach inevitably varies but with the groynes in place there is good beach at least at low tide for every room and some rooms have a permanent fine beach.
The land rooms come in 2 categories that are identical in size and layout but differ only in extra facilities and location. Their curved, shell-like design is still a unique delight even if a few top resorts have surpassed them in size. At 70 square metres, with a huge bathroom, wooden parquet flooring and a mix of eclectic and homely furnishing, these are rooms that still compete at the top level. One Sultan Suite with 2 bedrooms and bathrooms (and 110 sqm) is ideal for a family or a group of friends.
The 10 new waterbungalows represent the high style of resort life. 3 conical thatched roofs cover the designer bathroom, the chic lounge and the bedroom and - this being Nika - completely hide a large wooden deck for ultimate privacy. Steps take you down to the perfect lagoon and a few strokes away from great snorkelling.
Nika is still Nika: unique, beautiful, classy and private.
Reviewed by Adrian Neville