Cows and flowers
Got milk? Yep that’s a whiff of dairy cows as you walk into Margo Utomo Agro Resort—the name refers to the “agro-culture” of the neighbouring plantation and dairy farm, no need to brace yourself for any signs of aggression.
This delightful 49-room family-run rural hotel sits amid a fragrant tropical garden almost directly behind Kalibaru Railway Station although inconveniently you will have to walk a block to the railway crossing and double back to access the entrance.
The plantation existed long before the hotel, growing coconut, nutmeg, coffee, pepper and cloves and when the late Mr. Moestadjab inherited it from his father in 1943, he continued the business, later opening the resort on the site in 1975, naming it “Margo Utomo”, “Main Gate” in Javanese hoping it would be a gateway for tourism in the region, strengthening the then crumbling local economy.
His vision continues to be a success, the resort, dairy and plantation persist today and offer a comfortable break in this small rural town along with plantation tours and fresh dairy products including milk and homemade mozzarella cheese. You’ll know you’re at the right place when you see the cow mural complete with 3D polystyrene cow head at the entrance.
Set behind the main house with reception and communal lounge areas, a path leads past the entrance to the dairy and plantation and the open-air style restaurant to the rooms in brick longhouses lining the footway and riotous flower-filled garden eventually leading to a large swimming pool and open massage pavilion.
Modest but tasteful rooms offer Standard fan or Superior air-con doubles or twins. High ceilings and tiled floors add to the cool and calm mood of the spacious light-filled interiors. As there were plenty of mosquitoes when we passed through, we like that there are mozzie screens on the main doors in the Standards and louvered wooden shutters, allowing the tropical breeze to further cool the rooms.
Simply furnished, Standard rooms offer decent foam mattresses on wooden beds, and Superior more comfortable spring beds adorned with white sheets and a doona for cooler nights, both with bedside tables and lamps along with a small desk and luggage storage rack. Superior up the country-cottage-style a little with duck-egg blue painted walls and pretty bed runners, but otherwise the two styles of rooms are near identical.
The cottage theme continues to the granny-style tiles in the basic but very clean ensuite bathrooms. Showers are strong and hot, almost scaldingly so—be careful—separated in the otherwise wet-style bathroom by a shower curtain. Towel racks and ledges will hold your bibs and bobs, but the washbasin only offers a narrow glass shelf below the mirror. Don’t expect much in the way of toiletries or fancy extras, but a small bar of soap is supplied.
The small furnished terraces are offered a little privacy by the lush foliage and staggered design of the longhouse block, but you still can chat to your immediate neighbour as you admire the garden and enjoy a cold beer from the restaurant.
The large rectangular swimming pool is as wide as many are long, with a shallow kids end and deep deep end, good for a decent lap even when there’s a crowd. Watch out for some broken edges which could do with some maintenance, but otherwise the water is clean and inviting, although too cold for a dip during our stay.
Poolside massages are on offer 14:00 to 19:00, although a little pricy for the “local” nature of the treatment with a 50-minute Javanese massage for 100,000 rupiah or a one hour aromatherapy massage for 190,000 rupiah, nevertheless relaxing after a mountain climb or trekking. Massage ladies expect a tip and will all but ask you for one.
Included breakfast is served in the pleasant onsite Heliconia Restaurant, buffet style when the resort is busy or at your table at quieter times. Eggs can be made to order and local specialities include fresh milk and mozzarella (of course), homegrown coffee and fruit and homemade bread and nutmeg jam. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, but the somewhat pricey menu caters to the mostly European tour group clientele. Five minutes away, the main Kalibaru road is lined with local warungs.
Margo Utomo Agro Resort offers guided “Aroma” tours of their plantation and dairy, for 65,000 rupiah for guests and a 85,000 rupiah for visitors but in-house guests are also free to wander unguided. Cows are milked daily at 07:00 and 19:00, interesting for travellers with city kids. Also available are tours to larger plantations as well as other regional adventures and transport services. Margo Utomo Agro Resort is very popular with tour groups so expect it to be very busy or completely empty when the groups are not around (you may want to check when you book which will be the case).
We like the convenient location near the train, but you are also smack in the middle of the village with several nearby mosques, so expect to be woken by the call to prayer. Alternatively you may prefer one of the more intimate guesthouses such as Rumah Senang, around three kilometres east of the town near Margo Utomo’s sister resort or similar, but with slightly more in-room facilities, Kalibaru Cottages is 4.5 kilometres west along the main road.
Address: 10 Jalan Lapangan, Kalibaru
T: (0333) 897 700; (0333) 897 123; F: (0333) 897 124
Coordinates (for GPS): 113º59'2.23" E, 8º17'17.08" S
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 400,000 to 1,000,000 Rp
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Standard double room||550,000 rupiah||650,000 rupiah|
|Superior double room||650,000 rupiah||750,000 rupiah|
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
Provided by Travelfish partner Agoda.