The Hotel With the Best Traditional Ethnic Identity is the delightful Misiliana Hotel in Toraja, Indonesia. Nestled in the scenic Toraja Highlands of Sulawesi, this enchanting resort was built nearly four decades ago in authentic traditional Torajan style. It is staffed entirely by local tribal-folk, and everything here is genuinely native, from the ethnic Tongkonan architecture to the local village-style layout of the resort. Even the food served here is truly local – while the comprehensive menu encompasses both Western and Torajan dishes, the chefs are local people and both vegetables and fish come fresh from the ponds and organic farm-plots within this extensive resort itself! The family is the primary social structure in Torajan society. Each village is one extended family, the seat of which is the traditional Tongkonan house with its distinctive large boat-shaped roof. The elders of each household maintain village unity and nurture its traditions. In keeping with these ancient traditions, the Misiliana Hotel is family-owned and the daily management is presided over by the clan matriarch, her daughter and son-in-law. While maintaining international standards and practices in running the hotel, the family integrates the unique Torajan Christian faith and ancient local culture into administrative matters such as staff-relations, property maintenance and finance. Management cannot get more ethnic than this!
What really enchanted us was how this familial tradition creates a natural warmth and hospitality within Misiliana. Every guest is treated as a friend of the family, and the staff greet you with a mixture of professional deference and spontaneous cheerfulness. From humble gardener to regal matriarch, they are really glad you came! Inside the picturesque two-storied Tongkonan houses, each of the 96 rooms at this 3-star property has a terrace and all the mod-cons one could wish for. The lush 8-hectare grounds include lovely landscaped gardens, two attractive swimming pools, jogging tracks, a kiddies’ fishing pond, vegetable gardens, tennis courts, a fitness centre and idyllic farm ponds with quiet ‘thinking spots’. Add majestic mountains for a scenic backdrop, and you have one of our favourite hotels in the world!
All pix by Andrew Ponnampalam