Last week Justin and I decided to take a few days off, hop on a plane and make a whirlwind visit to Bali… and it was absolutely amazing! The sweet pleasure of discovering a new country never fails and having heard nothing but praise about the Island of Gods, we were giddy with excitement to experience it ourselves and indulge in a tropical bliss of Indonesia. There is no lack of resorts and hotels in Bali, but being loyal Intercontinental customers and Ambassador members our choice fell on Intercontinental Bali Resort. Situated right on the beach of Jimbaran on the west side of the island with the lush grounds reminiscent of a Balinese village, staying at Intercontinental Bali Resort, winner of multiple international awards, was an absolute pleasure. I don’t know how to describe it in any other way.
Our luxury experience started well before we arrived to the resort. A luxurious private car picked us up at the airport offering cool towels, water, some refreshments and complimentary wifi to make a 20-minute drive as comfortable as possible. We even got a welcome call from the hotel personnel to inquire if we had any special requests before our arrival. Check in was equally smooth and effortless. After being greeted with a gong, we were ushered to the Club Intercontinental Lounge. Adorned with lei garlands and pampered by the personalized attention, we enjoyed our welcome drinks with an accompaniment of a live piano music and were later escorted to our suite. I instantly knew we were in for a wonderful vacation and reasons to love the resort were aplenty.
I felt like the resort would be suitable for any type of traveler – couples, families, business travelers or honeymooners – as they cater for all individual requirements across different rooms and packages. There are a wide range of 417 beautifully-appointed rooms, suites and private villas housed in six separate wings at the resort. We were treated to a luxurious upgrade to the Club Duplex Suite: a spacious, two-tier room outfitted in beautiful indigenous woods and traditional artwork as a nod to Balinese culture. The bottom level reminded me of a studio with merged dining and sitting areas, flatscreen TV, fully equipped and stocked mini-bar and office space. We had a private terrace with a view of the tranquil garden and a side view of the ocean. If we didn’t choose to spend the entire time by the pool, it would have made a perfect spot for a down-time with a nice book, or a nap away from the sun. We received a welcome gift of a fruit plate and a box of artisan handcrafted chocolates, along with a personalized note.
Second floor continued in the same luxurious vane: king-sized bed (with a pillow menu!) facing another firescreen TV, a large walk through wardrobe and a spacious bathroom featuring walk in rainforest shower and a spa-styled marble bathroom, I honestly wanted to move in for good. The amenity kit included Agraria, luxury all natural America’s premier home fragrance brand . Everything has been thoughtfully thought out and well planned: pillow menu, slippers and robes, and even a useful Club Intercontinental beach bag.
I also got a chance to sneak a peek at a Bukit Suite (6425) on our last day and it was absolutely gorgeous. With separate dining room, sitting room coupled with study, a kitchenette, a guest restroom, a spacious bathroom featuring Jacuzzi with flatscreen TV and a stunning view over the pool and ocean, it was every bit as luxurious as it sounds. I can only imagine what the villas looked like!
When I was doing my research, some of the reviews of the hotel mentioned that the rooms are outdated and in need of facelift. While it might be true of some accommodations, I was glad to see that the resort is currently renovating all of its wings and the newly renovated suites are already available for booking. I believe that by 2018 the resort will be entirely revamped. It’s also worth noting that the public spaces and amenities – hallways, pools, spa, fitness center, restaurants, etc. – were in mint condition and meticulously maintained.
I also greatly appreciated that the wifi was speedy in the room and wherever you were throughout the resort, even by the beach. A very important feature for digital nomads and business travelers.
Perhaps one of the biggest contributor to our luxurious experience was an upgrade to Club Intercontinental package, which would make the best investment of your trip if you plan to make the most of your resort stay. The perks are endless: we had a 24-hour butler service (as Justin noted: “what world do we live in, we have our own butler!”), private check in and out, airport transfer on your check-out and complimentary breakfast at a choice of four venues – just to name the few. You also have an exclusive access to the private Club Intercontinental Pool and the lavish Club Intercontinental Lounge where you can enjoy complimentary gourmet breakfast with a la carte selections, classic afternoon tea, evening cocktails and canapes and 24 hours light refreshment and non-alcoholic beverages. Service here is top shelf, being designed with discerning taste in mind. Parents also take advantage of the unlimited children’s program at the resort’s child-care facility.
The Balinese hospitality so often touted is on full display here. From the groundskeepers to the butler team, everyone takes it upon themselves to ensure guest happiness. We felt welcomed and catered for at every step, and there was never a lack of attention from a hotel personnel. Everybody made you feel at home and it makes want to go back more than anything else. Well, that and everything listed below.
BREAKFASTS BY THE POOL
What could be better than waking up to the sound of waves and then leisurely make your way down to the pool to enjoy your breakfast? It was a blissful start to the day. The Club Pool offered a lighter, intercontinental breakfast, while the Jimbaran Garden – my favorite – had everything from classics like egg station and freshly squeezed juice bar, to a buffet of Indonesian breakfasts favorites.
The Club Intercontinental Lounge, on the other hand, offers a more refined morning experience where you sit back and enjoy the in-house pianist while sipping on delicious Rosella Tea and cooling off with lemongrass scented cold towels. There are buffet offerings, as well as a la carte options. We enjoyed Indonesian and Chinese breakfasts one morning. I didn’t get a chance to breakfast at Taman Gita Terrace, which apparently offers an extensive buffet of local and international cuisine.
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THE GROUNDS, POOLS AND THE BEACH
When we were planning our trip to Bali, we had only one thing in mind for this trip: a hassle-free vacation to relax and unwind. For me the ultimate relaxation is always associated with lounging by the pool or the beach. In that respect, Intercontinental Bali didn’t disappoint, as there was an endless array of pools – total of six – where one could while away the day, plus direct access to the beach. What more could you ask? Comfy sunloungers, hammocks and cabanas were strategically spaced around and it never felt crowded and there was no competition for “prime” locations.
I particularly loved the main pool area which was the liveliest, in my opinion, and boasted with gorgeous views of and direct and shortest access to the ocean. Plus, it featured ever-important swim-up bar, so we sipped on our Pina Coladas whilst soaking in the water.
The private Club Intercontinental Pool, on the other hand, offered a more serene and shaded environment. One could also take advantage of the Balinese Bath Pools, a kiddie wading pool and interactive falls and fountains.
Most importantly, the resort grounds were absolutely beautiful and offer everything you can possibly think of when you picture a vacation in a tropical paradise. It is spacious enough not to feel crowded, yet never looses a sense of coziness. Balinese culture tastefully shines throughout this sprawling property. Everywhere you look, there are some stunning details in the flowers, the fountains and footpaths that give the hotel its unique Balinese ambiance. The immaculate manicured gardens were a stunning mix of water features, lush greenery and colorful tropical blooms that gave a feeling of peace and tranquility. The resort grounds seamlessly blended modern-day functionality with traditional Balinese culture, architecture and art. So, wherever you chose to set anchor, you were guaranteed to immerse into a tropical bliss.
UNFORGETTABLE SUNSETS AT SUNSET BAR
Intercontinental Bali Resort boasts with a prime location in Jimbaran, being only a few yards away from the stunning white sand Jimbaran Bay. This meant we had the front row seats to stunning sunsets every night. Sunset Bar was hands down my favorite place at the resort. Every night at dusk, we’d savor our cocktails with our feet tucked in the golden sand, listen to crashing waves and watch the sun fade away.
There are five on-site restaurants in a resort, and range from Balinese, Indonesian and Italian to Japanese. So, if you choose to stay within the premises of the resort you certainly won’t get hungry. On our last night, we enjoyed dinner at KO Restaurant which offers Japanese menu with teppanyaki grill and cocktail lounge. It’s set in a separate wing with a long walkway of Japanese decor setting the mood and even contains a Japanese garden. You also have an option to dine at the Italian restaurant Bella Cucina. There is outdoor seating with some tables set on the lawn underneath the stars and you can hear the waves crash on the beach as you’re savoring your pasta.
Jimbaran Garden offers “The Spirit of Bali” dinner which is a very good introduction to the local Balinese dance and music. The buffet dinner here features some of the local delicacies such as the famous Indonesian Babi Guling (suckling piglet), Bebek Betutu (duck), satay, grilled skewers, appetizers and desserts. You can also have tapas at the Sunset Bar along with your cocktails.
Although, if you are looking for an exclusive and utterly romantic experience, the hotel will gladly arrange it for you. A private canopy set al fresco by the ocean and adorned with candles and flower petals, all this accompanied with a private singer… I call it a romance done right.
Easy access to the white sandy beach make this hotel a winner as you also have options to escape with a short stroll along the beach to the open-air seafood cafes that Jimbaran Bay is famed for. The fresh catches of the day are affordable and the alcohol is well priced especially with the many Happy Hour cocktails. We also wondered over to the neighboring Four Seasons Jimbaran for a delicious lunch, and had an amazing dinner at Cuca located within 15-minute walk in the opposite direction.
With a plethora of daily activities on offer you’ll be hard-pressed to not find something up your alley at the resort in case louning by the sun is too bouring for you. I was so excited to see a weekly activity roster so I knew what to sign up for during our stay. My personal favorites included yoga at sunrise, surfing on the ebbing Ocean waves, and turtle release at sunset. Other options include various water sports, the Colors of Jimbaran cycle tour, and the Rumah Desa Balinese cooking day trip just to name the few. There are also tennis courts and a 24-hour Fitness Center.
BLISSFUL SPA TREATMENTS
One of the highlights of our stay was the resort’s world-class Uluwatu Spa offering lots of healing and wellness treatments. We indulged in a couples massage at a private villa, facials, pedicure treatments and two couple’s massages, one of which was hosted in a luxurious private villa. It was utter delight and treat for the senses and deserves a separate post which I’ll publish soon.
Our first taste of Bali was as blissful as it can get. I wondered why don’t we do it more often?! Since our honeymoon in Maui five years ago, it was our first resort getaway – a vacation where relaxation was a priority over non-stop exploration. Don’t get me wrong, we did fair share of sightseeing too, but unwinding at a resort left us rejuvenated and invigorated, both physically and spiritually. And InterContinental Bali Resort hugely contributed to that.
Disclaimer: we received a complimentary upgrade to Club Duplex Suite which included Club benefits, along with one complimentary spa treatment at Villa Retreat. All opinions are forever my own.
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