My idea of travel typically is going to a major metropolitan area, staying in a hotel, and going out to various sites and taking in all the city has to offer. The idea that going to a resort can be fun, just hanging out, seemed like a colossal waste of money. As Tomo said a friend of his would say, “If I just wanted to sit around and read a book I could do that at home.”
I never thought I would enjoy an isolated resort. Just like I’ve never really liked the idea of a cruise. But, I guess I’m getting older or opening my mind a little bit. I still haven’t been on a cruise since I was 14 years old, but I have ended up hitting various resorts. Since I’ve moved to Japan, I’ve been to a resort in Karuizawa (Hoshinoya), a resort at Hakone, a visit to a resort in Thailand, a ryokan in Matsumoto, and recently a resort in Bali.
This past weekend was spent at the BVLGARI Hotel and Resort in Bali. I’m almost embarrassed to say that, because it seems so over-the-top. I don’t really even like much that Bulgari has to offer as a brand. But the resort looked really, really nice and we were not disappointed.
The trip from Japan is a lot easier than trying to get to Bali from the US. And the best part of all – there is a one hour time difference. That’s it! Interestingly, when I was still in Japan around Christmas time, freezing, Tomo and I made plans to come to Bali. We had tried to go in the past, but it didn’t work out. This time it did. We made reservations at the Bulgari, vowing to explore other options. We marginally explored.
I can’t say I had any experience about Bali while in Bali, and for that I have some regrets. In some respects, the resort could have been anywhere. But we did have Italian influenced Bali architecture, traditional Indonesian food available on the menu, and the warm Indonesian people as our hosts.
So what did we do? Relaxed, ate, went to the spa. The resort had about 70 individual villas nestled in rows on a cliff. But even with so many villas, each villa was very private. The villas were about 300 m2 of indoor and outdoor space, and consisted of 3 huts, two of them enclosed and connected, and one outside. The outside hut was where the living room was, and looked out to a sweeping view of the Indian Ocean. We had two lounge chairs in front of our own plunge pool. The plunge pool was clean, a great depth, and a nice temperature. Yes, we used it (as opposed to Thailand where we thought it looked a little scary).
The bedroom was completely windowed on three sides, with large sheers and heavy curtains. The roof was thatched grass, and did have a tendency to drop a few things at times. The colors were dark, the lines simple but still felt Indonesian-esque to me (whatever that means).
The bath area was the same hut style as the bedroom, and it too was completely windowed on three sides. But this has no curtains! It was wide open to the outdoors, although there were privacy walls to protect others from seeing in. I didn’t imagine that I would like the huge, open bathroom, but in the end I loved it. I was even able to take advantage of the outdoor shower.
Our neighbors were monkeys, and they stopped by for a visit.
The resort did have a private beach, but since it is situated high on a cliff (the resort, not the beach), accessing could have been difficult. To ease the burden, there was an incline rail to take you up and down. I had never seen a 6 person incline rail before, but there you go. We went to the beach twice – both times at high tide. The water was really rough and swimming is not allowed. We were still able to enjoy the view though.
The bar was well situated, and in the evening it was very peaceful to enjoy a drink and a snack. The staff was kind enough to offer to reserve a table for us for sunset on the first evening there, and that was good because it was the only night with a visible sunset.
At the spa, I had an exfoliation scrub, a foot massage, a facial scrub, a scalp massage, and then a long stroke hot stone oil massage. Although I’ve grown to like shiatsu massages, it’s hard to top a hot stone massage. Basically, the massage incorporates palmed hot stones as part of the massage stroke. We were in an open air hut with waves crashing below and a really nice breeze blowing though.
The pool was very beautiful, and never crowded. I think people were hanging out in their villas.
The Indonesian Rupiah has suffered from inflation over the years, so now, as a rough order of magnitude, 1 USD = 10000 IDR (actually around 8600), and 100 JPY = 10000 IDR (ish). I had a lot of zeros floating around in my head, and prices were often listed in 1000s of IDR. When I got my massage, I wanted to leave a tip. Afterwards, I was fuzzy as I often am after a massage and had to write in the tip. I wanted to leave about a $30 tip for the two therapists, and so I wrote 30000 IDR. Later, as I was looking at the price of something on the menu, I wondered to myself, “Did I really just leave a $3 tip?” That’s almost an insult! The next day we went back to the spa, checked out my bill, and sure enough, I had given them a $3 tip. Ooops. I made it easy and handed over some cash and offered my apologies.
I can go on and on, but I’ve been reminded more than once that nobody really wants to read that much in a blog. If the entry is too long, people will be bored and skip it. Or just look at the pictures, which is what I figure actually happens with this blog.
But if people are reading the whole thing, I do have a few more comments. When we were checking out this resort, I read some really negative reviews. People complaining about the beach, about bugs in the room, about it being too dark, about the restaurants being expensive compared to other places in Bali. I guess if I wanted to, I could complain about things. Yes, there were bugs here and there (it is the tropics, after all), yes you can’t swim on the beach, and yes you are paying premium prices at the bar, restaurant, and spa. I’m not sure how to measure value, but I felt that I got great service, I wasn’t “nickel and dimed” on every service provided, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Maybe since I am now calibrated to Japanese prices, even the high prices didn’t seem THAT high. So I highly recommend the place if you are not going to stress out over the money you are spending. If you are going to stress out about it, then don’t go.