My mother is very Asian. By that I mean she believes in the traditional Asian belief that a woman is only beautiful when porcelain pale. Anytime I dared to venture out under the sun, she will arm me with sunscreen, hats and umbrellas (at least). So trips with my parents to tropical destinations have always been a conundrum. What do I do in Bali if not read by the beach and listen to the ocean waves? My mom came came up with a solution – we toured some of the top hotels in Nusa Dua with the excuse that I am getting married (was very single at the time) and scouting out wedding locations. You go, Mom. But her plan worked – we got very detailed tours at each resort.
St. Regis Bali Resort
We stayed at the St. Regis, which was beautiful. In each room they provide two straw hats and a tote as gifts. There are also complimentary afternoon tea, unlimited bottled water, yoga/mediation classes, and Indonesian drumming/fire dancing every afternoon. The included all-you-can-eat breakfast was one of the highlights of staying at this resort. On the menu are steak & eggs, prawns, lobster omelette… and the list goes on. We dined at Dulang for dinner, which presented an excellent spread of traditional Balinese food. The saltwater lagoon is one of my favorite features of the hotel.
Alila Villas Uluwatu
Alila Villas Uluwatu has gained popularity in the recent years by being the “it” wedding location for Asian celebrities and power players. All guests here stay in villas with private pools and cabanas overlooking the Indian Ocean. Butler service is included for each villa. Although Bali is humid, the minimalist design allows sea breeze to flow through your room, so no air conditioning is needed. We also had the best nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice) at one of their restaurants, The Warung. Heads up – this hotel is built on the cliff so while you get the amazing view, it is a 40 minute hike down to the private beach.
Bulgari Resort Bali
Bulgari Resort Bali offers the utmost privacy for those looking for it. Guests stay in individual ocean-facing huts, each with a plunge pool. The villas are furnished with dark Javanese mahogany and fabrics in the room (e.g. see bed throw below) are designed by Balinese artists and woven locally. The hotel is built on a steep slope, so they offer golf cart transportation for guests wanting to go to the beach or another part of the hotel. Your hut will come with a personal butler. The staff was incredibly friendly, and we actually passed by a wedding while touring the grounds.
The Mulia Resort
To me, the Mulia Resort felt like a sanitized church with awkward decor. The gaudiness may have came from the fake flowers in the hotel lobby (we’re on a tropical island, where are the fresh flowers??). There seemed to be a lot of tour groups staying here. Crossed off the list for the next trip.
Conrad Bali is the most traditionally decorated resort we visited, with the staff dressed in earth-toned shirts and sarongs that echo Balinese culture. Although the surrounding area is a bit run down, it is close to one of the most popular eateries in Nusa Dua: Bumbu Bali. The Conrad has beautiful pool cabanas and is a relatively large complex compared to other hotels we visited.
Bumbu Bali (restaurant)
Bumbu Bali, mentioned above, is a must go for cheap, traditional Indonesian food. We ordered a selections of sates (seasoned & grilled meat skewers, usually served with a peanut sauce), mie goreng (fried noodles), braised pork and curry. They are also famous for their babi guling (roasted suckling pig), which needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance. Next time I want to try taking the cooking classes at Bambu Bali. Classes start with a visit to the local vegetable and fish markets in the morning to purchase ingredients and a chance to experience the morning bustle. After an included breakfast of Balinese cakes and fruits, you’ll learn to make 20 traditional dishes including sates, lamb stew and papaya salad.
After this hotel hopping spree, I would still pick to stay at St. Regis or Alila Villas Uluwatu. I’m sure that when you visited or decide to visit Bali, you will be checking out many of the local sights and scenes (Ubud monkey forest, Uluwatu temple, Pura Tanah Lot… etc.). But growing up in southeast Asia, Bali is a relatively easy trip to make and one we’ve made many a time. For us, the hotel is as much the destination as the island itself.
May you and your mom enjoy the beautiful Bali too!