[I’m way behind on blogging our 3-month, around-the-world adventure, so this is the beginning of a catch-up now that we’ve settled into our home-away-from-home in Antwerp for the last few weeks of our journey. Most of the upcoming blogs of this trip were written at or reasonably near the time of travel, but spotty or slow Internet made uploading photos difficult…and I wanted to focus on the trip a whole lot more than I wanted to post about it! – Tamara, May 25, 2018]
Nusa Dua, Bali, is lined with high-end resorts, some charging astronomical prices, especially for usually-cheap Bali. Then again, Nusa Dua is hardly usual Bali. It’s an exclusive beachfront enclave sheltered from those less-than-picture-perfect, third world aspects of the rest of the island…along with much of the authentic culture and charm. Still, I wanted to try a range of Bali lodgings and a big resort was in order.
Putu, our Munduk homestay host arranged a driver for us from Munduk to Nusa Dua. Although Google Maps put the trip at 2h30, it’s closer to 3h30 with the traffic snarl near Kuta and the ongoing construction of an underpass to the Depensar Airport. Hopefully, the underpass will alleviate some of the traffic when it’s finished next year. There’s a new toll causeway out to Nua Dusa and we happily sprang for the small price to shave some time off the trip. We sped along our way, but were surprised to see a long traffic back-up in the other direction as toll booths were apparently not working. We crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t see the same when it came time to leave Nusa Dua.
Passing the guarded gate into Nusa Dua was like entering another world. A wide, smoothly paved avenue led into a large circle with manicured flowerbeds and a central statue.
It was almost embarassing when our driver from rural Munduk pulled into the lavish entry to our hotel, the INAYA Putri Bali. Uniformed bellmen sprang into action to take charge of our luggage and direct us to the soaring open-air lobby for check-in.
I deliberately chose an Indonesian-owned hotel both in hopes of some local flavor and to try out something completely new to me. The value was excellent as well in comparison to other, more familiar brands I had explored online prior to booking. Check-in was quick and professional and soon we were being driven by golf cart to our room. En route, we passed an enormous series of tiered pools by a building housing the main restaurant used for the included breakfast. The sweeping, well-tended grounds of the hotel lead to a wide, beautiful beach.
I’d booked a standard room after deciding the swim-up rooms might be lacking in privacy and having no interest in springing for a suite since we planned to spend most of our time on the beach. Stepping inside our room for the first time, I couldn’t be happier with my choice. The room was spacious with a large balcony and a view of the ocean between buildings. Tasteful Balinese decor including carved wood closet doors and frames preserved a feel of local culture.
The bathroom was gorgeous and downright enormous with a big-enough-for-two stone tub and a over-sized rain shower. I had several long, wonderful soaks in the tub, using the stone bowl of bath salts provided. As in much of Bali, the bathroom wasn’t air conditioned, so we opened the door when not in use to cool and dry the bathroom.
Breakfast was served every day in the cavernous main dining room. We were led to a table most mornings, gave our order for coffee (cappuccino) and the morning’s juice or smoothie (a bright green frozen apple juice, fresh mint and ginger concoction becoming a favorite), then headed off to the many buffet tables available.
The scope of the breakfast offering was like nothing I’ve seen in a hotel: Western and Asian dishes, fresh fruit, yogurt and yogurt parfaits, made-to-order eggs and omelets, Balinese cooked dishes of fried chicken, fried bananas and more, French pastries and a wide selection of delicious and fresh-made breads, granola, savory dishes of all sorts and on and on.
Dining was a mixed bag at INAYA Putri Bali. Breakfasts, as mentioned, were awesome. We liked casual dinners down by the beach, too, at INAYA’s Ja’Jan By the Sea. There weren’t a lot of options there, but the casual vibe suited our beach-y selves, the food was good, the service friendly, and the prices were decent. We tried one dinner at the upscale Indonesian restaurant on-site, Homaya, but were disappointed. Although expensive (especially so by Bali standards), the food was just mediocre and the atmosphere only so-so. A disappointment that discouraged us from trying any of the other higher-end restaurants on the property. There are lots of other options in walking distance in Nusa Dua, though. All it takes is a stroll along the beachfront walkway that connects the many resorts. Our next door neighbor hotel (to the right as you look at the beach) offered particularly appealing picnic style dining and the Park Hyatt Resort (next to the INAYA Putri Bali to the left as you look at the beach) offered several high-end restaurants. We were in lazy mode, though, and just went back to INAYA’s Ja’Jan By the Sea.
The beach at INAYA Putri Bali is lovely, with tidal pools brimming with marine life appearing each afternoon as the tide goes out. I’ll post more on that next as I’ve got some words of caution about some of the deadly sealife we came across there. No reason to avoid the water, but something to be aware of and a reminder not to pick up or touch unfamiliar creatures.
A short walk down the beach (at the end of the resorts to the left as you’re facing the beach), there’s a market selling local goods and a bit further on is a park with a huge Balinese statue atop a small building. Beyond that are observation decks over black lava rock where pounding surf shoots spray high into the air.
One of our only complaints with our room was the sound of broadcast speech in the distance that we could never place. At first, we thought it was a loudspeaker at some event outside, but the sound disappeared when we stepped on the balcony. We stepped in the hall, pressed ears to walls but the intermittent noise was hard to pin down. It was weird, and annoying when my acute sense of hearing woke me to it at 4:50am. After a few days, we finally found the source in a maintenance closet off an employee-only space behind the elevator to our floor which backed to our room. For some reason, maintenance had left a wall-mounted radio turned on high volume even though no one was in this small room. It intermittently blasted static and intra-maintenance chatter. We hated to touch the controls in case there was more to it than we realized, so I videoed the room and sound to show to a lady at the front desk who apologized profusely and got the sound turned off. Shortly after, we found a nice note of apology and generous gift of spa items. Did I mention that I liked INAYA Putri Bali a lot?
Practical info: I booked our room at INAYA Putri Bali via Agoda which I’ve found to usually have the best prices in Asia. To get an extra savings, I log into my Topcashback account then search “Agoda” and click through to Agoda before booking my hotel. The current offer on Topcashback for Agoda is 6% cash back. You’ll get an additional savings, and so will I, if you use my referral link to create and use a Topcashback account.
Note re leaving for the airport: Even though the hotel is close to the airport, we were warned to leave 3 hours(!) before our flight to Yogjakarta, Java (short, domestic flight), due to road construction and bad traffic. Worried about the back-up we’d seen on the toll road, we took this advice…but found ourselves in the airport and through security a mere 30 minutes after we walked out of our hotel room. Once the road construction is finished, the ride to the airport should be reliably short. Also, although the hotel offers a paid shuttle to the airport, we opted to have a bellman call a taxi (on the advice of a lady at the front desk) and found it to be prompt, clean and much cheaper than the hotel ride.