When we were planning on the Bali trip, we decided to use Marriott hotel points instead of paying for hotel stay. Since we didn’t know much about the island, we picked Sheraton in Kuta. We thought being in town center it would be good for us to get easy access to the restaurants and other activities. Plus, from the website, Sheraton looked like right on the Kuta beach, so we should get to beach easily too.
However, as soon as we get to Kuta we realized this was a mistake. The taxi ride from airport was fine but as soon as we got close to Kuta, the traffic stopped. We could literally walk faster than cars. We could see from our taxi that Kuta was very touristy. The streets were filled with souvenir shops which selling the same cheaply made gifts, massages, restaurants and bars. It reminded me those Florida beach town in spring break.
The hotel Sheraton itself was very nice. We were greeted by the flower lady as soon as we stepped outside the taxi, and was treated with cold towers, fresh tea and etc. No complains about hotel and its service at all. However, we didn’t know that hotel was separated from Kuta beach by the busy main street. We could hear all the noise from traffic and restaurants and bars nearby. This was not what we were hoping for. So right away we decided to change our stay to a quieter area. Sheraton staff was super helpful. They canceled our last two days stay even they didn’t have to. We used the hotel points to book the last two days’ stay at Laguna Resort at Nusa Dua. That worked well as we booked guided tours the first two days and spent most time out touring, so we avoided staying in Kuta most time.
At the end of our Nusa Penida tour, the tour bus dropped us at Sheraton. We took a 30 minute taxi to Laguna. While Kuta was a typical touristy party town, Nusa Dua reminded us the resort much like Cancun. There was even security checkpoint to enter the town. Just when we thought Sheraton was nice, Laguna took the service to the next level. I guess after all it was the Marriott’s “luxury collection”.
Laguna turned out just like the luxury resort in the magazines. It was built in 80’s so the building style was slightly outdated. But the rooms were furnished nicely and decorated tastefully. What’s most impressive though, was its swimming lagoon pools. They were large and well maintained, sit in carefully manicured gardens with soft green lawns and tropical trees. They even brought Guinea hens to the property. The staff were all well trained and made every effort to ensure guests their happy stay. Of course all these came with the cost. We used hotel points so we didn’t have to pay for the stay. But everything else, like drinks, meals and any service, came with a hefty fee.
Usually when we travel we tend to avoid resorts. I’d much prefer stay in a local B&B to get to know, even just a taste, of how locals live their lives. But after the crowded Jakarta, time packed guided Bali tours (especially for Nick, who had been working 2 full weeks), and all in the unbearable hot humid weather, for a rare occasion, we both really appreciated and enjoyed Laguna. It was very quiet. It had its private beach only available to hotel guests. It was really nice just relaxing on the lounge chairs on the beach in the shade of big tall tropical trees.
There we spent the last two days of our vacation. We pretty much just lounged on the beach. Occasionally we will dipping into those lagoon pools. We did walked into the town center, which was just a big shopping center. We enjoyed the morning coffee, snacks and drinks, and dinner at the different restaurants and bars on site. Our last meal was the fancy Sunday brunch where they served Babi Guling (Roasted Suckling Pig) and seafood buffet. For once we both enjoyed being tourists 🙂
So this is our Bali experience. I have to say we didn’t really see the true Bali. We spent 4 days on the island. The first 2 days were guided tours which we were doing site hoppings. We spent most time on roads and very little time on each site. the last 2 days we were in this “luxury” resort which was a superficially made tourist destination which probably looked like any other resorts in Carribeans. I will say we did like both. But if we were going back to Bali, we would stay closer to locals in places like Ubud (for its plantation villages and rice fields) and/or Uluwatu (for its quiet beaches). We would hire a car or rent a scooter so we could visit sites on our own pace. And probably plan more time to enjoy our stay.