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Perfect R and R at Nusa Dua

 

 

ERIC SCOTT July 25, 2013

 

WE wanted to go to Bali for a sunshine-filled R & R break during the July school holidays. So where to go? We were tempted by the new Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, but Kuta was not for us. We didn’t want night life and surf, which would mean late night revelers and surfers.

So we settled for a resort that was in the middle of nowhere: no nightclubs no pubs and no noise – the Melia Menoa at Nusa Dua - and we also tried a new approach to the holiday by booking an all-inclusive stay. There were three standards, blue, silver and gold. We were booked into silver.

The silver package was inclusive indeed. The cost covered all meals, alcoholic and soft drinks and coffee by the pool, free wifi and nightly entertainment.

The hotel has 128 rooms and is a true five star establishment beautifully designed with Balinese influences. It’s refined, the service is exceptional and the staff the most friendly I have met anywhere in the world.

We flew to Bali with Virgin on a budget flight in the comfortable 737 in economy class, row 6. Business class was visible through clear plastic screens a few rows in front. There were just eight extra large seats; it hardly seemed worth the extra for a six hours flight. We were served a meal and wine both ways but there was no TV screen. If passengers wanted to watch movie there were large tablets for hire at $10 a pop

The flight both there and back were perfectly smooth rides and the decompression as we landed caused no pain. Virgin did a great job on a budget flight.

The only complaint I had was that economy passengers had to queue for quite a while to use the two rear toilets. No one was allowed to visit the pair at the front of the plane despite the fact that there was only one passenger.

Denpasar airport was a shock to the system. None of the holiday brochures mentioned the fact that we had to buy a $28 entry visa to get into Bali (and that it was going to cost another $15 each to get out).

It took a while to get to the front of the visa queue and by the time we did the luggage carousel had been cleared. Bags were neatly stacked near a crew of porters soliciting for business.

But with one wheelie suitcase each a porter was hardly necessary. I must admit though that no one was too pushy.

Luckily we had a car awaiting our arrival (a $20 charge on the hotel bill) so there was not need to join the queue. The ride from airport to hotel was short journey on the map, but a long drive because of the traffic chaos. The new airport is still being built and the congestion was horrendous.

We discovered that traffic congestion around Nusa Dua was endemic.

This was our first trip to Bali in 30 years. Instantly I was impressed with the amount of colourful statuary that stood at many intersections on the road. Of course the bemos - the Balinese version of the tuk-tuk - had all gone and all the cars seemed to be late models.

It took a while to get into the hotel, I had to pay the remainder of the tariff up front, and I paid cash in rupiah, millions of them. It took a while to count them.

We were taken to our room, which was neat, clean, and spacious with a good sized balcony that overlooked the beautiful water garden. There was a bar fridge too that contained beer, water and soft drinks and under the inclusive deal, was refilled every day.

It was mid afternoon by then, the lunch buffets had been dismantled, but there was still the El Patio 24-hour restaurant where we settled for a burger and chips snack and a couple of ice-cold beers.

Then we hit the pool. It is a huge, clover shape with the pool bar situated at the stem centre. The water was perfect and there were always plenty of lounges either by the pool or on the hotel’s private beach. The bar staff were so good that when we left, we felt we were leaving friends behind.

It was perfect for out R & R.

And I really took to the all-inclusive package. I did have an initial worry that the “all you drink” deal might encourage the international Bogan set to spend all day getting drunk, but it was not like that.

I suppose if you stay at a five star place you expect five star people, and that was the way it turned out. The clientele was mixed; there were some Aussie, a few Brits, French, and even Russian. It was all very friendly and civilised.

We made a few poolside mates and enjoyed their company,

It was a very relaxed way to spend a holiday. No signing for everything or wondering how hard the credit card had been hit . We grabbed a beer whenever we wanted one, or chose from the extensive cocktail list. Our silver package included local wines, beers, and spirits. The wine wasn’t too hot, it came from casks. The white was drinkable, the red was not; the spirits were all excellent and the beer was terrific. Imported wines were not on the free list, but did come with a discount. We stayed with the local products and did not feel any worse for it.

The Melia Menoa also served some of the best hotel coffee I’ve ever drunk.

The gold package included bubbles and bottled win.

Each morning there was a full buffet breakfast with every dish imaginable from corn flakes to kedgeree, bacon and eggs to tropical fruit, superb Danish pastries and a toaster that browned the bread in one go.

Lunch buffet was served in the open air Menega seaside restaurant, right next to the pool, so it was very, very relaxed with another large array of European and Asian goodies.

Dinner was also served as a buffet, usually on the beach while the cabaret shows were performed. They were surprisingly good with top class dancers in both Balinese and modern forms.

The Amarta Restaurant was a specialist Italian, with an accent on presentation. There is a limited menu for Silver people, but we had no difficulty in finding tasty dishes each time we went.

At night, after dinner we moved on to the Yodya Lobby Bar for nightcaps, either alone or with our new friends and had a great time.

Every day there was some sort of activity, flower arranging, cocktail making, cooking, archery, canoeing, sail boat riding – all included. Then there were more energetic motorised pursuits like paragliding and banana towing, which were extras.

We like to walk, and we tried outside the hotel, but could not move for fear of being run down by one of hundreds of motor bikes, buses, or cars than crammed the narrow road. But we did find a long paved pathway along the beach, which took us past the other Nusa Dua resorts. It was just long enough to work up a sweat and be ready for a dip.

I did spent 20 minutes or so in the gym, not large but with enough equipment to stretch the pecs or the legs.

But there were also the hotel massages, with a poolside open air or the indoor spa, where a lady can get a good pampering for around $100.

The hotel organises tours and taxis. We hired one for the day that cost $70, which took us up to the Monkey Forest at Ubud, to the silver factory and the volcano for lunch.

The drivers get commission on sale of course, but ours were so friendly and not in the slightest bit pushy we did not mind, in fact were happy to add a few rupiah to the daily pay

Then we took a half day trip to Ubud for a wander round the shops, which were varied and interesting. But for most of the time we enjoyed the amenities of the resort and It proved to be a perfect, relaxing experience. We might even go

back and we certainly recommend the all-inclusive deals.