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Balinese culture tastefully shines throughout this sprawling property. Pros: Elegant rooms, six pools, great service and reasonable room rates. Cons: prices at the spa and for food and drinks at restaurants are more expensive than what you’ll typically see in Bali.
The InterContinental Bali Resort stretches across 34 tropical acres overlooking Jimbaran Bay on Bali’s southern tip, just 15 minutes from Denpasar International Airport (DPS). 417 guest rooms include classic rooms, a variety of suites — like the 4,000 square-foot two-bedroom Jivana private villa with a 2,000 square-foot private pool priced at $1,500 per night — and an entire wing just for members of Club InterContinental. The six pools featured unique designs and plenty of Balinese-inspired fountains that both decorate and entertain. Here’s what it was like to stay at this extraordinary resort.
My IHG free anniversary night, courtesy of the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, was set to expire during my extended vacation in Bali, so I decided to use it at the hotel brand’s most luxurious resort in Indonesia. The InterContinental Bali requires 40,000 IHG Rewards points for an award night, worth $280 according to TPG’s latest monthly valuations. However, rooms started at $170 for my mid-week off-season stay, plus 11% tax and 10% service charge — advertised rates dipped as low as $137 per night (lower for extended stays) and rarely hit the $280 threshold that 40,000 points is worth even during the high season. If you’re thinking of using the Citi Prestige 4th night free perk, you’re better off paying for a room with cash than using your points here.
Financially, it’s also not the best place to take advantage of the IHG Anniversary Free Night, with many other IHG properties costing more on a regular basis or during certain times of the year. In my circumstances, however, it was the best option for me. Booking my free anniversary night was easy and can be done completely online by following these steps. Note that standard rooms have a limit of three people per room and the rate is the same regardless of whether they’re adults or children, which could result in an extra expense for families of four (ie. traveling with two adults and two children) as a roll away or room upgrade may be required. This could end up saving you money, though, if you’re traveling as three adults — like I was — because the third adult is not charged an additional fee.
We arrived at the stated check-in time of 3:00pm and were greeted with a gong.
Check-in took place in an open office where we could sit down instead of having to stand at a regular check-in desk. We were also given delicious hibiscus welcome drinks, leis, wet towels, a fan and a bookmark.
Thanks to my IHG Platinum status, which came courtesy of the IHG credit card, I was offered a free upgrade from the classic room I’d originally booked to a Club Room — but without any club benefits. The room itself would be slightly larger (624 square feet instead of 527 square feet), but that’s about it. I was then offered an additional upgrade to receive club benefits at an unofficial, discounted rate for being Platinum — $120 total for three adults instead of the standard upgrade rate of $150 plus taxes and fees. When the club benefits were outlined for us, we jumped on the offer. A butler even escorted us to afternoon tea in Club InterContinental while our room was being prepared.
Our King Club InterContinental Room felt classy and roomy with a large king-size bed, a day bed and wooden decor.
The huge marble bathroom felt like a spa.
The toilet and bidet were kept in a separate but awkwardly-shaped room that was separated by a frosted glass door.
There were two sinks, one inside the bathroom and another just outside it.
The generous amenity kit included 100 ml bottles of Harnn Mystique shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and shower gel. Listerine mouthwash, water bottles and sewing, shoe care and dental kits were also provided.
Since I’m an IHG Platinum, I received a welcome gift of a fruit plate and chocolates, along with a personalized note.
The terrace was spacious but would have been even nicer on a higher floor.
Our room and terrace overlooked a lavish garden.
There was also a complimentary self-serve coffee and tea station, as well as some standard mini-bar options, which were available for an extra fee.
I was more than satisfied with the room, particularly the bathroom. The space was perfectly customized for our party, too, since the closet featured three robes with three sets of sandals, and the day bed was made up as a bed instead of being in its couch position. The room also featured a 37″ flat-screen television — we never used it and hopefully you won’t either.
This certainly was not a cookie cutter resort. Its unique grounds tastefully incorporated the Balinese Hindu culture, keeping the feel respectful and authentic. Statues of Hindu gods were scattered throughout the property, with fresh flowers placed on them each day, the same treatment you’d find in a Balinese family compound.
The open-air lobby stayed breezy and cool.
Gazing up at the lobby roof was a little trippy, especially at night.
Outside, the grounds were impeccably kept.
The resort made great use of the land. Lounge chairs were strategically spaced around the six pools and all along the beachfront so there was no competition for “prime” locations, which was nice. Granted it was technically slow season, but even some choice cabanas went unused.
Some entire areas of the resort were downright empty.
I never saw anyone venture out toward the distant Villa Retreats Spa, sand volleyball court or tennis courts. Having no crowd is certainly better than it being too packed, but I got the impression that even at capacity it wouldn’t feel overwhelming.
The water in the bay isn’t the cleanest, although I heard it was worse because it was during the rainy season. I’d recommended bringing along water shoes if you want to go in the ocean because the jagged rocky bottoms can be quite rough on your feet. Occasionally, strange things, like large bushels of grass, would wash ashore. The staff were always very quick to pick it all up and keep the beach clean though.
It’s obvious that whoever designed this resort had a lot of fun doing it — and no place is that more evident than the pools and water fountains, which are similar to what you’d see in a Balinese family compound or even at the sacred Hindu water temple of Tirta Empul, but taken to an opulent extreme. The main pool is huge and features the ever-important swim-up bar.
The neighboring Balinese bath pool is flanked by two cascading elevated pools on either side.
The Balinese bath pool remains open until 10:00pm, while all other pools close at 7:00pm.
I originally thought this pool was just a large collection of water fountains before I realized I was free to swim through them.
These are the types of pools I would have loved to play in as a kid. Admittedly, I still do as an adult.
One of the pools is reserved for Club InterContinental guests only. Kids are allowed, but signs make it clear that horseplay should be reserved for the main pool.
My friend loved the massage and facial she received from the luxurious Spa Uluwatu, with a special 20% discount due to my Platinum status. However, prices were similar to those at resorts in the US — elsewhere in Bali, it’s easy to find a decent massage for less than $10.
There are onsite five restaurants. I had breakfast at Taman Gita Terrace, which offers an extensive buffet of local and international cuisine. I can’t think of anything it didn’t have.
I made several trips to the juice bar.
KO Restaurant, Teppanyaki & Cocktail Lounge is the signature restaurant. It’s set in a separate wing with a long walkway of Japanese decor setting the mood and even contains a Japanese garden.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try it, but this restaurant has the makings of a quality hibachi experience.
Bella Cucina offers Italian fine dining with some tables set on the lawn outside within view of the ocean.
My friends ordered a salad and a wrap from the Jimbaran Gardens poolside restaurant for lunch. They weren’t too impressed and the cost matched what you would pay at a resort back home.
There’s no shortage of ways to ruin that beach bod you’ve worked so hard for before this vacation. It seems like the best strategy for meals is to get a hearty breakfast, take advantage of the club lounge snacks throughout the day (if you have access), then splurge at the KO or Bella Cucina restaurants.
In Bali, it’s normal for the full wait staff to handle the complete set of tables, unlike in the US where a table is normally assigned to one server. You may get asked for your order after you’ve already given it, but it’s always done with a smile and the utmost politeness. You may actually have to make eye contact or wave a server down to place your order, but just roll with it — this is the Bali way.
We had no problem getting our money’s worth out of the Club InterContinental. The lounge is open for use with a butler 24/7.
Breakfast is included at any of the restaurants on site between 6:30am and 11am.
Afternoon tea is served from 2:00pm to 4:00pm.
Evening cocktails are available from 4:30pm to 7:30pm in the lounge with a wide array of delicious canapés.
The selection included some premium options, but portions were intentionally kept small. At least at the buffet, no one is discouraging you from getting your fill.
Hot canapés were served by the staff so you wouldn’t go overboard and spoil your appetite for dinner.
The best strategy is to stuff yourself with canapés, then head to the Sunset Beach Bar & Grill for sunset, where cocktails are also included until 7:30pm.
We managed to work our way through the entire cocktail menu — for research purposes, of course! — and the caipirinha and espresso martini were our favorites.
Other notable perks included for Club InterContinental guests:
- Use of Jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna at Spa Uluwatu
- Return airport transfer
- 4:00pm check out (my Platinum status would have given me til 2:00pm)
- Unlimited use of children’s day care at Planet Trekkers if you want to pawn off the little ones
There’s also a 24-hour menu available in the lounge (for an additional fee), which I took advantage of for a tasty late-night dinner. The menu was much more extensive than most late-night room service options I’ve seen. As you can see, at $40 per adult, we got a ton of value out of our Club InterContinental access.
As Club InterContinental guests, we were given a check-out time of 4:00pm. We were also allowed to continue to use the grounds until it was time to go to the airport, and one of my friends didn’t fly out until almost midnight — this included Club InterContinental benefits, which meant one more cocktail hour and sunset! I thought this was a very generous policy as we got nearly two days of Club InterContinental access for (less than) the price of one.
There was also a lounge available with showers, locker facilities, tea and coffee and an outdoor terrace for guests with late-departing flights. It wasn’t too big though and got a little crowded at one point in the evening.
My favorite thing about the InterContinental Bali Resort was the way the Balinese culture was authentically woven into its design — it never felt tacky or forced because it’s not. You’ll see daily offerings, like the one pictured below, scattered throughout the resort by the employees just as you would see in local villages and in homes and businesses throughout Bali.
While it’s not the greatest use of points in the world, room rates here are pretty reasonable and upgrading to Club InterContinental can easily be worth it. I feel my IHG free anniversary night this year was well spent.
I’d be happy to return to this resort, and would highly recommend it. Don’t forget, though, that this is just a representation of the Balinese culture — the real magic of Bali is scattered throughout the rest of the island, so make sure you spend ample time discovering Bali first, then unwind with a few days here before taking a late-night flight home.
Have you stayed at the InterContinental Bali Resort? Tell us about your experience, below.
All photos courtesy of the author.
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