Calm Before the Storm: A Review of the Ritz-Carlton Bali
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To The Point
The Ritz-Carlton Bali is a gorgeous property located on the Southern tip of the Indonesian island. Pros: friendly staff and a lush, tropical property. Cons: far away from Seminyak and Ubud and semi-private plunge pools could be awkward.
The Ritz-Carlton Bali has been on my bucket list for a while, especially since my St. Regis Bali experience needed a point of comparison. The perfect moment came along when I was taking a whirlwind trip around the world with my parents, with the plan to participate in a PeaceJam conference in East Timor. I figured Bali would be a nice place to relax for a couple days beforehand.
Of course, little did I know an erupting volcano would throw my travel plans into complete disarray. Nevertheless, I persevered, and now bring you my Ritz-Carlton Bali review.
I got a great rate mainly because the volcano situation was rather iffy at the time and it was rainy season. Mount Agung hadn’t started erupting when I made the reservation, but hotel rates in Bali had been dropping since September 2017 because an eruption was predicted. Rates were going for about $500 per night per villa, but normally prices can be several hundred dollars more per night.
I paid using my SPG Amex, earning me 2x the Starwood points (you can get double points on Ritz-Carlton stays). Had I used points, room rates would have been about 40,000 points per night for a standard suite. The only point redemptions available online are for standard suites, but if you want to upgrade to a villa, you can call the property after you’ve booked with points and pay an added fee (in cash, not points) for an upgrade.
This resort was perfect for honeymooners or travelers looking for a calm place to relax, as the resort was in Nusa Dua, the southern tip of Bali, far from the nightlife of Seminyak and Ubud. If you’re a party animal, this hotel is not for you. If you prefer something less hectic, the tranquil beachfront location is perfect.
The resort was drive of about 45 to 60 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS), just outside Denpasar. One thing I really didn’t like about Bali was that there was only one main road which was always filled with traffic, making getting from the hotel to pretty much anywhere else annoying. It made me really not want to leave the resort much. We contacted the hotel ahead of time for a ride (about $50). Once we left the secure area of the airport, we were met by a friendly driver and given cold towels and cookies.
One thing I found interesting about the resort was that we had to go through metal detectors upon entering, unlike other resorts (like the W).
On the other side of the screener, we were greeted by a smiling employee who offered us tea and took our passports and my credit card. The staff handled the check-in while we relaxed on a comfortable sofa in the lobby, which was an elevated pavilion with views of the resort. I loved the dark wooden beams and chic lighting.
Check-in was quick and easy, and we were then taken to our villas by golf cart. The staff used the golf carts (they called them buggies) to transport guests around the resort, and you could call for one at any time.
The king bed was large and comfortable, with two bedside tables, and a small living room with two armchairs, a table, sofa, flat-screen TV and sliding doors opening up to my patio and semi-private pool.
The decor was cool and modern but nothing particularly exciting or typically Balinese.
Although I managed to get a good night of sleep, though it’s worth noting that these pavilions are attached, kind of like townhouses, with thin walls. One of my employees (we had three villas in total, one for my parents, one for a fellow TPG employee and one for me) commented on my musical choices one evening, as she heard my music through the walls, which I was playing a normal-low volume on my laptop.
Housekeeping had a left a fruit basket as a welcome gift, and the villas came with a small tote and two hats for beach and pool use. You could actually take these home to keep, which was a nice touch.
The minibar was standard, and the room came equipped with a safe and a Nespresso machine. The safe was hard to find, though, but I ended up discovering it in a drawer next to the closet.
The indoor/outdoor bathroom was definitely a highlight. There was a separate room for the toilet, which was Japanese-style with an array of buttons.
An indoor shower was also located in a separate room with a rainfall head that easily passed the TPG shower test. (I’m 6 feet, 7 inches.)
The bathroom also had two sinks, ample shelving, a hair dryer and several complimentary water bottles.
My favorite part was the area with the large bathtub (it even came with a pillow).
One day I had it filled with a rosemary bath, which was relaxing and smelled delicious.
This part of the bathroom opened up to the outside with a cool semi-outdoor shower with a ceramic, falling-water shower head (which also passed the TPG shower test).
The outdoor area came with a terrace, chairs and small table. Beach and pool towels were also provided.
My pavilion came with a pool, but it wasn’t private, as the plunge pools in this particular class of pavilions were shared. If you wanted your own private pool, you had to upgrade to the garden villa. It’s worth saying, though, that I didn’t see anyone else in the pool during my two-night stay.
There were six restaurants on the property, and I ate at Raku (Japanese), Bekana (Indonesian) and the Beach Grill. Since we were so far from the trendier dining options of Ubud and Seminyak, it was convenient to have a variety of choices right at the resort.
What I really loved, though, was the floating breakfast where I got to eat on a tray in my pool!
All the food I indulged in at the resort was excellent, especially the seafood and shrimp.
Although sushi might have seemed like a strange thing to eat in Bali, I was craving it — and it was also excellent.
The staff at the resort went above and beyond. They were constantly smiling and greeting me, but it never seemed forced or over the top. Everyone spoke great English, and I felt really welcome during my entire stay. Although we had checked out and were on our way to the airport before we realized that the airport was closed, there’s no doubt the staff would’ve been helpful during the situation. In the end, though, we ended up moving to the W Bali, and the staff members there weren’t quite as helpful (but more on that in a coming review).
Wi-Fi was available throughout the resort and was fairly fast.
The resort also had a large main pool, which I didn’t really use, as I had my own pool and a private beach with chairs and umbrellas.
The spa was truly outstanding. There were 14 treatment rooms and a small wellness area with hydrotherapy pools, a steam room and sauna, which I enjoyed after my spa treatment.
I tried the traditional Balinese massage ($140) which used techniques like acupressure, reflexology, stretching and aromatherapy. I even got to select my preferred essential oil (I picked lavender).
I also enjoyed aerial yoga. If you do a class, make sure to request Viqtim as your instructor!
The Ritz-Carlton Bali is a luxurious resort with beautiful grounds. I loved having both an indoor and outdoor shower and the spacious bathtub. Still, sharing the plunge pool with a neighboring villa could’ve gotten awkward, and I wasn’t a fan of how far the resort was from Seminyak and Ubud. But for a few nights of relaxation, it’s definitely worth a visit.