Warm, welcoming and gorgeous: A review of the Andaz Bali
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After two years of being closed to the world, Bali is finally welcoming travelers once again with wide-open arms and smiles.
As someone who lived on the island part-time pre-pandemic, I was literally counting down the days until I could return to this Indonesian paradise that’s so rich in culture and style. One of the places I most looked forward to experiencing was the Andaz Bali, which became Asia’s very first Andaz resort (joining city properties in Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo, among others) when it opened in April 2021 with 127 rooms and suites, 22 villas, three pools, several restaurants and a spa shared with the Hyatt Regency next door.
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Those stats, however, didn’t prepare me for what we found on arriving in Sanur at the beachfront resort. Lush landscaping belied the age of the property, design touches thoughtfully celebrated the island’s aesthetic traditions and cheerful staff swathed in colorful Balinese prints bustled about welcoming guests.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised, since the Bali way when it comes to hospitality is to go above and beyond.
I’ve stayed at many of Bali’s top luxury resorts, most of which do not participate in the major hotel loyalty programs, and I was pleasantly surprised by how comparable the Andaz Bali felt, with room rates just a fraction of the cost.
In my experience, Bali is home to some of the world’s most genuinely warm people, and the so-called “Island of Gods” is energetically very positive. I found this resort to be an authentic reflection of that. Here’s what I experienced over my recent two-night weekend stay.
Room rates for my stay in May started at $186 per night for a standard room. This is a Hyatt Category 4 property, so award rates range from 12,000 to 18,000 points per night and were 15,000 apiece for my two-night stay.
A colleague with elite World of Hyatt status ended up making me a Guest of Honor points booking so that we could enjoy his elite benefits on our stay, which included a space-available room upgrade as well as free daily breakfast for myself, my husband and our toddler.
When we checked in, we found out we had been upgraded from a 1 King Bed room that would have been 710 square feet to a 1 King Bed Premium room which, at 1,097 square feet, was much more spacious and had a second full bathroom plus a massive patio.
The value of my upgrade to the highest category of a regular room (not suites or villas) would have been $164 more per night, so those 15,000 points ended up stretching a lot further than the original redemption.
This resort is tucked away in a part of Bali that does not feel very touristy. Located in the southeast of the island, Sanur was one of the first seaside villages in Bali to have an expat community, and now it’s known as a quiet place for retirees and families with small kids. Even the ocean is incredibly calm here, and the sandy beach quite empty.
Though Sanur itself is wonderfully sleepy, there are restaurants, spas and shops within a short walk of the resort on paved sidewalks. The vibe is safe and mellow. The location is also prime for day trips or excursions to the waterfalls, temples, markets and rice paddies of Ubud, Seminyak and Jimbaran, which are all within a one-hour drive. There are surf spots in the area, too, and several companies offer a 30-minute boat ride from Sanur to Nusa Lembongan, home to secret beaches and snorkeling spots.
Most importantly, the Andaz is an easy 30-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport (DPS), the island’s main airport, which receives nonstop flights from several international hubs, including Singapore; Perth and Melbourne, Australia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Dubai; and Doha, Qatar. The hotel can arrange car service, but we drove ourselves from our home in the Bukit peninsula, one hour southwest.
We passed the Hyatt Regency entrance and, after a security stop, pulled down the jungly drive and into the brick entry area, where we handed our vehicle off to the complimentary valet service. (Self-parking is free, too, for those who prefer it.) Our luggage was quickly unloaded and stored to be delivered later to our room. The staff was just as efficient upon departure — it took just five minutes for a valet to bring our car around once I handed him the ticket.
After exiting the car, we were ushered around a large fountain flowing into a square reflecting pool of fish and lily pads with a statue of Ganesha as its centerpiece.
Inside the soaring, intricately detailed lobby, a refreshing sea breeze whispered through the geometric wooden wall screens. With a freestanding 360-degree front desk topped by a gargantuan pot sprouting birds of paradise, a soaring pitched roof and dangling wicker lanterns, the decor felt like a beautiful visual reminder of exactly where we were in the world.
Check-in time was at 3 p.m., and we arrived about 20 minutes after that to find our room not yet ready. That fact wasn’t immediately made clear, as we were first asked to sit on comfy stools along a lengthy wooden table equipped with USB ports and given chilled scented towels and cold, gingery drinks that were deliciously spicy. A friendly staff member checked our passports, took a deposit on my credit card and helped me complete the registration form before inviting us to the guest lounge kitty-corner to the lobby to relax while our room was sanitized. Another team member offered to show me and our toddler the Kemu Mai kids club.
We were offered a beverage in the open-air lounge, which had another stunningly dramatic ceiling. There were plentiful comfy vignettes plus a long, remote work-friendly, live-edge table. This venue is open to all guests from early morning to late night and offers complimentary coffee, tea, water and soft drinks like rosella spritz, plus nibbles including nuts and homemade chips.
Feeling antsy, I wandered around the giant, grassy Village Square courtyard in front of the lobby with the biggest dining destination, Village Market, at the end, and watched a young woman weave coconut fronds into hats in a small bale, a traditional Balinese pavilion.
An hour after we arrived, our room was finally ready. The kind assistant manager walked us there, welcoming us to Sanur, offering insights into the area and asking me about myself as we followed the tropical plant–lined paths to the Daja A building.
Rooms, suites and villas occupy clusters of low-rise brick buildings, which are connected by walkways that evoke secret gardens and hidden waterfalls.
I was thrilled to see what I’d consider a spacious suite when I opened the wooden door and entered our room, which showcased intricate Balinese elements such as carved wooden panels, batik textiles and locally-made ceramics. Designed by Bangkok’s Tierra Design and Tokyo’s Spin Design Studio, the decor managed to balance Balinese authenticity with playful, contemporary twists.
There was a full-length mirror and small shelf by the door, and down the hall a full bathroom with a Toto toilet, a small sink and a shower.
The hall opened into the living room, which held a wooden bar, while the bedroom was off to the right. Straight ahead past floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors (with electronic sheer and blackout curtains) was a huge patio with a giant L-shaped sofa and a dining table for four plus ceiling fans. Two TVs equipped with Chromecast capability hung on either side of the carved wooden dividing wall separating the bedroom from the living room.
The bed had an ornate wooden headboard with blue batik checkerboard panels and a woven mat — typically used as floor mats in Balinese homes — floating like a canopy above it.
The large stone-tiled bathroom had excellent lighting via circular LED mirrors above the long double vanity, and an entire wet room featuring a terrazzo tub for two and a rainfall showerhead embedded into the ceiling, both with handheld showerheads. It also featured a lighted makeup mirror, hair dryer, and had amenities such as dental kits, cotton balls, a shower cap, shaving kit, loofah and comb. Soaps and the body wash, shampoo and conditioner stored in turquoise glass bottles were made especially for the hotel and had a delicate, floral scent.
A walk-in closet provided ample space for luggage, with two hanging bars and eight hangers, plus several drawers, open shelves and a bench that would fit several suitcases. It featured an iron and ironing board, safe and scale, too.
A welcome amenity of longan (a local lychee-like fruit) and delectable sweet-and-spicy peanut bites, to which we all became addicted, sat on the living room table. The assistant manager walked me through the suite, explaining how everything worked, including sustainability measures like automatic air conditioning shutoff when the sliding doors were open. She showed me the minibar, temperature control, labeled light switches and glass bottles of water, letting me know I could request up to 10 bottles on a complimentary basis per day. Each time we called for more, housekeeping brought them within minutes.
The minibar also held a Nespresso machine with six pods, an electric kettle, English and green tea bags, glassware, a ceramic teapot, teacups, espresso cups, a wine opener and several complimentary soft drinks along with plantain chips and garlic peanuts. There was a second, empty mini-fridge that we found useful for chilling extra water.
As for the little touches, we appreciated the lightweight bathrobes, comfortable bed and the plentiful international outlets throughout the space, even on the patio.
Speaking of that, we often found ourselves entering and exiting the room via the patio since it was a shorter walk to everything than the front door, including the tranquil Santhi pool, visible beyond the curved bamboo privacy screen. The only downside to the size of the outdoor living space was that its length and the surrounding trees meant the room stayed rather dim, even during the day, which felt a bit disjointed from the bright, sunny weather we were enjoying.
Our room was not ADA accessible, as the sliding wood door openings separating the living room from the bedroom were quite narrow. There also were no pool lifts, though venues throughout the resort at different elevation than the walkways did have wooden ramps.
Food and beverage
Though it’s easy and safe to venture off-site for meals, the resort provides enough variety in its open-air dining venues to warrant staying put for at least a couple of days. Food and drink prices at all outlets felt incredibly reasonable by Bali hotel standards, with starters and bites starting at $3 and main dishes generally ranging from $8-$28.
Even had breakfast not been included in my Guest of Honor booking, the offering is bountiful for the cost. At Andaz Bali, breakfast is served at Village Market and costs a fixed rate of 219,000 IDR ($15) per person before tax and service (taking these into consideration it’s about $18). It includes unlimited a la carte options, meaning you can order as many of the small dishes and non-alcoholic beverages as you wish from the menu.
And there were many delicious options, from locally-grown berries with a homemade probiotic drink and babi guling (roasted pork) rillettes to French toast topped with coconut ice cream and pineapple, bubur suro rice porridge with chicken curry and prawn omelets. Unlimited fresh tropical fruits, smoothies and juices, turmeric-flavored Balinese drinks, charcuterie and an impressive bakery selection (with not only the typical accompaniments but also things like mangosteen jam) rounded out the meals that we took at a leisurely pace.
On the Sunday morning of our stay, we enjoyed the pleasant sounds of two musicians playing Balinese bamboo percussion instruments called rindik in the bale while ordering several rounds of dishes from kind servers who played peekaboo with our toddler.
One evening we ate dinner with our feet in the sand at the breezy oceanfront Fisherman’s Club. It had an open kitchen plus a bar and some tables that looked like local junkung fishing boats. Appropriately, Fisherman’s Club serves Jimbaran-inspired seafood that we found quite delicious, especially the tuna sashimi with sweet mango ($9) and spiced pompano fish cooked in a banana leaf ($12). I could have eaten several ears’ worth of BBQ corn, chargrilled on coconut husks and served with mouthwatering red curry. Service was attentive and quick but not rushed.
A different afternoon we visited the bar at Fisherman’s Club and enjoyed our cocktail selections: Andaz’s spin on a piña colada topped with an almost creamy ginger foam and served in a golden pineapple and a spicy mango margarita — both large and boozy for just about $9.
A market-style concept where you can order from one of several distinctive restaurant menus occupies the same indoor-outdoor spaces as breakfast. We ordered off the Italian osteria Blue Oven menu for one lunch and, while the presentation was lovely, it was our least favorite of the meals, with the exception of the $8 pumpkin tortellini.
Fire Fox, a grilled steak restaurant, wasn’t in operation during our stay.
I tried the nasi goreng bebek ($9) — a ubiquitous Balinese fried rice dish, this one with shredded duck — from Asian fusion eatery Wok Wok off the limited in-room dining menu one evening and loved it. The food was delivered five minutes earlier than they estimated, but there was only one napkin and they forgot the Balinese Two Islands rose wine we ordered. By the time it arrived 20 minutes later we were almost finished eating.
The resort’s three pools each have a different vibe. I felt Santhi, tucked between our building and two others and beneath primordial old-growth trees, was the most idyllic, with cushy orange lounge chairs set in the shallow water. The beachfront Liang infinity pool, looking out to the ocean and Nusa Penida, was the largest and busiest, though still not what I would actually consider bustling. There were plenty of young families, but the entire property seemed to have a serene hush to it — even the shallower kids pool, dubbed Alit (meaning little), was never raucous or loud.
Big, fluffy towels were readily available at all pools, as were lounge chairs and free shady cabanas, and when we ventured to the beach, a staff member carried towels and sand toys down for us. There were only two setups of umbrellas with lounge chairs on the sand, but I never saw anyone else use them. A fleet of bikes, too, were complimentary for hotel guests.
Though the resort lacks extensive programming compared to some other beach resorts on Bali and doesn’t offer any ocean sports or equipment, there are daily adult activities offered at no cost, such as sunrise pranayama and stretching, aquarobics, writing on lontar palm leaves and batik demonstrations. Yoga and Pilates classes on the pool deck were 150,000 Indonesian rupiah, or around $12.
Shankha Spa, with 10 treatment rooms and an extensive menu of Balinese and Ayurvedic treatments, was a short walk south at the Hyatt Regency. It also featured a large fitness center, an adults-only spa swimming pool, a sauna, steam room, cold plunge pool and hydrotherapy pool for both men and women. I passed on a spa treatment as it felt a bit pricey — $75 including tax and service for a 60-minute Balinese massage — considering a comparable massage at a local spa down the street would likely cost one-fifth the price.
The Kemu Mai kids club located on one side of the resort was colorful and large, with outdoor play areas plus a series of rooms with cute, child-size arched doorways for arts and crafts, nap time, reading, music and more. Guests with kids get two hours free each day (which can be used one hour at a time), with those under four needing to be accompanied by a parent or nanny, and there are fun scheduled activities from fish feeding to kite making and leaf printing every day.
There was no business center per se, but when I peeked in, the four function rooms looked beautifully decorated. The front desk staff was happy to print a document for me and did so within 15 minutes of me sending it to the hotel’s WhatsApp chat.
From the gardeners to management, the resort’s staff couldn’t have been warmer or more genuinely welcoming. Several times servers asked our names when we sat for a meal so they could address us properly. Every staff member, dependably, said hello each time we passed. And they were all overwhelmingly kind to and cute with our daughter, too. But that’s Bali for you, in our experience.
There were a couple of missteps, such as the in-room dining order snafu. One night, I requested turndown service at a specific time to make sure a Zoom meeting wasn’t interrupted, but they came late while I was unable to let them in and didn’t return later as I asked. I chalk that up to the language barrier. And I also didn’t realize housekeeping was only happening every third day, due to the pandemic, unless requested. When I did call, they came quickly and were efficient in servicing the room.
These little inconveniences were far outweighed by the sweet and elevated level of service we experienced. It was just as thorough and conscientious as I’ve experienced at much more expensive resorts around the island.
From the second you enter the Andaz Bali’s stunning lobby, there is no mistaking you’re in Bali thanks to the thoughtful design, which was one of the most successful elements of the property along with the extensive amenities and attentiveness of the staff.
The resort’s peaceful vibe is a welcome contrast to more touristy parts of the island such as Seminyak and Canggu. And while it may be thanks to Bali’s recent reopening, I enjoyed staying at a resort with few other Westerners around — for now, at least.
If the rates stay as reasonable and the service as delightful, I can see this being a place we will return to over and over for an effortless holiday that feels authentically Balinese. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they remembered our names the next time we visit.
Featured image courtesy of Kathryn Romeyn.
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