International TravelThings You Should Know


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The popular island paradise known as Bali is but a small part of Indonesia. The country ranks fourth worldwide in overall population (behind India, China and the US) with some 274 million citizens.  While it is a long way for Americans to travel, it is a hugely popular destination for Australians (just three hours from Perth) as well as New Zealand. Certainly, it is a breeze for travel from Singapore, our previous destination (read HERE).

Every luxury hotel brand has a presence, but there are likewise accommodations at every level. And while one might go for truly extravagant resort prices, the cost of food is surprisingly quite reasonable.  We opted not to stray far from our accommodations at the St. Regis on Nusa Dua beach for most meals and activities, save for a snorkeling/waterfall excursion. Below, feeling very welcomed by the resort.

Exquisite presentation of Salade Nicoise for lunch!

One said activity (the Uluwatu Temple Fire Dance at sunset) was a big fail due to the selected day — the end of Ramadan and a school holiday. When there’s traffic in the area, it is basically a complete standstill. What should have been a 45 minute journey was more like 90 minutes. And sold out by the time we arrived.

So we simply backtracked for our dinner at the magnificent Alila Villas in Uluwatu. Alila is Hyatt’s ultra-high-end brand. While our resort is on a magnificent stretch of beach, the Alila and many others are on cliffs overlooking the ocean. It’s hard to “go wrong” in either case.

Above, before dinner; below, view from the restaurant

Here’s what “struck” me most in Bali: the gracious staff. There’s a lot of bowing with hands clasped. In other words, extremely gracious if not deferential. We definitely felt welcome. Our particular resort is built around “bodies” of water — not just the Indian Ocean, but very large, meandering pools. None of the pools exceed 4′ in depth. Many villas have direct access to the salt water lagoon (BELOW) which I estimated in length to be two football fields. It certainly seemed that big!

With my Marriott status, we were upgraded to a one-bedroom villa that was simply enormous — the “living room” seen below.  It had it’s own small pool, plus the aforementioned lagoon access. Stunning! Now, if we could only figure out the innumerable (and unmarked) light switches. The hubby would frequently ask me, “Are you having fun yet?” as the lights went on and off. Repeatedly.

The main pool, seen above during the day and below beautifully lit at night

One full day was allocated to snorkeling, roughly 90 minutes from the resort.  Our driver provided a good deal of information during the drive but stayed on land while we had a small manned craft take us to a couple of different spots.  Of course no underwater camera on hand.  Trust me, the waters were full of beautiful and colorful fish.  After, we proceeded to the Tegenungan Waterfall for a quick bite and some gorgeous views.

Above, heading down to our vessel; below, the gorgeous falls which many hike into (not us)

These resort stays are intended to be totally relaxing. Mission accomplished. With spa pricing a fraction of typical costs at U.S. properties, two trips during the stay seemed about right. And then that gorgeous beach, seen below, in front of the resort…

If you remember the itinerary laid out initially for this trip (read here), the last stop takes us to Fiji. How do Bali and Fiji compare? Stay tuned. To be covered in a future post. For now, it is on to Queenstown, New Zealand, and a complete change of weather!