Courtyard by Marriott Bali Seminyak – June 2015

The ordering of hotel stays on a holiday is extremely important. Do you start with the luxury option to get your holiday off on the right foot? Or do you end with it so that the last thing you remember as you fly home is the amazing place that you now want to live at? We battled with this on our Bali trip, but fortunately this hotel was in the middle meaning we needed to stay in Seminyak, it was not going to be our luxury option, we just needed a clean, well priced hotel.

My first impression was that it was a nice hotel occupied by not very nice people. Which is a shame as it is not exactly something they can control. After staying in paradise (Rimba) we were not used to the hustle and bustle of a bigger town (Seminyak), the polluted and busy streets ( taxi mayem ) or having to deal with other guests (Australians). I am well aware that my passport identifies my nationality, but it is in places like this where i would rather hide, scared that i will be painted with the same brushstroke of ‘All the Aussies”. Because needless to say, as a group we do not travel well in places like Bali. The cheaper economy and services can inflate the ego – and we wanted nothing to do with this. So the check in process, surrounded by our countrymen and women meant that we were immiediately turned off. Again, not the fault of the hotel.

We booked the Courtyard by Marriott for the fact that it was brand spanking new. I love that new hotel smell. And by that i mean no smell. Oh until the last night where they decided it would be a great idea to do some painting in the hallway at 4pm? Our room of course was full of paint fumes, and unable to air the room by opening windows for fear of becoming a mosquito’s biffet dinner. Hoping it would pass (read:too lazy to have to pack and move rooms) we asked the hotel staff to see what they could do but it wasnt getting better so we had to move rooms. Couldn’t let the bub breath in those fumes, and despite hating ot have to ask to move the hotel staff were extremely apologetic for the issue and moved us with no hassle or issue. However i think we were charged by the bell boy though for helping us to move rooms? thought that was a bit cheeky.

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The rooms are well set up, not overly spacious but clean and well designed. A bit squishy travelling with a toddler cot, but we didn’t spend much time in the room as it is conveniently located in the heart of Seminyak so we had more exploring to do. No bath, just a big shower which has never bothered me before but now travelling with a toddler i really need to pay attention to this.

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The pool was great, with several different sections starting from the pool bar and running the length of the hotel. Giant cushions are like daybeds in the pool, lots of fun for the lazy swimmer. The issue with the pool however is the positioning as it barely gets any sun. A design flaw or perhaps a benefit if you are thinking of how harsh the Bali sun can be. As someone coming in to avoid the Sydney winter i want to soak up as much rays as i can so i found this was rather limiting. Theres also a pool bar, but its my standard response that i am not that keen on hanging in there as there is not a high turnover of people which means one thing. Whizzing in the pool.

The restaurant and buffet breakfasts were presented well, with lots of helpful staff and an array of food options. Its just that they were not that good. Given we had just come from Breakfast heaven (Rimba) it was a bit hard to swallow. Literally. But it was included in the already low room rate so not exactly something worth complaining about.

The kids club deserves a mention – great space with lots of toys and things to do for the kidlets. Mine was too small to leave by herself but we had a good play and ruined a few crayons and tabletops in the spirit of holiday games.

Stay here if you like
– new hotel with a budget price tag
– convenient location

http://www.marriott.com.au/hotels/travel/dpssm-courtyard-bali-seminyak/

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Rimba Jimbaran Bali by Ayana – June 2015

Arriving late in the night, bleary eyed and confused after a short (but long flight due to first overseas flight for our toddler). Said overtired toddler is camped on my hip and i get an overwhelming feeling of being ripped off by cab drivers and ATMs from the moment we touched down. The taxi ride is thankfully short and as we weave through the darkness of the Rimba/Ayana grounds we can smell the luxury. The staff open our taxi door and present us (including bub) with frangipani lei’s and a fruit cocktail, resetting our impression of Bali in an instant. Arriving at night robs us of the opportunity of viewing our surroundings, but as it was a significant drive from the property entry to the hotel we know that this is one amazing resort.

Sister of the famous Ayana, Rimba is much more modern and fresh compared to the more traditional and old school luxury of Ayana. Staying at either hotel means you can take the shuttle every 10 mins and cover the whole property including six pools, waterfront spa, cocktails bars and a range of restaurants covering every cuisine. The property is massive and worth exploring – 90 hectares in total, running all the way down to Jimbaran Bay. The lush gardens and manicured lawns are a testament to the large contingent of gardening staff busy at work every day behind the scenes. High up in the mountains, Rimba is split over many levels, providing ample vantage points to take in the scenery or the people watching. And boy is that amusing – the amount of selfie sticks reached critical level on this holiday.

Taking the shuttle down to Ayana, it is all about old school luxury. Beautiful sandstone stairs lead down to a huge outdoor dining space and outdoor pool. Overlooking the Indian ocean, it is incredibly peaceful to stare out and get lost in your thoughts – kind of wishing you were swimming in it, but then happy to have a full service bar at your fingertips. Staff bring around your drink orders and constantly offer free snacks which i cannot refuse.

The time to be at Ayana however is at sunset. Drives of tourists flock to the clifftop bar and the more impressive Rock bar. With a toddler it was never going to happen for us, but a quick peek past the big line of eager drinkers displays an amazing bar with arguably one of the best drinking views you could ask for. A pretty special treat, and one i would be keen to return and try…..rather than just wistfully stare at.

pools pools pools

pools pools pools

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But let’s get to my main priority on a summer holiday – the pool. Oh the pools. Six in total, we managed to try at least four and no matter where you were they were so oversized that it never felt crowded. Beautiful daybeds and mini rooms in the shade means that you can be secluded from all the “stresses” of holiday life. Pool chairs IN THE POOL were blowing my mind, meaning i never had to chose between tanning and swimming as i was basically doing both at the same time. My only gripe was that the waterslide was only for kids. And that our kid was not big enough to enjoy it solo. As i am a giant child i was gutted i couldn’t have a go, but live and learn.

And my other main holiday squeeze – overeating. The breakfast buffet was not cheap, but beyond amazing. Understandlng their guests meant that what was on offer could satisfy even the most fussiest traveller, with traditional Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and American style breakfast dishes all displayed for the eyes bigger than your stomach breakfast diner. There was even a PASTRY ROOM. that was the end of me, a room with a never-ending supply of tasty treats, cakes, muffins, Indonesian sweets that all needed to be sampled and led to what i feel could be self-inflicted diabetes.

GIMG_3600etting to the rooms – the rooms are a little disco, and a lot of luxury. The decor is modern and a bit blingy which while it doesn’t really suit the beach atmosphere, i actually loved it. The standard rooms have a giant circular spa tub and a complicated shower with a rain shower head, normal shower head and not a very straight forward way of turning it all on.

IMG_3605IMG_3602The bed is comically oversized – the biggest king size bed since we first stayed in Claska Tokyo (the famed two large double beds pushed together in perfect harmony). It may require a loud-speaker to talk to my partner, but the space is heavenly.

Our room had a great daybed and balcony – not much of a view as we were in one of the cheaper rooms, but i was happy with the greenery and the local friendly cows outside. IMG_3611

lobby

The lobby is a must see, sunset is best where they roll out a violinist to play out on the edge of the pool. No joke.

sunset in the lobby

sunset in the lobby

And lastly, a big shout out to the staff. So kind and considerate to us with a toddler in tow, but nowi really get why so many Aussies bring their families here. The kids are treated like royalty, everyone stops to say hello and ask their name. And getting a signed farewell card on our last day at breakfast was just too much.

Stay here if you like

– insane luxury
– express entry to the rock bar
– incredibly friendly and organised staff