24-Hour Room Service: St Regis Bali Resort, Nusa Dua, Bali
Saturday 20 December 2008
It's hard to think of anywhere in the world that, mile for mile, has more luxury spas and resorts than Bali. Nor anywhere where they are more prolific than in Nusa Dua, a gated beach development on the southern tip of the island, built in the 1970s. So any new addition to such a glut would have to be pretty impressive to earn its keep.
The St Regis Bali Resort, which opened in September, is certainly impressive. As part of Starwood Hotels' most prestigious brand – which also comprises the Lanesborough in London – you wouldn't expect anything less. The colonnaded driveway and vast marble lobby are almost daunting.
The main pool isn't referred to simply as a pool but as a lagoon, which is apt given its size. Water pumped around a network of fountains provides a constant background tinkle throughout the grounds. Golf buggies weave around the complex, ferrying guests from one prone position in the spa to their next on the beach.
But gargantuan pools and elaborate water features aside, the resort is modest when compared to some of its sprawling neighbours, with 123 luxury rooms and two residences. The details are no less impressive in the sleeping quarters. Impressive touches include a traditional Balinese wedding crown hanging on the wall of each room, and many of the suites and villas have their own private landscaped gardens and pools. But if you don't have the luxury of your own pool, you can wallow back at the vast lagoon, stopping for shade under a thatched straw bale (Balinese pavilion).
The Remède spa is set in a quiet corner, surrounded by a Koi Carp pool. The range of treatments takes a Balinese theme, while other facilities include a yoga centre. After my soporific massage, I was revived with a pot of chocolate tea.
More culinary treats await at the hotel's signature restaurant, Kayuputi, which serves modern Asian fusion cuisine, overlooks the beach and is surrounded by a pool on two sides. White day beds with billowing white curtains are staggered on descending tiers down to the pool. The striking white and glass décor (Kayuputi means white wood) still looks pristine, but it is early days.
Breakfast, which is served in the main restaurant Boneka, is a buffet without end. A stream of staff approaches with offerings, from dim sum, pancakes and pistachio Danish pastries, to "Egg Nouvelle" (a lobster ragout-filled egg shell with parsley cream and salmon roe).
The only fault I could find is that the St Regis was clearly conceived and designed pre-credit crunch. The whole concept, with its extravagance and emphasis on luxury, now seems, well, just a little unfashionable. And when I visited, admittedly in the late November low-season, occupancy was far from full.
St Regis Bali Resort, Kawasan Pariwisata, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia (00 62 361 8478 111; stregis.com/bali). The resort is situated towards the southern end of Nusa Dua, next to the Bali Golf and Country Club. If you make one excursion from Nusa Dua, try to take the 20-minute cab ride across to Ulu Watu (100,000 Rupiah /£7) one of the world's most hallowed surfing spots and site of the 11th-century temple Pura Luhur Ulu Watu (although see Warning of the Week, page 9).
Time from international airport: The resort is a 20-minute ride from Denpasar airport; a taxi costs around 95,000 Rupiah (£6). There are few public transport links from the airport.
The style of the rooms is an Asian-Balinese hybrid, more "eclectic traveller" than minimalist. Dark wood furniture and floors contrast with a colour palette of lime green and burnt orange. Various artefacts and books are scattered throughout the rooms, including a Balinese-inspired carved wood piece which hangs above the bed. All rooms have a writing desk and spacious private balcony.
Freebies: Remède spa toiletries, daily newspaper, coffee and tea-making facilities and slippers.
Keeping in touch: Wi-Fi and high speed internet access is available for a fee in all the rooms and there is a business centre if needed. Each room has a 42-inch flat-screen TV with DVD player and a Bose iPod docking station. There's also a flat-screen TV in each of the marble bathrooms.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The standard St Regis suite is US $858 (£572) a night, including breakfast. Rates dip slightly during low season, to around $514 (£343).
I'm not paying that: Accommodation in Nusa Dua is more expensive than other parts of Bali, but many of the big resorts offer special packages. The Westin Resort, Nusa Dua (00 62 361 771908; starwoodhotels.com) is currently offering doubles from $194 (£129) a night.
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