Bliss in Bali


  • Travel
  • Saturday, 01 Aug 2009

Nothing’s more soothing for the harried spirit than a stay at The Westin Resort Nusa Dua in Bali.

Bleary-eyed, I stumble out of bed at 6.30am to get ready for my early morning bike ride.

“Best to go early before the sun gets too hot,’’ chirps Rainata Tjoa, Westin’s bubbly marketing communications manager. She’s taking my daughter and me on a cycling tour around Nusa Dua in Bali.

I had planned to just kick back and keep exercise to a minimum on this holiday. But Rainata quickly reassures me, “You’ll enjoy it. It’s a nice pleasant ride and you can do it at your own pace.’’

An hour later, we gather on the resort grounds. The sun is out in a blue, cloudless sky. Birds are chirping and we are surrounded by a riot of blossoms.

Our ride would take us along the sandy shoreline that fringes the sprawling resorts in Nusa Dua, a gated hotel enclave on the southern tip of the island. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the saddle. But after a wobbly start, I’m soon flying along the winding path, the wide expanse of beach and the Indian Ocean on my left and exquisitely manicured green lawns, thatched pavilions and bright blooms on my right.

It’s difficult to imagine a more heavenly setting than being surrounded by the sound of gently crashing surf, rustling of branches in a breeze and the scent of frangipani in the air.

We pedal to an islet that’s linked by a road and stop for a breather by a small temple. Rainata points out that all the resorts in Nusa Dua have temples. Religion is such an inseparable part of Balinese life, where the predominant belief is Hinduism. It’s rare to pass a day here and not see some colourful procession or other on the way to the temples to make offerings to the gods.

Sure enough it’s another religious festival today. And we observe some worshippers throwing flower offerings into the sea.

It’s been eight years since I’ve been back to the Island of the Gods, and there have been obvious changes in the wake of the Bali bombings, like a greatly heightened security awareness. All vehicles entering Nusa Dua undergo a sweeping inspection, while security guards politely check bags at hotel entrances.

The sun is nudging higher in the sky, preparing to bake the island. By the time we head back to the hotel, I’ve worked up a hearty appetite and am looking forward to breakfast at The Westin’s Capsicum Cafe. The buffet doesn’t disappoint. On offer are a smorgasbord of hot and cold Asian and Western dishes, a healthy platter of fruit and a selection of specialty breads, muffins and pastries.

Rainata explains that The Westin is all about wellness and promoting a healthy lifestyle. Hence, the hotel chain has created a Superfoods Rx menu which offers healthy food options using nutritional ingredients .

Surrounded by the trickling of water from stone statues in a lily pond, the breakfast venue sets the mood for a relaxing retreat.

The Westin features 346 luxury rooms designed by renowned Indonesian interior designer Had Prana, with ocean, pool or garden views. Entering the spacious lobby with its soaring timber-beamed ceiling, my daughter and I are greeted by a shower of flower petals as musicians play the gamelan. After freshening up with a cold towel and cool juice, we are ushered to the Royal Beach Club Lounge for a hassle-free check-in.

My Royal Beach Club suite overlooks the pool and comes with the signature Heavenly king-sized bed (think custom-made mattress, crisp sheets, plush pillows and fluffy duvet), a lounge, a kitchenette and a terrace for lounging. The room is tastefully appointed with pastel colours and touches of Balinese artwork. The contemporary design creates a feeling of stylish serenity.

It has everything you could possibly need to make your stay comfortable —two flat screen TVs in the room offering 20 satellite channels, three IDD telephones, high-speed wireless Internet access, a safe, fully-stocked mini bar and complimentary coffee-tea-making facility.

With the huge choice of restaurants at The Westin, you don’t have to go far to satisfy your food cravings.

The Ikan Restaurant, just footsteps away from the white sandy beach, is where you can dine on fresh seafood, while enjoying a panoramic view of the ocean.

That night, we tuck into a delicious meal — Sambal Goreng Udang Kenangi, stir-fried prawns in sweet basil sambal sauce and Grilled Seafood on Banana Leaf.

The Veranda resembles a chic European sidewalk café, and serves light meals and delicious wood oven pizzas. It’s an ideal venue for a lazy brunch. And if you want your sushi and sashimi fix, there’s the Hamabe Japanese Restaurant.

The elegant Portraits Restaurant is tailor-made for romantic moments, and offers innovative cuisine in an intimate setting. Social types may gravitate to the Kites Lounge and Bar, which overlooks the gardens and pools.

Or enjoy cocktails at the Ikan Bar by the sea. And if you want a change of scenery, the Bali Collection, an outdoor mall with a range of trendy restaurants and boutiques, is just a pretty stroll away.

The hotel caters for every kind of experience. You’re spoilt for choice with three pools — freshwater pool with water slide, a saltwater relaxation pool and a children’s pool. The active set can go windsurfing, jet skiing, scuba diving, play tennis or golf.

If you want to keep up with your exercise routine, you can flog your body at the gym which overlooks the landscaped gardens.

Or if you just want to chill out like me, just loll on the beach, let the sand coat your toes and gaze out at the shimmering lagoon.

Children here are treated like special guests. Upon check-in, they are given drinks and a gift pack. All the restaurants have special mini menus, and for breakfast, the kids even have their own knee-high buffet table.

The Kids Club for children aged four to 12 gives parents the chance to explore and unwind. The tots will have a ball with activities such as face painting, pizza and kite making and the climbing wall.

Of course, what’s a visit to Bali without a pampering spa treatment? My muscles are knotted tight after hunching over a desk for weeks. So it’s not long before I succumb to the expert hands of the masseuse as she irons out the aches in my body and creases in my brain.

In the open-air pavilion that smells of spices and fragrant oils, inhaling the scent of flowers with large breakers crashing in from the sea, I’m transported into a world of bliss — the end to another idyllic day.

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