Tuesday night my wife and I arrived on Bali for a short vacation. Normally Bali is not the best destination in August, because it is high season here, but when you go to a high-end resort you don’t really see a big difference (except for higher prices of course). This weekend Gary is getting married here, and that’s the main reason why we came here. I think it’s great he took the decision to tie the knot, and this is a perfect location for it. I am actually going to be his grooms man, but I am not sure yet what that my exact obligations are for that (according to some Chinese friends I will need to drink for him, that promises to be interesting!).
We are staying at the Laguna Resort & Spa in Nusa Dua, a fantastic resort directly on the beach (part of the Luxury Collection of Starwood). Half the resort consists of swimming pools, the whole hotel complex is surrounded by them. Very nice and relaxing to spend a few days here at the pool or on the beach. The rooms are not only very big but also very luxurious: think a oval sized bath big enough for two people, an oversized bed and a huge plasma screen on the wall. Our room has pool/beach view, but we hardly spend any time in the room or on our balcony. This resort is certainly in the top-5 of best hotels that I have stayed in so far (along with the Ritz-Carlton in Singapore and the Westin resort in Macau – the Grand Hyatt Shanghai does not make it to this list, because its rooms are way too small).
But still a few things can be improved, and this is something I started to pay a lot of attention to because one day I may set up (or otherwise invest in) my own luxury hotel. This hotel should avoid the problems that even high-end resorts have, so I am becoming more and more critical. In this resort the main problems have to do with the staff. For example, upon arrival I could not connect to the internet. But the IT staff that came to my room knew less about computers than I do! I think he had never seen a MacBook before. The resort should train these guys, it is very simple. In the end I solved the problem myself (and taught the guy how to do it in the process). Later I had problems sending out emails: you need a different outgoing smtp server, but another IT staff had no clue what I was talking about. He would send someone else to the room, but this person never showed up. Similar things happened in the restaurant, staff that forget about an order for tea or coffee for example (two days in a row). I normally just get it myself then (I prefer that anyway), but they don’t allow you to do that.
Another nuisance is that you have to pay about USD 20 per day for internet. A small amount of money compared to what you pay per day for a room, and as a hotel manager I would include this in the room price (just increase the price by USD 25, I don’t think many people here would care). And you cannot pay for several days (or a week) at once, but you have to sign up every day again. That is just plain stupid. Even worse, you cannot wirelessly pay every day, but you have to go to your room to connect with a line (this has to do with a cookie they put on your laptop). Very strange, and this would l never happen when I would run a resort like this. To make matters worse, we have two laptops and two other devices that use wifi. You have to pay for each one separately to go online, meaning we would have to pay USD 80 extra per day. We asked an IT staff about this, and he would solve this for us. But this was two days ago and he never came back with a solution. To me this is clearly a management mistake, they do not train the people sufficiently. Should I complain about this? Probably, but I am on vacation, so I just blog about it. I suppose most guests take the same approach, these are all minor things and we are here to relax.
All in all the Laguna Resort is fantastic, and I would recommend it to everyone. It’s not cheap, but none of the 5-star resorts here are, but on vacation I don’t mind spending a bit more. Nusa Dua is a 25 minute ride to Kuta and Seminyak, so you’re not too far from the shops, bars and restaurants (where a Nasi Goreng is 10-15 times as cheap as here in the hotel by the way). But if you are just here to relax there is actually no real need to leave the resort. You have everything here, a quiet beach with a great surf (and a wifi connection), fantastic food, nice shops and one of the best collections of pools you can find in Asia. But if you only stay here you will miss out on the fantastic sightseeing on the Island of the Gods, which would be a pity.
Pictures of our trip can be found here. I will add more pictures over the next days.