Five reasons to rethink Bali

Bali is almost a rite of passage for most Australians, however, it often gets a bad rap. But before you write it off, here are five reasons why you need to rethink Bali.

5 reasons to rethink Bali

As I lounge on my sunbed, anchored in the middle of an aquamarine pool, I can’t believe how long it has taken me to visit Bali. I am at the Courtyard by Marriott in Seminyak, which has only been open for one month, and as I get lost in my book, my skin soaking up some much-needed vitamin D, I’m sure I’m in heaven.

It’s possible I’m that too old to be on my first trip to Bali. For Australians, Bali is almost a rite of passage and most of my friends pop over as though they’re going to Sydney. My family has never holidayed in Bali, with my parents preferring to explore Australia or head overseas to Europe. I had previously thought that Bali didn’t have much to offer. But, as I dangle my feet in the sparkling water, feeling more content than I have in a long time, I realise just how wrong I was.

Less than six hours from most capital cities, it’s easy to see why this Indonesian island is such a popular holiday destination for Australians. Unfortunately, Bali often gets a bad rap. For many westerners, the Bali bombings have spoilt this tropical paradise, leaving them with significant safety concerns. I am surprised at the level of security as my car pulls into the hotel entrance. Not only do security guards check the entire vehicle, a sniffer dog does as well. Next, every guest or visitor to the hotel foyer is subject to airport security level bag scans. While I am told this is the Marriott standard, most other hotels also complete car checks. Far from being alarming, as a solo female traveller this puts my mind at ease, and allows me to worry about the important details of my holiday, such as which bikini to wear.

Not only is Bali close, it’s imminently affordable. More often than not you can snap up sale fares to Denpasar from Jetstar or Virgin, from as little as $300 return, and many hotels offer great deals or packages throughout most of the year. Unlike many Australian hotels which charge for wifi, I was overwhelmed by the inclusions at Courtyard by Marriott. Not only was the wifi free, bottled water was also provided free of charge and a complimentary buggy service was available to the beach or main street in Seminyak. My room also included breakfast, which was held at the onsite restaurant, Seminyak Kitchen, where the head chef is a fellow Australian, Billy Costoglou. With breakfast on offer all day, to call the buffet expansive is an understatement. I was incredibly grateful for the gluten-free options - something I wasn’t sure I would find in Bali.

Later that afternoon, as a friend and I sit at the swim-up bar ordering cocktails from the boys in tropical-printed shirts and watching AFL footy, which is naturally being screened at the pool bar, I am struck by another Bali misconception – bogans. If you believe the Bali stereotype that you see on TV you would be forgiven for thinking the entire island is overrun by bogans. This is far from the truth. While Kuta caters for all types, Seminyak, a relatively new area, is quieter and attracts different clientele. Courtyard by Marriott takes this a step further with rooms around the perimeters, creating a peaceful oasis in the centre featuring an impressive lagoon pool, which flows over three levels.

It’s also impossible to overlook how friendly the locals are. Everywhere we go they are interested in where we are from and at one point, when I leave my bankcard in an ATM by accident, someone runs after me down the street to return it. Again, an experience far removed from the warnings which I had received prior to my departure.

The local culture means that even walking down the street is enlivened by the offerings on the ground, or gifts to the gods. Many hotels and villas are designed and decorated in the traditional Balinese style, with buildings restricted to the height of the tallest temple. And then there is the food, which is on another level, and easily some of the best I’ve ever eaten. From traditional cuisine, to Asian fusion and everything in between, including Italian and Mexican, there is no shortage of world-class restaurants with meals (and cocktails) at extremely reasonable prices.

While many holidaymakers consider Bali to simply be a party destination, the local focus on wellbeing is far greater than most realise. With countless options for massages, pedicures and beauty treatments, the local prices turn these luxuries into everyday options and this pampering is one of the things I miss most about Bali. The first facial I had was at Courtyard by Marriott. It was brilliant and at $30 left my skin glowing and my wallet intact. The best massage I’ve ever had, involving hot stones, was in a side street in Seminyak. Many masseuses will also come to you, and there are yoga classes and other exercise options all around Seminyak.

My weeklong break is over and I’m being whisked off to the new international terminal to head back home. I can’t say the idea excites me. I’m not ready to leave this floating paradise, with its beautiful people, idyllic locations, and promise of relaxation. There is still so much I want to see and do, not too mention eat! I can only console myself with the knowledge that now I’ve discovered Bali, I definitely won’t be waiting another 25 years to come back.

Courtyard by Marriott Seminyak

I can’t recommend this newly-opened hotel highly enough. The rooms are spacious and every room has a balcony (or terrace, for ground floor rooms). With three pools, a 24-hour gym, kids’ club and spa, the low prices make it an extremely affordable option given the five-star facilities. The swim-up bar was one of my favourite features, with happy hour daily from 5-7pm and live entertainment every night.

To celebrate the hotel’s opening a range of deals including the “You Stay We Pay” are now on offer at Marriott.com.





    COMMENTS

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    Watto
    18th Oct 2014
    9:23am
    I agree , rethink Bali. Then decide to stay in Oz . You will not regret the decision . For the life of me I cannot understand why people go to Bali. If all you want is a nice hotel with nice meals then there are many in Australia to satisfy your desires. You leave the hotel in Bali and there is nothing worthwhile....trust me .
    Kato
    18th Oct 2014
    12:55pm
    Yep agree over rated.
    jamesmn
    18th Oct 2014
    9:55am
    bail is full of scammers women trying to prostitute themselves to you even to the extent of following you into shops then you have the timeshare rort people running around on motorcycles handing you a card saying you have won a prize its only timeshare then they get abusive when you refuse the cards. then the rip off at the airport for people carrying your luggage it used to be $4.00 now they want $50.00 then the stall holders wanting to paint your nails and trying to charge you absorbent fees yes its a nice place but the security leaves a lot to be desired there are a hell of a lot of scammers there trying to rip of aussies from spiking your drinks to anything I've been there 7 times but never again its full of rorts not to mention the amount of aussies that have been killed there and then its covered up save your money stay in Australia.
    Blinky Bill
    18th Oct 2014
    10:51am
    Bali provides many choices and if the suggestion presented in this article suits you, go to that hotel in that location and enjoy a great time. If not, go somewhere else in Bali. Bali has certainly changed, but who or what has caused the changes and why? For many it is the attraction of easy money, which has created problems in many holiday locations besides Bali - its not new! This year my wife and I enjoyed another wonderful holiday in Bali, staying at two different locations without any problems or concerns. At one hotel, which is run by a Balinese family I paid more than they had asked and was quickly told that I had given them too much money. Now that's honesty! I replied that I was very happy and had included a bonus for the wonderful service provided. The smile and thanks alone was well worth the extra I paid. I give our Balinese drive a A$100 when we arrive at our first location, he drives us anywhere we wish and returns us safely to the airport at the end of our hoilday. If more money is required we square up with him before leaving. We get a fair deal and darn good service. But if Bali does not suit you, then go somewhere else, there are lots od choices.
    bookwyrm
    18th Oct 2014
    2:11pm
    I went to Bali for the first time over two years ago and now I am going back as a solo female traveller on 28 October for 15 nights. I am looking forward to massages and beauty treatments which start at $6 an hour, being able to hire an airconditioned spacious car and driver to drive me to shoqing and sights for $40 for 6 hours and $50 for 10 hours. You can get a delicious main meal for under $5. My hotel is only $50 a night with breakfast, airconditioning, a big room with ensuite, tea and coffee facilities etc. But there are plenty of hotels around the $25 to $30 mark. As the Balinese are Hindu women don‘t get hassle and it is ideal for women solo travellers. There is plenty to do and see for any budget. As anywhere you have to keep your wits about you and don‘t do silly things. Bad things can happen anywhere including at home. Overall the Balinese are lovely friendly people. Just ignore the touts. It‘s also cheap to hire a driver and car and see the rest of the island. I recommend Tripadvisor Bali Forum for researching your trip.
    buby
    19th Oct 2014
    10:33pm
    i wouldn't go to bali for all the tea in china.
    They would have to pay me to go.
    We have some great places here why travel all that way for.
    Wait in line for ages.
    Then when you get there you get sniffed up by dogs etc.
    They probably got them on the go to see how many aussies they can catch with the crap in the luggage......lol YOu never know when they will fiddle with your luggage it seems.
    ITs not safe to lie around a beach, you might get done over!!!
    sami
    20th Oct 2014
    10:32am
    Just returned from Bali after 3 great weeks (my 4th visit) - I stayed in the Westin resort in Nusa Dua. If you want to enjoy a different Bali, try this resort, the location is amazing - this is probably the quietest. safest and most beautiful are of Bali.
    Jeanette
    23rd Sep 2017
    9:01am
    My hubby and I love Bali. We go there at least 3 times a year to relax, unwind, meet up with friends, eat cheaply and enjoy the excellent accommodation, atmosphere and local people. It's unfortunate the media portrays only the poor behaviour of a few, as it's not like this at all. We usually stay around Seminyak but have also stayed in Nusa Dua. Of course, we have been hassled by sellers of crap, you just be polite and keep walking - no big deal. We have seen traffic accidents as the traffic is chaotic. It's usually tourists who ride scooters who fail to wear the right riding gear or helmets and are not used to their conditions - why they think this is ok is beyond me. The food is amazing, the drinks wonderful, the massages comparable and safe to anywhere in Australia at a fraction of the cost, and there are amazing places to visit, it is truly a beautiful island. The cost for us is usually around $2,300 including flights, accommodation for 10 nights in a priavate pool villa (200-350sqm of private space) with a butler, full breakfast of choice, cocktails in the evening, late checkout and within 2 mins walk of all the great restaurants. There are plenty of deals which include dinners and some lunches and massages depending where you choose to stay etc. to compare: We recently spent 7 nights at the Sunshine Coast - 2 bed room, lovely sea views, but....no breakfast, no extras at a cost of $1800. The cost for food to prepare ourselves for some breakfasts and lunches, and to eat out added up to around $800. Supermarket - $200 for bread, milk, tea, coffee, eggs, bacon, butter, fruit, cold meat, sandwich fillings, veges and meat for dinner etc etc...lunch for 2 aprox $35 x 4, dinner approx $80 x 4 - and these were not extravagant 3 courses with a multitude of drinks.....and a massage, well minimum of $70 an hour, so that's why we go to Bali - cheaper, amazing hospitality, 6 hours from home, excellent accommodation and food.......don't knock it till you try it.


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