Posts tagged: banyan tree

Are luxury hotels worth your buck?

By chrispytine, June 8, 2011 5:40 pm
I’ve been to Bali thrice and each time it’s a different experience. 
Each time i left with some regret that i haven’t done more.
The first time was for a photo shoot and i only got to see the four walls of my bedroom suite and the fortress of hotel Intercontinental. The second time was a little bit more exciting with my first ship wreck dive. Most of my escapades are action packed, for a destination like Bali where there is the sand sun and sea, i would think plenty of activities awaits me. The fact is, there are but Bali has a certain lull to it that when you arrive, you just want to indulge in spicy food, daily massages and sitting around, doing nothing.
That’s the beauty of Bali.
I usually stay at the cheapest hotels possible since my itinerary is chock block, a hotel is merely an accommodation where i return for a shower and sleep. It was a nice change and i stayed at 2 boutique hotels.
The Amala

The Amala is in Seminyak, a quieter town compared to Kuta. However Seminyak has its share of shops, pubs and restaurants. Rowdy backpackers are not part of it.

You’re a fool to trust pictures off a website, they look a lot more spacious and the gloss makes you dream and drool. What looks like this on official websites:
Actually look more like this:
Sans the lighting, the dead leaves in the jaccuzi (not pool and no warm water) and wide angle professional lens. I was disappointed when i arrived at the villa but am impressed with its deluxe hand-made bath soaps and ipod dock. I’m easy to satisfy.

An open concept, zen with bamboo and pebbles with a tinge of being Oriental is the theme of The Amala.

 

  Open air bathtub next to an outdoor shower with frosted glass

 

  Outdoor vanity area.The hotel is located right in the middle of a busy street yet the beauty of it is once you step off the streets, you enter an unsuspected tranquil and serene area.

 My favourite part of the resort was the dining area, The Bamboo.

Choose from a wide selection of healthy but yummy dishes for breakfast. None of the usual international buffet that consists of oily fatty sausages, bacon and such. Using the finest ingredients, each dish has its calorie stated, you can order as much as you please. The Amala concentrates on your well-being and healthy living thus their specially thought menu.

After two days of aimlessly walking around Seminyak, getting daily massages in town ($8!) and retreating to watch DVDs, i had enough of The Amala (it’s quite a small space, frankly).

Travelling up to Ungasan, a no man’s land, the new Banyan Tree greeted me.

The lobby wasn’t impressive and i was set up for disappointment (again) from the pictures online. I was gladly proven wrong. It certainly lives up to its name!

A fortress like exterior protects your privacy.
Speaking of privacy, you can skinny dip as the private pool is intelligiently covered with much flauna and each villa is on higher ground on a steep slope.

Every night your butler will turn down the room for you by setting the air con right, putting out bedroom slippers and lighting up aromas. A beautiful sight beholds.

A sprawling villa with a huge living room space with an attached open kitchen with BOSE surround sound serenading Banyan tunes throughout the villa.

Already impressed the minute i stepped through the door, my jaw dropped further when i walk down the hallway into the bathroom and bedroom.

Fluffy bathrobes and bountiful towels, the bathroom alone is as big as a 2 room HDB flat. A His & Hers vanity kit is provided with compliments, there is an indoor as well as outdoor shower.

The beauty of Banyan Tree’s villa is it is connected throughout. From the pool outside, you can make your way to the bathroom without your wet foot prints through the living room. From the bedroom or the living room, you can step outside into the pool.

There’s a different flavour of incense for each day!
Banyan Tree resorts tend to be on no man’s land, self-contained. We had nowhere to step out to, not that we wanted to anyway. Nowhere else to eat, we had to patronize the resort’s restaurants. The food was nothing worth mentioning but the location is.
Resembling Greece, the Ju Ma Na was the highlight of the resort. The degustation menu was prepared by a Michelin star chef.

There really isn’t much to do at Banyan Tree except the gym and 3 hour spa where for the first time i laid on the bed (with a rainforest shower) and people (2 girls) scrubbed me from head to toe. It was very uncomfortable lying there, not allowed to shower myself.

They have a private beach but the shore is rocky. No sea sports available, you can only take sunset/rise walks/jogs.
I’d say Banyan Tree is an experience worthwhile to shell out for once-in-a-lifetime. Perhaps as a honeymoon, after both are absolutely worked to the bone planning the wedding. 2 nights will be enough before you get bored of the silence and lack of activities.
I’d like to try Club Med next!
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