Review: Brand New Ritz-Carlton Bali Part I

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Flying into Bali early one evening I looked out over the landscape and sighed with happiness. Special memories of past trips to Bali replayed in my mind, and I was thrilled to be going back again – this time to check out the brand-new Ritz-Carlton Bali.

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The property was so new there had been nothing on the website about car service to and from the airport. Every time I’d been in Bali before car transfer had been included in the rate, but I wasn’t sure this time. My husband had been able to call and arrange car service with the hotel, and he’d been told the price would be $50 each way. Expensive, but since we didn’t want to be spending more time than needed at the airport negotiating prices we booked.

Exiting the baggage area I spotted the driver quickly, who had been holding up the sign with our name. He assisted with the luggage right away and we made our way to the air-conditioned car and out of the airport. The new airport seemed much busier than the old one and it took a while to get out of all the congestion.

Once on the road the trip to the resort took about 30 minutes. The ride was comfortable and cool, and he had provided us with both chilled towels and cold bottles of water. He called ahead quietly on his radio to inform staff of our arrival. Pulling up to the resort there was the usual vehicle safety check, with just a quick pop of the trunk and a look underneath the car with mirror.

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Once cleared the car rolled up to the entrance where there were several people waiting. The luggage was whisked away, and as I was guided into the reception area I was asked to first step through a set of metal detectors and put my handbag through an x-ray. I was a little surprised but didn’t mind.

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Once security was complete a smiling hostess greeted my husband and I by name and led us to an area of the lobby with a sunken couch. She offered some refreshing cold towels and tea, and then proceeded with check-in.

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I had requested to use a Club Upgrade from the Ritz-Carlton credit card with my reservation, and had received confirmation in advance. I had been puzzled with the website’s description of rooms, and had paid for the lowest Suite, the Sawangan 1 Bedroom Jr Suite. I looked online today and while the Ritz website has been updated to show that both the lowest and next step up rooms are both only Jr Suites (along with pictures), at the time I booked it said 1 Bedroom Jr Suite so in my mind I was expecting a separate bedroom and living area.

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The hostess said that I had been assigned a Sawangan 1 Bedroom Jr Suite with lagoon access (one step up from the lowest category), and asked if I wanted to take a look at the resort overview before continuing on to the room.

I stepped to the lookout area in the lobby and peered over the edge into the darkness. The properties I’d stayed at before in Bali were mostly villas that dotted the coastline so it was a different experience to have the lobby up above the resort.

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As the resort came into view, I saw that it was huge! I tried to get my bearings, and knew that the ocean was straight ahead, at the edge of the resort. There were what appeared to be several large buildings along the sides, and even at night I could see that some buildings on the left were still under construction. I knew there was a Club Lounge, several pools and restaurants and I looked forward to exploring in the daylight. For now I was just ready to see the room and get some sleep.

I followed her through the lobby area and past a perfume shop to the elevator.

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Once on the ground floor level there was a golf cart style buggy waiting. I hopped onboard and the cart rolled silently along the path around to the right, and it stopped at the bottom of the first large building closest to the reception area.

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Looking at the map I had been given when checking in, I saw that the lobby area I’d just come from was numbered 20, and the building I was in was called Wing 1, or Building 31 on the map.

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Because the room was on the first floor there was no need to take the elevator up. We simply went down the hallway to the right which led straight to the room.

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I pushed the door open eagerly. Rounding the corner into the room just to the left was the toilet room. It was a Toto toilet! I didn’t know yet which features this one had but we were off to a great start. I love Japanese toilets.

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The closet was across from the restroom. The design was a bit industrial for my taste with just a simple hanging bar, but there was lots of room. In addition to the regular set of robes there was also a brightly colored set of soft kimono style ones.

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Next to the closet was the sink area which had double basins and brightly backlit mirrors.

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Across from the sink was the tub, which had been outfitted with a cushy neck pillow. A small table near the tub held extra towels, and wall panels allowed the tub area to be closed off.

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The shower could be accessed through a door next to the tub, and there was a little bench thoughtfully placed inside.

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I continued on towards the main part of the room. There was a desk, and lots of drawer space. One of the cabinets held a minibar (which was thankfully not the weighted type).

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I ran my fingers along an ornately designed wooden box with the same tree as I’d seen in the lobby area, which slid open to reveal three separate books about the resort – General Information, In-Room Dining, and Spa.

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Also on the desk was a coffee maker with accompaniments in a box to the side, and an ice bucket.

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There was a couch with ottoman next to the bed.

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Since it had been advertised on the website as a 1 bedroom Suite I looked around to see if there were sliding walls that somehow closed off the sitting area from the bedroom, or a door leading to another room.

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The bed could be closed off from the bathroom via sliding panels but it definitely was not a 1 Bedroom Suite.

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There was a sitting area so it could pass as a Jr Suite but that’s it.

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On each side of the bed was a bottle of water, and there was also a panel that controlled lighting and the curtains.

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Even though I’d want privacy at night, the bland grey colored window covering wasn’t very inspiring. Maybe they would be adding a second covering later, since I could still see markings from construction.

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After lifting the drapery I stepped outside onto the patio. I was dismayed to find what looked like an ashtray, and asked if it was citronella for bugs. Nope, it really was an ashtray and although smoking is not allowed indoors the hostess confirmed that the resort is not a non-smoking property. I’m not a smoker so I didn’t like the idea that any of the neighboring guests could sit out on their balconies and smoke though some might enjoy that feature.

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The outside patio was nice, with plenty of seating.

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The lagoon was the focal point of the room, which was kind of like a swimming pool that ran alongside the length of the building.

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It looked really cool, but I could immediately see that there wasn’t a lot of privacy. Right next door there were swimsuits and towels draped outside so it was obviously occupied. If I wanted to sleep in would there be splashing and noise right outside my window early in the morning? Would I smell smoke wafting down from nearby room?

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Gazing up, I saw the several other stories in the building that shared similar room types (the Sawangan Jr Suite and Ritz-Carlton Suite) but didn’t have the lagoon access.

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Standing outside I could also see people occasionally walk by, and the lagoon was lit up by a buggy or two which went along the road that was right in front of the water.

To me it seemed like a concrete bunker hotel room rather than a tropical vacation resort suite. The “Suite” was far away from the ocean, and at a starting price of over $400 a night I really had expected something different.

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My husband called to reception to inquire if perhaps we had been incorrect in our assumption that it would be a 1 Bedroom Suite, and if there was something else available that was more similar to what had been described on the website. After going back and forth, we determined that the website had been misleading and that with a 30% occupancy (several buildings still under construction) they would be able to find us a different room. We went to go check out the Club Lounge until the new room was ready….click here for Part 2 and Part 3!

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  1. Sam
    Reply

    Looking forward to part 2.
    Will be staying there next month!

    Was looking at rooms this morning and trying to decide what room/suite/villa to get.

  2. Flyingdoctorwu
    Reply

    Honestly it looks like a big cookie cutter resort. Given how many luxury resorts in Bali have separate villas with private pools and etc, this one looks very underwhelming.. And it looks huge… I’ld rather opt for some place else but maybe the next room will wow me!

    FDW

  3. Jenny
    Reply

    Thanks for the review! The room looks kind of vanilla and uninspired for Bali… Looking forward to Part 2 of your report!

  4. baccarat_guy
    Reply

    Thanks for the review. We are tentatively booked at this property for the end of the year. Very interested in all of your insights.

  5. BHill
    Reply

    Thanks for the great first part review and all the photos. Very interested in this new property so your review is very helpful indeed. Can’t wait for part 2, hope it is coming soon 🙂

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