Combining comfort and style with cultural excursions, the Ritz-Carlton Bali in Nusa Dua is the perfect place to relax on the beach while immersing yourself in the beauty of Bali
What I love about Bali – apart from the food, and the culture, and the people (ok, I love almost everything about Bali!) - is the variety of landscapes it packs onto a relatively small island. Dramatic mountain tops peek around all over, the interior is stunning, with its thick green jungle and lush rice paddie fields as the edges are tropical and give the perfect beach environment. Needless to say Bali has a special place in my heart. After spending some time in the jungles of Ubud, we were ready to head to the beaches of Nusa Dua.
Nusa Dua sits at the top of the Bukit Peninsula (an area famed for its beaches), meaning that it possesses the perfect combination of picturesque coastline and easy accessibility. As a result, it is home to some of the island’s most prestigious hotels with five-star ratings being the norm. It is very much a resort destination, and as most offer a complete experience, you need to find a hotel that matches your wants. We were looking to relax on the beach, eat Balinese food and take in some local experiences. We found the Ritz-Carlton Bali in Nusa Dua, to be the perfect place to for this.
The first thing that you notice is that this hotel is huge. It is a sprawling complex with villas, rooms, multiple pools and plenty of beachfront space. When we walked into the lobby, our breath was taken away by the incredible view. The hotel slopes down a hillside to the sea, with the entrance at the top, and the rooms, villas and restaurants on the slope. A well-planned central boulevard leads down to the pools, restaurants, and beach, and looking down its length is what provides the lobby’s wonderful view. All the buildings are elegant and modern, and connected by open air paths.
There are an intimidating array of room options to choose from, and after some consideration we decided to go for one of the Pavilion Villas. This gave us our own pool and outdoor seating terrace (complete with outdoor shower), as well as a generously sized bedroom. It also gave us a nice feeling of privacy which you wouldn’t get in one of the hotel’s suites. The design of the villa was clean and light, with white walls and comfortable furniture inside.
The Ritz-Carlton club lounges are always worth spending a bit more for, and they are top of our list of amenities. Since access in limited, we know that we can always get some peace and privacy in the lounge – something especially nice in a hotel this big. Every morning we would head in for breakfast and sometimes pop back in for aperitivo (snacks and drinks in the evening). If you wanted you could easily eat all meals in the lounge!
While we enjoyed our club breakfasts, we had most of our meals in the main hotel restaurants. There are six different places to eat with options including a seafront grill, a bar complete with live piano, and a sushi restaurant. You can also order food to your room if you prefer.
Our favorite restaurant was Bejana which specializes in local Balinese cuisine. We feasted on so many different Indonesian dishes, and it was truly an experience to remember. Definitely go for the “Rijsttafel” set menu for two, which translates to “rice table.” The experience will take you on a journey of Indonesia through small and very flavorful dishes. We had everything from gado gado ( a local salad of steamed veggies and peanut sauce) and Betawi spiced coconut soup, to minced tuna skewers and Sumatran style braised beef.
There is no doubt that the hotel’s main attraction is the beach. With plenty of lounge chairs and cabanas dotting the white sand, this was the perfect place to get in our beach time. But of course, if you’re like us and get antsy after a few hours, there is still plenty to do on property or off.
The Ritz-Carlton Bali has a huge selection of amenities on site, ranging from perfume making to cooking classes. There are the pools of course, as well as the bars and restaurants, but there are also a couple of boutique shops, programs to keep the children busy, and even a business center if you feel the need to get on with some work. Though one of our favorite areas at the Ritz-Carlton Bali was a long garden that ran through the center of the property, complete with koi ponds, and small seating areas.
The best facility however, is the spa. Coupled with a fitness center, this is a beautifully tranquil spot surrounded by Balinese gardens. “Blending the finest qualities of indigenous natural ingredients from the Indian Ocean with ancient Balinese methods and modern techniques” everything feels authentic and is utterly relaxing. There is greenery everywhere which is very calming, as well as an indoor pool, if you want to relax before or after your treatments. We decided to treat ourselves and we had the “Escape to Romance” spa treatment - this lasted for two indulgent hours!
Our “escape” started with a foot wash ritual, followed by a relaxing full body massage and body exfoliation. The description read like an exotic ingredient list with the results promising glowing skin, and relaxation. For two wonderful hours, our bodies were scrubbed, rubbed and just made to feel rejuvenated and relaxed. Afterwards, we took a long bath while sipping on Champagne and nibbling on Balinese chocolates...and yes even as I am writing this my eyes are slightly rolling at the romance of it all, but truly this experience is exactly as i described. Indulgent and relaxing.
We were staying a few days in Nusa Dua, and I was a little bit nervous we would get bored as there isn’t much to do outside the walls of your resort and transportation can be hard to organize. I shouldn’t have worried, as there is an amazing selection of activities available, so we just let the Ritz staff take over and organize our days.
One day we did a “Market to Table” culinary journey, which started with us joining the Chef from Behana for a market visit in the morning. We learned all about Balinese fresh produce and ingredients, while walking through a locals market. It was an authentic experience, and really great to see where the locals shop, rather than just another tourist trap market. We then returned to the resort, and learned how to prepare Indonesian dishes at Culinary Cave - our cooking station located in Bejana. We learned how to make tuna sates, minced tuna wrapped in banana leaf and Indonesian rice. It was a great day and I can’t recommend it enough!
Our last morning was also very special. We woke up at sunrise and partook in a traditional soul purification ceremony. The hotel arranged for a Hindu priest to come meet us at the beach, and once we were dressed in sarongs (with flowers added to our hair), we proceeded. It was incredible to get this on-hands experience of one my favorite cultures.
It wasn't a religious ceremony, more like a few intimate moments with a very spiritual person. It was wonderful, and we both still have the string bracelets the priest gave us after. The bracelet known as a Tridatu yarn bracelet symbolizes three elements. The red element symbolizes creativity and bravely, the black element symbolizes powerful and protected us from bad spirits, while the white element symbolizes spirituality and goodness. Tridatu is meant to remind people that life is not just one color, but many colors. There is birth, life, and death. Tridatu reminds us of this balance.
As always, we loved our stay at the Ritz-Carlton Bali. It provided us with the beach time we were looking for, while giving us a cultural look into Bali. It was a romantic few days, with all the comfort and service you hope for in a resort like this. The great food and the humbling cultural experiences just made things even better, and made a great time, unforgettable.