Bali: Rest & Relaxation at Club Bali Mirage
The original reason we headed to Asia was to spend 7 nights trying out a variety of beach resorts on the south-east coast of Bali. As there are no direct flights from London to Bali we took advantage of the flight change to explore another place: we chose Hong Kong (read my posts here ‘Our first two days in Hong Kong!‘ and here ‘Exploring Hong Kong through the Eyes of Locals and Expats‘). We also decided to include some time in the jungle near Ubud after our spell on the beach – more about that later.
We specifically decided to visit bustling and energetic Hong Kong first in order to then spend the rest of our 14-day trip relaxing at a slower place, to the sound of breaking waves and rustling leaves in Bali, rather than the car horns and traffic jams of Hong Kong.
So when we landed at Denpasar airport in Bali, still feeling a little debilitated from partying the night before, we had one thing on our minds: rest. And rest is exactly what we did for our first two days in Bali. The first of our three resorts in south-east Bali, near Nusa Dua, was Club Bali Mirage.
The resort provided us with a private transfer and after a short fascinating drive through parts of Bali that tourists clearly never step into (think chickens roaming freely by the roadside, street-side shops made of corrugated iron, dirt and litter) we arrived in Nusa Dua, driving past luxury resort upon luxury resort, eager to arrive and dip our toes into the ocean which we had caught a glimpse of during our exhilarating landing just metres above the sea. The car turned into the drive of the Club Bali Mirage and we were greeted by lots of tropical plants, palm trees and a glass of fresh juice each to refresh us after our journey.
Our first impression was to marvel at how peaceful and quiet the hotel seemed. Friendly staff showed us to our Deluxe Room, proudly revealing the view from our balcony over both the swimming pool and the sea. Bali suffers from high humidity (around 95%) just as much as Hong Kong does, but we quickly appreciated that the air here was much fresher and cleaner, without the pollution of the Chinese metropolis.
Despite the rapidly setting sun, we headed outside to explore the grounds, taking in the gardens, the pool and poolside bar, the private beach and the enormous moon reflected in the calm ocean. Club Bali Mirage is an all-inclusive resort and dinner that evening was an Asian buffet served in the Kemuning restaurant, while a traditional Balinese dance was performed for us. It became apparent that the quietness we’d noticed earlier was due to it being low season – the hotel was practically empty! The lack of guests compared to the high number of staff did lend a slightly uncomfortable atmosphere, as if we were being closely watched by the waiters purely because they had so few guests to attend to. I have to say that everyone was extremely friendly, despite their limited English, but that still didn’t quite make up for the emptiness of the place. I enjoyed seeing the performance but I did feel sorry for the many local performers playing the gamelan and dancing in traditional costume, as I’m sure a small audience must be somewhat demotivating.
The next day we awoke to glorious sunshine. If like us you frantically check the weather of your destination for weeks beforehand, and if you see a weather report saying it will rain, it’s talking nonsense. We were predicted a week of rainy clouds, but didn’t see a drop of rain once, to our relief! A good, large buffet breakfast was served in the same restaurant as dinner the night before and seeing as I was to review the resort, we were then given a private tour around the hotel. We looked round a 84m² Mirage Suite and a Honeymoon Suite, as well as touring the rest of the facilities.
While everything in the resort is clean and nicely presented, I can’t help but feeling that the hotel looks a little tired. The bathrooms could do with an update, and a fresh lick of paint and some new furniture would go a long way towards improving the look and feel of the Club Bali Mirage. However when I looked at the price of the room, I understood that this is an absolute bargain for an all-inclusive beachfront resort, with all food, drinks and even alcohol included for just US $70 per night for two people (including 21% tax & service charge). For young families looking for a cheap getaway, or for backpackers wishing to splurge on a few nights of relative luxury by the beach, this resort would be a good option. The other advantage of this resort is that you can use most of the facilities/activities in their sister hotel, the 5* Grand Mirage, which is just next door, for free.
Having said that, we spent our two days at the Club Bali Mirage doing very little other than relaxing by the pool, swimming, reading our books and eating (a lot). And this is when we began to cherish the hotel being relatively empty – we had the pool practically to ourselves! No need to dodge children kicking, screaming and splashing, no loud pumping music – just lovely sunloungers, lovely staff bringing us unlimited drinks of our choice, a lovely empty pool to float around in, and lots and lots of lovely, much-needed sun. Imy and I both spend our weekdays in offices with very little time outside, so we lapped up our first opportunity of the summer to soak up the sun! Lunch was served in their poolside Kamboja restaurant and we realised that all-inclusive could quickly become quite addictive, there are simply too many dishes to choose from. I have to admit that Balinese food is pretty damn yummy, and their gelatin-like desserts are somewhat bemusing!
Feeling restored after a good 24 hours of doing very little and just relaxing (a very worthwhile activity in my book, as I’m sure any full-time worker will agree!) we showered off the day’s suncream and dressed for a Mongolian BBQ besides the pool. Despite the name, this stir-fry dish was actually created in Taiwan and has no relation to Mongolia nor a barbecue! Confused? As were we! However it turned out to be delicious, which is after all the most important thing. You grab a large bowl and choose a type of noodles, then all of the different salads/vegetables you fancy, before choosing which meat to add on top, and finally choosing the different seasoning, oils and sauces to add flavour. This bowl then goes direct to Mr Mongolian BBQ who throws your ingredients bit by bit onto a flat 300°C wok-like instrument. He works his magic and voilà! A few minutes later you are presented with your hand-selected Mongolian BBQ (ahem, Taiwanese stir-fry)! I did rather like the idea of it and it was a great alternative to another buffet. Dinner was accompanied by a female singer, who again gave me pangs of guilt for having to perform to such a small audience, and then with our tummies full we headed for an early bed. Nusa Dua isn’t the centre of nightlife in Bali so we chose to preserve our energy instead by catching up on sleep we’ve been overdue for many months.
We rose bright-eyed and bushy-tailed next day, ready to go snorkelling to the reef – one of the activities they offer included in their package. Unfortunately we were told it was postponed until the afternoon to allow the sea to settle a little, so that the visibility underwater was decent enough, but in the meantime we had to check out to move on to our next hotel, so we sadly missed that. After a couple of hours once again beside the pool, and after a stroll along the beach, we packed our bags and waved goodbye to Club Bali Mirage, as our transfer was waiting in the drive to transport us to our next destination… a whole 1 minute away! The next of our resorts was the Grand Mirage, the 5* sister hotel just next door!
Club Bali Mirage was definitely very relaxing in the daytime as we had it practically all to ourselves, although this same quietness meant it lacked atmosphere at night. I’d recommend this resort for a young family on a budget, but I do think it does need a bit of a renovation to do it justice. However the staff are so welcoming and friendly, I can’t fault them at all. One tiny complaint I would add is that the Wifi in the resort is very patchy and pretty slow, and although we received it free as part of our complimentary stay (thanks to my travel writing and this blog), normal guests need to pay 199,000 Indonesian Rupiah (equivalent to £10 or $16 for 24 hours of Wifi) which I think is a little extortionate. Free Wifi is a now offered as standard in hotels all around the world, so it seems a little cheeky to charge extra for a service that actually didn’t work that well.
It was the starting point for our tour of the range of all-inclusives available on the south-east of Bali, and have a read of my blog post about our next hotel, the 5* Grand Mirage resort!