While Bali was closed to tourists for 18 months owing to the pandemic, many things changed on the popular Indonesian island.
And, the international travellers making a beeline straight for its golden shores aren't the only new arrivals.
From Jumeirah’s first property in South-East Asia to a plush hotel nestled in the dense jungle of Ubud, as well as an upmarket resort offering serenity amid all the action of Seminyak, we check out three of the best new accommodation options to have opened since Covid-19.
Westin Resort & Spa Ubud, Bali
It almost felt like the jungle was reaching into our room. When I opened the curtains each morning at the Westin Resort & Spa Ubud, Bali, I met a towering wall of dense rainforest. As my family and I swam in the huge infinity pool, overlooking that same natural splendour, we half expected one of Ubud’s famous long-tailed macaques to swing from a coconut tree and plunge straight into the water next to us.
Although it’s a large resort, the Westin is embedded into the wilderness which attracts so many tourists to this hilly town. That spectacular jungle is visible from its chic lobby bar, its Tabia and Tall Trees restaurants and from many of its 120 rooms, suites and villas.
Westin’s entry-level deluxe rooms are a good size, at 49 square metres, with the garden view versions starting from Dh540 ($147) a night and pool view rooms from Dh615 ($167). The garden view balcony suite, at 65 square metres, starts at Dh670 ($182), while the 103-square-metre garden view large suite is Dh785 ($123) and the massive 244-square-metre Resort View Villa is Dh1,270 ($345).
All room rates include buffet breakfast at Tabia, which features an enormous range of cooked Western and Indonesian foods, fruits, fresh juices and a tempting array of baked goods. We also had a memorable dinner at Tabia, with tender seafood, delicious pasta and delicious desserts.
I worked off some of these calories by following my son as he raced around the children's club — one of the biggest and best equipped I’ve ever seen. Although I never did make use of the high-tech fitness centre, or its impressive Heavenly Spa by Westin, which offers many wellness and massage packages, I left feeling as relaxed and content as a macaque frolicking in the surrounding forest.
Jumeirah Bali, Uluwatu
As the sun set over the ocean beneath us, two dozen candles took over, illuminating the table and gourmet dinner prepared for my wife and I inside our villa at Jumeirah Bali, Uluwatu. This was not just a wonderfully romantic experience, it was one of the most exquisite meals of my life — king crab followed by foie gras, duck breast and sea bass.
It was elevated even higher by the opulent surroundings of our 210 square metre sunset villa, complete with a private pool, starting from Dh2,350 ($640) per night. From the exquisite hand-carved wooden furnishings in the lounge, bedroom and enormous bathroom, to the two 75-inch televisions and the outdoor pagoda beside our private pool, every aspect of our accommodation was grandiose.
This sprawling all-villa resort, which opened in April, is perfect for couples. It’s also tailor-made for families thanks to its private sandy beach, ocean-facing communal swimming pools and giant children's club.
Overlooking the beach is all-day dining restaurant Segaran, where we enjoyed breakfast cooked fresh to order and an Indonesian dinner of beef rendang and chicken satay. We were also treated to a three-course floating lunch in our villa, a fascinating Bayu Suci session with a Balinese martial artist and a sound healing treatment at the plush Talise Spa.
It should be no surprise Jumeirah Bali is a remarkable resort. This is, after all, the revered Emirati brand’s first foray into the South-East Asian market, so it was always going to be a showstopper.
Avani Seminyak Bali Resort
While my son and I swam in the private pool of our one-bedroom villa, all I could hear was his splashing and the sound of a gentle wind rustling in the nearby bushes. Yet, just 400 metres away is one of the main streets of Seminyak, arguably the busiest shopping and nightlife area in Bali, brimming with cafes, bars, restaurants, boutiques and market stalls.
This sense of peace is what sets Avani Seminyak Bali Resort apart from many other properties in this bustling area, which lies 30 minutes’ drive north of Ngurah Rai International Airport, on the island’s west coast. During my two previous stays in Seminyak, I found its energy a bit draining, as the noise of vehicular and human traffic bled into my hotel rooms.
But because Avani is tucked away down a lane, all of its 21 apartment suites and 16 private pool villas are at least 200 metres from the road. When we arrived at Avani, which opened in June 2021, my toddler son was immediately taken with its large, shaded swimming pool, and the children's club stocked with toys and play equipment.
On the way to our villa, we passed a small but functional gym and Avani’s open-air Groove restaurant and bar, which serves Indonesian favourites like gado gado salad, alongside hearty Western staples such as pasta and burgers. For breakfast, we ate nasi goreng fried rice topped with eggs, alongside platters of fruit and fresh juices, served in the spacious lounge room and kitchen of our villa.
The unique layout of Avani’s 150-square-metre pool villas uses the tropical plant-lined garden and pool to separate the bedroom and bathroom on one side from the lounge and fully equipped kitchen on the other. At just Dh460 ($125) per night, including breakfast, these huge villas are great value. So, too, are Avani’s apartment suites, which are Dh250 ($68) a night with breakfast.