Club Med Bali
It was an early Monday morning when we made our way to Auckland Airport to board our Virgin Australia flight for an 0800 departure. The best choice that we made on this day was Skyway Valet Parking - parking at the terminal doors is just what a girl needs when getting up at 5 AM! Check in line was long but smooth flowing. Yummy breakfast and onboard for an on-time departure from Auckland.
Before boarding we had downloaded the Virgin Australia Entertainment App so were all set. The system is a great idea and I can see it catching on with other airlines - the only thing missing - USB charging abilities. No meals served and none expected, so after a pretty standard flight we arrived in Sydney.
Our first stop - charging station. With no inflight entertainment for the next leg to Bali we were desperate to have as much power as possible. Sydney Airport offer free WiFi so the App was loaded to our phones so that we had back up should the tablets fail us.
On-board for our next leg with Virgin, entertainment screening and fairly average plane meal provided.
Upon arrival in Denpasar we were greeted with the line of all lines. We waited for around 20 minutes to be granted our visitor visas (US$25) and then we joined the immigration line. This line was absurd - we were there for approx. 2 hours. There were empty counters available but appeared to be no additional staff to man them.
Once we cleared we were met at the airport by Club Med transport who promptly whisked us to our transfer vehicles and we were off.
After only travelling to Bali 2 years ago I thought I knew what to expect but things have come a long way. There are new highways heading to Nusa Dua, the Airport has been completely renovated and the city looks like it has had some real growth.
On arrival at Club Med we were met by the lovely Jodi who gave us a brief introduction to the resort and showed us to our rooms - after our lengthy travel everyone was looking forward to a comfy chair and a tall drink!
Our rooms were air conditioned, modern and clean. After a quick freshen up we were off to the bar! The best thing about Club Med - A L L I N C L U S I V E. Yep everything. Cocktails, mocktails, beer, wine, food, snacks, entertainment. After a few drinks with our group the time difference kicked in (or the mojitos) and we were off to bed.
After waking on Tuesday morning we headed straight to the buffet breakfast - food for miles - continental, American, Korean, Chinese, Danishes anything that you could think of. Filled to the brim and off to morning one of our conference.
After emerging from our meeting room at midday I found the Mister lounging by the pool sipping on mojitos - of course I had to join him! We then headed off for a massage at one of the local businesses (something every traveller has to experience) with a 1 hour massage being a minimal cost of IDR90,000 (NZ$10) - it’s not a luxury spa, but I can’t think of a better way to spend $10!
We did a wee bit of shopping but had an ‘appointment' with the adults only Zen Pool back at Club Med that we weren’t going to miss! The Zen Pool is just that - zen. It is quiet, private, made for couples and singles alike with double hanging lounges that swing in the warm breeze, single loungers poolside, couches - it’s a must have experience. There are staff on hand with fresh towels and non-alcoholic beverages. My only gripe is the non-alcoholic portion of this - while it is designed to keep the Zen it would have made my day to sit in the swinging lounger sipping a glass of bubbles!
The evening meal was another 'not to be missed' moment - another huge buffet with more cultural stations - beef wellington, prawn dumplings, chicken with blueberry sauce - it was almost filling just looking around. Dessert was just as sumptuous even set up with an ice-cream stand! We headed back to the bar for a couple of drinks to discuss the topics of the day - best shopping spot, massage recommendations and the likes. Another early night as the time difference was still paying a role.
Another morning, another buffet. While still delicious things everywhere I managed to restrict myself to just an omelette - don’t want to go homes as a donut! Back into our meeting room for the morning to discuss the matters of the world!
Lunch time rolled around and we were freed from our shackles. Off down to Bali Collections for a spot of shopping - a 15 minute walk or a IDR20,000 (NZ$2) taxi - in 35 degree heat we were in our taxi without a doubt! Bali Collections is a ‘mall’ with actual stores rather than the market stalls that are at most shopping areas in Bali and I have to say it was a nice change to be in and out of air-conditioning. A few purchases and then in the cab and back for another massage - we had sore feet! Another dip and relax down at the Zen Pool and it was dinner time already - where had the time gone! Dinner tonight was at The Deck restaurant - visually this is the most beautiful restaurant I have ever been to. With sofa seating sunk down so you are level with the pool, water features, amazing lighting it was breathtaking on arrival. The menu is seafood based which sadly isn't for me however dessert made up for it! With this being our last night in Bali we headed over to the nightclub where the DJ was setting up. Another few drinks (do you see a theme here) and more catching up and we had used up our last night.
Our third morning in Bali was ‘free time’ so we headed to breakfast to catch up with everyone’s plans and then headed off to paddle boarding - I had done a lot better than I had expected, to be honest the expectations were low! Kayaks & snorkelling were also available and included in your room cost. After our exercise for the day we spent our last afternoon soaking up just a little more Zen.
We were headed to the airport at 6 PM so packed our bags and bid farewell to our room. We stopped in for a quick bite of tapa’s at The Deck - another new concept for the resort. this was a lovely stop - tiny little appetisers before we headed off for our transfer to the airport. This shows the angle that Club Med are heading - it was upmarket, quiet and something a little bit special.
On arrival at Denpasar Airport we were surprised by the amount of security. To enter the airport all bags are x-rayed. Upon check in we were told that the flight wasn’t too full so we had high hopes of having a bit more space! More security checks, customs and we were greeted by an international standard of airport - plenty of food options available. There is very limited seating available as clearly the airport is still be completed. We passed through the last security check at the departure gate and boarded our bus down to the aircraft.
On-board we were all set with our charged tablets, spare seat beside us and knowing that a meal was coming soon. The meal on this flight was below average so I settled in with my caramel corn and watched some inflight entertainment. On arrival in Sydney we had prepared ourselves for a 4 hour layover - from 6 AM till 10 AM. On arrival it was a ghost town, the terminal slowly filled up with the hustle expected in Sydney as we slept in our row of chairs that we had been guarding all morning. Coffee, toast and a pizza and we were back on our last leg home.
Another smooth flight and arrival into what felt like a very cold Auckland afternoon. Another blessing on arrival - valet parking!
On reflection this was a very different experience to my last Bali trip - being in Club Med is like being in a bubble of sorts. To experience the culture and feeling of the city then an escape to town is definitely necessary as inside the resort it really is an experience of Club Med itself. Local food, local people are a necessity to a real travel experience!
Who would I recommend travel to Club Med Bali? I think it is definitely a family, group or conference focussed. Travelling with kids - absolutely ideal! Couples travel is something that the 'new' Club Med is focusing on and you can see sparks of this with the new dining options, Zen Pool and smaller tables in the main restaurant so it will be great to see how it takes shape once the renovation is complete.
Lowlight - to be honest there isn’t one, the layover time in Sydney wasn’t ideal but beggars couldn’t be choosers. The highlight of my trip - it’s a toss up between the cheap massages, never ending cocktails and the overall Club Med all inclusive experience!