Bali Honeymoon: Cathay First, Four Seasons Ubud, St. Regis Bali

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by dkelly1110, May 19, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    This trip report is long overdue, but better late than never. I have the first few parts written and have tons of photos up in an album on Picasa. I will cherry pick the best ones and paste them over here.

    Quick Summary
    1. LGA-YYZ Positioning flight
    2. CX F: YYZ-HKG
    3. Two nights in W Hong Kong
    4. CX J: HKG-DPS
    5. Four Seasons Ubud
    6. St. Regis Bali
    7. CX J/F: DPS-HKG
    8: CX F: HKG-YYZ
    9. YYZ-EWR Home
     
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  2. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    LGA-YYZ Positioning Flight

    We were happy that we decided to leave the following day after our wedding. It gave us the opportunity to get out of town quickly after the brunch on Sunday morning. The trip from the Marriott on Long Island to LaGuardia is a quick one. As we were on the ramp near Citi Field, I get an email from Air Canada. This couldn't be good. And it wasn’t. Our flight was cancelled. Thank god, they had rebooked us on next the flight about an hour later to Toronto. Who knows why, but my guess was the two flights each were not sold out and AC felt they could combine everybody. When I booked the positioning flights, I gave us plenty of buffer until our Cathay flight at 1:30am. (Also, took my mom’s always smart advice of never booking the last flight of the day.) Fortunately, it all worked out. We made to YYZ, got our bags, and got to the Cathay counter almost an hour before it opened. Thankfully, the airport has free wi-fi and we caught up on email and news from the last 48 hours.
     
  3. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    The counter had a dedicated lane for each class of service. The economy line was growing as we waited, but as you can imagine with a cabin of only six pax, the F line was non-existent. When the Cathay agents started to show up, another F pax got in line and we followed. In typical fashion for an Asian airline, the agents started with all the F pax before calling anyone from the business class line. We were checked in, with bags checked and ready to start the honeymoon. The agent asked if we wanted lounge passes for YYZ as well if wanted to passes to the Arrivals Lounge in HKG for, well, our arrival. We said yes, of course and made our way to the KLM lounge. The lounge itself was nothing particularly fantastic. There was a separate room for F pax, so we availed ourselves and took control of a corner, watched some TV, snacked (knowing better food was to come onboard), and relaxed until boarding was called sometime around 12:45am. As we made it down to the gate, our 777 was waiting for us, we got on the end of the pre-boarding line when one of the gate agents walked down looking for F pax, when we spoke up, they immediately took us to the front of the line, scanned our BPs and we walked down the jetway and made our way onboard via door 1L.

    This was our first long-haul premium redemption, and now, 2 days into our marriage, I have spoiled by wife for life :)
    We settle into 1D and 1K (across the aisle from one another), and after take off, change into our Shanghai Tang PJs. It’s now 2am NYC time and we are exhausted, but you can bet that we are going to stay up for the full CX meal experience. The FAs set up the table extension so that we can dine across from one another in 1K. Standard CX dinner, as many have detailed so I won’t go into that again but suffice it to say, the caviar is incredible and my glass of Krug was never empty. The wine list wasn’t particularly notable, but I did try the Sauvignon Blanc and it was quite nice. The rest of the meal was an exercise in FL350 fine dining with a salad, appetizer, entree, and dessert. When we finished eating, it was time to get some sleep. The Cathay F seat is really a dream: it folds fully flat, and the FA will make the bed for you anytime you ask. There is a pad they put on the flat seat for extra comfort. Once I was able to get comfy, I watched some movies on StudioCX and fell asleep. Waking up about 4 hours later, having no idea what time it was, I decided to order some Hagaan Daaz, well, just because. I put another movie on and went back to sleep. We woke up about 3 hours outside HKG and had a fantastic Cathay breakfast ordering pretty much everything on the menu before changing out of those PJs as the pilots began the descent into HKG.
    Upon our arrival, we went through immigration, collected our luggage (first off with those priority tags) and headed to customs. Everything went smoothly and we went directly to the Arrivals Lounge for a quick shower only to discover that the lounge doesn’t open until 5am. We only had 15 minutes to kill, but once inside, took quick showers, had a little extra breakfast, and checked email while waiting about 20 minutes until the first Airport Express train to Kowloon was to depart.

    When staying at the W Hong Kong, or the Ritz-Carlton in the neighboring ICC, the definitely easiest and likely fastest way from the airport is using the Airport Express. Compared to trains here in the Northeast Corridor, what a way to travel! [​IMG]
     
  4. hotelsallover

    hotelsallover Silver Member

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    Interesting report so far,looking forward to the rest.
     
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  5. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Congratulations on the wedding and honeymoon! Enjoying the read so far...

    Now that you are married and have had a taste of CX F, assuming you are the points junkie in your relationship, you've just set yourself a high bar for future travel! ;)

    We never outgrow Mom's advice.
     
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  6. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    Two nights in W Hong Kong
    The virtues of SPG Cash and Points awards has been detailed numerous times here before, and the W HK was a great use for them. As we walked through the Elements Mall (with not much open around 7am local time) we made our way to the side entrance of the W. We didn’t expect the room to be ready and it predictably was not. As an SPG Gold on an award stay, there was not an upgrade to be had (nor expected frankly). In the interim, the check in agents told us that we more than welcome to use the pool and gym facilities. Since we had slept on the plane and arrived in HKG so early, we took up their offer. The gym was nice and relatively quiet - I got a chuckle at the fact that I can watch SportsCenter at the gym on the other side of the world just as easy as I can here in New York. The rooftop pool provided a great view of Kowloon, but unfortunately the ICC now blocks the great view of Central that the hotel previously had. Alas, looking up one of the tallest buildings in the world was pretty impressive nonetheless.

    Around 10, the room still was not available, but we decided it was time to start exploring the city. We took the Star Ferry across to central and decided to take the Big Bus Tour of Hong Kong. It can be kind of cheesy, but we thought it was a good way to see the major highlights of the city in a short amount of time. Along the way, we saw the major highlights which included a stop at Stanley Market. We were so caught up that we ended up having to wait for the next Big Bus to come around in more than hour. Oops. Anyway, we are tried-and-true New Yorkers, we can handle public transportation, so we studied a map - and figured out that we had to take this particular bus, get off down there and hop back on the MTR. Well, it could not have worked out better, and we made it back.

    The room was ready and 2608 was just fine for our needs. We had a good view of the working harbor, not the celebrated Victoria Harbor, but we knew that coming in and were not saddened in the least. I had arranged with the concierge prior to our arrival to have some rose petals and champagne and strawberries in the room set up and that was done perfectly. They also gave us a small W teddy bear that my wife loved. (Nevermind the CX F, honey, it’s the little things).


    On the second day, we took the MTR across to central and found our way to the Peak. It was a cloudy day unfortunately, but we still had a cool perspective on the city. Back in Kowloon, we also hit the Ladies Market where my new bride picked up some “designer” goods on the cheap. We had breakfast in the restaurant Kitchen at the W, which had an incredibly expansive breakfast daily. I honestly forget the cost, but it truly wasn’t outrageous. We would definitely go up for seconds with no problems - and the omelette chef was most accommodating. (However stay tuned for the breakfast to top all breakfasts when we get to Bali).

    As for eating in Hong Kong, it really is one of the best places in the world for food. We had dinner with a former co-worker who now lives and works in HK. He took us to an authentic tea house where we let him order off the menu (since it was totally in Chinese) and enjoyed most things. For lunches, we did our best to have even more dim sum and fantastic food throughout the city. There was one place that came highly recommended by the tour books and also made an appearance on Tony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Indeed, they took no reservations and the line for breakfast/lunch was more than 90 minutes. We just couldn’t justify standing around and waiting for most of the morning so we had to pass. Definitely next time we are in HK though! Our second dinner was actually in the hotel restaurant where my wife’s bridesmaids had planned ahead and gotten us a gift for dinner there. Its name was Sing Yin and it was very good - not at all like a typical hotel restaurant. Probably a little expensive relative to a non-hotel restaurant, but we enjoyed it regardless. Honestly, jet lag was beginning to catch up with us, but we were determined to tough it out on our last night in HK. Thankfully our destination was just next door. We walked to the ICC and took the elevator to 118th (!) Floor and drank at the world’s highest bar. Ozone (how apt) was pretty damn impressive. Unfortunately, due to the weather, the outside portion was not open and the views from inside were overwhelmed by the clouds. On a warm, clear night, I would have a hard time thinking of a better place for a drink.
     
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  7. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    A nice read! Looking forward to the rest.
     
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  8. mrredskin
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    mrredskin Gold Member

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    hey, get back on here and finish the report, dangit!

    i, too, am planning the USA-DPS via HKG route next year, altho on Star.

    it won't be baller status like you at 4Seasons and St Regis, however.
     
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  9. TRAVELSIG
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    TRAVELSIG Gold Member

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    Really wonderful trip report.

    I am looking forward to the Ubud part particularly!

    Thanks.
     
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  10. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    I hope your wonderful trip report will continue!:)
     
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  11. TravelMusing

    TravelMusing Gold Member

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    Enjoyed the trip report! Looking forward to the rest of the report!
     
  12. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    (Sorry for the delays folks: life getting in the way of fun writing, but I will try to have one update a day to finish this up.)

    CX HKG-DPS
    As I touched on earlier, the Airport Express train is really pretty amazing. Heading back to HKG, one of the great aspects is the ability to check bags and check in for the flight directly at the originating station (in our case Kowloon) and then head right to security, and of course, a lounge. Immigration was a breeze and since our flight was departing out one of the gates down the concourse, we decided to have breakfast at The Cabin, the newest of the CX lounges.

    The Cabin is in an interesting location - down the stairs from gate 14 - providing a nice view of all the activity on tarmac. It is not the biggest space in the world, had a self-serve buffet as well as a counter where one could have omelettes and the like made on the spot. There was adequate seating throughout as well as an area directly against the glass with great views of airport operations (with plenty of seats and outlets).

    HKG-DPS is marketed as 2-class service only, but it is sometimes served by a Cathay 3-cabin 747 where some passengers, usually CX Marco Polo Club elites or those ticketed with incoming or ongoing F segments get to sit in the first class seats but get business-class service. Unfortunately, we got the short end of the stick this time and the flight was serviced by an older 2-cabin 777 with regional business class in lieu of the nice lie-flats. Maybe on the return...

    Look, it’s hard to be disappointed when you’re flying to Bali on your honeymoon, but this was our worst segment of our trip. The seats were old. There is no way around it. Seating is 2-2-2 across the cabin in business class. Our flight was scheduled to depart about 11am, but due to bad weather in HKG, we didn’t take off until nearly 1pm. Once airborne, the service was average but the meal was subpar. As they like to say, first world problems, but roasted chicken on the bone just isn’t caviar and Krug.

    It’s just a four hour flight from Hong Kong down to Denpasar and after I watched a quick movie (on the smaller business class screen not the beautiful 14-inch monitor in F), the flight attendants were preparing the cabin for arrival. Getting off the plane quickly was an advantage because as citizens of the US, we had to obtain visas on arrival. As we proceeded through Indonesian immigration and customs, the lines for visas got longer. This is definitely one of the places where getting off the plane first was a great advantage.

    We had pre-arranged with an independent driver to pick us up from the airport as well as act as our guide for 2 days later in the trip (more to come on that!). We gathered our bags, met him and headed out to the car and towards Ubud. Traffic in Bali can be terrible. The roads aren’t great to begin with and there is the ubiquitous motorbike - the predominant mode of transportation for locals - zigging and zagging in traffic clogging things up. Once out of the Denpasar area, things clear up a little bit but the roads narrow into one lane. After a solid 90-minute drive, we pulled up to the Four Seasons Ubud - our first stop in paradise.
     
  13. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Fantastic! Keep it going! Thanks for sharing!:)
     
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  14. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Looking forward to hearing about the hotel experiences.
     
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  15. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Me too!:)
     
  16. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    :cool: trip report.
    Thanks.
     
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  17. TRAVELSIG
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    Me three!
     
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  18. mrredskin
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    mrredskin Gold Member

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    forget life - back to Bali reporting! :D

    did you happen to look back in coach? i might do a OW HKG-DPS to connect my *A open-jaw but not too concerned with F or J on that one segment
     
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  19. Price123

    Price123 Silver Member

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    Great report - I know how long these things take to write so thanks for doing it. Looking forward to the rest. Bali is on the bucket list but other places keep coming above it - Vietnam, Malaysia, Borneo...
     
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  20. sobore
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    Great report! The Hong Kong food mention made me hungry! ;)
     
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  21. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    (I know, way behind, but here we go...)
    (Also, will add photos when I get back home) Pictures Added finally!

    Four Seasons Bali at Sayan and Ubud
    As we get to the main event, first some quick background. We booked through Four Seasons Preferred Partner and Milepointer (or least Flyertalker) DavidO. With that program, we were able to get the best rates available on the Four Seasons website along with some added bonuses that booking through that channel can provide - namely, space available upgrade at check-in (I believe in upgrade queue above FHR and Virtuoso bookings), spa credit, and breakfast. We booked the trip almost a year out, and the promotions for our time period were not available yet, however, when the stay 3-get 1 free night promo rolled around for our dates, David was able to change the reservation to take advantage. We used David again for another trip in February and recommend him fully (plus you get fantastic Virtuoso magazines every month for inspiring destinations).
    Now that the administrative details are out of the way, let me sum up our stay at the Four Seasons as simply amazing. Admittedly, we arrived with high expectations and I can say without hesitation, that they were met. The entrance to the resort is fairly dramatic, as you walk across a bridge over the river valley and then descend a flight of stairs to the main lobby. As soon as we checked in, we were recognized by name and we were given cool towels and drinks while going through the brief check-in process with the GM herself while seated in the open-air lobby which overlooks the Sayan River flowing below. Our luggage was loaded into a golf cart, and we hopped in as well for the quick drive to our riverfront villa.
    Down about 10 stairs is the entrance, which then opens to an open-air sitting room that flows through to the private pool area. This area has a full set of table and chairs where we chose to have our breakfast each morning, as well as two lounge chairs. Inside, the bedroom is large with a desk on one side, with a huge king bed with a dramatic netting above it. During nightly turndown service, the netting is unfurled and the curtains looking out to the private pool are closed. The bathroom without exaggeration is three to four times the size of our NYC apartment bathroom. It had a soaking tub, glass-enclosed rain shower, double sinks and a full dressing room. It was a very well-appointed room.
    The grounds of the property are no less impressive. Off the top of my head, I would venture that there were about 25 villas in addition to the rooms and suites in the low-rise main building. Each villa was private - the only thing two neighboring villas shared was a golf cart stop and path before splitting towards their respective stairways. A walk from the villa (notably shorter than a golf cart ride) got us back to the main building where the spa, gym and restaurant were located, along the lobby and its accompanying bar. Continuing past the lobby takes one to the pool area where a smaller restaurant lies along with a small- to medium-sized infinity-edge pool overlooking the Sayan River that runs through the resort. Every so often, and certainly not to an annoyance, a group of rafters paddling by would garner a wave hello. There were certainly enough lounge chairs for any guests who wanted to sit poolside along with attentive servers who would bring bottled water at no charge. Cocktails were also available along with with nibble-worthy snacks. For lunch on our pool days, we ate at the tables alongside the pool.
    On our first night, the hotel was running its once-weekly poolside feast featuring local Balinese dishes. We simply had to call the concierge and choose a time - easy as that. It really was a great treat on night one in Bali. The food was full of flavor and the waitstaff was attentive without being overbearing. As part of the FSPP benefits, breakfast was included each morning. We had the option of going to the hotel’s restaurant, or ordering the night before and having breakfast delivered to the villa at a specified time. The breakfast delivery was truly fantastic - we could order anything off the menu and it was delivered on-time and hot. The options included American-style offerings as well as a typical Balinese breakfast featuring a kind of dark porridge that was tasty.
    Another night, I had arranged with the hotel to have a private dinner at the end of the walkway that doubles as the entry bridge. It abuts a lily pond and overlooks the Sayan River valley below. The dinner was three courses with three choices for each course along with a bottle of wine (which was quite a treat considering we avoided wine due to the exorbitant cost of imported alcohol). Everything was indeed delicious. It turned out better than I could have hoped, perfect romance for our honeymoon.
    I will save the details of our temple tours for the next installment of this report, but will say that the surrounding area - that is the town of Ubud - is certainly worth exploring. It serves as the cultural capital of Bali compared to the beach areas of Seminyak and Nusa Dua. Many of the shops in town sold locally made goods particularly wood carvings, paintings, and silver jewelry. However, on our temple tours, the driver took us to the villages best known for each of the particular arts. We picked up some wood carvings as well as a hand-painted picture to bring home. Alas, the John Hardy headquarters which we tried to visit was by appointment only - plan ahead if that is a must-see. We ate dinner in town for two nights and also had two spa treatments. One was prearranged and one was spur of the moment on a rainy morning. The pre-arranged treatment was at a spa in town called Bali Bontanica which was excellent. The treatments here considerably(!) less expensive than at the resort, and just as good. We had a treatment consisting of massage plus a chakra dhara (pictures here) for the equivalent of about $75 each (FX rate at the time, even cheaper now). The other spa had fewer amenities and was not quite as luxurious, but for a regular massage was a great deal for the service.
    As I said earlier, we had high expectations for the property, and can say without hesitation, they were met. The level of service provided by the staff was superb, the location was truly beautiful, and the amenities were top-notch. Wholeheartedly recommended.

    Entry to resort. Private dinner was at the end of the walkway (where other people are standing)
    [​IMG]


    Backyard. View from Bedroom sliding doors
    [​IMG]

    Different backyard perspective.[​IMG]River and pool.[​IMG]
    Bed
    [​IMG]
     
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  22. LTabi

    LTabi Silver Member

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    Nice trip report, I was in HK last month and the Peak was awesome at night. It was super crowded but so worth it :)
     
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  23. dkelly1110
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    dkelly1110 Silver Member

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    St. Regis Bali
    Jumping a little out of order here but just so I can get the hotel review out there. The St. Regis Bali ranks highly among the aspirational SPG properties and there are not too many reviews on MilePoint.
    First a comment on the location. The St. Regis is indeed located in Nusa Dua, which I think gets a bad rap from many travelers. Indeed, Nusa Dua is not the “real Bali.” It is not where you will find temples and monkeys and waterfalls. It is however, where you will find the St. Regis with all of the expected amenities one expects. It also has perhaps the best aspect of Bali - the great people who are always going out of their way to ensure that you have a great stay at their hotel - no matter what the name on the door says. We felt that all of the St. Regis staff were exceptional.
    There are numerous types of rooms available - ranging from suites in the main building to the renowned oceanfront Strand Villas. We opted for the Lagoon Villa which was a standalone villa featuring a large master bedroom, master bath with separate shower and tub and dual sinks, an enormous living room with dining table, a 2nd half-bath, and an incredible amount of outdoor space. Three sets of sliding-glass doors led to the back deck area that had two lounge chairs, a table, an outdoor shower, a not-so-small private pool, a bale (Balinese gazebo with pillows and cushions for seating), and a private entrance to the large Lagoon Pool. The villa was larger than our NYC apartment - and frankly it wasn’t close. I’ve attached some pictures below.
    Breakfast was included in every room rate. Breakfast was truly exceptional - everything you can imagine was available - from Wagyu beef and eggs to a lobster omelette, from sushi to a full dim sum. Another great feature of the property was the spa - the rate that we were able to obtain included a spa treatment for two each day. Initially we thought that this may be a little excessive - and okay, perhaps it was, but knowing we were able to have a massage every day makes waking up in paradise even a little bit better. Because a full body massage was in fact a little too much, we alternated between full body and a special hand and foot massage for the duration of our stay.
    Ocean swimming isn’t really a popular endeavor in Bali, so the pools are a big feature. The St. Regis’ pools were spectacular. In addition to the backyard pool, we had direct access to the Lagoon, which was absolutely enormous and allowed us to practically swim from one end of the resort to another. There was another pool closer to the beach which features the great view that is featured on many SPG membership cards.
    The St. Regis is without a doubt a pure luxury experience. Many will say that you could pick this property up and put it anywhere in the world and not know the difference. While that is a fair comparison, I think the service and the hospitality that the hotel staff gives make it a worthwhile place to stay in Bali.
     
  24. loungebuddy

    loungebuddy Active Member

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    Thanks for this report. I've always wanted to visit! Both the Four Seasons and St. Regis sound like amazing properties!
     
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