Part 1 here
After a week in busy Legian, we headed to Tanjung Benoa for a week at the Novotel Bali Benoa. We had stayed at the Novotel the previous year and thoroughly enjoyed, so a return visit was in order. I know a lot of people think that the TB/ND area is a bit boring but I quite enjoy it. There’s enough to keep you interested but without a lot of the hassles involved around the Kuta/Legian area.
Last year we stayed in a beautiful family suite on the beach side of the resort. This year, due to self-imposed austerity measures, we opted for a deluxe room on the garden side of the resort. The deluxe rooms are pretty much the run of house rooms but still quite nicely appointed. They let you have 2 adults and 2 children in these rooms. There was not a lot of room when all 4 of us were in the room, but we knew this would be the case (again).
I am unabashed fan of this hotel and would recommend it for families in particular. We booked the room when it came on sale during the Accor sale. The room worked out to about $80 per night which included breakfast as well. This is ridiculously cheap for this resort when I was paying anywhere between $20 - $45 for breakfast when we were eating out in Legian and Seminyak. If you wanted more room for the family you can get a family room (garden side about $200/night) or a family suite (beach side upwards of $250/night).
I like the idea of not having to leave the resort unless you really had to. We’d done a bit of shopping and a few trips the previous week so I was hoping to just get into a nice holiday routine. I like to go for a walk in the mornings, so most mornings I’d walk down the beach path to Nusa Dua before heading back for breakfast. The breakfast is always a great spread. My only disappointment this year was that the almond croissants didn’t make an appearance during the week we were there (first world problem). The hotel has 3 swimming pools – the main pool beside the beach, a designated quiet pool like a lap pool on the garden side as well as another pool with a swim up bar on the garden side. We split our time between the main pool and the pool with the swim up bar. We didn’t even entertain the thought of going to the quiet pool as we’d get the stink eye just walking past it with the kids.
They hotel has a free kids club which our kids went to a few times and enjoyed. There are also other activities organised by the staff for kids and adults alike – pool comp, basket making, aquarobics. They also offer tours to the local markets and village. I grabbed a bicycle for a few hours and went for a ride around the streets of Tanjung Benoa away from the tourist strip of Jl Pratama. I found it very interesting to see what goes on only a street or 2 away from the resorts.
As stated, I was pretty content do as little as possible for the week. The reality when travelling with young kids is somewhat different to the expectation. However, it was a very quiet week all things considered. We managed to fit in a few spas. My wife and I went to the Thalasso Spa at the Grand Mirage for a couples massage. I was hoping to have the aquamedic spa but the pool wasn’t working. The massage wasn’t cheap but it was lovely. We also enjoyed the Tropic Spa across the road from Thalasso which was a mid priced set up but I had the best massage of our trip there. After the week of shopping in Legian, we weren’t really interested in doing much more but a painting in a shop caught my wife’s eye. To describe it, it sounds ridiculous but it is like 5 partridges in a big tree. The woman at the shop said they could do any colours we wanted. My wife asked for the tree to be red to match some of the interior of our house. It ended up being purple but is a lovely reminder of our holiday.
We went on 2 trips during this week. We booked a trip to Turtle Island through a tour stand on the street. The boat stopped for some snorkelling out the front of the Ramada. There was also a group doing the underwater walk next to us. The current was quite strong but there were quite a few fish and saw a few eels as well. Enjoyed this bit. Then went around to Turtle Island. Anchored a long way off shore and waded in. We were greeted by a guide on the way into the facility and I immediately began to feel uneasy about the trip. There were mainly Chinese tourists there. The guide started bagging Chinese people which I felt uneasy about, but the kids were keen to see the turtles and other animals. We had a look through the hatchery and then went down to the sea water enclosures where the really big turtles are kept. As we walked down there this fat guy lay down on a turtle while his friend took a picture. Without thinking I yelled at him to get off. The guide told him not to do it anymore. In the next instant they reversed roles and the guy previously taking photos laid down on the turtle. I had to walk off as I was really cranky. I walked up the back and saw a few animals, then one of the staff pulled out a big python for a photo opp. I didn’t notice but my wife told me later that it had it mouth sticky taped shut. I’d seen enough and went and sat in the café out the front while the kids looked at the other animals. I would not recommend going to Turtle Island, but each to their own. I may have gone on a bad day and it was more the behaviour of others that set me off. The enclosures are clean but a bit small. The other trip was not really a trip but a half day on Mengiat Beach at Nusa Dua. We grabbed a few chairs and umbrellas and went swimming for a few hours. The water was nice and clean but the sand takes a bit of getting used to. The warung on the beach sells a good variety of food and they’ll bring drinks over to you on the beach. It was Gabbyo’s blog that inspired me to visit there and I’m glad we did. There was a bride and groom on the beach getting photos taken. The brides dress must have cost a bundle. I think they were Russian, only because everyone else on the beach was Russian.
A quick summary of the restaurants and bars we visited:
Nusa Dua Sports Bar and Grill – at Peninsula Bay Resort – watched the Hawthorn v Crows semi-final here. Not a bad place for footy and drinks. Food was standard fare and not too expensive for a resort bar.
Luthus at Sanur – wnet over to Sanur for a look as I hadn’t been there for over 20 years. Loved Luthus on the beach. Enjoyed Sanur and have booked a week there next January. Also had a bite to eat at Smorgas Café in Sanur – it was OK but the kids were driving me nuts so this probably clouded my judgement.
La Lorraine, Luna Bonita – both on Jl Pratama and interchangeable as they are very similar. Good food good prices.
The Tree Pub – good cold beer. Had dinner for 11 here and was very nice.
Seafood buffet at the Novotel – lovely food. Kids ate free so price was quite reasonable.
Hanabi Japanese restaurant at Bali Collection. – Had lunch here one day. Good Japanese food. Typical Bali Collection prices. Good sushi if you are in the area and feel like sushi.
Uno Italian restaurant at Bali Collection– nice pizza and pasta.
Atlichnaya Bar – just down the road from the Novotel. A very friendly little bar. They put your beer bottle in an ice bucket. Cheap cocktails and cheap bar food. They also give you peanuts . I remember this at the old pubs on Jl Legian back in the 80’s (Casablanca, the Pub). The owners wife also has a cheap spa and laundry out the back. The only dvd’s ever played were Santana and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Wanted to visit but didn’t for various reasons: Mead’s, Tao, Sakala, La Scala, Watermark, Bumbu Bali. All of these are in TB, so there’s plenty of choices.
All in all I achieved what I had hoped to do for the week – not much.
One more to follow