“May I clean your sunglasses, madam?
When I walked toward the sunloungers surrounding the Oberoi’s main pool, an attendant sprang toward the nearest vacant chair, covered it with a fresh white towel and placed a box of complimentary sunscreen, bottled water and a mister on the stand next to the umbrella. I fished my novel out of the string beach bag supplied in our room, read for a few minutes and promptly dozed off in the luxuriant sauna-like heat to the sound of the surf beating on Seminyak Beach. However the evident sorry state of my eyewear was cause for concern by the Oberoi’s highly attentive staff. No sooner were my Ray Bans returned to pristine condition than another attendant came around with grilled vegetables on skewers for all of us poolside layabouts, in case the exertion of turning over and applying sunscreen had rendered us famished a whole two hours after a sumptuous breakfast in the hotel restaurant.
My husband and I arrived at the Oberoi at around 10:00 AM. Knowing we were too early to check in, we were hoping to simply leave our bags at the counter and take a stroll through the boutiques of Seminyak. The front office staff were so horrified at their “mistake,” however, that they insisted on plying us with delicious nonalcoholic mojitos in the entrance hall until our room was put together, even though we kept protesting that it was no problem and we were well aware we were early.
After we were escorted through the beautiful parklike grounds to our room, the staff member showed us around the Lanai room. We had an immense marble bathroom with a sunken tub, a large armoire a king-sized bed, television, sitting area, and a private patio surrounded by stone walls and flowering hibiscus and heliconia. Best of all was the small courtyard garden off the bathroom – a lush tropical jungle surrounding a mossy stone carving we nicknamed “Stitch” for his resemblance to the Disney character.
In addition to the beach bag, the hotel supplied slippers, thick robes, insect repellent (which we didn’t need) complimentary bottles of water and bath salts and scented candles that were replaced at the slightest use. Plates of fresh fruit were brought in every morning, along with the International Herald Tribune.
As we settled in to the room I discovered next to the “no tipping” sign a lovely handwritten note from the manager apologizing profusely for the “delay” in our room availability. I’ve saved it and have it pinned to my bulletin board at home so I can look wistfully at it every time I’m put on hold or treated rudely by a business.
My fiftieth birthday fell during our stay. I had studied my guidebook and the Internet (the hotel offers complimentary wi-fi on the grounds and fee-based wi-fi inside the rooms), but couldn’t find a restaurant that seemed as attractive as the Oberoi’s, so we booked there for my birthday dinner. As we were sipping cocktails in the open-air bar prior to the meal, I suddenly realized that because we were on the opposite side of the International Date Line from my birthplace in the United States, I was technically not yet fifty. After the second giant coconut-shell drink, however, I decided that the Oberoi made aging one day faster well worth it.
My birthday dinner, as well as several others we ate at the hotel, was sublime. They have marvelous Japanese as well as Indonesian cuisine, and the sashimi was absolutely first-rate. I’m not easy to satisfy in that regard as my Seattle home is blessed with some of the world’s best seafood, but the Oberoi more than exceeded my exacting standards. I would have liked to have had more wine with the dinners, but it is breathtakingly expensive on Bali (everywhere we looked, not the Oberoi’s doing) so we settled for an “interesting” Balinese chardonnay one night and then stuck to the excellent Bintang beer.
When we returned to the room after my birthday dinner we discovered that the hotel had sent a cake and an immense bouquet of flowers with a card wishing my happy birthday. The cake, made of a sort of passionfruit crème, was delicious, by the way.
The Oberoi is conveniently located for exploring the Seminyak area on foot, and we enjoyed poking around the nearby shops. We also walked next door to the Ku de Ta nightclub for drinks and music and to watch the sunset and the people. No noise from the nightclub or any of the activities on nearby Kuta Beach filtered back to the Oberoi, however, which remained a hushed haven day and night.
One day we had the concierge book a car and driver to take us to the Pura Tanah Lot temple about 45 minutes away. We had a great morning there, and the driver was helpful and knowledgeable. Being fairly quiet types we were especially appreciative that he did not try to take us on detours to shops, as we were put off by this sort of pressure at other times on Bali. He was happy to answer our questions about things we saw along the way and volunteered to stop whenever we wanted for photo opportunities.
At the end of our stay the hotel put on a performance of the traditional Ramayana dance. Originally set to take place in the Oberoi’s small outdoor amphitheatre, it was moved to the restaurant due to rain. This change turned out to make an even better experience, as the twenty or so guests watching the show were seated only a few feet from the performers. While the gamelan orchestra tinkled away behind the maitre-d’s stand, I thought back to a scene we’d noticed in the lobby when we arrived: A British couple was chatting with the hostess, who told them how happy the hotel was that the couple were returning to their “real home” after 30 years. As the gold-encrusted dancers turned and swayed gracefully to the music, I vowed that we, too, would return to this “real home” for the next special occasion in our lives. Even if it does wind up being a day early.
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- Also Known As:
- The Oberoi Bali Hotel Seminyak
- Oberoi Hotel Bali
- Oberoi Hotel Seminyak
- Oberoi Bali
- Oberoi Seminyak
- Seminyak Oberoi
- The Oberoi Bali Seminyak