By: Katie Roberts
Thanks to the recent opening in Bali of a flash new airport and a 12km causeway bridge, it’s now quicker than ever to reach the relaxed southern area of Nusa Dua. Among the five-star resorts you’ll find once you get there is the family-friendly Conrad Bali, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.
I’ve rarely travelled far on my birthday, so the announcement over the AirAsia intercom upon landing in Bali took me by surprise. “Happy Birthday, Mrs Katie Maree Roberts. We hope you have a wonderful day.” Then the “Happy Birthday” tune filled the cabin, much to the amazement of the other passengers who looked around to find the birthday girl. I kept my head down and shuffled off the plane as fast as possible!
After a speedy 20-minute transfer from the airport, a quick and courteous check-in and dumping our bags, we were settled with celebratory birthday cocktails in hand, less than five hours after leaving home. We’d already decided there was no reason to move far during this three-night break; it was about complete relaxation for our family of four, and exploring what the Conrad had to offer. Here’s what we found.
The sole purpose of this sprawling 17-room facility is pleasure. Make time for multiple visits, because there is a treat in store for every member of the family. The cleverly named 90-minute Mum and Me treatment bundles a one-hour Ocean Flow massage and half-hour facial for the mother with a massage, facial and manicure (30 minutes each) for the girl. It was cute to hear my daughter feeling ticklish and giggling during her massage and facial, and she thoroughly enjoyed the attention of the kind Balinese therapists. Boys can go for the aptly named Warrior Package: a 30-minute massage and 30-minute chocolate mud bath – not edible, apparently.
With the kids at the Kura Kura Club (see below), parents can head back for their own massage, beauty therapy, wellness or Reiki session, anti-ageing treatment or reflexology in one of the five double spa pavilions overlooking the beautiful water garden. If the surroundings have not already induced relaxation then the massage certainly will. A series of treatments using VitaMan products are tailored specifically to men; the concept helped Jiwa Spa win Men’s Spa of the Year at the AsiaSpa Awards last year. After the massage, you can linger in the sauna, the steam room or the stunning private 25-metre pool; it’s hard to leave.
Children are the centre of attention at the Conrad, with friendly, ever-smiling staff catering to pretty much every thing a kid could need – there’s even candy floss available poolside. After they’ve explored the beach, 33-metre pool and meandering lagoons, the young ones can enjoy free access to the newly revamped Kura Kura Club with trampoline, outdoor play area and two air-conditioned indoor activity areas.
The daily schedule of activities provides plenty of choice – no one cried “I’m bored!” during our stay. Children can learn about Balinese culture with mask- and mobile-making, Balinese offerings, dress and dancing. Then there’s kite flying, shipbuilding, pizza-making, Beyblade competitions, treasure hunts and loads more, all organised by the happy staff. Kids over 10 might gravitate to the air-conditioned Games Room where they’ll find computers, a pool table and other diversions. Either way, being able to leave the kids in supervised care is perfect for parents who have earned a little “me time”.
Food, fabulous food
There are three restaurants and two bars at the Conrad, each focused on contemporary dining. Suku is a large restaurant with buffets and kids’ menus that change daily, and an interesting weekly feature, Rijsttafel. A Dutch word meaning “rice table”, this is a selection of Indonesian cuisine that the adults will love; it includes chicken curry, beef rendang, sambal prawns, fish in banana leaves, and other delicious dishes with a spicy kick.
Beachfront dining in the airy pavilions of 8 Degrees is casual and contemporary. We enjoyed lingering over late lunches and coffee after the children escaped to play in the sand in front. A candlelit dinner would have been perfect there too. Japanese restaurant Rin is not open to kids under 12, so use the babysitting service if you have young children.
On one of our days, when all the beach bales were booked and the sand was too hot, we laid out the large blue-and-white towels on the shaded lawn area overlooking the beach and caught up on some reading. The friendly staff from Azure brought snacks for grazing, and cool drinks and cocktails. And each evening we enjoyed lychee martinis and homemade berry lemonade for the kids on the verandah at East, the large bar overlooking the pool. Other than Suku downstairs, it was the only place to access Wi-Fi in the resort.
Set on seven hectares, the hotel features courtyards, ponds, lush gardens, large landscaped lawns and a 350-metre beachfront. Each room has either a private patio or a large balcony, with ocean, pool or garden views. We had a leafy outlook over the triangular wedding chapel and ocean glimpses from our spacious inter-connecting rooms on the fourth floor in the north wing.
The deluxe rooms are, by Singapore standards, generously sized (45 square metres) and very comfortable. Large bathrooms with deep baths, thick towels, yukata bathrobes and scrumptious Shanghai Tang toiletries are a treat. The comfortable beds and all-important block-out curtains meant the children slept in, which gave us a perfect start to each day.
Things to do
Don’t miss: The water sports. Our 15-minute ride on the inflatable donut pulled behind a speedboat was a hit with the kids – they’re now looking forward to the day when they’re big enough to let rip on a jet ski. For something more sedate, girls can go home with a Bali hair braid, courtesy of the patient women in the spa beauty salon.
We didn’t want to leave the resort but if we did: There are early morning bike-riding tours around the peninsula villages, a trip to Uluwatu Temple for sunset, and a culture and chocolate discovery tour to Ubud.