Tue, 11 Jun 2002

Bali resorts are heading for a more promising year

Rita A.Widiadana The Jakarta Post Nusa Dua, Bali

The word "resort" always conjures up a picture of a serene and integrated holiday site surrounded by white sandy beaches or a lush mountainous panorama where you can escape from your hectic life in the city and take a deep breath to rejuvenate your body and mind.

And Bali offers dozens or maybe hundreds of such resorts across the island, from beach areas to secluded sites high up in the mountains.

In the past few years, Nusa Dua, Sanur, Kuta and Ubud were famous for their excellent hotels and resorts. But now, a large number of similar facilities are sprawling in several newly developed areas like Jimbaran near Nusa Dua with its famous Ritz Carlton hotel, Four Seasons resort and now the planned PatMase residence resort.

Candi Dasa in East Bali has been growing as an alternative resort offering beaches and cultural attractions including the Tenganan Penggringsingan Bali Aga ancient village.

In the northwest of Bali, Pemuteran, located between Jembrana and Singaraja regencies is now growing as an attractive holiday destination boasting beautiful spots for scuba diving and other water sports.

There are some opulent hotels and resorts operating in the area such as the exclusive Matahari resort and spa, Menjangan and many others.

Mark Griffith, general manager of Le Meridien Nirwana Golf and Spa Resort said that Bali has probably the most diverse range of resorts in the world. "Each has its own uniqueness and a special thing to offer to worldwide guests."

Griffith said his resort is located outside the conventional tourist hub of Nusa Dua or Ubud. Located near Bali's holy temple of Tanah Lot in Tabanan regency, around 45 kilometers north of Denpasar, the resort offers a world-standard golf course, well- equipped functions and convention rooms as well as an exotic spa.

"Ours is an integrated resort. You can do business here while enjoying the beauty of the surroundings, including playing golf," said Griffith.

He said that last year, Bali was badly affected by the Sept. 11 attack. "Every hotel and resort in Bali suffered a significant decline because everybody was afraid of traveling," he said.

During the last three months of 2001 and the first quarter of this year, the hospitality industry in Bali was very slow. "But from April to early June, our business has been running quite well," he said.

Griffith said that his resort did not host the United Nations- sponsored Preparatory Committee IV meeting but the positive impact of the event is likely to be tremendous.

"We hope that other international and regional institutions will consider Bali as a choice of venue in the future," he said.

Ian E. McKie, general manager of Bali Hilton International, said that Bali was very badly affected but is picking up now.

"We expect everything will be going right in the coming months," McKie said.

He said foreign visitors are now coming back to Bali but airline companies have yet to reopen their routes to Bali. After the Sept. 11 tragedy, a number of airlines temporary halted their services to some countries in Asia, including Indonesia.

Within Nusa Dua resort complex is a five story hotel and resort building with 538 rooms. Located on a 11.5 hectare plot of land along Nusa Dua Beach, the hotel is equipped with various facilities including a giant lagoon, 300 meters of beach fronts, a new 18-hole golf course, fitness and spa center, swimming pool, covered tennis courts, squash courts, games room and various watersports.

If business is calling, the Grand Ballroom is large, encompassing a foyer for up to 700 guests for meetings, seminars or receptions. "Like other hotels and resorts in Nusa Dua, we rely on both holiday and convention packages," he said.

Nusa Dua resort complex has hosted the United Nations- sponsored meeting, the largest ever held on the island involving over 6,000 participants from across the world. Most participants stayed at hotels nearby the Bali International Convention Center, BICC, the venue of the meeting which just ended on Friday, June 7.

I Gede Parmita, director of sales next door at hotel Nusa Dua Beach, said that the hotel, the oldest in Nusa Dua, has no business meeting rooms or convention rooms. "But, we have really benefited from our location, which is next to the BICC. Many participants and committee members were staying at our hotel," he said.

As a self-operated hotel, Nusa Dua Beach has to work harder than international-chain hotels that are linked to their counterparts around the world, Parmita said.

"If convention business flourishes in Bali, our hotel will benefit much more," he said. To promote his hotel, he has also set up joint cooperation with foreign and local travel agents. "It is the power of the word of mouth. Our guests are frequent travelers to Bali," Parmita said.

In the busier settlements of Kuta and Legian, the newly- refurbished Hotel Padma Bali, operated by Sekar Alliance Hotel Management, boasts its new design and atmosphere for guests who want to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Legian, but want to stay at a peaceful resort.

"Our hotel is like a resort in other areas in Bali but we are located very near to the tourist and business center of Kuta," said Tjiepjanto Soejanto, the general manager of the hotel.

Perched on a 6.5 hectare plot of land, Hotel Bali Padma is one of the largest hotels in the Legian area, a favorite tourist spot in Bali.

In Ubud, Bali's opulent art village, the Abian Resort and Spa captures the mood of the island's countryside.

The resort offers unique packages such as village tours, paddyfield trekking, Balinese dance lessons, cooking classes, meditation, wood carving. Staying in luxury hotels and resorts may be everyone's dream. But it is not a dream to own a resort in Bali. PatMase residence resort in Jimbaran gives you a rare opportunity to own and run a resort. "We are now developing around 40 villas to be sold or rented to those willing to own these properties in Bali," explained Yunni Soewignjo, director of sales and marketing at this Ciputra Group of hotels.

Each customer can buy one of the villas for their private residence while in Bali. "Or they can rent it through our hotel management under the Swiss Bell Hotel group," Yunni said.

All this goes to show that Bali is a haven for exotic and unique resorts. Welcome to Bali.