In Bali, hot hotel openings are booming, with the sexy Starwood Hotels brand in particular playing a heavy hand here – three Starwood-branded hotels alone have scheduled openings in just a one-year span.
Yes, Bali's a long way to come for the American traveler, but I can tell you, having landed in this Indonesian slice of paradise just last week, that this “Island of the Gods” is a journey that us mere mortals really ought to take, with enough top-rated beaches and snorkeling/dive sites, lush vegetation and volcanoes, and hospitable locals and cultural curiosities to satiate the demands of even the most jaded traveler – all at budget prices, to boot.
While here, I’m bedding down at the brand-new Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, which opened its doors on December 1 on the storied shores of Bali’s Kuta Beach, a surfers’ and sunset seekers’ mecca. The Starwood-branded resort’s trump card comes in the form of its sweeping ocean views, best enjoyed with frothy cocktail in hand from the panoramic picture-window lounge (or during the venue's weekly wine-tasting event); while savoring tasty Italian fare at its Bene restaurant; while splashing about in the outdoor rooftop pool; or while just kicking back and relaxing in your guestroom.
Each and every one of the 203 rooms here comes with its own private balcony overlooking the Indian Ocean, and features contemporary Balinese-inspired furnishings, high-tech trimmings (flat-screen TVS and comped WiFi access), plush beds (that have proved a challenge to crawl out of after long days on the beach), and bathrooms with freestanding tubs and rainforest showers.
A 24-hour fitness center and a spa touting Balinese-infused treatments round out the offerings; look, too, for new programs to roll out in 2013, including surfing lessons and beach club services on the adjacent Kuta Beach, just across the street. Feast, the property’s second restaurant, serving pan-Asian fare, comes connected to the brand-new open-air retail, dining, and entertainment complex, Beachwalk, featuring more than 200 establishments.
The hotel is currently promoting two enticing introductory offers, while they work out their opening kinks (the staff, while quite friendly, still have a long way to come in terms of efficiency and mastery of the English language). Travelers who act fast, for travel through March 31, can nab up to 50 percent off room rates, priced from as little as $150/night. Or, travel and book by June 30 to get in on a $225/night package deal, including airport transfer, daily buffet breakfast for two, daily resort credit of $25, and double points for Starwood rewards members; a minimum two-night stay is required.
Sherataon Bali Kuta Resort is the Starwood brand’s fifth hotel on the island, following on the heels of W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak's opening last year. Look, as well, for a duo of new property launches on the immediate horizon, including the Le Méridien Bali Jimbaran (soft opening December 26, 2012; intro rates from $219/night) and the Westin Ubud Resort & Spa (opens December 2013; rates TBA).
Incurable travel addict, longtime travel scribe, and mindful money-saver Elissa Richard is currently indulging her insatiable wanderlust on an epic 14-month journey around the globe – intent on making it every step of the way without busting her modest budget. Follow her along the way as she reports back with budget-savvy travel tips from the mountains of Transylvania to the wilds of Tasmania, and from the little-trodden temples of Burma to the bustling bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. A vagabond in search of value, just for ShermansTravel!