With the charm and grace of traditional Balinese dancer, The Oberoi Hotel in Seminyak takes its guests on a sensory journey from the moment you’re welcomed with a franjipani lei and chilled virgin mojito.
The smell of the sea, the tropical music of the rindik (a Balinese instrument a bit like a xylophone), the balmy breeze coming across the expansive grounds speckled with palms – the luxury is everywhere from the moment you arrive.
Away from the bustle and spruikers at Kuta, Seminyak is considered by some as the Noosa of Bali.
Forty minutes drive north is Ubud, the cultural hub of Bali with temples, forests and waterfalls. Thirty minutes south is some of the best surfing Indonesia has to offer at Uluwatu.
There’s shopping nearby in boutique and designer stores – many reminiscent of Sydney trends, with prices to match – and I also (over)indulged in the delicious Indonesian delicacies, in what were some of the best dining experiences I have had to date.
Just a short drive or leisurely walk from The Oberoi are some of the best restaurants in Bali. Whether you prefer traditional settings such as rice paddies at Metis or Sarong, or contemporary layouts such as Merah Putih or Bambu, the most passionate foodie will be happy. And getting the bill is pleasing too – it’s cheap.
But it’s the hotel we stayed at, The Oberoi, that really beat my expectations.
From face mist and sunglasses cleaning, to poolside snacks and pillow menus, The Oberoi has a number complementary luxuries that will make you feel like royalty.
Here are some of the most luxurious treats the hotel offers.
Guides and helpful hotel information are something you can expect to receive upon arrival to your room anywhere, but The Oberoi takes it one step further. Next to the frangipani artwork on your bed is The Oberoi’s pillow menu. This offers the choice of four different types of pillows, to ensure you get the perfect sleep. While I got my choice - the Supreme Fibre Comfort Pillow in the first go, my sister, who I shared a room with, tried three before arriving at her favourite. This was no trouble for staff who were more than happy to keep changing.
Along with this convenient slumber selection, guests are also given a convenient daily weather update. Left on your bedside table after the fold down service in the evening, we were able to plan what we were doing the next day and stay fully informed without you having to lift a finger.
And if you are the type of holiday-maker that likes to be informed with international and local news no matter where you are, The Oberoi has you covered. Each morning The New York Times and a local news paper is delivered to your doorstep. No questions, no confirmation. They know what you'll want and make sure you get it. And while I'd normally read my updates on my iPhone, the simple convenience of a newspaper allowed me to completely disconnect from technology and relax while still getting my fix.
While it is common to receive a bowl of fruit or such in your hotel room upon arrival, The Oberoi provides a bowl of fruit every morning of your stay. Full of local produce such as snake fruit or salak, named after its reddish-brown scaly skin looks like snake skin with a sweet and acidic taste somewhere between pear and pineapple, and mangosteens with its hard thick peel but sweet, tart segments of white flesh in the middle. Trying the different fruits was a little ritual we developed each morning, tasting and testing to find our favourites - the mangosteens - and the not-so-favourites, the Pitang (or banana).
Upon choosing your sun bed around the pool, attentive staff are almost immediately at your side to set you up for the day. As well preparing your sun bed for you the staff also bring you a poolside comfort package. This includes chilled water, face mist, sunscreen, a face cloth, and a basket for your belongings. And just when you think things couldn't get much better, it does. You are also given a little white flag which you raise when you require service. It wasn't long until we realised you barely have to pick it up and someone is on their way to help. Anything we required, they were happy to help. Menus, food - anything. My mum even had a call come through from reception while she was around the pool. The staff brought her a phone just so she could speak with the concierge, who had sent a fax for her the evening before. The concierge simply wanted to know if the fax had been received on the other end. Now that's service!
Does the sun, sand and sea make you peckish? Guests at The Oberoi are treated to snacks and light refreshments at 12pm and 2pm around the open-air swimming pool. Staff offer guests, who are enjoying the pool overlooking the Indian Ocean, with fresh fruit skewers and sorbet.
Not big enough to spoil your lunch or make you full - just the perfect amount to refresh your palate. But I was wary trying the banana flavoured sorbet - there are some funky flavours going with the local bananas.
Don’t you hate it when you smear your glasses just after you've applied sunscreen? Not to worry as The Oberoi provides a poolside glasses cleaning service. At first I was confused - why would you want to clean my glasses? But the service is a blessing you come to sorely miss when you come home. Honestly I have never had cleaner glasses in my life, except for buying them brand new. Reading glasses, sunglasses or both, The Oberoi's glasses cleaning service has you seeing Bali in a whole new way, literally.
Despite the Kindle taking its place in the bags of many travellers across the world, books still prove to be just a popular to my surprise – at least from what I saw looking around the pool - and thanks to The Oberoi's bookmark service, you’ll never lose your page. If spotted with a book poolside staff offer guests a bookmark. Genius.
With one of the longest stretching waterfronts of all its neighbouring hotels on Seminyak Beach, The Oberoi provides its guests with board hire and a hotel lifesaver to patrol the surf when guests wish to tap a dip in the sea. My sister spent hours going in and out on a boogie board catching the small shore breakers which even the most inexperienced surfer can enjoy. But during our stay the waves weren't always this way. In fact for two days the lifesavers closed the beach as the waves grew to 3 metres which only a few experienced locals dared to try.
At 4pm, when you are dozing in and out of your afternoon snooze, the sound of the rindik floats through the warm humid air inviting you to afternoon tea. Served around The Oberoi’s amphitheatre tea, coffee and Balinese treats are prepared while local children perform traditional Balinese dances for the guests.
The warm freshly cooked log shaped pancakes were the obvious favourite, having to get in early for the warms ones. The finer touches like the choice of palm sugar syrup or coconut cream on your treats, or lemongrass and ginger in your tea, while watching the children learn the traditional dance, was a lovely time of day that I am not likely to forget.
If you are an experienced yogi or simply a beginner The Oberoi provides early morning yoga sessions in its gardens for guests. Surrounded by palms and the magnificence of Seminyak Beach a professional instructor guides participants through various postures, and techniques adapting to individuals' needs. After the class is over refreshments are provided and you are invited to ask the instructor any questions you may have. In my case (very much a beginner, having only dabbled in yoga once or twice before) the teacher picked up on the tension I hold in my back just by the way I held my poses, which he was then able to give me some advice and ways to improve.
There is a tennis court within the hotel available to guests by appointment. Upon entering the court a staff member provides you with the equipment needed to play and unlimited use of refreshments including iced water and cool face cloths. While I played with my dad and sister, those who don't have anyone to play with can organise to have a tennis partner or instructor supplied by the hotel. Unfortunately a high rise is being constructed behind the court, which is at the border of the premise, but the development boom happening in Bali means there are similar structures going up all around Seminyak.
Unwinding with a bubble bath is at the top of my list when on holidays. Never do I get the time at home and so I indulge while away. But forget booking an appointment at the spa, The Oberoi's rooms provide you with your own little sanctuary in the privacy of your room. With the bathroom opening onto a private garden, a bath pillow (!), candles, loafers and soaps guests have everything they need to pamper themselves with.
The writer has travelled at her own expense.
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