Trip Report: TPA-ORD-NRT-HKG on UA/NH in C
Trip Report: InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Trip Report: Holiday Inn Macau
Trip Report: Conrad Hong Kong
Trip Report: HKG-SIN-DPS on SQ, T3 @ SIN, new T3 SKL
Trip Report: InterContinental Bali
Trip Report: DPS-SIN-PVG on SQ, PVG-YYZ-ORD on AC, Renaissance Suites O’Hare
Trip Report: Hong Kong and Macau
As we came down the escalator shortly after getting off the plane there was an elaborate sign with my name on it. We were greeted by both a butler and another lady that would help with the arrivals process. I was surprised that no other hotel had such a service, and it seemed like we were the only ones from the IC, since we saw no other signs.
They were extremely friendly, asked for our passports, $10USD for our visas (since we hadn’t issued them in advance), and our arrivals documents. The lady walked away with all of our documents, and the butler took our bags and escorted us to the “Club InterContinental lounge” located in the immigration hall. We really took the backdoor exit to everything, which just shows how “lax” everything is at this airport. We never had to go through immigration, any arrivals security, or anything.
As we took the exit right next to the immigration line the same American family that was on the flight in business (where I was wondering “how the hell can a family of four afford to fly business?”) was in line while we whisked by, and we overheard them saying something along the lines of “Wow, I wonder who they are that they get that kind of service.” That’s always a funny reaction.
Just a few minutes later we were in the Club InterContinental lounge, where we were offered cold towels and drinks. Our butler left us to go find AJ’s checked bag. Sitting in a nice lounge while everyone else does the work for you isn’t a bad way to travel.
After about ten minutes our butler (who couldn’t have been nicer) came back with our bags, along with the lady that had the visas in our passport. They both escorted us outside, where a car was waiting for us. The butler was surprised to see that we were coming to Bali as Americans, and said that was rare nowadays. He said that at the IC about half of the people are Japanese, about 30% Australian, and the rest European.
Within a few minutes we were outside, and we were pleased to have a car picking us up, since we would have otherwise been approached by about a thousand shady people offering rides.
Our ride (a Jaguar) was waiting in the parking lot. The butler loaded our bags and we left him $5USD (I doubt we were supposed to tip at all, but he was so nice that it just felt right).
The ride to the IC took about 15 minutes and our driver had a bit of road rage (which of course is just the norm over there, at least by my standard), and used his brights at least 100 times during the trip, not to mention horn.
We eventually made it to the hotel entrance, where there was a gate. There were two guards, both with the look of death on their face (and by that I mean they tried to look real tough). One searched the trunk while the other used a mirror to look under the car. As soon as we were “cleared” they had the fastest personality transformation I’ve ever seen, smiling and saying “welcome.”
We were driven up to the front of the hotel where we were helped with our bags immediately. I have to say, this arrivals service was incredible (not to mention free with a club room), and highly recommend it to anyone staying here.
We proceeded into the open air lobby, and from there we were further escorted to the Club InterContinental lounge for check-in, since that’s where check-in is processed for club guests.
There we were immediately greeted by about a dozen butlers as well as the receptionists, who helped with check-in. We were offered another drink, very similar to the one in the lounge at the airport, and were asked to sit down on the couch while they processed our check-in.
Check-in took the better part of 30 minutes, but that’s mostly because they spent about 20 minutes explaining to us what we’re entitled to as club guests. This might be a good place to provide some quick background.
This hotel doesn’t upgrade Royal Ambassadors to club rooms because this is a different, special kind of club. This club has food 24 hours/day, a true arrivals and departures service including airport transfers, access to the private IC pool, free breakfast at the restaurant, in the club, or via room service, etc. As a result it’s priced at about double a normal room.
We had booked a standard club room for $400USD, which is as expensive as they get. This is high season and we booked the flexible rate. By the time we wanted to change the rate to advanced purchase the hotel was sold out, so we couldn’t get a restricted rate anymore, which would have been $365USD. During low season the club rooms go for closer to $300.
Since we were staying for two nights over a weekend, we used a buy one get one free weekend night certificate for the second night, bringing our rate down to $200USD/night.
As a rundown of some of the amenities she explained to us, club guests are entitled to all of the following:
Club InterContinental Privileges
- A warm welcome at the Club InterContinental Airport Lounge located within the international arrival hall
- 24-hour Butler service
- A choice of four breakfast venues
- Use of private Club InterContinental pool
- Unlimited children’s programmes at Club J, the resort’s child care facility
- Complimentary late check out until 16:00 hours
- Luxury bath amenities
- Complimentary access to 24-hour Fitness Centre
- Preferential seating at every restaurant in the resort.
Club InterContinental Pool
Quality leisure time is relished at the Club InterContinental pool, which has been designed exclusively as a private haven for swimming and relaxation. Parents with children are advised that the Main pool with its shallow areas and water fountains is more suited to family needs.
Club InterContinental Lounge
Guest indulgence revolves around an elegantly appointed Club Lounge, which is a haven of gracious hospitality. This 24-hour exclusive lounge is a setting for social interaction offering guest services such as:
- Cocktail bar
- Complimentary internet access
- Local & international newspapers, business & lifestyle magazines
- Indoor seating in full air-conditioned comfort
- Outdoor terrace against a lagoon backdrop
Due to the refined nature of the Club Lounge, guests are asked to dress respectfully at all times in the appropriate attire and footwear.
Club InterContinental Lounge Refreshment Schedule
06:30-12:00 Complimentary breakfast
A choice of four breakfast venues including the Club InterContinental Lounge, Club InterContinental pool, Taman Gita Restaurant and In-Room Dining
11:00-15:00 Selection of juices, soft drinks, tea/coffee and snacks
15:00-17:00 English afternoon tea
17:00-20:00 Evening cocktails, wines, sparkling wines and canapés **
22:00-23:30 Late night snacks
All day Selection of juices, soft drinks, tea/coffee & a la carte menu *
* A la carte menu features a choice of five light snacks
** During the evening cocktails, the Club Lounge is open for adults only and children under 12 years will not be permitted access. As an alternative, young ones can enjoy supervised play time until 22:00 hours in a complimentary program offered by our Club J children’s care facility.
The Inspiration Space is a dedicated lounge that encourages all to explore their individual passions. Guests may relish in the rare opportunity to leisurely pursue personal interests so desired in today’s fast paced world. For those seeking local insight, the Inspiration Space offers recreational activities and pastime that are a direct reflection of Bali, its artistic legacy and cultural traditions.
Services and facilities:
- A comprehensive library stocked with books and DVDs
- A choice of iPods offering various music genres
- A media centre with internet access, photo editing, printing and scanning capabilities
- Concierge service offering access to true ‘In the Know’ experiences
- Regular exhibitions by respected local artisans
- Regular tutorials featuring selections such as Balinese culture, Hinduism or the ‘Language of Offerings’
- Interactive workshops with interests ranging from painting classes to gamelan music and wayang puppet making
- Access to ceremonial rituals and temple festivities that many rarely experience, including the opportunity for a spiritual cleansing with a Balinese high priest
- Tips on uncovering unique Balinese artifacts, exploring trendy boutiques or simply roaming the local markets with a personal shopping guide
- Consultation and reservations for all resort services and activities
- Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating featuring complimentary tea, coffee, fruit juices and mineral waters
Whew, now that I have that out of the way, let’s continue. The lady checking us in informed us that the standard Royal Ambssador upgrade to the Duplex Suite wasn’t available, so we’d be upgraded to the best suite they have, the Jimbaran Suite. While that sounds good on the surface, the Jimbaran Suite only has one bed while some Duplex Suites have two beds, so we were curious how it would play out since we needed two beds.
A butler escorted us to our suite, and he was once again very friendly. He informed us about more hotel facilities during the walk, and eventually we approached our suite. I could tell it would be pretty big, since there was a long hallway for just two of the Jimbaran Suites.
I think our first reaction was somewhere along the lines of %*^&$#@*!
Let’s let the pictures do the talking here.
Let me stop here for a second just to say “WOW!” Is this really our room? Fo’ real?
Now, here comes the best part, in my opinion, the terrace/deck. It extended along the whole side of the suite, and had incredible views. It had a table, lounge chairs, and even more chairs!
Another thing that blew us away was the Royal Ambassador welcome gift, which was without a doubt the best I’ve ever seen. It consisted of a bottle of wine, a massive box of chocolates, a fruit plate, something local which I still haven’t figured out, and a hand written card from the GM.
A few notes about the room, which the pictures don’t fully do justice to, both good and bad. First of all, the room had more bottles of water than I’ve ever seen in one place before. Best of all they were all glass with tops you need an opener for. I swear they emptied out a reservoir just to provide the water for this room.
Second, the master shower was massive. You could quite literally fit a dozen people in it comfortably, probably more.
Now, for a couple of negatives (just to be fair and balanced). The minibar had no hard liquor (not that it was a problem, just odd), and they had no pay per view movies (which means no free RA movie!). That being said, the negatives stopped there.
Once we settled in it was around 8:30PM and we decided to walk around the resort for a bit, or as we called it the compound, since it was totally fenced in. It’s too complicated to describe the whole hotel, other than to say that it’s massive. There are all kinds of “wings,” and we were in the club wing, although the club lounge is a good haul from our room.
As we walked around we saw a few guards patrolling with machine guns, which was a bit of a surprise at first, but quickly appreciated. Better to see the safety and know you’re safe than to not see any precautions when you’re not.
We walked towards the club pool, which was right across from our room.
After walking around for a bit we headed to the club lounge for a snack and to see what exactly they have on the menu. We both ordered their suggested cocktail, but we didn’t realize drinks aren’t free except between 5-8PM. Nonetheless they comped it automatically since they realized we had just arrived and didn’t know that was the case. We also each chose a few snacks from the menu (there are nine different choices). The nine choices are all “samples” of stuff available in the restaurant. Furthermore, they also have a “real” menu in the lounge, which they charge for, with such things as burgers, sandwiches, etc. The prices were reasonable at around $12ish USD for a burger.
That being said, one can easily make meals of the free stuff they offer in the club lounge.
I inquired about internet and was informed that two laptops were available between 8PM and 8AM in the club lounge, and otherwise there’s internet in the “Inspiration Center.” Sadly there’s no free wifi in the club lounge, but being “disconnected” was more of a blessing than a burden.
Eventually we settled in for the night, and our bed problem was solved as well, because as it turns out the sofa right next to the master bedroom can turn into a bed. The butlers came and converted it, and their attention to detail was amazing (in terms of folding sheets as well as placing water, a bottle opener, and a chocolate on the table next to the bed, not to mention a bathrobe and slippers next to the bed). As usual, they were beyond friendly.
We decided to order room service for breakfast the next morning, since we had such an amazing terrace, not to mention it’s free, so why the heck not? We placed the order for 6:45AM, and it was brought promptly the next morning.
It was a beautiful morning, although a bit cloudy, but you can’t beat the fresh air, sound of the waves, and overall feeling of the terrace.
After breakfast we headed towards the club pool, which was still quite empty. The water was a bit on the cool side, but it was still a great morning all around.
At around 9AM the “service” began at the pool, and everyone was brought a bottle of water as well as a bowl of fruit. While it’s nothing major, it’s a very nice touch. It’s nice not to be nickel and dimed on everything (I fly US airlines a lot, trust me, I know the feeling).
I’m not very good at sitting at a pool doing nothing, so I decided to go to the “Inspiration Center” to check my email and blog a bit (I know, that’s exactly what I should be doing when I only have 48 hours in paradise).
The Inspiration Center is located on top of the club lounge, and is staffed by some of the friendliest people on earth. The lounge has four computers and is just very well designed.
The ladies working here were true small talk experts, and always found a way to chat in a non-intrusive way, and by extension actually provide useful information! Being the curious bugger I am, I found out that the hotel has 1,000 employees and only 400ish rooms, which is a pretty damn good ratio! Also, their memory is amazing. Later in the afternoon I came back and said “Good afternoon, room 4229,” and she said, without looking anywhere, “Of course Mr. Lucky, welcome.”
Once I was done with my internet fix I walked around the compound for a bit. One thing I noticed is that without exception, EVERY SINGLE employee at this hotel was exceedingly friendly. Whether it was a maintenance person or butler, every time I passed someone I got a “Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening” with a big smile. Actually, when I got back on Singapore Airlines I almost felt like they were all matrons compared to these folks!
Eventually I made it back to the club pool, which had filled up quite a bit but was still relaxing.
We decided to go for lunch and decided on “Jimbaran Gardens,” which is an open-air restaurant by the main pool. We both had pizzas (around $12USD), and they were delicious.
We hung around the pool again for a good portion of the afternoon, and at around 4PM went back to the room. At 5PMish we headed to the club lounge to see what they had for dinner, and the selection was pretty decent.
In the evening one can order from the menu and they also have a buffet, which has some amazingly delicious stuff.
The snacks can without a doubt constitute dinner, as can all of the other meals they have. The club room was totally worth it, as the only thing we paid for was lunch, which wasn’t too expensive anyway.
As we wrapped up dinner it was approaching 6PM, and we headed towards the beach for the sunset. While the sunset was beautiful, we were warned that the visibility was somewhat limited, so it wouldn’t be as nice as usual. It was still stunning. Pardon my complete lack of discretion when it comes to sunset pictures, but here are a few that I took.
Once the sun set we walked around for a while. The whole resort has massive torches, lanterns, etc., to stay lit at night. Live music begins with the sunset, and keeps going almost all night.
Overall we did a whole lot of the same stuff the following day, and I feel I’ve said basically all that needs to be said. The only real change was breakfast, which we had in the club lounge on the outdoor terrace.
Seriously, this resort is incredible, I HIGHLY recommend it. I’m not much of a beach/pool bum type of person, but I still had a great time. There’s so much beautiful scenery (please don’t read too far into that), nice sunsets, not to mention great dining in the club that there’s nothing not to like. The staff couldn’t have been any nicer, and I’d gladly return in a heartbeat.
While I’ve always wanted to go to Tahiti and Bora Bora, I’m not sure I could really enjoy myself more than I did here, especially considering the premium one pays both for getting to Bora Bora as well as the hotel there.
One other concern I had before the trip was safety. The reviews of whether or not Bali is safe seem to be mixed, but all I can say is that yes, I felt 100% safe all the time. I wouldn’t for a moment hesitate to return.
The following evening we set up our (free) airport transfer for 5PM, and were once again driven to the airport in a Jaguar. We were dropped off at around 5:20PM.
More to come….