Bali and Berchtesgaden: InterContinental Bali

Introduction
Singapore Airlines First Class Houston to Moscow
International Business Lounge Moscow
Singapore Airlines First Class Moscow to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class Singapore to Bali
InterContinental Bali
Exploring Bali
W Retreat Bali Seminyak
Singapore Airlines Business Class Bali to Singapore
The Singapore Airlines Private Room Singapore
Singapore Airlines First Class Singapore to Frankfurt
InterContinental Berchtesgaden & Surrounding Areas
Le Meridien Parkhotel Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal Frankfurt
Lufthansa 747-8 First Class Frankfurt to Washington Dulles
Westin Washington Dulles Airport


The InterContinental Jimbaran Bay was the first hotel I ever stayed at in Bali, and quickly became one of my favorites. I’ve stayed there twice, and you can find the previous reviews here and here.

The InterContinental has a special club wing, which they don’t upgrade Royal Ambassador members to for free. There’s quite a premium for it (over $100 per night), but I’ve always found it to be worth every penny. Back in the day they had an airport arrivals service for club guests, whereby they literally picked you up at the gate and took care of immigration formalities while you sit in their lounge. A free transfer to the hotel was also included. A couple of years ago they removed that benefit for “security” reasons, and now just meet you outside immigration and drive you to the hotel.

The other awesome thing about the club is that it was open 24 hours per day and had a menu off of which you could order, all of which was free. While the portions weren’t huge you could try as many things as you wanted, so there was no need to spend a cent during your stay otherwise. I’ve heard reviews of the club service being cut back, so I was curious to experience firsthand just how bad it is.

We were staying four nights and it wasn’t cheap at $320 per night. I always have a hard time redeeming points in Bali. The reason is because the hotels are neither cheap nor outrageously expensive, and just never quite meet my threshold for redeeming points. However, they did have a package deal whereby we would get a car and driver for an entire day at no extra charge just for staying for nights. Not that a car and driver in Bali is really that expensive, but it was a nice bonus.

I should also mention that instead of booking a club room I booked a duplex suite. On my last stay I learned their upgrade policy the hard way. The standard Royal Ambassador upgrade from a club room is to a duplex suite, despite the fact that a duplex suite is only about $20 more than a club room. If you book a duplex suite you get an upgrade to one of their larger specialty suites.

After landing at Denpasar Airport and clearing immigration there was someone with an InterContinental Bali sign waiting for us. He walked us to the pick-up area, where a Mercedes was waiting to take us to the hotel.

The InterContinental is in Jimbaran Bay, which is among the closest resort areas to the airport. It’s only a few miles, though with Bali traffic it takes 20-25 minutes.

While I was disappointed in many of the changes at the hotel, what impressed me was their Royal Ambassador recognition. As I arrived there was a bellman waiting who thanked me for being a Royal Ambassador and welcomed me back. He walked us over to the club, where check-in would be processed. It’s always nice to skip the outdoor lobby and go straight to the air conditioned club, where we were offered cold towels and drinks.


Hotel exterior (and I’m trying to take a picture, not do ballet, for the record)


Lobby


Welcome drink

At the club I was welcomed back by the club manager, who made it really personal by saying “nice to see you again.” She also informed me that we had been upgraded to the Jimbaran Suite. I believe I was technically only supposed to be upgraded to the Uluwatu Suite, though the hotel was quite full and that was the next room category up.


Club lounge


Club lounge

This is the same suite I stayed in the first time I visited, except this one was on the ground floor.

Our butler walked us to our room, which is about a five minute walk from the club, and gave us a tour, though I was already quite familiar with the room.


Entrance to suite


Suite door

The suite is huge with a living room, large dining room table with six seats, and kitchen.


Living room


Living room


Dining room


Dining room

On the dining room table was an amenity consisting of some fruit and a box of chocolates.


Welcome amenity


Kitchen

Then there’s the separate bedroom with a king bed, pull out couch, and desk. The minibar is also located in the bedroom.


Bedroom


TV


Couch in bedroom


Desk


Minibar

There are also two bathrooms – one half bath and one bathroom with a tub and shower. Leading to the main bathroom is a vanity mirror and desk.


Vanity mirror


Double sinks


Tub


Shower


Toilet

There’s also a huge balcony, though I far preferred the one on the second floor suite since the one on the lower floor is accessible by foot bridge and lacks privacy.


Balcony

The resort grounds are really nice, though they’re slowly starting to show a bit of age. I don’t really mean that in a bad way, but rather am just saying it wasn’t super-modern anymore.


Hotel grounds


Hotel grounds


Hotel grounds


Hotel grounds

Contrary to popular belief (among those that have never visited) Bali isn’t really much of a beach destination. That being said, as far as beaches in Bali go, Jimbaran Bay has one of the better ones, and I find the sunsets in Jimbaran Bay to be especially spectacular.


Sunset

I like Bali more for the people and the vibe. Besides, I’m more of a person that likes to lounge at the pool instead of the beach.

The hotel has one main pool which is huge and has plenty of lounge chairs.


Main pool

But then there’s also a pool exclusively for club guests, which is much quieter and where I spent most of my time.


Club pool

There’s also a really nice spa, and the treatment prices are reasonable for a major hotel brand. An hour long massage is ~$60USD including tax and tip. Yes I realize massages are much cheaper outside of hotels, but compare that to the Westin Siray Bay in Phuket, where an hour-long massage was nearly twice as much.


Spa


Spa

I also saw this in the spa, and I’d love if someone could explain to me what this is, as I lost sleep over it:


What the…?

So the club lounge is the thing I was most curious about in relation to my previous stay, since I had heard of all the cutbacks. As a club guest you can have breakfast in the club, in the restaurant, or via room service.

We had breakfast in the club three of the four days, and that didn’t change too much since the last time I was there. The buffet spread was a bit more limited though they had an a la carte menu from which you could order.


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Pancakes (a la carte)

And for those of you wondering, this is what the a la carte breakfast menu looked like:

One morning we also had breakfast in the restaurant, which featured an expansive spread. I was trying not to overeat too much, so we only went to the buffet one morning.


Restaurant


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet

Afternoon tea was also served in the club lounge, consisting of a variety of sweets and sandwiches.


Afternoon tea

Now the real disappointment came with the evening spread, and this is more or less what kills the value of the club lounge for me. As you’ll see in my previous reports, the hotel used to have a very nice evening spread and an a la carte menu off of which you could order food (which was complimentary). Not only have they cut back on the evening spread, but there’s also no longer an a complimentary a la carte menu (though they do have a paid one). So there’s no way the club lounge spread will pass for dinner anymore, unfortunately.

Instead they just automatically bring you out a couple of small appetizer plates as you’re seated.


Appetizer plate


Extent of the evening spread

On the plus side they do have a very nice drink selection, so it’s a nice space to relax in the evenings.

But I really think the hotel made a bad decision with their cutbacks. I understand the need for hotels to cut back on expenses, but they do charge a huge premium for club rooms and frankly it’s the club wing that drew me to the hotel, as there are plenty of other options. It’s nice to have something like the club lounge at this hotel where you’re not nickle and dimed, and to me that justified the premium.

I no longer think it’s worth paying for a club room, though, and I’m not sure this hotel would be my first choice if I would just be in one of their standard rooms, as there are other hotels where I’d get complimentary club access (though for the most part the clubs aren’t as nice as the one at the InterContinental). It’s interesting to note that there were several other repeat hotel guests expressing their displeasure at the change.

On the plus side, the service at the hotel is phenomenal. The Balinese people in general are among the friendliest in the world, and the employees at this hotel deliver some of the most sincere, friendly, and polished service imaginable. So they deserve huge props for that.

But I’m not all that sure I’d recommend this place anymore, and I was their biggest fan.

Comments

  1. says

    Your spa question surely looks like a cold plunge pool to me, though without sticking a toe in, I can’t be sure ;) As crazy as it sounds, it feels incredible to go from a hot sauna or tub to an icy bath.

  2. Craig says

    It’s a plunge pool. It’s really cold, and you cycle dips into it with 10 minutes in the Jacuzzi. Good for circulation.

  3. Despina says

    Can you clarify whether you paid $320 plus $100 for access to the club? Or was it $320 including the club? Just wondering. Thanks.

  4. Ryan says

    Very timely review Lucky. I have a trip coming up in october to stay there and was anxiously awaiting this review before I convert my reservation to F&F. What other hotels have a lounge others than the conrad and the ayana that you would recommend?

  5. u600213 says

    Well if it wasn’t in Bali and you weren’t a guy, I’d say Mikvah :-)http://www.chabadbw.com/images/shluchim/minisites/themes/mikvah/mikvah_banner_image.jpg

  6. lucky says

    @ Ariana — Thanks! It’s a Canon S95.

    @ Despina — Sorry, I should clarified, that included club access.

    @ Ryan — I’ve only done the Grand Hyatt. It’s a decent hotel though I prefer the InterContinental, especially since the lounge at the Grand Hyatt is outdoors, and it’s usually hot in Bali. Have heard good things about the Conrad, though.

  7. says

    At 320 w/o the previous club amenities, it might be worth it just to head up to the Four Seasons Ubud and their mindblowing pool. I see a Stay 2 Get 1 Free promotion now, which comes to 337/night including breakfast in a 1300 sq. ft. suite. The area around Ubud (and really, anywhere north of Denpasar) strikes me as a nicer part of Bali as well, especially if you’re not going to the beach.

  8. Jon says

    Who do you usually travel with? One problem I’ve has is when your traveling with a friend and they upgrade you, it’s usually to a suite with one king bed. It’s always a dilema of choosing between sharing a bed awkwardly with your friend, not accepting the updgrade or someone sleeping on the pull out. Do you have the same issue or are your friends always in different rooms?

  9. AAExPlat says

    I just stayed at the IC Bali in June and I agree that paying extra for the Club access makes zero sense. I booked the Singaraja Duplex and got to look at the Club Lounge and the amenities, and if you travel with kids (like we do), Club wing makes very little sense unless you are planning on dropping them off at the Explorer Club downstairs virtually all day.

    I personally LOVE the IC for all its other attributes, though. Lovely staff, great service, excellent food that is very fairly priced IMO, awesome main pool and fun lunch items and drinks (Arak Kelapa). Jimbaran is amazing, and one is close enough to Ubud etc (which I don’t think is true for Nusa Dua.

    Overall, I can’t believe that taking away dinner items would make you not recommend this hotel, but whatever…maybe if y’all are staying away from the IC Bali, my room will cost less next June (flights already booked).

  10. lucky says

    @ Jon — Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t mind sharing a bed with another person I’m not romantically involved with. Put a pillow in the middle and you still have two normal sized beds.

    Definitely worth the trade off for the extra space compared to a standard room with two beds, in my opinion.

  11. lucky says

    @ AAExPlat — Thanks for the thoughts, I probably should have phrased what I said differently. I think the standard rooms can still be a good value, though since I have elite status elsewhere I feel I can get better value. While the standard rooms are nice and resort is beautiful, if I can get club access thrown in at a comparable hotel for the same cost as a standard room, I think it’s a better value.

  12. stacey says

    Lucky,

    Is it worth purchasing Ambassador status for this hotel? What would it entitle you to?

    Stacey

  13. lucky says

    @ stacey — At a minimum it would get you a one category upgrade and a weekend night certificate. If you can use the weekend night certificate I’d suggest signing up for Ambassador ASAP. Otherwise I’d suggest signing up at the hotel as I believe they get some commission for that, so may provide you with a better upgrade/benefits than an Ambassador would usually get.

  14. Steve says

    Definitely a cold plunge pool. If you haven’t experienced a turkish bath house. I recommend it for the experience. You go from something hot (steam room, hot tub, or my favorite-a super hot sauna where you are beaten with olive branches covered in olive oil) to the cold plunge pool. It’s super intense. Do it a few times, and all you want to do is lay by the pool for a few hours. If you plan on doing something like that, don’t make any other plans for later in the day. It’s relaxing/cleansing, but also very intense and draining.

  15. Andy Bluebear says

    @Jon

    Relax, sharing a bed with a guy won’t make you gay. Americans really get hung up over stuff like this…

  16. Cook says

    The special club accommodations are nice – and as you properly point out, it avoids being nickled and dimmed to death. However, I don’t think that the club bonus was EVER intended to be a substitute for patronizing their dining room for a proper dinner. That suit looks wonderful, but it is also overkill by a factor of 3 for two single guys. As some often suggest, “Poor Ben suffers from a lot of First World problems…” Let’s remember that its roughly a $300-$350 room, not a $1500 one.

  17. AAExPlat says

    @lucky @stacey

    I signed up for Ambassador before we went in June and I would be careful about the signup. Do your homework. The weekend cert is ONLY good for their most basic room.

    That means if you have kids, you can’t use the cert unless you are planning on booking two adjoining rooms (which is not smart since you can book a duplex, which is their nicest room short of the Club Duplex and the Club Suites).

    The upgrade benefit here is also very dubious because no room will upgrade you to the Club Wing, and upgrades from anything but the basic rooms CAN be a downgrade (like Singaraja Duplex to Resort Suite).

    It also seemed that the staff put free water in all rooms during our stay, so I am unsure about that benefit…

    In short, if you would signup for Ambassador ONLY because of this trip, I might caution against it.

    Now, if you plan on staying at IC hotels a bunch elsewhere, then Ambassador is fine. I will be staying at plenty of ICsin the next year (incl a trip back to Bali), so Ambassador worked out OK. But it’s clearly not for everyone, unlike the IC phone agents will tell you…

  18. Jon says

    Thanks Lucky. Do you know of any hotels that actually offer suites with two double beds? Or is this generally unheard of?

  19. Charlene says

    I just stayed here in July for free with points and a Facebook contest they had and I have to say that I was pretty disappointed with the room. Maybe it’s different for standard rooms than suites but my Singaraja Room had mold everywhere — the curtains, everywhere in the bathroom, shower, toilet… You would think housekeeping would at least notice there is mold taking over the entire balcony curtain!! Of course after having housekeeping come 3 times and I had to literally point out all the mold, it was finally clean. The staff are really friendly, the breakfast buffet at the restaurant was amazing, and the grounds are beautiful, but I was still very disappointed with it all. Especially at check out when they had a bunch of extra charges on my bill that weren’t mine, and were quite insistent that I hired a car for the day before I even checked into the hotel.

    I’ve debated emailing them to let them know of the problems during my stay but haven’t decided if it’s worth it.

  20. Sal Paradise says

    So I have to ask, when you and your “friend” are sharing that big king bed…who’s the big spoon?

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