The gecko on the wall above our table at Bella Cucina seems intent on joining our conversation. He’s harmless, I’m told, and there’s something entertaining about his bleating but either way, I request our table is moved slightly to the left, lest our new little friend above my head should drop and land in my glass of Louis Roederer Champagne.
I’m at the InterContinental Bali Resort along the beachfront at Jimbaran Bay where there’s a strong sense of being connected to nature and the elements. I’ve already witnessed a memorable sunset over Jimbaran Bay while reclining on the inviting wicker daybeds at the Sunset Beach Bar & Grill. Overlooking the bay, the sun seems to teasingly shimmy its way to set behind the headland at the end of the bay, before casting a magical lavender, peach and watermelon hue among the clouds in it wake. Afterwards, a short stroll along the beachfront, directly accessed from the hotel, takes me to the well-known fish markets and cafes. While dining on fresh prawns, calamari and fish – and sipping on a Bin Tang beer under candlelight on a table on the beach, the incoming tide edges closer and closer to my sand-soothed heels and toes.
The following morning I rise at 7am for the hotel’s yoga class. I find my way to the class passing the traditional-style, outdoor sculptures, wooden bridges and large ponds with floating lotus. Conducted outdoors in a meticulously manicured garden, breathing in deeply the Balinese air and getting in touch with my core, it’s a calming start to the day to stretch and flex with the birds chirping in the distance and the warming air beginning to rise.
As a Club InterContinental guest, my stay is made that much more pleasant by some extra inclusions. Firstly on check in, there’s no standing around the general lobby as my club status sees me whisked downstairs to a grand and stately air conditioned Club Lounge where I am seated and checked in while a man plays tunes on a glossy, black grand piano. Complimentary high tea for Club Intercontinental guests is served here daily along with complimentary evening cocktails, with the background twinkling of the ivories of course. A butler is on hand and the Club Lounge is open 24 hours – though you need to change if coming straight from the pool as appropriate attire and footwear is set as the dress code. It’s classic glamour and five-star luxury but without being pretentious.
Club guests also have exclusive access to their own pool. One morning, I settled in to one of the poolside cabanas with daybeds. Within minutes the heavens opened up with brief, tropical rain. Seamlessly the hotel staff appear and pull the white chiffon drapes to keep me dry within the privacy of my cabana. The pool looked so inviting, with its glassy surface, that I headed out for a dip during the nature’s sprinkling – feeling like a child again with the thrill of swimming in the rain. It helped knowing there was a fluffy towel and daybed waiting for me.
The large resort has many pockets where guests can relax, hide and shut away from the world – with large stretches of soft, comfortable grass where deck chairs are arranged. Equally, children are most welcome here and although I don’t have my children on this particular trip with me, I couldn’t help but notice all the features I know they would love. Lying on the daybed watching the frame-worthy sunset, I get chatting to a family from Adelaide on the daybed alongside me.
On a return trip to InterContinental Bali Resort, the dad is reclining peacefully, enjoying a sunset cocktail. His wife soon joins him and reports back that the kids are fine. He’s thoughtfully ordered his wife a drink and together the two share a quiet moment gazing out to the ocean. Within about a half hour, they’re joined by their nine- and six-year old children and together they share stories of their days, are laughing and cuddling on the daybed, large enough for all four of them. When I see them attempting to get a decent selfie holiday snap, I couldn’t help but step in and offer to take a photo of them on their camera – this moment too good to leave to the chance nature of a selfie that will invariably cut someone from the frame. The glow of the setting sun is reflecting on their faces as they smile towards the lens. I’m wondering as I say “cheese” if they might be back again next holiday.
After a spa treatment the next day where the ladies at Spa Uluwatu work out my crinks with the InterContintenal Signature Massage, I visit the Planet Trekkers to check out exactly what the kid’s club can offer children aged four and older. Little visitors receive their very own ‘Planet Trekkers’ passport where they get to fill in their details and ‘stamp’ their participation in various activities and when they spot various animals and flowers around the resort. With its own full sized swimming pool, sandpit and play equipment as well as a ‘computer cave’, the staff take children on such activities around the resort as duck and fish feeding; watering the plants, a nursery tour, Balinese art and craft making and the popular turtle release program.
There’s also a mini-soccer field at another part of the resort. For all that, I’m convinced the element my kids would love the most is the very cute and perhaps dangerously accessible child-sized buffet in Jimbaran Gardens – the open air dining area next to the main resort pool and with views of the beach. At a buffet table set at child height, kids can pick from a range of both healthy and treat foods. There’s probably not a page in the Planet Trekkers passport for this experience – but something leads me to believe they would recall their food selection with fond memories.