I was taking a trip to Asia on Award Miles with Cathay, and the seat availability required about 12 days in Asia. So I wasn't going to stay in Malaysia or Cambodia for the entire time, and looked for another place to get on my list of places visited.
Bali popped up as a place to see, and I started searching for points deals. I had many hundreds of thousands of Marriott points so I was looking for a very special experience, and found the Ritz was in the budget. I booked 5 days, gaining the 5 days for 4 worth of points deal that Marriott frequently has for a property. I had booked the lowest end room, as that was the only one available for points.
Having read about several ride scams online, when I was contacted by the hotel for my reservation, I opted for a car arranged through the Ritz. Billed directly to my room to boot (more on why I wanted this later).
I landed at the Denpasar International Airport just at Dusk, cleared immigration (a breeze, not a hiccup to be had), collected my bags and passed customs into the arrival hall. It was a chaotic scene of car services, both arranged and freelance, some had even snuck into the hallway before you exit the Customs channel. Fending off many unsolicited offers for a ride, I scanned down the wall of people pressed up against the guardrail, and saw a driver for the Ritz with my last name on his card. I exited the guardrailed area and he took my bags and brought me to his Toyota sedan (nice car). He then proceeded to drive me to the resort, which is on the south side of the island. It was about a 30 minute trip. Interesting layout of roads.
We got to the resort entrance, and there was a huge vehicle block with security station manned by 5 people. The car was thoroughly searched, inside, out, and even underneath for bombs and weapons. Sadly an unfortunate reality since 2005 in Bali. We were driven up to the entrance and the Ritz bellmen jumped into order, asking my name, getting the bags, and guiding me to the second security checkpoint with a bag x-ray and metal detectors. Past that, and you're into the complex, a complete world away from anything else.
The on duty manager was already waiting for me as I arrived in the lobby. To preface this, I was then a Marriott Platinum Premiere, which at the time was the highest status one could attain, so it triggers certain things at certain properties. He brought me to a special area in the lobby, against the open window, overlooking the main resort area 60 feet down the cliffside, stretching to the sea. He informed me that because of my status, I had been upgraded to the Ritz Carlton Suite (I knew nothing what that meant at the time), and that there was a special discounted price for the Ritz Club for me, in addition to 3 free items laundered a day, discounts in the shops on property, at the restraunts, and various other things. He then left for me to peruse the options, and a receptionist came over with fruit and drinks.
I opted for the Ritz Club, as I have used that before at the Ritz in Cleveland and knew it would be probably worth it. Was I ever ever ever overwhelmed by how much so it was worth it.
Then when all of that was settled, the manager took me down a long corridor winding away from the lobby to an elevator. This brought me down to the ocean level of the resort, and we walked along a softly lit path through foliage and ponds to the cart stand. We then were driven down to the closest building with rooms in it to the shore, and offloaded at it's own cart port. Then the manager brought me to the room. Stunned does not begin to describe how I was. 1500 square feet. My bags were already in the dressing room. The Guest bathroom and living room were lit, and the curtain to that side of the room was open, showing the glow of the property through it. The bedroom on the other side of the room and the massive bathroom was difficult to process at that moment. The view off the attached double width balcony had the ocean in easy view, framed by trees, and various resort areas.
Next Morning - The Ritz Club
I was pretty tired, and I dozed off, but still being affected by jet lag (this is over a week into my trip... seriously?!) I woke, up exceptionally early to a view that was quite remarkable of the sun and the ocean. I showered, got dressed, and went up to the Ritz Club for breakfast.
The Ritz Club is a separate building on the resort (as of 2019 that seems to have changed), with it's own sitting, dining and swimming areas private to it's guests. Breakfast is both a buffet and a made to order affair. Your choice, or both. Even though it was humid, I decided to sit outside and soak up the warmth as I knew what I would be going back to in Minnesota soon enough! I had the Beef Cheek and Quails Egg. It was amazingly tasty and so so tender.
I sat for a while longer, then went inside the club and picked up a pastry and sat down in the indoor area for a while before deciding I was ready to go back to the room and prepare a day.
The property is pretty expansive, and it's a good walk from almost anywhere to anywhere. The cart service is available 24/7, and you can get them to any point on the lower resort. I walked a lot.
In the morning there is water and towels around the grounds for joggers. Marginally used by people during my stay.
They have a Spa, an Exercise room, Shops, the Ritz Club, Meeting spaces, the MASSIVE central pool, the beach, several dining options, a few bars, a kids area, a perfume school, a wedding chapel, and many other activities you can have planned by the Concierge.
They have a separate building for the Concierge where you can arrange packages on property, or excursions off property. I arranged for a car for the entire day around $100 to take me around Bali. That excursion is included here.
This is in the cliff, overlooking the property, serving Indonesian dishes
The Beach Grill
Actually haven eaten here, it was magnificent. The food was so good, and the wine was even good. The prices were quite steep in my estimation, but when billing to the room, one doesn't think about that much. It was such a great location near the shore and eating with the doors open, perfect temperatures. Devine. They also have a bar near the pool attached, and it's the first bar to open during the day. Just saying...
Senses Breakfast Restaurant
This was included as part of my being a Platinum, but I never went. Every morning was the Ritz Club instead. I did walk through, and the amount of food at the buffet was staggering, and quite diverse.
Breezes Tapas Lounge
I never got over there when it was open. Spanish small plates, tequila drinks, fairly standard Hispanic offerings. I'm telling you the Ritz Club sucks you in and you rarely want to leave it.
High end Japanese, at the top of the cliff, views are amazing. Also contains quite a nice lounge with incredible recessed seating areas connected by bridges over reflection ponds.
The Ritz Carlton Lounge
This is where you can get wings, and drinks. And believe me, I did. They were quite tasty. Also it was the only place I could find to slide the hotel branded pen into my pocket. They were on top of them everywhere else I signed for things.
Day 5, it was time to leave. I didn't want to. It was such a great stay and such a serene property. Anyways, everything I had done I had billed to my room, because Marriott had just implemented Instant Redemption where you could pay for your incidentals with points! At the time it was 190,000 points for $1000usd.
I had charged on everything about $1005 of services, meals, drinks, Club Lounge, driver for a day to see some of the Island, etc. While checking out in the Ritz Club, as it was a brand new program at the time, I was the first person to have used it in the entire island. There was some confusion, that was straightened out and they just put it all to 190,000 points. Bam, done, not one out of pocket dime spent on the resort. Don't worry about them not getting value, they get reimbursed fully from Marriott on points as a cash transfer to the property. Now you see why I was keen to bill everything through the hotel.
I had a while before my flight, and this property has a waiting room with drinks, coffee, tv, seats, so you can wait for the time for your car. I had lounge access at the airport, so I was kinda keen to get a move on and only spent about an hour "relaxing". Then my car arrived and off I went.
This has been so far the most excellent place I have ever stayed, and should the opportunity arise again, I will be going here. A world away from the world in absolute paradise.