It’s cool in the lounge where Daniel (my friend who has flown to Bali to meet me for the weekend) and I sit, awaiting our keys to our suite at the Grand Mirage Resort.
“Would you like a drink?” Asks one of the hotel’s staff, clad in a skirt, button-up shirt and heels. “We have wine,” she says, following up.
I take one look at the sweeping view of the Indian Ocean outside of the windows to the lounge and smile to Daniel.
Yes, wine, please.
We take the glasses filled with light pink liquid and raise them towards each other.
“To Bali,” we say, smiling.
The ocean view suite
Daniel and I haven’t stepped beyond the immaculately clean lobby when reception informs us our weekend is going to be beyond amazing.
“We’ve upgraded you from an oceanview room to an oceanview suite.”
“Did you hear that?” He asks me as we walk away from the desk. “They’ve upgraded us.”
“We’ll see,” I say, trying not to get my hopes up. I don’t get upgrades. I get rooms with spiders and showers that don’t work.
But, as per usual, my Austrian friend is right. We’ve got a suite.
The two of us take the elevator to the fourth floor and exit, walking down a long and airy hall to the end of the corridor where a statue awaits us at our door. We slide the key in …
“It’s kind of like we’re in a museum,” I whisper as we take in the entry way, lined with statues and backlit.
Then, we move towards the main part of the room. To one side are floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Grand Mirage’s well-manicured grounds. There’s a moveable flat screen television, a little minibar (with complimentary refills daily, thanks to our reservation being all-inclusive), a couch, table and a chair.
To the other side is the master bedroom, a gorgeous, dark-floored masterpiece with a poster bed swathed with shimmery see-through green fabric, a wrap-around balcony and a bathroom complete with bath tub (delicious) and shower.
He and I exchange delighted looks.
“I almost want to jump on the bed,” I tell him, trying to contain my delight at our luck with the suite.
“Yeah, this isn’t bad at all,” he says, whipping out his phone and making a quick video. “I can’t wait to post this on Facebook and let everyone see my home for the weekend.”
And, what a home it was.
The great outdoors
Because we are gifted with the all-inclusive designation, we have access to all non-motorized sports at Grand Mirage Resort. That means we get to hop on a catamaran or try our luck wind-surfing. I skip the windsurfing, but Daniel gives it a go.
We do take up the catamaran. While it is scenic ride off-shore, I’m disappointed that it is a quick 15-minutes. I barely find a comfortable position on the vinyl before we are turning around at the reef and heading back to shore. But, it is a nice break from sunning and swimming to hop on a floatation device and take in the resort and the water from a different perspective.
Then, there’s the beach. While Daniel and I are here, the beach isn’t ridiculously crowded. Sure, a family ends up camping right next to me on the second day and chatting loudly as I try to fall asleep. But, I can only imagine the resort during high-season. We manage to find seats each day, although sometimes people leave their towels after they’ve departed the beach.
As far as the beach goes, it is clean. And beautiful. There are gorgeous day beds to purchase for $15 a day. And, then there’s the sea. It’s super warm. And, the seaweed likes to get entangled in my toes. After a quick swim, I opt for the pool instead.
The pool at Grand Mirage is huge. There’s a waterfall, a volleyball area and more. While parts of it are overrun with kids (hey, this is a family resort for the most part), I am able to find a spot where I only have to dodge jumping kids a few times.
Our first meal at Grand Mirage is the Grand Cafe buffet. It’s decent — but I’m a vegetarian and there are only a handful of choices, so for the remainder of the trip, Daniel and I opt for a menu instead.
Our first night, we head to the Jukung Grill, a gorgeous open-air restaurant nearly on the shore of the Indian Ocean. Over more rosé, I dine on the grilled fish and listen to the soft lap of water hitting the sand and a group of traveling musicians serenade the guests.
Dinner our last two nights is spent at the resort’s Italian spot, La Cascasta. Daniel can’t get enough of the dishes — particularly the lamb. I love the fresh bread and olive oil.
After three months in Thailand, fresh olive oil is pure heaven.
Breakfast every day is a gorgeous buffet — again without too many vegetarian options — but with an omelette station that makes some of the best omelettes I’ve had in SE Asia.
Lunch varies between Jukung and Grand Cafe. I can barely stomach the coconut I order as a drink — its hot and doesn’t have the same flavor I’ve grown accustomed to in Thailand; and the veggie burger I order seems more like a big dollop of mashed potatoes with veggies mixed in. But, it’s not bad. And, with a view of the tropics, I can’t really argue. Whatever is lacking in taste is made up for in sheer beauty of the surroundings.
One of the best parts of being all-inclusive is the free booze. There, I said it. It’s a vacation and booze is definitely a part of anything that is categorized as a vacation in my book. The first night, we fill up on rosé wine. The rest of the weekend, we’re a bit more conservative.
I don’t want to be hungover in paradise.
I do love the swim-up pool bar. And, the mojitos they put out have just enough liquor to give me a buzz after the second.
But, after that, we’re pretty responsible.
Thalasso Bali Spa
I’ve been to plenty of spas in my day, thanks to living in Las Vegas. When we walk through the sand and sea shells of the cream-colored spa, my heart flutters.
This. This oozes relaxation.
I indulge in a 55-minute aroma therapy massage and it feels like heaven. Serious heaven. Set inside a deep blue room with little lights inset in the ceiling, reminiscent of twinkling stars, I instantly feel my body unwind (although it wasn’t too tight to being with, thanks to living in Thailand and the bounty of inexpensive massages I treat myself to on a weekly basis).
“You ok?” My masseuse asks as she gently glides her hands over my back, slick with oil designed to ease muscle aches (you know, from that overnight in Bangkok since Air Asia doesn’t offer any non-stops from Chiang Mai to Denspar).
When the massage is done, I feel light as a feather and slip back into my bathing suit to sidle up to the pool-side bar.
The customer service
Daniel and I are lounging on our cushion-y chairs, soaking up the sounds of the Indian Ocean our first evening when a staff member comes up to us.
“We are going to play football, you want to come?” He asks us.
I feel like I am on a cruise. Although, I’ve never been on a cruise this is how I imagine staff to be. Go, go, get involved.
“Sure, I can do sports,” Daniel says, pulling himself up from the chair and disappearing off to go and kick a ball around with others.
Throughout the weekend, the interest in our time at the resort is apparent.
“Everything OK Miss?”
“Would you like to …”
“How was your meal?”
“We’ve arranged your transportation …”
It’s like I walked into a bubble of care where the customer is actually important. It’s a nice change from meals where plates are put down without regard to the company at the table.
The bottom line:
This resort caters more towards families and couples, and at times the kids and couples making out in the pool can be a bit much. But, the resort can’t control that. I love the attention to detail — the floor mats in elevators remind guests what day it is, because, you know, it’s easy to forget when you’re in paradise. Customer service is above average. Rooms are clean, beautiful and well-maintained. With the all-inclusive, the mini-bar is re-stocked daily. For free. Amenities are wonderful, minus the lack of veggie options in the restaurants. Having the award-winning spa on property is fantastic, plus there are options to have an outdoor massage on a whim. Would I go back? You bet.
Editor’s Note: My time in Bali was courtesy of Grand Mirage Resort, however all opinions are my own. If you have questions regarding this, please read my disclosure policy.