Rating: **** (4 out of 5)
Jimbaran is a small fishing village in southern Bali. It is also a booming tourist resort with an abundance of luxury hotels catered mainly to Western vacationers. In October 2005, a series of suicide bombings in Jimbaran – one of them near the Four Seasons – left 20 people dead and shattered the tranquility of the idyllic village. Although it wasn’t as devastating as the 2002 bombings in the Kuta area that killed over 200, the 2005 attack served as a painful reminder that Western tourists remained vulnerable targets of Islamic extremists. The second attack also called into question Indonesia’s counter-terrorism effort and left hotels in Bali fending for themselves.
|The Intercontinental, Bali|
Seven years later, the stigma of terrorism and destruction is far behind Jimbaran. The dark clouds dispersed and gave way to blue skies and pristine beaches. Tourists flock back to the area known not only for its picturesque surroundings but also its strategic location. Jimbaran is just 15 minutes from the Denpasar International Airport and less than half an hour from popular sites such as the Garuda Wisnu Kencana Cultural Park (home to a 75 feet tall statue of Vishnu), Padang Padang (a popular beach for surfers), and Uluwatu Temple (where wild monkeys roam free).
|Jimbaran, strategically located in southern Bali|
I spent a long weekend in Bali this month and Jimbaran seemed like a natural choice. I went with the Intercontinental because it isn’t as pricey as the Four Seasons and still offers the modern comfort of an international hotel. I checked into my 800-square-foot duplex, which includes a spacious living area on the first floor, and an internal staircase leading to the upper floor bedroom and a granite-covered ensuite bathroom. There is also a generous terrace overlooking Jimbaran Bay. The western exposure means residents can sunbathe in the comfort of their own rooms all afternoon if they so choose. Typical of Indonesian interiors, the duplex features rattan furniture and teak wood floors and ceilings, adding to the warmth and home-like ambience. Though some may find the furnishings somewhat dated, to me they are simply part of the island charm.
|The Singaraja duplex suite|
The hotel complex is enormous – so much so that staff will take literally 20 minutes just to bring a bucket of ice to your room. The Intercontinental has over 400 rooms, six restaurants and a bar at every turn. The nature aficionado will appreciate the many water gardens providing a beautiful habitat for water lilies and koy fish. As is the case for most resort hotels, the Intercontinental has its own private beach open only to hotel residents. Well-mannered waiters are always visible and eager to bring you that holiday daiquiri right to your hammock. I had dinner at the Jimbaran Gardens, one of the hotel restaurants that serves Indonesian and Balinese cuisines. The food is authentic but the prices are steep. So after you grow tired of paying HK$200 for an entree or HK$100 for a cocktail (normal for Hong Kong but exorbitant by Balinese standards), you are well-advised to venture out of the resort and explore the island. There is a delightful fusion restaurant across the street from the hotel called Balique. For more options, the hip and happening Seminyak area is only a 10-minute taxi ride away.
The Intercontinental has all the amenities a vacationer needs to enjoy a long weekend without ever setting foot outside the complex. From its architecture to interior design, it is evident that the hotel has taken great care to preserve the island’s rich traditions while infusing Western sensibilities. As such, it leaves the guest pampered without feeling like an intruder to the indigenous life. That being said, with so many options on the island, you are bound to find cheaper alternatives to the Intercontinental without compromising on quality.