After three days spent in the tranquility of Bambu Indah, it was time to discover a whole new side of Bali. I had booked two nights at the Ritz-Carlton in Nusa Dua, a region on Bali’s southern coast known for its luxurious seaside resorts.
This is a Tier 2 property within the combined Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards program, meaning that a free night goes for 40,000 points. In my opinion that's an absolute steal, and hopefully this review will demonstrate why.
The first thing you notice about the resort is its striking physical features. The Ritz-Carlton is built into the steep cliffs of Nusa Dua, with the lobby, several restaurants, and some of its most coveted private villas located up on the top of the cliffs. Meanwhile, down below by the beach is where you’ll find the main pools, guest rooms, and the majority of the resort grounds. The entire resort is only three years old, and still carries that new property feeling.
A bellhop helped us with our bags as we arrived at the resort’s stunning lobby, which boasts killer views of the resort grounds below as well as the glimmering Indian Ocean in the distance.
The check-in procedures were completed in a highly impressive and personalized fashion, which set the tone for the hospitality throughout our stay. A member of the check-in staff sat down with us as we sipped our welcome tea, patiently explained the room upgrade we had received as well as the amenities we could enjoy, and then walked us to our room. What a way to welcome your guests!
We had been assigned Room 2108, which is located on the first floor of Guest Wing 2 of the guest suites. Getting there involved taking the elevator down to the lower levels and then walking for a few minutes.
This was my first time staying at a Ritz-Carlton property, so I was eager to see how it lived up to the glamour of the Ritz-Carlton brand. And as soon as I stepped into the room, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
Even the most basic rooms here at the Ritz-Carlton are considered suites – they’re known as the Sawangan Junior Suite – and the spaciousness of the room certainly lives up to the name. Moreover, as a Gold Elite member in the Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards program, I had requested an upgrade to the next room category, which would be a Sawangan Junior Suite with Pool Access.
These rooms are located on the first floor of each wing of guest rooms, and enjoy patios with direct access to a small lagoon along the side of the wing. The lagoons are hidden away from the resort’s public areas thanks to a thick layer of shrubs, giving the ground-floor guests in each block a decent measure of privacy.
Meanwhile, the regular Sawangan Junior Suites occupy the upper floors of each wing, the only difference being that those rooms have balconies instead of patios. There are six such wings of guest rooms throughout the resort, each with their own lagoon.
Jessica and I were thrilled that our upgrade request had been granted, and the first thing we did as soon as we settled into the room was to go for a dip in the pool. (I had also cheekily asked if it were possible to upgrade into one of the hotel’s breathtaking standalone villas, a request which was understandably turned down. Oh well, you never know...)
Taking a look at the room itself, you immediately see that the immense space is utilized to great effect, with countless features to make your stay as comfortable as possible. We begin with the hallway near the door, flanked by the walk-in closet and the toilet.
The hallway then opens up to the bathroom, where the bathtub and shower sit opposite to a glorious set of double mirrors and sinks.
The attention to detail is simply incredible – check out this little tub of bath salts, complete with a tiny spoon to scoop with.
While the open-concept bathroom is unified with the rest of the suite, there are sliding doors that you can use to close off the bathroom from the bedroom, or even to close off the bathtub and shower area from the sinks. You get to choose how much privacy you’d like at all times.
The king-sized bed dominates the rest of the space, sitting underneath an imposing wooden frame. On the opposite wall, you have a television screen that almost feels a bit small given the size of the room.
Then you arrive at the living area, where a lounger and a table complete the room’s interior pieces.
The in-room amenities are plentiful, including a coffee machine, bottled water, and a fresh bucket of ice (no need to hunt down an ice machine; simply call up guest services for a refill!)
Of course, the highlight of the Sawangan Junior Suite with Pool Access is the outdoor patio, where you'll find a mirror image of the indoor furniture. From the patio, you can step off directly into the water.
The lagoons are pretty shallow all the way across. It’s not safe for diving, but it’s pretty great for some casual swimming (arguably even better than the main pool for that purpose, given that all of the resort’s guests tend to congregate at the main pool, while at most a dozen or so guests have access to each block’s lagoon).
If you’re staying in one of these suites on the ground floor, you’ll want to be mindful of privacy while inside your room, since any of the other ground-floor guests might wade by in the pool. Use the electronic blinds and shades to fend off any stray glances!
As dazzling as the room may be, there’s so much more to the resort that’s yours to discover. The natural sea breeze makes walking around the property a pleasant experience, while you can always make use of the free buggy service by ringing up guest services using the in-room or publicly available telephones.
The Ritz-Carlton Bar & Lounge is located centrally, a short distance away from where the elevator from the lobby drops you off. Views of the mesmerizing Indian Ocean flood in via the floor-to-ceiling windows, making this the ideal place to catch a break from the sun or get a bit of work done.
From there, the paths open out onto the resort’s immaculate front lawns. Here, you can stroll through the herb garden, sharpen your skills on a life-sized chessboard, or visit the Ritz-Carlton Club, nestled away in a secluded corner of the front lawns behind a row of shrubs.
As far as I know, Club Level access is not complimentary even with Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Platinum status, since the lounge access benefit isn’t necessarily honoured at resort properties. Instead, access can be purchased for US$75 per person per day, and this price is reduced for members with elite status.
As a Gold Elite member, I ended up paying US$58 per person per day, which was tremendously worthwhile. I’ll finish up our tour of the grounds before coming back to the Club Lounge to showcase its numerous outstanding features and amenities.
The pathway to the beach takes you across a charming koi pond, where you are welcome to feed the fishes. For what it's worth, you can traverse the entirety of the resort in about five minutes on foot, but personally I find riding the buggies to be lots of fun as well.
At long last, you arrive at the main swimming area, which is composed of two large infinity pools cascading into one another, flanked by several shallower wading pools.
This is one of the most physically beautiful resort pools I’ve had the pleasure of dipping my toes in. My favourite thing was how they had a few loungers set up within the shallow wading pools themselves, so you could easily keep yourself cool while perfecting your sun tan.
A handful of large cabanas can be found around the pools and on the beach, and as far as I could tell, they were available for use on a first come, first served basis. It’s especially worthwhile to come out here early in the morning, since there’s relative peace and quiet until around midday when all the families with children come out to play.
The pool area transforms into Sawangan Beach (which the resort’s suites are named after), where a few more banks of lounge chairs are available. The beach here is massive, both in width – meaning that it stretches beyond the premises of the Ritz-Carlton, morphing into a public beach – as well as depth, since the sandbar extends way out into the ocean, meaning that you’re able to walk about 100 metres into the relatively shallow water. The sand is extremely rocky and uncomfortable on your feet, though, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it!
When you’re out here on the beach (perhaps catching the incredible sunset over the Indian Ocean), you can’t help but notice the striking Balinese chapel that the Ritz-Carlton maintains on its grounds. It’s a popular venue for weddings, and no wonder – just look at it!
Now let’s discuss the amenities and activities at the Ritz-Carlton. The resort boasts six restaurants covering a wide range of cuisines, from a tapas on the beach, to classic Western fine-dining, to gourmet sushi. But for those of you who are frugally minded, I have to say that there’s no better deal than purchasing Club Level access and making the most of it.
For US$58 per person per day (a reduced rate for Gold Elite members, a status you can obtain simply by applying for one credit card), you get to enjoy five exquisite meal presentations, sundown cocktails, and unlimited hot and cold beverages, including alcohol, throughout the day. Essentially, your stay at the resort transforms into an all-inclusive vacation!
Hold on. Did I say five meals? Yep. Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and evening hors d’oeuvres. I knew that Ritz-Carlton properties tend to take their Club Lounge offerings a little more seriously, but even still, I was blown away by the amount of food on offer.
The breakfast buffet is as comprehensive as what you’ll find in any luxury hotel.
On top of that, the Ritz-Carlton Club has a small à la carte breakfast menu as well, featuring some truly impressive dishes. Lobster scrambled eggs? Yes please!
While the next meal is advertised as a “light lunch”, there’s really nothing light about a buffet spread where you can keep going back for more portions.
I didn’t get a chance to take pictures of the lunch or the late-night spread, but we did enjoy a few afternoon treats on one occasion.
As for dinner? Well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...
While most of your meals will be centred around the buffet, the Club staff are extremely attentive, and their trademark Balinese hospitality was in excellent form. Every member of the Club staff would greet us whenever we arrived, our drinks were always refilled promptly, we were proactively asked whether we wanted coffee or tea during breakfast or after our dinner, etc.
And I haven’t even mentioned that as a Club Level guest, you have access to an exclusive pool within the backyard of the Ritz-Carlton Club!
Throw in the self-serve cocktails every afternoon, the two pieces of complimentary laundry per day, and the complimentary garment pressing upon arrival, and I think you'd genuinely struggle to not get your money’s worth when paying for Club Level.
And that's doubly true if you have kids, since you're allowed to bring up to two children, aged 6 or below, into the Ritz-Carlton Club with you at no extra charge. After all, while the restaurants here look impressive, they all tend to charge "resort prices"!
One last thing about the Ritz-Carlton Club: I'm pretty sure that the first lunch we had there gave me a terrible stomach bug, which was the only thing that marred my stay somewhat. After all it's kind of difficult to enjoy the pool and beach when I'm running to the bathroom every half an hour.
However, I'm hesitant to lay the blame squarely on the resort, since that's something that could happen in any kitchen. It won't stop me from returning to this otherwise excellent resort, unless I find out that this is somehow a common occurrence.
The final thing I wanted to comment on is the sheer variety of free recreational activities at the resort. When we checked in, we were provided with a list of all the activities for the upcoming week, and boy is there plenty to keep you occupied.
There's morning yoga, aquatic yoga, surf lessons, dance lessons, Indonesian language lessons, etc. We only stayed here for two days, but I don't think we would've been bored at all if we had stayed for longer.
The only activity Jessica and I ended up participating in was the cocktail class, where we sharpened our mixology skills at the Raku restaurant by crafting (and consuming) our own Japanese pear mojitos.
We would've definitely tried our hands at more activities, if it weren't for the debilitating stomach bug that hit me soon after I had downed my concoction 😭
While it's certainly a shame that I was struck by illness during my stay, it remains undeniable that the Ritz-Carlton, Bali is a truly world-class luxury resort, featuring stunning guest rooms (aim for that Pool Access upgrade!), an insanely valuable Club Level package, the best of Balinese hospitality, and a gorgeous (albeit rocky) beachfront.
All of that makes redeeming your points here one of the best possible uses of Marriott Rewards points, in my mind. 40,000 points for a free night is daylight robbery, especially if you get five nights for 160,000 points using the 5th Night Free benefit. On top of that, you can take advantage of the attractive Club Level pricing to make your stay essentially all-inclusive. It doesn't get much better than that when it comes to splurging on a vacation using your hard-earned points!