PHUKET: I was channel surfing the other night when the Hollywood classic “Singin’ in the Rain” came up on screen. Settling deep into my comfy TV chair as my dog Koko lay nearby chasing dream rabbits across imaginary landscapes, things came to an all-too-sudden and conclusive end.
Lightning struck near to the house and within seconds a torrential downpour ensued which brought about the inevitable black screen of unhappiness.
With my late night movie-watching plans foiled yet again by a monsoonal deluge, my thoughts turned to a happy place, a recent trip to Bali. Here in the still of the night, with no pleasurable distractions at hand, was time to reflect on the latest of happenings down in Asia’s other great resort island destination.
I’ve been trying to convince my 4 and 6-year-old daughters that Koko can talk, but only when they sleep at night. Taking up the cause, my questions to our new coma-like golden retriever are met only with heavy breathing. My midnight caller as it were, goes mute.
Meanwhile back in Bali, the island is coping with similar growing pains and the public sector is finding it hard to keep pace. Transportation infrastructure remains germane to keeping up with the Jones (or these days it’s the headline-grabbing trashy Kardashians). One key improvement that is completed is the underpass at the key intersection that splinters off into Sanur, Kuta and is the gateway to Seminyak. I was able to fly through what previously was an area featuring unbearable gridlock.
Tracking back a bit to the airport, work on the new international terminal is nearing completion and the mangrove toll road which will speed up travel to Nusa Dua, Benoa and Sanur is also ready to roll out. What is driving the work is the upcoming APEC event in October which will see Bali act as a showcase for all of Indonesia with heads of state visiting from around the world.
Perhaps this is what Phuket needs to speed up our slowly evolving transport links? David Bowie’s Under Pressure starts playing in my mind-pod.
As for what’s happening in the trendy scene, a quick trip up the east coast past Sanur landed me at the Komune themed resort in Keramas. Tapping into a niche market, this property has already landed a following both from surfers and those wanting to chill out at the beach club. Smart-yet-affordable accommodation is featured along with a stand waiting for your very own board. This place is worth a visit whether it’s overnight or just a day trip.
Next up is the taste of 007 Bond at Luna2 Studios in Seminyak. It’s all about retro design and chic living as designer Melanie Hall has created an absolutely fabulous sensory experience in the boutique hotel.
Be it retro TVs or an underground nightclub with viewing portals into the swimming pool, this place pops the imagination. Everywhere you look, there is a new, well-thought-out piece of art and more. Good news is that Luna2 is heading out of Bali to Niseko and Phuket as well.
For those looking at an excellent upper midscale offering, Australian chain Mantra has teamed up with well known local hotelier Michael Burchett at a new property just near Nusa Dua. Fresh, well located and excellent value for money, this property is great for families and those wanting to be near to the Bukid, Uluwatu and also the Laguna-like destination of Nusa Dua. Good news for those fans of the long-established Bali Golf, which has been closed for upgrading for over a year, is that a reopening is in the cards within this year.
Another new hotel is the U Paasha which is located right in the center of Seminyak on Jalan Laksmana. The property is operated by the Thai hotel chain U, and this location is strategic for nightlife, eating, shopping or just being there. It’s a fresh, stylish yet uncomplicated proposition with spacious rooms.
So much to do and so little time, yet I have to fit on one new dining spot down in Batu Belig named La Finca. I loved this place with its authentic Spanish tapas, upbeat vibe and casualness. Settle in for the evening, as while the small plates come, you can chat, drink and just simply enjoy one of the island’s brash new outlets.
There it is, Bali on offer and a great getaway from our spate of monsoon madness. It’s always a good thing to get off the rock and experience a little bit of something else for a cool change.
Bill Barnett is the Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks and can be contacted through C9hotelworks.com.
— Bill Barnett
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