Intercontinental Bali Resort & Spa – Jimbaran Bay

We landed just after 9:30 pm, and I expected the hotel to meet us on the walk from the plane to immigration, apply for our visa on arrival, escort us to their lounge, take our passport and luggage tags, and collect our bags. But there was no one waiting.

Now, the above service is a published benefit of a club booking at the Intercontinental in Jimbaran Bay. And there really shouldn’t have been any confusion.

Back on January 17th – right after I made the booking — I emailed my flight arrival information to the hotel.

On January 18th the hotel confirmed


we have updated your flight details in our system. The transfer from and to the airport will be included as a Club InterContinental guest and you will be greeted by our club host at the airport and they will escort you to our VIP lounge at the airport and they will also assist you with your luggage and visa on arrival.

I’m paranoid, so again on March 11th I reconfirmed my flight arrival information.

That same day the hotel confirmed


our Club Representative will Page by your name before Queue in Immigration for Visa on Arrival.

But no one met us. We took care of our visa on arrival, collected our bags, paid a porter to assist us and found someone to help contact the Intercontinental. At the airport I was shown the hotel’s arrivals sheet with no flight information down for me and I was told that “if I had only told the hotel my flight information someone would have been there” to meet me.

Instead of a leisurely and stress-free arrival after 36 hours of travel, we had the stress of figuring out our details on our own. (Ok, whoa is me, but still.)

We waited outside while the property found an older van to bring us to the hotel. Things weren’t starting smoothly at all.

Next problem… my room upgrade

On January 18th I emailed the hotel to learn what I might expect as a Royal Ambassador member in terms of an upgrade.

On January 21st I received a reply “we are pleased to inform as you are Royal Ambassador member we will upgrade to our Balinese suite which is 2 next level category from club room.”

See, this hotel is sometimes known to upgrade a single room category for both Ambassadors and Royal Ambassadors, to a Club Duplex Suite. I emailed in hopes of securing something a little better, and they delivered!

But when I arrived at checkin my room card had a room number whited out and a new room written in. I asked what kind of room I had been given – this could be very good or very bad, I figured — and I was informed that I was ‘given an upgrade’ to… a Duplex Suite.

I showed them the written correspondence from the hotel confirming me into a Balinese Suite (I get everything in writing… and I bring it with me… just in case.). They were a bit stunned and shell-shocked, didn’t know what to do. It was late at night, a bit of running around to get ahold of a sufficiently empowered manager I suppose. There were no available Balinese suites so I was upgraded 2 further categories to a Jimbaran Bay Suite. Checkin took 45 minutes, though.

The room had a bedroom, sitting room, master bath with separate shower, jacuzzi tub, toilet room, and dual sinks (toileteries were Aveda). There’s a guest bath, living room, dining room, and small complete kitchen (with separate butler’s entrance). The balcony stretches the entire length of the room with three separate sitting areas and looks out over the Bay.

There was a bowl of fruit and wooden box of extensive (36 IIRC) chocolate truffles, along with a bottle of wine, waiting for us in the room.

There were two minibars, one in the kitchen and one in the living room. Plenty of waters (refreshed several times throughout the day) in box minibars, in the bedroom and the bathroom. But the liquor was entirely removed from both minibars, with empty spaces where the bottles previously had been. I didn’t press for a refill of the half-empty mini-bar. Some hotels really don’t like the Royal Ambassador free mini-bar drinks benefit, the Intercontinental Bangkok did this to me a couple of years ago as well.

In-room internet is available wired and wirelessly, for a fee but with a twist. They have several different price points and 24 hours amounted to ~ US$20. The twist is that this was 24 hours of actual use so it was well more than enough for my five night stay. Even with a wireless router plugged into the wired connection, their password system was pretty clever and two people could not both be online at the same time with the same password.

The hotel has the best club lounge of any Intercontinental, anyhere. There’s an extensive breakfast, afternoon tea, evening h’or dourves, and nighttime snacks. In addition the lounge is open 24 hours and has a menu to order off of all day long (six items, changes daily). All complimentary. It amounts, if you want it to, to full board.

And breakfast can actually be taken elsewhere as well, in any of three other locations including the main buffet restaurant and beside the club pool. We tried the main restaurant one morning, but actually left our mostly uneaten plates and retreated back to the club lounge. The main restaurant, trafficked by guests from throughout the hotel, was just too busy. And too loud (with live music, too early for me before I’ve had my coffee) and really not that much more extensive a selection. I far preferred the service and ambiance of the club lounge, whether seated inside or outside.

It’s worth noting that the hotel is really 3 hotels in one, a main hotel… the upscale Sinjara Wing, and the deluxe Club section. I much prefer the more exclusive and quiet club section to mixing with the rest of the hotel which feels like a huge uber resort (which it is, though they pull it off well).

So I was ensconced in an absolutely wonderful suite, but I was still miffed about the airport pickup incident. I had mentioned it at checkin and all they gave me was an apology and a “thank you for letting us know, we’ll make sure this doesn’t happen to any future guests.”

I realized that at that hour no one was apparently empowered to fix anything on the spot, which really is something that the hotel could improve upon. I asked to me contacted by a manager the next day.

The next day, though, we went for afternoon tea in the lounge and the club manager approached me. She explained that they had just switched over to Opera several days prior and some data was lost in the conversion, including my airport pickup info. She gave me what amounted to $240 in spa credit as an apology. That worked. Spa was lovely. ~ US$50++ per person per hour for treatments, which is quite good for a top resort (though impossibly expensive for Indonesia of course).

I still think my all-time favorite overall spa facility belongs to the Sheraton in Pattaya. And the treatment rooms were probably a little nicer at the Le Meridien in Khao Lak. But overall, just outstanding. And those two spas are wonderful places to be compared to!

We had a couple of treatments during our trip, one comped because of the mixup with our arrival.

So, why did I choose this property and how did I pay for it?

Sure, I’m a Royal Ambassador but I might well have stayed at the Sheraton in Nusa Dua.

Well, I redeemed a bunch of Priority Club points back in December for Any Hotel, Anytime cards. I used a free weekend night certificate (the one that comes with the Ambassador and Royal Ambassador kits) and I paid for the rest with the pre-paid Amex hotel gift cards. At the 50% off redemption rate offered in December, a paid stay with these cards amounted to fewer points than an award. Plus you could book a club room (this hotel doesn’t generally upgrade to the club) and be upgraded from there. So, a great leveraged use of points.

But use of the points -> Any Hotel, Anytime cards aside, this hotel is well worth $279/night for club room. I definitely prefer a club room + upgrade here over an entry-level room at the nearby Four Seasons (pictures of which later, similar nights asking US$630).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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