When I was a young, sprightly Poe running wild and breaking hearts (ie: dating), I went out for a bit with a bartender/soccer player named Ian. He was pretty hot with dark curly hair and piercing blue eyes. And very fit, obviously. Ian was sleek, sexy, laid back, and a ton of fun. He was also far too cool for my nerdy self. We dated for a summer and that was it.
A little while later, I dated Alistair (yep, I was in the throws of my British dating phase). Alistair was also gorgeous, but in a far more patrician way. He was calmer, more established and successful, very classy act. Well, classy except for the fact that I found out soon after we started dating that he had a live-in girlfriend. That was the end of that.
We were quite reluctant to leave the W. The staff were great, the food was wonderful, the grounds were gorgeous and our villa was just beyond words.
But we wanted the opportunity to compare the two properties. So after a couple of nights at the W, we moved on down the road to the St. Regis.
We got to the huge, open-sided lobby in the early evening at the end of a very long day of sightseeing. I sunk down in one of the ornately carved wooden slung-back chairs and admired the ginormous flower arrangements scattered on equally ornately carved wooden tables throughout the massive lobby. The ever patient and ready to haggle XFE went and checked us in.
The fine folks at St. Regis had already upgraded us, but after two nights in our own private villa, we were ready for a serious upgrade – another private villa, this time, connected to the 3,668 square meter (I’m told that’s almost an acre) salt water lagoon that runs down the middle of the property.
What can I say? As much as we loved the W in Seminyak, the St. Regis was completely out of this world.
The grounds were stunning. Full of floating flowers and carved wooden furniture, it was the epitome of Balinese elegance. The beach was pristine, the lagoon was dotted with frangipani, and every evening there was a fire dance in the main courtyard before the fire dancers lit torches throughout the property.
Our villa was phenomenal with our own little pool, raised covered cabana, and deck chairs; a bathroom that could host a party featuring Leo DiCaprio and all his girlfriends; and a butler’s pantry with a sleeping room right off of it. In case Leo gets sick of one of the girls and wants her out of his sight.
Speaking of butlers, we had one. Actually, we had several, and they, like the rest of the staff, were so amazing and accommodating.
This is the part where I tell you the food was meh, but that would be a total lie. The food was fantastic. Every morning we had a giant breakfast at the main restaurant Boneka, featuring a huge buffet with just about anything you could imagine. And from the moment you sit down, the staff is bringing plates of the Chef’s special selections out to your table that you can try as well. On top of that, you could order hot entrees delivered to your table, including a lobster omelet and caviar. Yep. Caviar. As much as you wanted. Madness, I tell you, sheer madness.
One night we got dressed up and gorged ourselves on seafood at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Kayuputi. The seafood was fresh and wonderful. The service was just a tad bit smothering (it was a very slow night) and we felt like the open kitchen concept made our clothes a bit smoky, but we often feel that way about open-concept kitchens.
Another night we went back to Boneka for the dinner buffet. Let me tell you, this was not your standard Vegas buffet. I opted for just the appetizers buffet and it was great. All kinds of seafood and little salads, meats, cheeses, rice dishes, noodle dishes, curries, the works. My favorite part of Boneka, whether at breakfast or dinner, was the Indonesian Corner, where you tried local specialties like nasi kuning (a yellow rice dish with shredded chicken and egg) or serosob ayam (a spicy chicken curry-type dish). So good. (Read more of the Indonesian foods I ate)
And, I know it sounds totally hokey, but it really was the staff who made the experience so memorable. Everyone was so nice and friendly and just incredibly helpful. From the guys who helped us work on our Balinese while clearing away our demolished breakfast plates, to the staff on the beach who each stopped what they were doing and took turns trying to help us get our kite up in the air on our last day (kites always seem to work just fine that first day, but suddenly become a questionable purchase on the second day), everybody was extremely customer-service oriented. We sent the whole butler staff into a total tizzy one day when we asked if it would be possible to watch a Barclay’s Premier League game anywhere on the property (alas, it was not possible, which I think pained our butlers more than it did us. Of course, we had a private pool, a bottle of rose, and a plate of chicken nachos to soothe our souls.)
We spent our evenings playing dominoes on the deck at the King Cole Bar (fantastic Bloody Mary tasting flight, by the way) and one evening I made the mistake of asking whether all of the St. Regis properties did champagne sabering. Before we could even finish our next game, an older gentlemen appeared with a saber and a bottle of champagne. We had to assure him that it was just an innocent question, and we were not, in fact, demanding a champagne beheading. He seemed a bit disappointed, actually.
But my favorite memory of Bali, even more than the food, or the people, or the private pool, was a very special program that is actually aimed at kids. The St. Regis has a turtle hatchery, tucked way back along the far end of the beach near a small temple probably used by the staff. I can’t even find anything about it on the St. Regis website. But, from what we could gather from the staff, there are some endangered sea turtles that use the St. Regis beach to bury their eggs in the dark of night. When the eggs hatch, St. Regis staff, or turtle rangers, scoop them up to put them in this hatchery and keep them safe from predators. After a few weeks, once they are bigger and stronger, the staff starts releasing them into the ocean. And, for a small fee (I think it was $20 per turtle), St. Regis guests can come back at sunset and release them too. The money helps support the conservation efforts.
It’s a really cool program, and I must say, I got very hopeful and teary eyed when I saw our little turtles heading out into the giant ocean. Sort of like heading into the big, scary, unpredictable world of dating in your 20s. Hopefully, they avoid any British boys with live-in girlfriends.
If those turtles were really smart, they’d stay at the St. Regis Bali as long as they could. I’m sure glad we got to stay there.