It must be hard for a property to maintain its own identity in the ever-competitive market of luxury Bali resorts. Some lean heavily on comfort in the hopes for some distinction, while others are generous with dining options and amenities to set them apart.
Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu need not try too hard with the above, and while they do just fine on both comfort and amenities, the location makes things a bit easier for them. Claiming an enormous stake in the gorgeous and less-touristy area of Uluwatu, the resort is a pristine picture of what a modern Bali stay should look like.
Uluwatu has quickly become one of the more popular spots on an island forever looking to disperse its alarming issue of overtourism. It’s now no longer just keen surfers and families heading out to the largely rural area sprinkled with spacious luxury beach clubs and resorts; everyone has Uluwatu as part of their itinerary now. Whether it be for the gram-worthy, sun-soaked partying spots of Omnia and Ulu Cliff House, or the culturally immersive essentials of GWK Cultural Park, with its spectacular 122-meter tall Garuda Wisnu Kencana statue, or Uluwatu Temple, where hundreds climb daily to not only fawn over the excellent views, but witness the iconic Kecak Fire Dance at sunset.
In The Heart of Uluwatu
You’re looking at around a 30-40 minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport, in modest traffic. And let’s face it, modest traffic is tricky to gauge when it comes to Uluwatu. While driving anywhere within the area is usually fine, with only scooters in your way, venturing outside of Uluwatu can take awhile due to Bali’s notoriously busy traffic.
Luckily there’s plenty to do around the resort, and most of the attractions mentioned above are only a 20-30 minute drive from the lobby.
Situated near the coastline, it’s only a short walk – albeit down a fairly steep series of sandstone steps – to a part of Impossibles Beach that feels completely private. It’s here the hotel offers morning yoga sessions for guests, taking advantage of the beaches relatively secluded location north of the busiesr Padang Padang beach and south of Bingin beach. You’re only likely to find a few surfers passing by, since Impossibles beach is widely known as one of the best surfing spots in Bali.
For a livelier time spent outside of the resort, head on over to either of the two aformentioned beaches which are surrounded by plenty of Warung style eateries.
Although the real reason for younger folk to stay in this area is either (or both) Omnia or Ulu Cliff House. The former should be immediately familiar with anyone who has an Instagram account, while the latter is a bit more lowkey and benefits from a more relaxed atmosphere that trades Omnia’s wall-to-wall Miami-like partying for something that feels more intimate and organic.
You’ve also got hotspots like Hatch and El Cabrone nearby, but I’ve been to neither so wouldn’t be able to comment any further on either.
Keep It In-House
While Omnia and Ulu Cliff House are certainly worth a visit, Radisson holds its own with its lavish pool lying in the shade of tall palm trees, flanked by a fresh juice and herbal tea bar, called Lucid Liquids, on one side and a shaded restaurant and bar, called Choka, on the other.
The real charmer here is just how many sun-lounges and cabanas frame the pool, with ample room for those who want to shut off and soak up the sun.
The pool is far from the only body of water giving the resort’s playground a tonne of character, with design paying homage to Bali’s water temple complexes as streams of water curve and snake across ground-floor guest rooms and around buildings.
Directly straight from the head of the pool is the resort’s two restaurants. Both with a mix of indoor seating and the necessary al fresco tables. First, there’s the lovely Artichoke, with a spectacular Balinese inspired interior that hosts a “Super Breakfast” each morning, boasting three stations with just about every morning buffet staple you can think of, and then some.
Although the quality of the food is more average than excellent at Artichoke, the MVP of Radisson’s self-contained culinary scene is the Italian-leaning Filini, with some great choices and a cosy atmosphere.
The most picturesque option would be The Lookout, an elegant bar serving cocktails and tapas taking advantage of its height to look out beyond the resort, to the placid Indian Ocean. Although I didn’t find the time to experience it during my stay, I did manage to have a bit of a walk through of the impeccably dressed interior, the entrance of which is located near the elevated lobby (you have to walk down to get to Radisson’s sprawling playground).
A beautifully air conditioned, well equipped fitness centre should keep longer term guests happy, while the requisite spa – SpaESC – gets by with seven lovely treatment rooms and a sunken lounge – again, surrounded by water – at the heart of it all for guests to relax pre- and post-treatment. It even has its own beauty salon.
Guest rooms are where I feel Radisson Blu have a serious edge over other properties. The thoughtful Balinese design is subtle and not overdone with plenty of dark woods and symbolic features, while a commitment to living space is definitely appreciated. At 58sqm, my Deluxe Panoramic Room was a dream to walk into after a late-night flight.
An exceptionally large king bed sits at around 2×2 metres, while the 400 thread count linens certainly take care of the comfort factor. A TV standing opposite is quite small for this level of luxury, but it’s hardly an issue given the winning combo of fast Wi-Fi and Netflix.
Save for a lounge and table, there’s a lot of empty space between the bed and distant balcony, kept nice and bare to open up the room a little bit. The balcony itself is quote spacious as well, benefitting from the room’s position near the corner of the building, giving off wide views over the resort grounds and the ocean beyond, a sight lifted by lush greens and bright blues during the day.
The separate tub – albeit smaller than I would have liked – and shower stands in the similarly large bathroom towards the entrance.
Those wanting to go even larger can book into one of three Ocean View Suites, mammoth multi-room apartments that stretch all the way up to 148sqm and do plenty to keep guests sitting in the lap of luxury.
Unlike many islands dotted around this part of the world, Balinese service relies on speed and efficiency. There’s no “island time” excuse to fall back on, that I’ve found, which means a rather seamless hospitality experience from check-in to check-out.
Nightly rates here start from around AU$237, which is not too bad at all considering the level of service and comfort you get.
Though most of that value will be squeezed out of the fact that you’re right in the heart of Uluwatu, which is populated enough with bars, clubs, pristine beaches, and cultural experiences undiluted by overtourism, that you won’t really feel the need to hop over to more popular areas like Seminyak and Canggu.
FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE
Address: Bali Uluwatu, Jl. Pemutih, Pecatu, Kec. Kuta Sel., Bali, 80364, Indonesia
Contact: +62 361 3008888
The writer stayed as a guest of Radisson Blu Bali Uluwatu. This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are independent.
All photos supplied.