Club Med Bali – The Indepth review!
This was our 13th stay at Club Med Bali and our 28th Club Med holiday in total (OMG – I hear you shriek). We also have two adult children and a close family friend who have all worked in Club Med. Therefore we believe we are in a position to give an extremely accurate and detailed review of how well this Club Med village compares to others in the region. If you are thinking about a CM holiday, you will be spending a considerable sum of money, especially if you are taking your family. By reading this review (and the others we have done on CM Phuket and CM Cherating) you will be in a position to choose the Asia Pacific Club Med Village that best suits you.
On this occasion we travelled as a mid 50’s couple, without children or grandchildren but met up with friends from New Zealand (also very regular Club Med travellers) who had brought with them, 4 ‘children’ ranging from 16 - 21 years old. We travelled in the Australian July school holiday period. The temperature was 29 degrees every day with a nice breeze blowing all day and nearly every night. We had a little rain on a couple of evenings but other than that, the weather was perfect.
Before we review this particular CM, we should point out that staying in a Club Med resort is not like anything else you will experience. It cannot really be compared to say, staying in a 5 star hotel where most guests keep to themselves. Club Med is like a ‘village atmosphere’ and there is a good chance that by the end of your stay you will have spoken to, mixed with and possibly even shared a meal with people that you had never previously met. Your degree of enjoyment in this atmosphere is dependent on you making an effort to socialise. Sure, if you wish, you can spend the entire duration of your stay speaking with no one, engaging in no activities and more likely than not complaining that it is not your kind of holiday. Here is a tip, if interacting with other people is not your idea of a great holiday, save yourself the money and don’t go to a Club Med! We have found that the more personable you are, especially to the staff, the better the holiday you will have. To this day we still meet up at various locations throughout the world, with people from around the world whom we have met in Club Med. They have become lifelong friends.
However, as a minority of other reviewers have shown, a Club Med holiday is not for everybody!
Many negative reviews of CM refer to the cost verses the value given. If you are prepared to book up to nine months in advance, you can get up to 40% off the normal accommodation price. We refuse to pay the ‘rack rate’ which by anybody’s standards is exorbitant. Instead we only ever stay in CM when a special is being offered and this often includes Easter and School holidays. If you subscribe to the CM newsletter, you are given advance notice of these deals before the general public.
Do not ever walk in off the street and book in for a couple of nights. You will be charged an almost unbelievable sum of money. Instead, ring your travel agent, even from the front gate of CM if you have to, or sit in the street outside the Club and use your mobile device to book online. You will pay nearly half what you would otherwise be asked to pay at the front desk.
Also, CM is now a predominantly family orientated resort and many of the activities are designed to keep children amused so their parents can relax and enjoy themselves. Accordingly, the pricing for a single person to stay in a room by themselves in CM is now almost prohibitive. Our advice is that if you are not bringing a family, at least bring a friend to share the room cost.
Okay, so back to our Club Med Bali experience......
Jet star had kindly upgraded us to Business class so we arrived in Bali refreshed after a 6 hour flight from Sydney. Denpasar Airport is in the middle of being rebuilt and is expected to open its new facilities in October 2013. It is way overdue for a rebuild and when finished will put Denpasar in the same category as Bangkok , Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur airports . However with building comes chaos and we were very appreciative of the Club Med representative who met us at the Arrivals Gate and guided us through the maze that is the building site, to the waiting Club Med bus.
It is only a 20 minute trip from the airport to CM Bali, unlike Cherating (60 minutes) and Phuket (60 – 90 mins depending on the time of day). On arrival at nearly midnight, we were met by the Acting Chief of the Village (The actual Chief was on leave), a very personable 28 year old who welcomed us like we were old friends (we had never met him). We were guided to our room (which wasn’t really necessary as we have requested and been allocated the same room for the last 8 trips) and our bags were delivered to the door shortly after. Even though it was now after midnight, the bar was still jumping and we had a celebratory drink with our friends from New Zealand who had arrived several days earlier. The holiday had at least started well!
Club Med Bali is located on its own beach with uninterrupted beach access (unlike CM Phuket). Manicured lawns stretch from the bar/main pool area, all the way to the sand on the beach. It is set in approx 500 hectares of magnificent gardens and located in Nusa Dua, a very upmarket and very safe part of Bali. Many other international hotels are located in the same area. It is about as far removed from the hustle and bustle of Kuta as you could possible get, yet if you want to be a thrill seeker, it is only a half an hour taxi trip to “The Bar” area of Kuta, scene of the Bali bombings.
A 20 min walk from CM Bali will put you in a major shopping /restaurant precinct (The Bali Collection) and there are also numerous market stalls in a laneway that adjoins the CM Bali property and others only a 10 min walk away. Basically, it is close to everything you need (unlike Club Med Cherating)
An afternoon walk along the beach-front (approx 4 kms), allows you to see all of the hotels that are located in this part of Bali. With the exception of the JW Marriott hotel being constructed next door to CM Bali, which when finished, will be simply enormous, there are very few hotels, if any, that match the size and landscaping ambiance of CM Bali. The time and effort put into maintaining the grounds of CM Bali has to be seen to be believed. Barely a palm frond drops to the ground before it is removed from the grass. A daily walk is also an excellent way to reduce the number of excess kilos that you will most definitely put on from eating at Club Med – more on that later.
Okay, let’s start by reiterating what we have said in the past. If you are going to any Club Med thinking you are going to get a luxurious room, then you will be bitterly disappointed. Even if you book a suite (which is just 2 rooms converted into 1 - and you pay double) it will be far short of what a discerning person would call ‘luxury’. The rooms in CM Bali were last renovated about 12 years ago (we were there during this process) and they are probably about due for another renovation. Having said that, they are much better than most of the rooms in CM Phuket and infinitely better than nearly all of the rooms in CM Cherating, when we last stayed in those resorts (see our reviews).
Your choice starts with a ‘Club room’. This is a basic room, no balcony and usually found on the up-per levels. Next is a superior room on the middle levels. This is the same as a club room but with a very small balcony. Or you can have a terrace room, situated on the ground floor only with lots of shrubbery outside and with a terrace that has an umbrella and two sun loungers. By default, the outside area of these rooms is a mosquito breeding haven. Finally if you want to pay twice the price of a club room (and get twice the size) you can have a suite.
Booking tip! If you want a connecting room, specify this first and then ask if the room type you want has interconnecting rooms. One of the most common problems reception has to deal with is people who have requested a particular room type, then on arrival they say they want an interconnecting room, only to be told the particular room type they have requested does not have interconnecting rooms or that all the interconnecting rooms, for the class of room they have booked, have already been allocated. People, if you want an interconnecting room, request one when booking, not at the front desk on arrival!
The air-conditioning in all classes of rooms has often been described by other reviewers as being ‘not cold’. However, what is not cold to you may be freezing to us and vice versa. For the record, I can tell you our room was 23.9 degrees C at night and 24.5 degrees C in the daytime on it’s coldest setting. (Yes, I did take a digital thermometer with me!) The insulation of having a room above us may have helped. It may not be as cold as some would like, but given it was dehumidified air and the outside temp never dropped below 29 degrees during the day, relatively speaking, it felt quite cool enough and we didn’t get colds!
The toilet in the bathroom is not separate but is at least on the opposite side of the bathroom to the shower, with a partial dividing wall.
The shower recess is not big, but is adequate. The hot water was always hot and the water pressure was excellent. Fresh towels were provided every day if you wished and bed linen was changed every three days .The room was serviced every day by very friendly staff and despite leaving valuables on display (lap top, video camera, loose change etc) nothing was touched.
On day 2 we noticed water dripping from the roof near the air conditioning duct (same thing happened during our last visit - in the same room). Also our shower drain was flowing very slowly and so we reported both issues to reception on our way back from breakfast. In the 15 mins it took us to get back to the room (via the beach), the air-conditioning guy had been and fixed the problem and in exactly 29 mins (Yes..I did use a stopwatch!) the plumber arrived and cleaned out the shower drain. We could not have asked for more prompt service.
The blocks of rooms in CM Bali are all located in increasing distance from the main restaurant/pool area. The ‘Flores’ is closest to reception and the restaurant followed by ‘Madura’ then ‘Java’ (our favourite) then ‘Lombok and then as far away as you can get from the main area is the ‘Sumba’ block.
The Sumba block is quiet. There is absolutely no noise at night time from the ‘entertainment’ and it is close to the adult’s only pool, the spa, golf course, squash, archery, putting green and looks out over the soccer fields. It is however, a good 10 min walk from your room to the main restaurant, theatre and main pool. Our preference is to be located about the middle of the resort which puts us far enough away from the noise of the night time entertainment in the bar (unless we are part of it!) but just a relatively quick short cut across the grass to get to the restaurants.
THE RESTAURANTS/DINING ROOMS
There are two restaurants in CM Bali. The main restaurant (Agung) is a buffet style restaurant and it has 3 air-conditioned dining areas. This is where the majority of the guests eat and is by far the better option if you are looking for variety in your dining experience. All the dining rooms were part of the major renovation that took place when the Club was totally closed for 3 months over Xmas 2008. If you have been to CM Bali prior to that date and you go back now, you will not recognise any of the old eating areas. They have been completely re designed and all are very effectively air-conditioned, but there is still a large outdoor undercover dining area for those who like to sweat whilst they eat.
The restaurant manager is Pratama (whom we knew from previous visits) and he has the onerous responsibility to ensure that (at least when we were there) 850 guests plus up to 100 staff are seated and fed, 3 times a day. There is no doubt, Pratama knows his stuff!! Sure he has been doing it for a number of years now but he runs a tight ship and it shows in the professionalism of his staff. Always friendly, he inquired every day as to how we were and actively sought feedback on the previous day’s meals.
It was Australian school holidays and the Club was full. As you would expect, there were a lot of children....and we mean a LOT of children. Surprisingly, this was a good thing for us adults without children, as most parents chose to eat with their offspring in the two ‘child friendly’ dining areas. This meant that in the specifically designated ’adult only’ dining room we could choose to sit almost anywhere and given there were sometimes up to 8 of us wanting to eat together, this worked very well.
A trick we learned very quickly, is to delay eating your evening meal until about 8.00 (the main restaurant opens at 7.00pm). This allows the hungry little cherubs and their parents to feed themselves and usually they have left by 8.00. You can sit in the bar eating canapés from 6.45pm so you won’t starve.
The only time this ‘trick’ doesn’t work is on ‘Medal night’ when all the children who have won at some sport or activity have a special show in the theatre where they are presented with their ‘medals’. This finishes at 8.00pm at which time these children and their parents then descend on the main restaurant like a plague of locusts. On this night it definitely pays to get to the restaurant well before 8.00pm.
The second restaurant is called the ‘Batur’ and is used for late breakfast, morning tea, late lunch, afternoon snacking and dinner. For dinner there is an a la carte menu which is limited to a choice of Meal A or Meal B, each consisting of several courses. Whilst the choice may be limited, the food was excellent (more about the food later). You are served at your table and you get starched white table cloths and linen serviettes. The manager of this restaurant is Dogan, a very capable and personable fellow who would stop at nothing to ensure we had the best service and dining experience possible.
At other CM’s this type of a la carte dining is highly sought after, (CM Phuket in particular) with guests having to book after 8.00am each morning for dinner that night and all tables usually being reserved by 8.05am! Again, thanks to the number of adults with children in the Club when we were there, you could book any table on any night in the Batur restaurant and always get a reservation. The night we went, it wouldn’t have even been 50% full.
In fact, we and our New Zealand friends were specially invited to dine in the Batur restaurant by Pratama and the Executive Chef Ravin (more about him later), with the promise of ‘something special’ being served to us. If I was a cynic, I would say this was purely to fill some seats in the restaurant. However Dogan was our personal waiter for the evening and he ensured that we were treated like royalty. In addition to the meal choices we had made, the ‘something special’ turned out to be a seafood platter the Executive Chef had put together for us, which was not on the menu but consisted of some of the freshest and most tasty seafood we have ever experienced in any CM. A truly memorable meal and we have to thank Ravin, Pratama and Dogan for this. It is worth noting these people are not GO’s and hence are not moved around to different CM’s on a regular basis. There is every chance that they will still be there if you are planning a trip, say, within the next 12 – 18 months.
All right I confess, this is one of the main reasons I go to Club Med and have been doing so since first going to CM Noumea in 1988. I was always amazed at the sheer variety and quantity of food available. In the 9 trips we did there, the food was simply fantastic and I was devastated when it closed in December 2001.
Fast forward to 2013 and how things have changed! For the last few years we have been noticing a reduction in the amount of food leading to the impression that perhaps there was not as much variety and quantity. After our bitterly disappointing food and general dining experience in CM Phuket, we were really hoping CM Bali would not be the same.
We started by asking why there were now no table cloths used in the main restaurant. Environ-mental pressure from washing and cost savings was the answer given. As a result of this action CM Bali has received a Green Globe Certification for Sustainable Tourism. It was pointed out to us that the fine dining experience, complete with linen tablecloths, could still be enjoyed in the Batur Restaurant and that we still got linen serviettes in the main restaurant every night. We agreed we could probably cope with that!
So why does there appear to be less food? The answer is that CM, like every other hospitality provider is trying to reduce their costs and wastage whilst still providing what the client wants. Research has shown that the average CM guest is looking for better quality food and is prepared to sacrifice some variety in return.
Enter Ravin, Executive Chef ‘Extraordinaire’, who remembered us from our last visit. Under his guidance, the quality of the food and presentation was as good as we have ever seen in a CM. (Remember this man supervises the preparation of the equivalent of nearly 2,850 meals a DAY!) In the week we were there he had fed guests and staff the equivalent of nearly 20,000 meals. Despite the logistics of this exercise being mind blowing, he still made the time to inquire if we were happy with the food and if there was anything special we would like to see served. Remember, on top of this workload, he also found the time to prepare that special treat for us and our friends in the Batur Restaurant.
It is established protocol in any CM that the daily menu is modified to accommodate the largest nationality present in the village at the time, whilst still catering for the others. When we were there, the prominent nationality was Australians (60%). It is worth noting that with the closure of CM Noumea in December 2001 and the closing of CM Lindeman Island in January 2012, CM Bali is now the closest and most inexpensive CM for Australians to visit and so it is always going to be a favourite.
DINNER (7.00pm – 9.15pm)
As well as the usual extensive cuisine selection from many parts of the world, we enjoyed specialty dishes like steak (which was not tough and cooked to perfection), chicken, prawns, smoked salmon, clams in garlic, fish, beef wellington, fish, escargot (snails), fish, crab claws, fish, calamari, Oh and did I mention there was fish?
The reality was that though there may have been a slight reduction in the variety, what was presented was certainly equal too and in some cases better quality than anything we have ever experienced in a Club Med. The best part of all was it did not matter when you chose to eat, ALL the dishes were still available throughout the entire meal time. Occasionally there might be a few minutes wait (especially before 8.00pm during the children’s ‘feeding frenzy’) whilst a particular item was replenished, but overall it was expertly managed and nothing like the debacle that was CM Phuket at Easter this year.
As we always say, nobody does dessert like the French and CM Bali did not disappoint. This is where you can really stack on the kilos if you are not careful. We will not bore you with details about the extensive selection that was available for lunch and dinner but we can say with confidence, if you have a sweet tooth you will not be disappointed with the desserts in any CM.
BREAKFAST (7.00am – 10.00am) Late breakfast (10.00am – 11.00am)
We have to admit the breakfast was pretty much the same every day. Thankfully though, it was not limited to the European gluten fest that we experienced in CM Phuket. With a predominantly western clientele, there were eggs poached, fried, scrambled or made into the omelette of your choice. In addition there was bacon, sausages (chicken & beef), pommes noisettes in lieu of hash browns and lots of tomato sauce (ketchup). In addition, all the usual Asian choices were available together with cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurt and an extensive selection of freshly baked bread, pasties, croissants etc.that gluten intolerant people would love to eat, but can’t!
LUNCH (12.15pm – 2.15pm)
Lots of variety and well presented, covering all nationalities. If any leftover dishes from the previous evening were served for lunch, they were so altered or cleverly disguised, you could not tell. There was plenty of different desserts and multiple flavours of very nice ice cream.
The main Bar in CM Bali is an interesting structure in that it resembles a flying saucer! Under that is a circular bar with completely open sides with 360 degree views across the main pool, uninterrupted views across the lawns, beach and out to sea. A cool sea breeze blows almost constantly. It is a very nice place to spend time!
Children have their own serving area at this bar and even have steps provided for them so they can reach the bar and be at the same level as adults when ordering. A nice touch!
Some reviewers have mentioned they think the drinks in CM are ‘watered down”. On our first night we believe that our Balieys on ice had been diluted. That could just have been because of the ice melting in it but it does support the suspicions of other reviewers. Subsequent to that though, we can report that even though we were specifically looking for a repeat of that event, it never occurred.
In CM Bali you can get unlimited alcoholic drinks from 9.00am until well after midnight. It is worth remembering the brands of spirits and beer used in CM are ‘local brands’ and may not have the same alcoholic content that you are used to at home. If the drinks are not as strong as you like, the very obliging bar staff will happily give you ‘doubles’ on request. Problem solved! It was also refreshing to see the brand name ‘Baileys” available as part of the unlimited drinks package. In CM Phuket we were served a local substitute which we found was quite undrinkable.
Even though the club was at full capacity, we never had to wait more than a minute at most to be served. The bar staff were very friendly, even remembering our drinks of choice and more often than not, our names.
We have, over the years, described the wine served in Club Med at lunch and dinner as ‘similar to paint stripper’. We can confirm that in CM Bali, nothing has changed! (In CM Phuket they were at least trialling some Californian wines which were actually quite nice). However the table wines in CM Bali are definitely still an ‘acquired taste’ and they do take some getting used to. However, once your palette has adjusted, you can usually find a red or white (or both) that will be drinkable during your stay. There are also premium imported wines that you may purchase at ridiculous prices if you feel the need to.
There is a beach Bar open from 10.00am – 6.00pm, a very nice spot to sit in the late afternoon, overlooking the beach and ocean.
It is worth noting that despite the almost constant availability of alcohol, in all the years we have been going to Club Med, we have never seen anyone so intoxicated that they had to be asked to leave the Bar or Restaurant area.
PHONE & INTERNET
Free Wi-Fi is available in all rooms and in the bar area. There is also a free internet kiosk open at specific times of the day with computers that, shall we say, are not exactly ‘cutting edge’ technology. The speed of the connection throughout the village is very slow. For those of you who are geeks, I measured it at less than 1mbs (0.89mbs to be exact). Fast enough to check your emails, check Face book, upload the odd photo and to make audio Skype calls. Any kind of video conversation is impossible.
Mobile phones work well throughout the resort, (better outside your room than in) and there are several carriers to choose from.
THE ADULT QUIET POOL
A new feature of CM’s in the Asia pacific region is the “adult quiet pool”. This is an exclusive pool area that is reserved for adults only (ie over 18 yo’s) and an area where speaking is not encouraged. Great for sleeping, reading or just getting away from the hustle and bustle of CM life around the main pool. In CM Phuket this concept is relatively new and adjoining the pool they have also built an ‘adults only’ speciality restaurant.(This is the restaurant that gets booked out 5 mins after reservations open at 8.00am).
In Bali this ‘quiet pool’ is about as far removed from the main pool area as is possible and it is truly a haven! Adjoining this area is a spa, steam room and sauna, again solely for adults. Because, when we were there, the club was so full of parents with their children, this area was underutilised and adults who were without children, could pick when and where they wished to relax. It was absolute heaven! There is a full time pool attendant who serves cold water and non alcoholic drinks all day. Make sure you check out this area.
There is a snorkelling boat that goes twice daily (weather permitting). There is also windsurfing and kayaking and because CM has direct access to the beach, there are also beachside BBQ’s and beach volley ball at 4.00pm.
HYGEINE AND HEALTH
A small number of CM reviewers have mentioned getting gastroenteritis and blamed the food. Whilst we accept this can happen, one of the main causes of upset tummies in Club Med is ‘over eating’. If your stomach is used to a certain diet and then all of a sudden it is digesting food from numerous other countries, sometimes several different cuisines in the one meal, you have to expect your stomach at some point to say ‘enough is enough’ and start to rebel. Similarly, if you stick to your normal cuisine but have that second entree and perhaps 2 helpings of the ‘special of the day’ followed by perhaps 3 different desserts, again, you have to expect that what goes in must eventually come out, sometimes when you least want it to!
Despite reassurances, we still have an issue with the same plastic place mats being used 3 times a day, 7 days a week. When most people finish one course, they place their food covered knife and fork on the place mat and go and get another helping. On specific questioning about this, we were assured every mat is regularly submerged in a bath of antiseptic /disinfectant. However prior to that happening, the possibility of micro-organisms breeding, especially in 30 degree heat, must surely be a worry.
Not-withstanding the above, when your children complain of sore tummies and have diarrhoea, before you blame food poisoning, you might like to ask them how many helpings of hamburgers, cokes, fries and ice-cream they had at kids club that day? Children’s eyes are often bigger than their stomachs!
The water in all CM’s is said to be safe to drink but everybody has a different capacity to adapt to the water in a foreign country. To address this, all CM’s provide unlimited bottled water, both in your room and around the resort. We suggest you use it exclusively and do not drink the water provided in jugs on the tables (even though it is allegedly also from bottles). No matter where we are in the world, we always only drink the bottled water that we have opened ourselves and we even clean our teeth with it.
Club Med is the largest ‘sports club’ in the world. Despite the extensive precautions taken, with the numerous activities offered, there is always going to be the chance of suffering an injury. Ironically, in our experience, more people suffer minor injuries like falling over, upset tummies and heat exhaustion, rather than injuries from doing the organised and extremely well supervised sports activities. There is an infirmary on site with a nurse, but no doctor. Expert medical help is available from numerous private medical centres/hospitals located throughout Bali. Three mins drive from CM Bali (opposite the Bali Collection Shopping centre) there is a state of the art medical centre/day surgery. As you would expect, these places are not cheap. It is absolutely essential you have travel insurance if you feel you might need these services.
Some reviewers have criticised the lack of assistance given to them when they required the services of the nurse in CM. During our first evening meal on this trip my wife suffered an allergic reaction. This resulted in her not feeling very well at dinner and needing to return to the room. She got as far as the top of the main restaurant stairs, collapsed to the floor and when she regained consciousness, proceeded to projectile vomit down the stair access (not a particularly good look!) Within seconds, the restaurant manager, assistant manager, Acting Chief of the village and 3 wait staff were assisting her and within 2 minutes the nurse had arrived. We could not fault the care and attention given by all concerned. By the following day she had completely recovered and all we could do was to apologise for the inconvenience caused. In the days that followed many staff continued to ask as to her wellbeing which was very much appreciated.
CHILDREN/THE KIDS CLUB
Having been a Dad in a previous life, I know there is nothing worse than being on holidays and having your children constantly asking you to buy them food, drinks and to pay for their entertainment. In any CM you will never have to put your hand in your pocket for anything to do with your children (aged 4 and over) because it is all included. In fact as our children became teenagers and had their own rooms, we would just show them where reception was and tell them we would meet them there in 7 days time, for the trip home!
Whilst we didn’t use the Kids Club on this trip (and to be fair, haven’t done so for quite a number of CM holidays now), we had a look at what was available. There is a Babies Club (extra charge) Petite Club (extra charge), Mini Club, Kids Club and Teenagers Club. With the kids taken care of for most of the day (and half of the night if you wish), adults can spend quality time together or if preferred, apart, doing activities that they don’t get to do at home.
Watching the Mini Club kids marching around the grounds singing “we are the mini club...better than the kids club”, brought back very fond memories of many years ago when our own children where that young and doing the same thing. Our children still say that their CM holidays were the best holidays they have ever had.
CM Bali is a big village and the audience for the shows, especially in School holidays, is always going to be appreciative. As regular CM people, we can say that the shows in Bali were no better or worse than in other CM’s. If you have never seen them before, you may very well be amused/entertained. If you have children with you who have never seen this type of entertainment, they will go home unable to speak of anything else, (providing that after the full day of activities in the kids club, they could stay awake long enough to watch!) New video technology has been introduced and this helps to provide an ever bigger spectacle.
The GO Team in Bali was up there with the best we have seen. Friendly and dedicated to their jobs, we could not fault them (and we have seen a lot of GO teams in our time!)
We make a point of not commenting on specific GO’s in our reviews primarily because by the time you book and go to CM Bali, there is every chance they will have moved on to another village. Those whom we did meet, were very engaging and delightful. One girl who sat with us for several meals was great company but in fairness we must point out she was a friend of the family friend who had been a GO on CM Lindeman Island (and as it transpired she had also been born and raised in the adjoining Sydney suburb to where I was raised as a child). So there was a bit of pre existing common ground there.
I was, however, particularly impressed with the number of young female GO’s who regularly sat with us for meals. We know this is part of their job description but for me it was particularly impressive that they choose to sit with a mid 50’s couple and our friends from New Zealand. It wasn’t until my wife reminded me that the 21 year old son of our New Zealand friends, who is highly intelligent, an accomplished trapeze artist, very muscular, a night time party animal and is basically, (I’m told) ‘eye candy’, was also sitting at our table on the same occasions.
Oh well .........!
Fellow CM friends from Melbourne who had been at CM Bali just three weeks before we arrived, had phoned us and said the Chief of the village and his assistant were the best management team they had ever experienced in 20 years of going to CM. That is a pretty big claim and quite honestly we were keen to put that to the test.
Imagine our disappointment when we discovered the Chief of the Village (Managing Director) Jean-Benolt had gone to Europe for ‘professional development’ for the entire duration of our stay and we were to be left in the hands of his assistant Pierre Jean, a mere 28 yo! (who my wife assured me on more than one occasion, was ‘very easy on the eyes’.)
However, as we said at the beginning of this review, we had been met on our arrival by Pierre Jean - PJ to his friends - and he welcomed us as old friends, despite it being nearly midnight.
Over the course of the next 7 days we had many occasions when our paths crossed and there can be no doubt he is one of the best, if not THE best, Acting Chief of Village we have ever seen in 25 years of going to CM. This man was over everything that was happening in the club, at any time. In fact, his ability to seemingly be everywhere, almost at the same time, made him appear more omnipresent than Santa Clause on Xmas Eve!
On one of the many occasions when he took time out to talk to us, I asked him how he maintained his energy levels for what is about a 19 + hour day. What drug was he on and can we please buy some I asked! He reassured us that his drug is ‘passion’. Passion for his job, passion for the guests and passion for his staff.
In our experience, the successful running of any CM is dependent on the Chief of the Village and the way in which he/she motivates their staff. When we were in CM Phuket, the Chief was a ‘locum’ and only in caretaking mode until a replacement arrived. In our opinion this was reflected in the attitude of the GO’s and we felt they were nowhere as committed to their jobs as they should have been.
The good news for CM Bali is that the Chief and his assistant PJ are likely to remain at CM Bali for the next 18 months. They have some fantastic renovation ideas that have been approved to go ahead in the next few months and these will be of significant benefit to future guests at CM Bali. We were sworn to secrecy, but you can be assured they will add to the whole CM Bali experience.
Check out time is 11.00am but if your room is not booked for another guest, you can stay in it (for a fee) until your transfer to the airport. Unfortunately nearly all flights from Bali to Sydney or Melbourne do not depart until around midnight, meaning it is desirable to retain your room until at least the time you go to dinner on the evening of your departure. Due to the 100% capacity of the Club and the fact that we had not advised reception 24 hours in advance that we required our room and not withstanding a fairly animated conversation with reception staff to the effect that we wanted to remain in our room, we were advised we would have to vacate at 11.00am.
A chance meeting with Pierre John at breakfast, resulted in him being able to arrange, albeit with some difficulty, for us to stay in our room until our departure.
How often has the managing Director of any hotel you have stayed in, gone to such personal lengths to appease you? We were impressed!!
When we finally left the Club by bus after dinner, we were personally farewelled by several staff and JP himself.
For the reasons set out in the previous 6,800 words, Club Med Bali, for us at any rate, is the best CM in the Asia pacific region. We have tried the others but we keep coming back because it is superior in so many aspects. The uninterrupted beach location, proximity to Australia, the OK rooms, the totally rebuilt restaurants, dining areas, bar and ‘quiet pool’ and the current overall management and in particular the restaurant management, make it in our opinion, superior to the others we have stayed at.
For the statistically inclined, on Trip Advisor, the percentage of people who think Club Med Bali is ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very good’ at the time of writing, was 90.16% of all reviews. Those who thought it ‘poor’ or ‘terrible’ were a mere 3.6%
There can be no doubt these statistics vindicate our opinion of CM Bali and are they considerably better than the same figures for CM Cherating and infinitely better than the figures for CM Phuket.
Okay...you knew I would have them. CM Cherating comes in with an ‘Excellent’ and ‘Very Good' score of 83.5% and ‘Poor’ and ‘Terrible’ score of 8.6%. CM Phuket could only manage an ‘Excellent and Very Good’ score of 74.8% and the ‘Poor and Terrible’ score came in at a considerable 12.2 %
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We have booked into CM Cherating next year (at a 40% ‘earlybird’ discount) for a week from Good Friday (18th April 2014). It will have been 2 years almost to the day since we were last there. Our biggest issue with that Club was that the rooms were obviously built around the same time Noah built the Ark and had never been renovated. We understand room renovations have already started...watch this space!!
(If you would like to read our in depth reviews of CM Phuket and CM Cherating. Just click on the picture to the left of the top of this review)
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.