Monday, October 21, 2013

REVIEW | Mantra Nusa Dua: The (fairly) new kid on the block

(Update, Nov. 23, 2014: I just learned that the hotel is no longer part of the Mantra chain. It's now called Puri Nusa Dua.)

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My view every morning at breakfast.

The thing with staying at newly opened hotels is that, well, everything is brand new, much like our experience at Hotel Icon in Hong Kong back in 2011. You're almost always sure you don't have to worry about dated furniture, icky bathtubs, or poorly-maintained facilities in general.

Just recently we got to try another new hotel, in Bali this time. And this new kid on the block is Mantra Nusa Dua, the Australian hotel chain's latest addition to its family, which is just around four months old. Here's a rundown about our experience.

Location
Let's get things straight first because when we say Bali we almost always think beach. Mantra Nusa Dua is not a beachfront property, nor is it within reasonable walking distance from one. However, the hotel has an hourly complimentary shuttle service that takes guests to nearby Geger Beach and back. The ride takes about five minutes or so. Just don't miss the last trip back to the hotel at 5pm, like a couple other guests and I did.

Apart from other hotels and villas, there are also no nearby restaurants or establishments. But then again, Mantra has another hourly shuttle service for guests who want to go to the commercial district of Bali Collection, which is a mere 10 to 15-minute ride. But at any rate, they can always call a taxi for you.

We already knew all this beforehand and it wasn't an issue for us at all. But if you really fancy a place that's right along the beach, then this is not the right hotel for you.

Architecture and general ambiance

The facade
There's very little resemblance to traditional Balinese or Indonesian architecture in this hotel. If any at all, it's probably the roof design because everything else is practically modern. Nevertheless, the building is bright and airy. It's actually a pretty-looking hotel.

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The hotel facade at dusk. Evidently, there's very little effort at alluding to that Balinese feel.

A wide flight of stairs greets guests upon alighting from their vehicles. The stairs lead straight to the lobby. I know some guests view this as an inconvenience but there's a little trick if you don't like walking up and down these steps. There are two walkways on both sides of the stairs right next to some rooms. After ascending about five steps, follow the zigzagging platform (but careful, there's water on the side), and before you reach the pool, there's an elevator right next to the stairwell.

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An inconvenience for some, an opportunity for exercise for others.

I just noticed, however, that the hotel has a problem with its finishing, at least in some areas. It looked like construction was rushed or something. Nevertheless, it's no big deal and it shouldn't affect your overall experience.

The lobby and footbridge area
While Mantra doesn't have a grand lobby to wow, one of its sliding doors opens up to a nice footbridge that runs over the entire length of the swimming pool down below and ends on the hotel's Orchid Lounge. Even if it's just hotel buildings on both sides, it's a beautifully executed design that just might wow you.

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A section of the lobby. That's the front desk right there over the corner.

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The opposite end of the lobby. The ceiling here is quite low actually.

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The footbridge that spans almost the entire length of the building, viewed from the Orchid Lounge.

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It's quite a long walk, I must say, which would probably make for a good wedding aisle, don't you think?

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A section of the pool below. The bridge is supported by concrete beams all throughout.

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The bridge has two of these side sections where guests can just sit down. If this were a wedding aisle, I imagine the photogs would be positioned here.

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While it's a really sunny spot during the day, these boxes are much more perfect at dusk or at night.

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A view of the hotel at nightfall. That's the ocean right there in the distance.

The corridors
Notice in the last photo above that the corridors are zigzagging. I think I kinda understand where some complaining guests are coming from because with such a design, the hotel doesn't make it easy for guests to get from one point to another, or even their room. Aesthetically, however, it does look nice.

The ground floor where the pool is located poses a similar situation. Guests may be able to skip the zigzag walk by going poolside, but beyond that they'll have to be careful as there's an ankle-deep manmade pond right next to the corridor and there are no railings whatsoever to prevent you from falling into it. Not a pretty good spot for kids actually.

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Careful or you might fall.

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A shallow pond right outside your room. Not a really good spot for kids and drunkards alike.

The basement area
The basement doesn't look particularly welcoming. You might wonder why I've wandered into this area but this is where the gym, spa, art gallery, and ballrooms are located. However, the place is rather dimly lit that you'd feel there's nothing else here. But don't be fooled.

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With a hallway like this you'd think you're already lost or something, but this one leads right straight to a huge ballroom.

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This pocket garden is a welcome sight. Around it is the spa.

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Right above this pocket garden is the swimming pool. It's actually a nice design in my opinion.

Booking and check-in
Mantra Nusa Dua has an online booking facility on their website, so getting a room is not much of a problem. Rooms are also available on other booking sites like Agoda.

The staff gave us a warm welcome and checking in was quite efficient. We also appreciate the fact that they did take note of our special requests, like putting us in a room that's on the third or fourth floors and that's near the elevator. Please note that there's a $200 refundable deposit to cover for incidentals.

Our room
There are about five different accommodation options at Mantra Nusa Dua, all of which have their own private balconies. We booked a Superior room, the cheapest one available but which goes anywhere from $99 to $215 (plus a credit card surcharge if I remember it right). Its only difference from the slightly pricier Deluxe room is a bathtub, which we really don't use anyway. That one goes from $119 to $235 a night.

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Our superior king room.

Consistent with the hotel's overall ambiance, our room is bright and airy, and is also well-lit at night. It comes with a king-size bed although there's a twin bed option available. Definitely spacious at 51sqm, the room is fitted with a bedside seating area, a living area set on one corner, a vanity, and a place to rest your luggage, while a huge daybed sits comfortably on the balcony. The bathroom has a rain shower head and an optional handheld one.

Amenities include a flatscreen TV, personal fridge, coffee and tea-making facility, electronic safe, and closet. If you need to press your clothes, the hotel staff can bring you an iron and an ironing board at no extra cost. There's also a hair dryer in the bathroom, by the way.

Complimentary WiFi is available throughout the hotel, with your username and password given upon check-in. We later realized, though, that access is limited to only two devices, so you need to log off at times. Nonetheless, the connection worked just fine.

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Another view of our room, this one taken from the balcony.

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Yet another view of our room, just to show every possible angle.

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A peek into our balcony. Huge day bed, don't you think?

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Shots of the bathroom.

Overall, I liked our room. My only problem would probably be the shower room, although I'd sound like I'm nitpicking already. There's something wrong with the way the floor was tilted so water doesn't drain as fast as it should. But that's all.

Dining

Rasa
The hotel's main restaurant, Rasa, is Indonesian for "flavors." This alfresco dining area is located on the ground floor overlooking the beautiful swimming pool. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is open from 7am to 11pm. Although I've only tried Rasa for breakfast, the staff here are so nice and warm, politely conversing with guests and even asking for comments or suggestions about their food.

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Rasa on the ground floor, with an open view of the kitchen.

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With the pool in sight, dining here is a pleasure.

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Dining spaces light up at nightfall. That's the Orchid Lounge on the second level and Rasa right below. The third level is reserved for functions and events.

Orchid Lounge
Although with different seating arrangements characterized by couches and plush seats, the Orchid Lounge is simply an extension of Rasa from what I've observed. No one was really here to dine. But still, it's a nice spot to just sit down and enjoy some coffee or tea.

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The Orchid Lounge.

Splash
Although primarily a bar, this section on the opposite end of the pool from where Rasa is also serves sandwiches and other snacks. There's also a small pool table for anyone interested in a game.

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A view of Splash. And oh, they serve San Mig Light here!

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Just like Rasa, Splash also overlooks the pool but from the opposite end.

The food
Having eaten two breakfasts here and having called several times for room service throughout our stay, I can say that the food in this hotel is pretty good. The breakfast buffet presents a fair range of choices that include the usual bread, cereals, pancakes, cold cuts, and savory items like sausages and bacon. They also have a hot pot section for traditional Indonesian fare and an Asian noodle cart, in addition to a selection of juices, fruit, and yogurt.

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Clockwise from top left: Enjoying my toast and chocolate croissant with a selection of spreads that included a lime marmalade; Croissants and other pastries; The cold cuts and salad section; and, Another bread selection, for which I have a soft spot.

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Clockwise from top left: Eggs, sausages, bacon, waffles, and pancakes; Hot pot section where you can find your Nasi Goreng; An Asian noodle cart; and, Fruits, cheese, and yogurt-based concoctions.

Room service is available 24/7 in this hotel, which is awesome in case you're visited by sudden hunger pangs late into the night.

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Clockwise from top left: BLT sandwich with fries, plus coffee, which they always serve pressed even at the restaurant; Stir-fried veggies with oyster sauce and sop buntut, an Indonesian oxtail soup that's like bulalo but with a more complicated taste; A beautiful dessert they call Chocolate Cigar, which is a medley of chocolate brownie, chocolate fudge, strawberry slices, candied lemon, and vanilla ice cream(?); and, Seafood risotto, with which my only beef is its small serving size.

Facilities and amenities

Swimming pool
The hotel pool is a stunner. Rectangular in shape, it's punctuated by a circular chasm-like hole that opens up to the basement pocket garden. There's the footbridge up above and concrete beams that sprout water for little "rain showers."

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Mantra Nusa Dua's beautifully designed pool.

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Looks like a chasm but this punctuation right smack in the middle of the pool allows sunlight to reach the pocket garden down below at the basement.

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Just lovely, don't you think?

Gym
Those who want to keep fit even while on vacation can take solace in the hotel's mini-gym. Equipment's very limited but there's a shower room and locker area nonetheless.

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The mini-gym (top right) and shots of the shower room. Some might not be comfortable with the open shower, though, in case you haven't noticed.

Chakra Spa
The spa is named after chakra, which is Sanskrit for "wheel." In Hindu metaphysical tradition, there are seven chakras corresponding to seven different points in the body that are believed to be centers of life force or vital energy.

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The spa entrance. It's quite unusual to see a door this ornate in this hotel.

Chakra spa offers several treatments and has about three or four private rooms for couples and one for individual guests, all of which are afforded a view of the pocket garden and koi pond outside. On the other hand, foot spa, manicure and pedicures are done in the receiving area.

I didn't have the chance to try any of their treatments but the receptionist was super kind enough to show me one of the couple's rooms. I love the dark interiors and the warm, mood lighting. The bathroom was also nice and my, that's one deep bathtub!

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The spa receiving area. Notice the 7 Chakra symbols on the wall?

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Another shot of the receiving area from a different angle, with a view of the pocket garden outside.

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Glad I had the chance to take a look inside one of the couple's rooms. Beautiful and cozy!

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The bathroom. Love the mood lighting and the dark interiors!

Ballrooms and function rooms
As with any other hotel, Mantra has several halls and function rooms for events and conferences. All these are at the basement area.

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One of the ballrooms.

Staff service
This has got to be one of Mantra Nusa Dua's strongest points because they have the nicest hotel staff. Everyone is so warm and snappy, and it's always service with a smile from any of them--be it at check-in, at the entrance downstairs, the restaurant, room service, housekeeping, anyone you come across with. Like I mentioned they do take note of your special requests. And because My Bibe wrote that it was recently my birthday, I got this little thing that made me smile:

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Belated happy birthday to me!

It may be a small gesture but it sure counts.

Check-out
Unfortunately, checking out was not as efficient as our check-in experience. But it really is no big a deal anyway and what's important is that all charges were accurate.

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In hindsight
As a hotel, Mantra Nusa Dua is a good one. Everything is new, the food is good, and service is excellent overall, which all make for a great hotel stay.

However, if you want direct access to the beach or a place near all the action, then this hotel isn't for you. Similarly, if you crave that traditional Balinese feel, then just skip this one.

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The Mantra Nusa Dua at night.

For more information and room rates, go check out mantranusadua.com purinusadua.com.

4 comments:

  1. Uhu... Such a wonderful place to live.
    :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. looks very nice. but it seems too quite for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow! even if I prefer the little hotels this one seems great! I love the details:)) have a nice day my friend! ciao Andrea

    ReplyDelete

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