Last summer, I enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Java & Bali. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Singapore Airlines A380 new First Class suite from London to Singapore
- Review: Marina Bay Sands Hotel (Singapore)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
- Review: Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobodur (Java)
- Review: Amandari, Ubud (Bali)
- Review: Amankila, Bali
- Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Uluwatu (Bali)
- Review: Bulgari Resort Bali (today)
- Review: Anantara Uluwatu (Bali)
- Review: Singapore Airlines B787-10 Dreamliner Business Class from Bali to Singapore
- Review: Singapore Airlines A380 (old) Business Class from Singapore to London
Today (January 2, 2019): Review of Bulgari Resort Bali (Indonesia)
- Location: Google maps
- Hotel website: Bulgari Resort Bali
- Tip: get free VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
Managed by the prestigious Italian Bulgari company, the Bulgari Resort Bali is located on top of a 150 m (450 ft) high, jaw-dropping cliff cascading down towards the Indian Ocean. The 59 individual villas, freestanding and private, all include an open-air pavilion, terrace and private plunge pool, with the ones on the first row enjoying spectacular ocean views. In all villas, every natural element is polished to a shine: Indonesian wood floors glow, natural lava walls are neatly bricked, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls reveal manicured tropical plants. A pristine private beach, suitable for long walks along the oceanfront and featuring a private beach club, is reached via an inclined elevator. The property also features world-class dining venues and a fabulous spa.
Bulgari Resort Bali features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Bali and the most spectacular cliffside luxury hotels in the world.
Have you ever stayed at Bulgari Resort Bali? If so what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Reviews of other hotels in Bali & Java
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The Bulgari Resort Bali is located near the village of Pecatu on the southern tip of the Bukit Peninsula. This large limestone peninsula – which features rugged scenery and a semi-arid climate – harbors some of Bali’s most famous attractions, including the cliff-hanging Pura Luhur Uluwatu temple, a number of Bali’s most spectacular beaches, and the top surfing spots on the island. As is so often the case, it were intrepid surfers and backpackers who really opened up the eyes of the world to this magnificent part of the island, hereby initiating the tourist development of this area in the seventies. Today, Uluwatu is home to some of Bali’s most exclusive hotels, including the Bulgari Resort Bali. Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) is a 45-minute drive from the resort (approximately 18 km or 11 mi).
- The ultraluxurious resort is set on a wind-swept promontory, 150 m (450 ft) above its own private beach (more on that below) and the Indian Ocean. The property’s epic cliffside location is one of the most pristine and beautiful spots in the Indonesian archipelago, and affords unrivaled views across the sea. The best vantage points in the resort to take in the stupendous panoramas are the hotel’s stylish and open-air welcome pavilion, the infinity pool, and the villas located on the cliff’s edge. In addition, the resort’s location on the southernmost tip of Bali puts it in position to offer its privileged guests majestic views of both sunrise and sunset from the hilltop lobby, depending on the time of year.
- An intimate Hindu temple rises on the highest point of the property. This place of worship, built in accordance with Balinese traditions, neighbors the Bulgari’s imposing arrival pavilion, which welcomes guests with elegant proportions and a masterful design. From here, the resort cascades down the lush cliffside, which is dotted by a maze of massive resort pavilions and high-walled villas interconnected by steep cobble stone pathways. The most expensive villas as well as the spa and pool are located on the cliff’s edge. The resort’s layout blends seamlessly in a terraced and perfectly manicured landscape of lush Balinese gardens. Frangipane trees, a ubiquitous presence in Bali, are scattered throughout the resort with their white blossoms spreading a sweet fragrance from morning till evening.
- Created by architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel and Partners, the resort’s unique design is a blend of traditional Balinese style and dramatic contemporary Italian elements. The hotel’s pavilions and villas have been built and furnished using hand-cut volcanic stones, rich exotic woods and refined fabrics. Natural lava and palimanan stone are used for the resort’s gardens and walls, refined bangkiray hardwood in the villas and restaurants, and natural green-colored sukabumi stone to clad the private and public swimming pools. A collection of exquisite Balinese antiques and exotic art pieces also adorn the resort. Furniture and decorative details, such as stemware, flatware, ceramics and woven fabrics, were designed and produced in Bali by a team of local artists and designers in collaboration with the resort’s architects.
- Opened in 2006, the resort is operated in a joint venture between the Marriott hotel chain and Bulgari. Although Bulgari is mainly known as an Italian luxury goods brand, the company is rapidly expanding its portfolio of resorts across the globe and aims to become one of the leading luxury hospitality collections in the world. Comprised of selected properties in major cosmopolitan cities and luxury resorts destinations, its aim is to convey the excitement of the Bulgari brand, its timeless glamour and its heritage of magnificent Roman jeweler. The fashion-forward brand Bulgari currently manages posh hotels in Milan, London, Dubai, Shanghai, Bejing and Bali, and will soon unveil new editions in Tokyo, Paris and Moscow. The brand is committed to sustainable luxury, respecting the surrounding environment as well as human resources.
The resort’s 58 freestanding villas stand side by side in several rows on the sheer terraces of the majestic cliffs. They are nestled within high volcanic stone walls and all come with their own pool. During my visit, I stayed in a one bedroom ocean villa (the resort’s lowest room category). Entrance to the villa was via an open-air pavilion, which featured a private garden, a plunge pool, and an expansive outdoor living area. On the inside, a spacious vestibule lead to the stylish bedroom, which came with two queen-sized beds (per my request) and floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. The interior was decorated with pieces of antique Balinese art and equipped with state-of-the-art technological features such as a flat screen TV, high-speed WiFi and audio/video system by Bang and Olufsen. The bathroom was enormous, taking up half of the villa, and featured black terrazzo flooring, two sinks, a deep soaking tub, and two showers (one located inside, the other one in the garden).
- The resort also includes several two- to five bedroom mansions. Compared to the one bedroom villas, these mansions feature larger pools in addition to kitchens equipped with Miele appliances. The property’s most exclusive mansion is the incredible Bulgari Villa, which is located in the resort’s westernmost point, on a slightly higher position. Reachable by a private access, this villa boasts two master bedrooms, a large living area with built-in bar, an oversized dining room, a home theatre, and a spa treatment room. The villa’s phenomenal 20 m (66 ft) private pool and a meditation pergola surrounded by an extensive terrace and small pavilions where you can eat and live in the open complete this one-of-a-kind scenario, perfect for private events, weddings or a family holiday.
- The resort has a twofold spirit. On the one hand, the walled separation between all villas ensures maximum privacy and a perfect holiday playground to guests. On the other, if you can drag yourself outside (the pool of) your villa, a glamorous, energetic, and cheerful public area awaits you on the resort’s easternmost side. Here, you find an infinity-edged pool along the cliff, surrounded by comfortable sun loungers and romantic cabanas. The pool area also features an open-wall bar, sunken sofas, and two jacuzzis on the side. Next to the pool is a water pond, overlooked by the resort’s two restaurants (more on that below). From here, a majestic volcanic stone stair leads to some other facilities above the pool complex, including the reception pavilion and the Bulgari Boutique. The latter is the only Bulgari store in Bali, offering Bulgari jewellery, watches, accessories and fragrance collection.
- The resort features a pristine beach, sandwiched between the towering cliffs and water’s edge, and 1,5 km (0,9 mi) long at low tide. The golden sand beach is inaccessible to the general public by both ground and sea, as it is protected by a coral reef. The only access is via the resort’s funicular that shuttles guests between the resort’s main facilities up the cliff and the beach club, offering jaw-dropping views on the way. The beach is one of Bali’s most scenic and spectacular stretches of sand. Here, you can laze the day away on luxurious lounge chairs while having a front row seat on the spectacle of occasional monster waves crashing on the offshore reef. If you are lucky, you may even spot dolphins frolicking around in the foam from the ocean froths, or even observe a giant whale. The magnificent beach club also features a restaurant and bar.
- Exclusive treatments – based on traditional Asian traditions and techniques – are offered at the oceanfront spa. The spa’s reception is located inside an antique Joglo house from Java, which was dismantled and precisely relocated at the site. The spa gardens feature a prevalence of water ponds, a tranquility pool, and a yoga pavilion, creating a blend of surfaces and chromatic harmonies to offer a relaxing environment. Six fully equipped treatment rooms and 2 royal pavilions with outdoor gardens, outdoor rain showers and plunge pools complete the layout. A unique concept of service and traditional Asian techniques – enhanced by modern practices in physiology and natural E’SPA products – ensure the most personalized and attentive care.
- The resort features 3 restaurants, offering Italian inspired and locally influenced cuisine:
- Overlooking a reflection pool, the resort’s signature Italian restaurant, Il Ristorante, pays homage to Italy in a seductive ambience. Open exclusively for dinner, the 36-seat restaurant features creative interpretations of classical Italian cuisine, perfectly blending the finest imported Italian ingredients with the island’s bountiful organic produce.
- Located on the cliff’s edge, the all day dining Sangkar restaurant offers a more casual ambiance and combines authentic Balinese dishes – enriched by various regional influences from the Indonesian archipelago – with a selection of international specialties.
- Located above the private beach club, the 12-seat La Spiaggia offers a grill menu featuring the catch of the day and organic baby salad greens, complete with aromas of open air cooking and casual seating beneath a bamboo clad bale. Providing the perfect atmosphere for beach side soirees, La Spiaggia can also be privately booked for a rustic dining experience.
- Bali is one of the best destinations in the world to tie the knot, and the Bulgari Resort Bali is known as one of the most sought-after wedding sites on the island, thanks to its beautiful wedding chapel. Bearing the Bulgari mark of lavish luxury, the remarkably modern chapel is the only Bulgari branded marriage venue in the world. Its understated elegance comes from the paras Kerobokan stone from Bali and floor-to-ceiling glass paneling which, blended seamlessly together, create a perfectly harmonious setting. Adjacent to the chapel is a large pavilion terrace, a great outdoor venue that boasts an unrivalled view over the ocean, befitting any occasion.
- One of the greatest things about the Bulgari Resort Bali is its amazing staff. All employees are extremely friendly, helpful and sweet from the day of arrival until you leave.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Bulgari Resort Bali is one Bali’s most exclusive and famous properties. Yet, it’s not perfect, and you need to know the following when considering a stay here:
- There’s not much within walking distance, just narrow village roads lined with skinny cows and modest shops. So, if you want to get away from it all in a super stylish, secluded environment, you’ll love the Bulgari Resort Bali. However, if you want to explore some of Bali’s famous sights, you’ll face long day trips due to the bad traffic jams on the island. For example, it takes around 2-2,5 hours each way to get from the resort to Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali.
- The size of the private plunge pools at the Bulgari Resort Bali is relatively small compared to the private pools in other, newer resorts in the area (e.g. Banyan Tree Ungasan, Six Senses Uluwatu, Anantara Uluwatu, and Alila Villas Uluwatu).
- Given the tiered cliffside architecture and the gentle slope rate of the hotel terrain, most villas do not enjoy open sea views as the panoramas are obstructed by the roofs of the villas in front. Only the eight ocean cliff villas on the edge offer completely unobstructed views of the Indian Ocean and the horizon.
- A large part of the pool deck is in the shade around three hours before sunset, due to the hilly terrain and high walls on the pool’s westernmost side. You’ll appreciate the shade offered at the pool by umbrellas and trees during the day, but once you could start getting out in the sun in late afternoon without burning yourself, you’ll find yourself in the shade. The one area of the pool which remains in the sun until sunset is its easternmost point, but unfortunately, there’s no deck with sun loungers here (only vegetation).
- The number of cabanas and loungers around the main pool is limited and at times of high occupancy, guests may have to wait before a seat or cabana becomes available (as I experienced myself on two separate occasions). Most guests prefer though to lounge on the private pool deck of their villa, and won’t have any issue with this. I also want to mention that during my stay, an unpleasant smell was present at the pool deck in the vicinity of the toilets and it persisted for several days before the ‘issue’ was fixed.
- IMHO, the beach of the Bulgari Resort Bali is one of Bali’s most spectacular beaches, given its rugged scenery. That said, it’s not the best beach for working on your tan as the resort’s elevated beach area with loungers is in the shade most of the day due to the high cliffs. During my visit mid-summer (July), there was only sun for about one hour at noon. In addition, the sea here is not good for swimming due to exposed corals.
- The resort’s funicular leads to one of the most spectacular landscapes in all of Bali with thundering waves and soaring cliffs. The funicular doesn’t go all the way to the beach though: there are still many steps from the funicular’s lower station to the beach, but the awe-inspiring beauty that awaits you is worth the efforts. The funicular’s last run is at 5 pm, which is a pity, since the resort’s private beach extends into an another mile-long curving stretch of golden sand at low tide, which would be perfect for a romantic stroll in the setting sun.
- The beach club is open weather permitting. The beach is closed during strong wind and rainy weather to ensure the safety of guests.
- The resort’s pathways are steep and there are many stairs throughout the property, which make the Bulgari Resort Bali not ideal for mobility-challenged guests. However, the resort’s buggies can drop you of at most places, so it isn’t really an issue within the resort itself, except when you want to go the beach (since the funicular doesn’t go down all the way to the beach itself, as mentioned above).
- The rather small breakfast buffet doesn’t offer the hugest range in terms of variety and is a little disappointing for a 5-star resort of this caliber, although certainly enough to keep you happy. You get the bulk of your breakfast from the extensive à la carte selection.
- I would not recommend this hotel as a destination for families with young children. It’s definitely better suited to honeymooners and couples who just want to enjoy each other’s company and forget about the hustle of their regular life. That said, if you are traveling with your family to the Bulgari Resort Bali, you may want to book one of the multi-bedroom mansions, which provide a private ‘resort within a resort’ experience that is better suited for younger children.
- Obviously, this is not a cheap place to stay (and that’s an understatement) but you should know that going in. IMHO, the villa rates are similar to what you pay at other high-end resorts in the area, but the extras (e.g. transfers, food and spa treatments) are sometimes exorbitantly priced. For example, the rate for an extra bed at the Bulgari Resort Bali is more than $100 USD per night, excluding breakfast (none of the other resorts I stayed at in Bali charged extra for a roll-away bed in the room).
- Although the resort is managed in a collaboration between Marriott and Bulgari, the property does not participate in Marriott’s loyalty program, Marriott Rewards.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Bulgari Bali Resort (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD resort credit).
- Room tip: for an unhindered view of the Indian Ocean, you need to book one of the eight ocean cliff villas on the edge.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
REVIEWS OF OTHER HOTELS IN BALI & INDONESIA
- Review: Anantara Uluwatu, Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Bulgari Resort Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Banyan Tree Ungasan, Bali (Indonesia)
- Review of Amankila, Bali’s best luxury hotel
- Review of Amandari (Ubud, Bali)
- Review: Amanjiwo, Borobudur (Java, Indonesia)
- Review of Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Bali, Indonesia)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan (Ubud, Bali)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: Villa Sungai, Bali (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: the Viceroy Bali (Indonesia)
- Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel
- Hotel review: COMO Shambhala Bali (Indonesia)
- Hotel review: Soori Bali (Indonesia)
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Located close to the equator, temperatures in Bali hover at a balmy 30°C (85°F) year-found. Temperatures in the Ubud area remain fairly constant throughout the year, although some cooler evenings can occur due to its location in the mountains. The frequency of precipitation is the only concern for travelers seeking to visit Ubud. The rainy season lasts from October to March, and the heavy humidity and torrential rainfalls make this period more unpredictable for adventures and exploration. The dry season lasts from April to September, and the weather during this time is warm and pleasant, so this is generally viewed as the optimal time to experience Bali at its finest.
HOW TO GET THERE
Bulgari Resort Bali is a 45 minute drive from Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Click here for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Bali.