Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free Hotel #3- Candidasa, Bali

  We are FINALLY finished booking our hotels for our trip, in 34 days!! :)  It took us a lot longer to book our Bali hotels because we were really searching for a few hidden gems.  And boy did we ever. 

    Curtis and I will be spending 5 nights on the coast (to accommodate diving) and 4 nights in Ubud, the cultural center of Bali.  We were ready to book a property called Alila Manggis, a beautiful, luxury hotel on the water that boasts great food, service and a sense of true relaxation for the first leg of our stay in Bali.  It's the cheapest hotel in their entire line of properties coming in at $150 a night before taxes and fees.  It is a very stunning hotel and while everything looked perfect, we hesitated and it paid off.

    See, because Alila is a 5 star property and because it comes loaded with awards and accolades, we knew that while we may score a few free nights with travel reimbursements, everything else would be pricey, especially by Bali standards.  As we started to read into reviews a bit, all wonderful, we noticed that dinner would be around $60 A PERSON every night and all additional activities, like village visits or mountain hikes, were significantly more than they were just about everywhere else. ($100+ each)  So while this hotel was affordable to us nightly for the room, the rest of it couldn't really justify their costs that well, considering that we could walk 5 minutes up the road and have a true local show us around. 

    I began one last exhausted search around the Candidasa area for hotels and ended up, only through a Google maps street view search, finding the hidden gem we were looking for.  Set about 15 minutes walk from Alila, this property has a private beach, only 5 villas, and opened in March of this year.  There are very few reviews of the villas because they are so new but the few we have found have all been wonderful.  The best part, for us, is that it's even closer to the town of Candidasa so we can walk there in the evenings for dinner or during the day for sightseeing. 

The property is Sea Breeze Villas Candiasa 

  I am so excited to find these villas as they look beautiful and so relaxing!  There is a reef directly in front of the beach area so we can snorkel in the mornings or even dive if we would like.  Best of all, because it's a new property, the owner is eager to please and ready to make a great first impression.  We were looking for a Paradise like we found in Fiji and this place reminded us so much of that. 

  The owner sent over a menu as well of their restaurant and very unlike Alila, the most expensive a la carte dish is $6.  (ranges from $2-$6)  The only thing more than that is the dinner special we may "splurge" on at $50 which includes a Lobster dinner for 2, cocktails, apps and dessert at a candlelit table on the yoga hut.

 So at a whopping $85 a night, this hotel was a solid half the cost of our original and I really feel like it will give us a better taste of what real Bali is like.  I'm looking forward to going into the village of Candidasa and visiting the markets, talking to the locals and hopefully catching a glimpse of a Balinese celebration going on.  Who doesn't want to see this!?
So colorful!

  We are so excited to embark on this part of the trip.  It's our longest stay in a country while we're traveling (9 days!) and it will be a healthy mix of relaxation and exploration.  Bali is known for yoga so it's free at every hotel, the spas are stupid cheap (I am dedicating an entire post to just the $11 hour long facials and back massages) and the views are stunning.

    I'll leave with this; even though I'm not a morning person, I may, just may, have to start the trek up Mt. Batur at 2am to catch a sunrise that it's noted the best in the entire world.  Not sure I'll be able to sleep through something as stunning as this:

How We Did It: Capital One Travel Reimbursement: $425
Would Have Cost: $425
Total Cost We Pay: $0!

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