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Jimbaran Bay, situated near Bali’s international airport, is the ideal destination for travellers seeking a more ‘grown up’ Bali escape. There are no hawkers on the beach and a refreshing absence of ‘party animals’ roaming the hotel corridors. One of Bali’s most enduring properties, the InterContinental Bali resort, opened in October 1993 and was the first luxury hotels of its kind to be built on the shores of Jimbaran Bay. It might not be the newest hotel in town but it remains one of the best.  Here are 10 reasons to check in and check it out, whether you are travelling as a couple, with your family or enjoying a getaway with friends.

InterContinental Bali location

Jimbaran is widely regarded as having one of the best beaches in Bali. The sand is white, the beach is long and there are no hawkers plying their trade. What was once a simple fishing village has evolved into a destination renowned for luxury hotels such as the InterContinental but unlike some areas of Bali, Jimbaran Bay has retained its charm. While there is a tourist market catering to westerners, it is the original parts of Jimbaran which hold the most appeal. Give the touristy stalls a miss in favour of an early morning trip to the fish markets where locals buy the catch of the day and choose the vegetables for their evening meal. Even though you probably won’t come home with a souvenir, you will leave with many wonderful memories. Perhaps the best thing of all is that Jimbaran is only a 20 minute taxi ride from the airport, even in peak hour.  If you have come off a long flight this is worth celebrating.

InterContinental Bali kid’s club

Our son was 11 when we visited which is an awkward age when it comes to kid’s clubs. While he has fond memories of good times past and still wants to go, a lack of suitable activities can be a problem. On our first day a lot of the children at the Planet Trekkers kid’s club were quite young but the staff created a game especially for our son and another older boy. The next day there was an even spread of ages along with the ultimate thrill – releasing a turtle as part of the hotel’s Turtle Release Program. InterContinental Bali works with a local Turtle Conservation and Education Centre to retrieve the eggs and ensure they are carefully incubated in a secure environment until they hatch safely. This was one of our family’s trip highlights as parents were invited to come and join the fun.

InterContinental Bali Review
Turtle release program at the InterContinental Bali

InterContinental Bali sunset

Jimbaran Bay is famous for its sunsets but perhaps the nicest thing about watching the sun go down here is the show that goes along with it. Locals, expats and tourists stroll along the beach while Balinese kids kick balls around on the sand and the sun sinks slowly towards the horizon.  Stick around long enough to watch all of the colours change to get the best shots.

Sunset at Jimbaran Bay

Club InterContinental

There are three different room categories at this hotel – Resort Classic, Singaraja and Club InterContinental – but they can be deceptive. While Singaraja might seem like a good deal as it is only a little more expensive than a Classic room, it is worth paying the extra A$60 or so per day to upgrade to the Club InterContinental accommodation.

InterContinental Club Lounge

While it is always nice to enjoy a little extra luxury, I am recommending this purely from a value-for-money perspective. Club InterContinental guests get a swag of extra benefits that are worth a lot more than what it costs to upgrade. There is a lavish Club lounge with fine linen napkins, sparkling chandeliers and equally sparkling service and a complimentary evening cocktail hour with canapés, wine and high end spirits. You can either enjoy this at the lounge or at one of the other bars around the resort. While the lounge was elegant, we preferred to relax with a cocktail at the bar at the Club’s private pool or overlooking the beach.

Private pool for InterContinental Club guests

Club InterContinental guests also get complimentary internet access, complimentary breakfast at the Club or one of the other resort breakfast venues, all day refreshments and afternoon tea. The afternoon tea is beautiful and worth doing at least once. Each room also comes with 24 hour butler service if you need help with excursions, airport transfers or special requests.  We didn’t use this much although our butler was proactive, asking on our last morning if we had an airport transfer organised. This is complimentary for Club guests.

InterContinental Bali Sunset Beach Bar

Cocktails by the beach are a must-do, even if you don’t have them included in your rate as a Club InterContinental guest. The best spot is the Sunset Beach Bar & Grill, a casual style, open-air beachfront bar overlooking the sweeping curve of Jimbaran Bay. Get in early to score one of the large daybeds which are ideal for a relaxing drink or two and include table service. If hunger strikes you can order tasty bar snacks to enjoy with your drinks.

Sunset Beach Bar & Grill

InterContinental Bali service

Smiling, smiling, smiling – and nothing is too much trouble. When we commented to our housekeeping attendant that we loved the soap in our room she left us a few extras as a surprise, along with a towel animal for our son. Little touches like these don’t cost the hotel much but they mean a lot.

Smiling staff are everywhere

InterContinental Bali spa

Here is an insider’s tip: there are actually two spas at the InterContinental Bali. One is Spa Uluwatu which is located in the main part of the resort. The other is the Villa Retreats, a tranquil Balinese-style spa sanctuary which is very private and romantic. If you are travelling as a couple you should definitely book your treatment here.  Despite the exclusivity, it doesn’t cost any extra to have your massage or facial at the Villa Retreats. Spa Uluwatu has private male and female sections, each with their own steam room and sauna, semi-open jacuzzi and plunge pool, locker rooms and showers.

Spa Uluwatu

If you want to relax with your partner instead of retreating to separate rooms, there is a centrally positioned communal relaxation area with a sunken jacuzzi surrounded by elegant marble statues and water fountains. Guests can use the steam room, sauna and jacuzzi at no charge, even if they haven’t booked a treatment. Prices are surprisingly reasonable for such a high-end spa. After our first treatment we tried to book another massage for the day we were leaving but both spa areas were fully booked.  It seems we weren’t the only ones who worked out this spa offers excellent value.

Relax with your partner in the Jacuzzi

InterContinental Bali activities

Do you fancy some free fun? If you want to do more than lie by the pool there is a complimentary daily activities program consisting of options such as ‘Bayu Suci’, a Balinese fitness regime is similar to Tai Chi. There are also various yoga classes, music lessons using traditional Balinese instruments, fruit and flower arranging, a free cooking class and more.

Free Bayu Suci class

Room to move facilities

InterContinental Bali was the first luxury property of its kind to be built at Jimbaran. Back then, prices were low, space was readily available and the developer bought up big. Accommodation is spread throughout the resort rather than being crammed around a central wing. There are multiple pools and relaxation areas and over 14 hectares of tropical landscaped gardens. Even when the resort is almost full as it was during our visit, it still seems quiet as guests have the space to spread out and find their own piece of paradise.

Spacious grounds allow room to find your own quiet spot

InterContinental Bali dining

Jimbaran Bay is famous for its seafood grill restaurants but we ate solely at the hotel on this visit.  Aside from one somewhat ordinary lunch, the rest of the food was exceptional. The shot below was taken at Jimbaran Gardens and features some of the area’s fantastic seafood. This restaurant is also home to a weekly cultural show which includes fire twirling and plenty of Balinese dancing. There is also a romantic Italian restaurant, light bites at the Sunset Beach Bar & Grill and Taman Gita, the resort’s main breakfast venue.

Seafood at Jimbaran Gardens restaurant

On our first night we dined at KO Japanese Restaurant which provides a sophisticated take on traditional Japanese cuisine. The table across from us had an amazing sashimi plate which looked almost too pretty to eat. Our meal was equally good, with a delicate balance of flavours. There is also a teppanyaki grill and a romantic outdoor bar area overlooking elegant traditional Japanese gardens. We enjoyed the open air ambiance of Jimbaran Gardens but KO was something special. Even if you aren’t staying at the InterContinental Bali, it is worth making a special trip to dine here.

Appetiser at KO Japanese Restaurant

Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of InterContinental Bali.

We’ve got plenty of hints and tips for travelling in Bali and also some great hotel and resort suggestions. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay, we’ve reviewed the Ritz-Carlton Bali Resort, Peppers Seminyak Resort, Apurva Kempinski Bali, Bulgari Resort Bali, Aria Villas Ubud, Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort, The Mulia Bali, Merusaka Nusa Dua, Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Anantara Seminyak Bali, the InterContinental Bali for couples and those travelling with kids. We’ve compared the Singaraja and Club rooms at the InterContinental Bali and found the best luxury family hotels in Bali and the best honeymoon hotels in Bali.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.