Adventure in Ubud.
We were wet from the tropical Lombok rain of the tropics, in an airport lounge, and we were due to fly on an airplane that would never be approved in the United States. When we took off from Lombok, Ben and I were looking forward to returning to the Kuta area of Bali during our two week trip to Indonesia.
Our Harris Resort-Kuta driver was dutifully in front of the Denpasar domestic terminal. He was wearing the Harris Resorts’ signature colors – a Halloween orange bandana around his head, and waving a giant “Michelle Schoser” sign. Inside the car hire we listened to funky Indonesian club music; we were rocking out Indonesia style.
The driver turned down the Indo Techno music as we approached the resort reception area. The staff greeted us with familiar Balinese smiles: “Hello! Selamat sorre!”, otherwise known in English as, “Hello, Good afternoon!”
Harris Resort-Kuta, Bali under a tropical night sky.
This hotel had a different vibe than the other resorts we had stayed at prior to in Bali and Lombok. The staff had a young, hip, and casual flair. The décor of the lobby was minimalist and modern; mostly white with accents of the Harris signature orange. If you have ever seen the British air carrier EasyJet, or stayed at the Mondrian hotels in either Los Angeles or in Scottsdale, then this resort was a schizophrenic combination of EasyJet meets the Mondrian.
The Lobby is a “Simple” place to “Chill”.
Kickin’ it poolside at the Harris Resort.
There are 191 rooms at this mid-size property and several fun activities at the hotel. The motto of the Harris Resorts is “Simple, Unique, Friendly” and I would have to say the resort completely lives up to its concept. There are three room types to choose from: Harris Standard room, Harris Family Room, and Harris Suite. This property is part of four resorts that the Harris group owns in Indonesia. This property in Kuta, Bali opened in 2004.
It was evident that the hotel caters to both Australians and Japanese. Much of the hotels literature was written in Japanese and I noticed that there were many Japanese families around the resort. Around the pool they wore signature pool attire: Speedos for the dad, one piece bathing suits for the mom, and kids clad in neon-colored swimming goggles. We met a young Japanese surfer couple at the resort partaking in the surf culture of southern Bali.
Balcony view of the tropics
The Harris Resort Kuta is directly across the street from the heart of the famous Kuta beach in South Bali. Kuta Beach is a large stretch of white sand known for consistent surf waves. Surfing culture is also a key element of the hotel. Its own surf school is located in the lobby. The resort also offers Bali’s only “Surfer Girl” room to make the Kuta surfing expedition complete. The room is fun, with a private balcony and sundeck that overlooks the pool; its décor reflects the style of the Surfer Girl surf shop.
We were promptly and efficiently checked in and the friendliness of the Balinese continued. At this point, both Ben and I were so overwhelmed and yet comfortable with the genuine kindness of the people of Bali that we continued to strike up a conversation with any local that was interested. At the Harris it was anyone in an orange shirt. A gentleman stopped for a Balinese chat consisting of the typical small talk of:
“How are you?”
“Where are you from?”
“Is this your first time on Bali?”
“How long are you staying?” And so on . . .
I looked at his name tag; “Suamba” and asked with a raised eyebrow, “Are you the Food and Beverage manager and do you by chance have a brother that lives on Lombok?” With a surprised look he nodded with a “yes” and “yes!” I was just as shocked and grabbed Ben and said, “Babe, this is Wedia’s brother.” In disbelief we explained that we had just stayed on Lombok and that his brother Wedia had been our server at the Sheraton Senggigi Resort. Wedia asked us to give Suamba an interisland message from Lombok; we had inadvertently become the Indonesian pony express.
Happy Harris Resort accommodations.
It seems the Indonesian people are communally connected and we are connected to them. It was truly unlike anything I have ever experienced.
Ben and I then went up the elevator to the third and top floor to find our room. We opened the door to our two room suite and went across the threshold to explore. There was a big living room area with a dining table, couch and TV; all of the décor was that minimalist orange and white design we had seen downstairs in the lobby.
The bedroom had a king sized bed with soft linens, TV, and desk. Our balcony spanned the entire length of both the bedroom and living room. It overlooked the pool and the lush tropical landscape.
This resort is such a great value. At the time we were there rooms were around $50US per night, and suites about $90US nightly. I was impressed with the rates and recommend the resort to other travelers looking for simple, clean accommodations, and a great location close to the action and beach of Kuta.
Relax before checking out Kuta nightlife.
It was still raining so we decided to enjoy our time in our room and see if the weather would clear. It seemed more palatable to be in a nice cool air conditioned room verses the wet, sticky and hot tropical rain. It was the perfect opportunity to take an afternoon nap.
When we woke the weather had cleared enough for us to walk the grounds. We took a closer look at the free-form pool area and indoor/outdoor restaurant known as the Harris Café. We noticed there were zip lines across the property and found that it is part of the Flying Fox teambuilding program they have on site. Guests can zip high above the pool along 60 meters of cable.
Ben rented one of the Balinese motor bikes that are all over the roads and he went off into the craziness of Kuta to see what he could find. Using the knowledge of his new buddies at the bell desk and $5 later he had a motor bike for the next 24 hours.
Indo cuisine at the Harris Cafe.
We had dinner that night at the Harris Café, which is next to the pool under the equatorial stars. Our F&B manager friend Komang Suamba (Komang meaning the third-born in Balinese) checked on us periodically and the service we received was just like the rest of the hotel, friendly and hip with a youthful feel. They staff was so kind. Ben and I were impressed by not only their warm service skills, but also their intelligence. They told us what they were studying in school and what their life goals were.
Bountiful breakfast beach buffet.
We dined on Balinese specialties drenched in a tangy, sweet and spicy peanut sauce. We were so tired from the day’s events that after dinner we quickly retired to that comfortable bed in our air conditioned Harris Suite.
In the morning, the sun was shining through our room. We went downstairs to the Harris Cafe and indulged in a buffet breakfast. An international conference regarding law enforcement and child exploitation was conducted at the resort, which brought many “suits and ties” to breakfast. It was an eclectic mix of Western tourists, Japanese families, surfers, and the law. Our breakfast was simple and friendly living up to 2/3 of the Harris motto. We had robust coffee, eggs, bacon, fruit, and of course the Balinese rice dish specialty of Nasi Goreng.
Mother Nature was cooperating today and the sky was light blue and clear. We called Budi, who had been our driver several days ago to hire him for the day. Ben grabbed his surfboard; we packed a backpack of supplies and were off. The plan was to go to a beach in south Bali on the way to the famous Southern point of Uluwatu called “Dreamland”. We arrived at Dreamland about 20 minutes later, and walked down the brown wooden stairs to the soft white sand.
Dreamland is one of those beaches that I wish could be kept a secret. The water is perfect and the sand is perfect. I could hang out at Dreamland day after day. There are little warungs (Balinese version of a quick food stand) and cafes that line the beach so you can drink Bintangs (Bali’s beer of choice) as well as have a bite to eat. There are also ladies combing the beach offering massages or to braid your hair as well as merchants capitalizing on the need for tourists to have lounge chairs and umbrellas to shade them from the intense equatorial sun.
Ben went out in the aqua Indian Ocean to surf. I stayed on my rented lounge chair and under my rented umbrella (a great deal at $5 for a half day) read, wrote and drank a large Bintang.
I was surprised at the food freshness at the warung/cafes. I ordered a vegetarian sandwich with avocado. Most places in Bali treat the water and the ice and our meals on our two week excursion were remarkably sanitary.
Unwind at the Giri Loka Spa.
That afternoon we headed down for our couples massage at the Giri Loka spa The“Love Eternity/Asmaranda” massages were serene. The 150 minute experience is one million 80 thousand Rupiah. If you do the math that is over 2 1/2 hours of luxurious stress relieving treatment for 2 people for roughly $115US!
I loved our spa room. Running water pitter pattered on smooth river rocks lining the perimeter of the room. A bowl of water with fragrant frangipani was placed under our faces, which gave the room an indoor meets outdoor feel. It was like a welcoming, relaxing cave located within a Balinese rainforest, but with mood lighting. We were refreshed and relaxed jetsetters.That night we wanted to explore the Kuta nightlife a bit more. We got sidetracked trying to find a recommended restaurant, and instead ended up at the well known, Made’s warung. So fitting, considering that by now, Ben was known by his Balinese name of Made (meaning 2nd born), and I was known as Putu (meaning 1st born). Made’s Warung is just outside of the resort, serving traditional Balinese and Indonesian food. They offered many types of Satay; pork, beef, chicken, seafood, and the Indonesian staple of Gado Gado, which is mainly a vegetable dish. This meal was of course washed down with a couple of Bintangs! In my high heels, and with Ben’s guidance, we hobbled back to the Harris and jumped back in that comfortable bed for another night of rest at the resort.
The next morning we called Budi to take us to our next stop on our Indonesian adventure, the art center of Bali — Ubud.
Harris Resort-Kuta, Bal
Jl. Pantai Kuta, PO Box 2073
Kuta, Bali 80361 Indonesia
— Feature by Michelle Schoser, Jetsetters Magazine San Diego Correspondent.