After a mammoth year in 2014 we had a lot of writing to catch up on and our first month in Ubud, Bali was spent working. During that time I also took an unplanned week out with Dengue Fever. At the end of January we needed to renew our visas in Tuban (South Kuta), an hour and a half south of Ubud, so we thought why not make a mini-vacation out of it and spend a few days on the beach.
Little did we know how awesome that decision would be. In our 9 times to Bali, we’ve visited Kuta, Sanur, Jimbaran, Seminyak and Ubud, but we’d only visited Nusa Dua on day trips. So when we received an invitation to stay at Grand Mirage Resort, an all-inclusive hotel in Nusa Dua, it seemed like the perfect getaway.
And we were right. Here are 11 reasons why...
1. Food & Drink: Nom nom nom!
An all-inclusive package means we never had to worry about food. At some hotels this can a little tedious, returning to the same buffet day after day, but not at the Grand Mirage. They had 4 restaurants to choose from, plus 24-hour room service, a swim up pool bar and a panorama lounge. We didn’t even get a chance to try all the restaurants during our 3-night stay. But here are the ones we did try:
Jukung Grill Restaurant
This gorgeous beachside restaurant was our favourite. With seats on the beach (literally) it meant the kids could play in the sand until the food was ready, leaving us to relax in peace (only a parent can know the feeling). A convenient sink and soap for washing hands was available right on the beach, so thoughtful. The food was fresh and delicious with a level of expertise not often seen in Bali.
Our days were filled with swimming, kids club, banana boats, and more! It’s no surprise our kids were often exhausted by the evening, so after dinner we usually retreated to our room. But that would never stop Josh from enjoying a dessert (or two) - we gave the room service menu a hearty workout. They provided surprisingly fast delivery so the ice cream was still frozen and the French fries still steaming hot.
Grand Café Restaurant
This open-air restaurant was located near the swimming pool and open 24 hours a day. 24 hours! It’s a buffet service, with additional la carte options available. We enjoyed breakfast here as well as a couple lunches. The chefs at the fresh egg station during breakfast were a favourite of Josh’s.
This Chinese restaurant is located in their sister hotel about a 40 metre walk south, along the beach path. Don’t be misled by it’s simple and humble décor, it conceals an array of rather delicious Chinese food. Although I was disappointed that my chicken and cashew dish came out as chicken and peanut, the rest of the dishes were spot on.
2. Service… with a smile!
Balinese truly offer the most amazing service and they genuinely adore children. But the Grand Mirage Resort took friendly service to an entirely new level. We had a private check-in at The Lounge where we were greeted with refresher towels and drinks. And when we walked around the resort we were always greeted with a smile by every staff member, from housekeeping to maintenance. They really know how to make someone feel welcomed! The cheery staff member behind the pool bar asked for our names and remembered each time we visited him (which was quite a lot!). This remarkable end-to-end service created a beautifully warm, inviting atmosphere.
It doesn’t get more leisurely than sunbaking and swimming in a pool that overlooks the ocean. Oh, except when you add a swim-up pool bar to it. If your idea of a holiday is lounging by the pool or beach then you’re covered both ways.
4. Adventure: get your motor running
But if your idea of a holiday involves sweat and adventure, you will never be bored at this hotel. We tried two of the many adventure activities available:
Non-motorised water sports are included for free in the hotel stay and so we tried our hands at ocean kayaking. We joined a small group on the crystal clear ocean along with a Balinese guide. Once he established we were Australians and self-sufficient in the water, he pretty much left us to it and paddled on to babysit those in the group that couldn’t paddle (or swim). Josh and I had a blast riding the waves and then relaxing on a sand bar for a break.
What a phenomenal activity! The Grand Mirage offers this experience at an extra cost and we enjoyed it so much I wrote a whole post about it. Pop on an astronaut-styled helmet and walk the bottom of the ocean checking out the sand, coral and sea life up close. A really magical experience.
5. Relaxation: ahhhhhh!
Onsite at the Grand Mirage is the Thalasso Spa. This beautiful venue is filled with a wide range of beauty and relaxation treatments, and is available to hotel guests as well as walk-in visitors. We organised a family spa day and each member, including my 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, had an absolute divine time. You can read more here.
6. Entertainment: never a dull moment
This is my 9th time in Bali and I can’t believe I had not heard of Devdan, but I am so very glad we went.
Right next door to the Bali Collection shopping district in Nusa Dua is a large modern air-conditioned theatre. We had front-row seats for a cultural show about the Indonesian Archipelago, unlike anything else in Bali.
The show can be described as Cirque Du Soleil meets Balinese Dancing meets Broadway. And it begins when two children, exploring Bali, find a treasure chest of various items representing the major Indonesian islands. The show features fire, water, ribbon dancers, acrobatics, monkeys, and more – all very entertaining. Even the kids enjoyed it!
The Grand Mirage Resort regularly holds a buffet dinner outside by the beach that includes traditional dancing. On the scheduled evening of the show the heavens opened up, but the show must go on, so they simply moved it indoors. It was a traditional Balinese dance known as the Kecak Dance. It’s all music and movement and the kids were only interested intermittently. Luckily we were eating dinner at the same time so they oscillated from watching to eating throughout the performance.
7. Beach: just like the brochure
The beach was outside our back door. Literally. After recently witnessing the unappealing beaches in Seminyak on the west coast of Bali, we were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful, clean beaches of Nusa Dua.
Grand Mirage Resort offer plenty of free sun lounges for relaxing on the beach or you can even choose to spend the day in bed on the beach for a small extra fee.
We found a few vendors wandering around the beach, and I managed to pick up 2 cheap sarongs. The vendors were friendly and non-harassing (compared to tourist-centric areas like Kuta), so they turned out to be more convenience than nuisance. I got 2 sarongs for $10. Buy at supermarket for $7.50 each.
There were also plenty of guys selling motorized water sports from jet skies to banana boats to glass-bottom boat rides to Turtle Island. The resort also offers motorized sports for the same price, if you bargain them down. The upside of booking via the hotel rep is that you can charge it to the room, so no need to fuss around with cash. We paid $40 for 4 people. Advertised price $15 per person.
We took the banana boat out for a spin with the kids. They loved it. Caius claimed it was “the best ride ever”. That’s a big call!
8. Family: making parents AND kids happy
The kids club ran every day from 10am to 5pm. Our kids spent most mornings there before joining us for lunch and a swim in the pool. They loved it. They created all sorts of cute crafts and I can’t count how many times I heard them ask, “can we go to kids club?”
On top of that there was a playground on site and a large outdoor chess game, which the kids visited frequently. All very close to 2 restaurants so they could play while we waited for food.
This well-equipped facility is free for all resort guests, and includes pool tables, air hockey, table tennis, chess and PlayStation consoles. Next door you can even find a private karoke room available for hire (for free). We spent one morning in here, which was a load of family fun (except when Josh lost an air hockey game!
We had a gorgeous Ocean View Suite. The Resort is over 20 years old, but we barely noticed. There were a couple small issues with the door handle and there were no powerpoints anywhere in the room for charging our electronics, but upon reporting this to the staff we were presented with a powerboard and the room cards were checked.
Our room consisted of 2 queen size beds, a lounge room, a massive bathroom with deep, luxurious bath and a patio with views of the ocean. And when I say views of the ocean I mean you could walk there in a matter of steps, same as the pool.
The pillow-top bed was super soft and uber comfortable. All the typical conveniences were included - a safe in the room, kimonos, mineral water, plus a mini bar that was included in the all-inclusive package and re-stocked once a day. Did someone say free Coke?
10. Internet: OMG!
During our stay at the Grand Mirage we surprisingly had pretty good Wi-Fi. It was fast by Bali standards, but more importantly it worked all the time. I never witnessed a down period, which is very uncharacteristic for Bali.
11. Location: in the centre of Nusa Dua, yet a million miles away
The Grand Mirage is located along the very popular peninsula, Tanjung Benoa, in Nusa Dua. On one side is perfect white sand and clear blue ocean. The other side (where the lobby sits) is a busy road with markets, restaurants, supermarkets, laundry services, spas, etc. The only thing we couldn’t find were swimsuits, which was infuriating!
How Mia C’s It:
I loved the boat ride, it was so much fun. My mum and dad and brother liked it too. And I said, "this is awesome, it's like a motobike that can go in the water!".
I liked the kids club. We made arts and crafts and even made a bracelet that took a long time.
I told mummy my pictures would be good on the blog.
Photos by Mia (6 years old):
We found the Grand Mirage to be a fabulous place for a family vacation, especially when you want someone else to take care of food and activities. There is something for everyone and, as adults, we felt the ultimate in relaxation. If you’re thinking about a few days away with your family in Nusa Dua, then hopefully our experience will have helped you make up your mind. After all, you deserve an ice-cold drink (or two) at the pool bar. Don’t let the mind-bending backward clock stop you!
Want to read more reviews on the Grand Mirage?