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Friday, 06 May 2011

Club Med Bali

It was my fourth trip to Bali.

"Wh do you go Bali so many times?" exclaimed my mom. "Not sien one meh?"

It's a question I get a lot. Like most who had been to Bali on a cookie-cutter group tour, she had made the assumption that Kuta is all that Bali has to offer. What a lot of people do not know know is, Bali is so big - it has a totally different vibe in depending on which part of the island you're in.

There's beautiful Ubud in the centre, laidback Padangbai in the East and dolphin-playground Lovina in the north, mega resorts and gorgeous luxury villas in the South.

So, unless you are a horny teen looking to get your first lay at Bounty Club, Kuta's  permanently congested roads and cramped hotels is possibly the worst place to stay in Bali.

Bali is a whole lotta fun packed on a paradise island. It is, however, terribly unorganized. Figuring out where to stay, what to do, where to eat and how to getto these places can require a lot of advanced planning, and that can sometimes take the fun out of holidaying.

After all, the purpose of going on holidays to get away from stress. Obviously, the last thing I want when I go on a holiday have MORE stress.

This past January, I stayed at Club Med Bali for 4 glorious days.

The French resort chain is the pioneer of all-inclusive holidays, and Bali is one of their most popular resorts in South East Asia.

Staying here completely took the stress out of holiday planning.

All-inclusive means all the ingredients required to cook up a perfect holiday is included with the room. It means all the food, all the activities, all the entertainment and most importantly - all the alcohol are already taken care of for me.

I came out completely rejuvenated. It was such a fun and enjoyable trip that I distinctively recalled every moment of it.

All I needed to bring, really, is my body.

DSC_0044

Our royal treatment started even before our arrival at the resort. At the Ngurah Rai airport arrival hall, surrounded by hundreds of hotel drivers holding up placards, we found our driver.

With our bags tagged and room numbers assigned, we were whisked away to the pristine Nusa Dua peninsular to the south, completely avoiding the crazy traffic in Kuta.

In less than 15 minutes, we arrived at the Club Med Bali lobby. It was there that I experienced the first of the many Club Med subculture that I have come to learn in the days ahead.

Club Meds from all around the world employ what they called Gentle Organizers or G.O.s.

Unlike at typical hotels where the staff are there just to serve the guests and nothing else, at Club Med their G.O.s eat and play together with guests. It may seem a little unfamiliar to the uninitiated, but the G.O.s are what made Club Med, well, Club Med.

At Club Med Bali, there are over 80 G.O.s each from different countries and each with their different specialties. One G.O. could possibly have many different roles.

One morning, Wayan would be my golf instructor.

In the afternoon, he would work at the main resort pool as a lifeguard.

Then at night, the same Wayan would don the white top hot and sequined glove, moonwalking across the stage as a Michael Jackson impersonator.

Every day these GOs are out there having fun with their hotel guests. And these are the very same people I would eat, play and grow very close to over the next few days.

When we arrived, we were taken on a tour around the expansive Club Med compound. Our jaws were dropping the entire time. There are definitely no shortage of things to do over here.

Most hotels have a swimming pool, a restaurant, maybe a spa and that's it.

At Club Med Bali, the amount of facilities is like everything a hotel guest can dream of, and more. MUCH more.

They have 2 HUMUNGOUS restaurants, 2 swimming pools (including a quiet one next to the spa for adults only), a Mandara spa, fully-equipped gym, football field, volleyball court, basketball court, tennis court, archery range, windsurfing school, a theatre, a nightclub, a putting green, driving range, a full golf course and a CIRCUS TRAPEZE all housed within the compound of Club Med.

Yes, even a circus trapeze.

Club Med is like Disneyland for grown-ups, without the long queues of screaming kids, with the free flow of amazingly delicious good food and bottomless alcohol.

Best of all? Because Club Med is all inclusive, pretty much everything inside the resort is free.

We didn't have to think about how much to spend, because meals, entertainment and activities are included in the room. Only the more premium stuff like champagne, spas and outside tours are chargeable.

We had arrived after the buffet lunch had closed. It didn't matter because another restaurant was open for late lunch.

Normally when I stayed in hotels offering free breakfast, I skipped it because most of the time - they are crap. Usually free things are crap.

Not at Club Med.

The restaurant menu here reads like it's from a posh restaurant in Changkat.

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We're talking about sirloin steak and grilled fish, and this ain't even the main restaurant.

For about RM600 a night per person, the guest room itself - although clean and comfortable, isn't necessary the most luxurious ones I have seen in Bali.

That's okay, because there's so much to do in Club Med that nobody really stays in the room. If you're the travel type that stays in the hotel room watching TV, then Club Med is not for you.

Different activities run throughout Club Med from morning till night, each catering for different age groups. During day time, most of us opted for some sporting activity.

Between golf, tennis, archery basketball, windsurfing, snorkelling etc - we were spoilt for choice.

It didn't matter that I couldn't shoot an arrow straight or hit a golf ball to save my life. The G.O.s are happy to show me a few moves.

Look, I even shot my first bulls-eye in Archery!

Fine lah, I planted the arrow there.

Ei Ling wanted to play tennis because a cute Korean G.O. was instructing there. Too bad none of us can hit the ball well enough to go over the Net. Playing tennis with Ei Ling was more like playing "Run-And-Chase-The-Stray-Tennis-Ball".

I even tried my hand on the circus trapeze. I was surprised the cables could hold my weight. Heck, I didn't even know I'm capable of lifting my legs above my head while I'm swinging.

Damn. If I were gay, I would be damn good in bed.

For the less sports-inclined people, there are milder activities like Balinese cooking class, temple tours or the famed dual induction massage at the Club Med Spa.

Even babies and kids have free activities planned for them by the GOs.

Club Med has a particularly strong emphasis for children and families, so the kids could be holed up somewhere doing a fashion show, or making an art piece using recycled materials while the parents are windsurfing in the Indian Ocean.

For me, I prefer maximum adventure all the way, so I took the white-water rafting trip along Ayung River in Ubud.

So we ignored girl band TLC's advice and went chasing after waterfalls, got ourselves soaking wet and smiles plastered all over our face.

White-water rafting along the Ayung River = definitely a must-do in Bali.

After tiring ourselves all day doing sports, it's time for dinner. And I tell ya, dinner at Club Med is LEGEND...

...DARY.

Not only are the food during buffet dinner amazingly delicious, it's also buffet style. Meaning, I put the words "ALL YOU CAN EAT" to test.

We're talking the finest dishes from Western, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian cuisine being served each and every night. Again, these aren't the cheap food you get at some buffets in cheap-ass hotels.

These are really yummy good tasting food I'd pay hundreds for at fine-dining restaurants, and they serve it buffet style at Club Med. Complete with free flow of drinks and alcohol.

We went crazy. No one blinked an eyelid when I returned to my table with sushi on one side of the plate, babi guling on the other and a glass of ice cold  beer on the side. It's all included what!

I like it how there's always a theme that goes along with our dinner. When our dinner invitation says "Elegant", this was how we dressed.

My interpretation of the word "elegant" vs the Expat Lifestyle's Ian Johnston's interpretation of "elegant".

Dinner was brilliant, but the fun ain't over.

Straight after dinner, the evening staged show begins.

Club Med does these staged shows every single night.

And every night is different theme. Just because the staged shows are free, doesn't mean budget was spared either. Over the 3 nights that we stayed, we watched a Michael Jackson tribute show, a Vegas-style dance show and a circus show during our time there.

One show that stood up was this act where a single person sang both the male and female parts of a duet. So first, the male sang.

Then the female sang...

 

ALL TOGETHER NOW!

If you're bisexual, congratulations - you found your soulmate.

Yea, the staged shows are done by amateurs and aren't completely original. But who cares? The important thing is that it is very entertaining.

If you're a lady from the fairer sex, don't miss the circus show.

Ridiculously fit male bodies are on display. The Japanese girls love it. I bet alcohol was not the only thing that was dripping free flow that night.

I had to remind my lady friends that these guys are GOs. Not GROs.

Sorry lah. Cannot bring them back as souvenirs.

For me, my visual treat came when 200 Japanese girls from a bridal company checked into Club Med as part of their company's incentive tour.

After 4 days free flow of good fun, great food and most importantly - a totally relaxed experience, it is unfortunately time to return to reality.

It is very difficult to leave Club Med. I normally don't spend a lot of time in hotels when I travel, preferring to wander outside and explore on my own. This time round, I spent 4 days in Bali without leaving their resort compound, and still had lots of fun.

While most other hotels in Bali emphasize on delivering luxury, Club Med created a truly unforgettable holiday experience and having more than enough things to do.

It worked. The food at Club Med is already worth the price of the room itself. And the experience I had? Priceless.

I think I'll be back sooner rather than later. :)

Got Michael Jackson to see, why not?

33 Comments

Unregistered

Cool..... nice post.... Average you will visit Bali at least 4 times a year... muahhahahahahaha....

Unregistered

One word to said.. amazing..

Unregistered

cool. so rm600 per night?

Unregistered

any good lobang or not
?
looks like fun

Unregistered

awesome. it's gonna be legen.. wait for it... dary!

Unregistered

how to get room quotes?

Unregistered

i luv d subtle 'dripping' joke

Unregistered

very nice but definitely very expensive. can't afford it.

Unregistered

wah... I heard normal people can't enter even if they're willing to pay for it right?

Unregistered

tak ada mutu but at least got gaya to play tennis ok!!! of all pics ah you have to put that! ish!!

Unregistered

Nice post.Never read a post as details as this one.Feeling like wanna go 2morrow there!

Unregistered

Club Med used to be about casual sex, and I guess back in the day, the G.O.s would handle that kind of activity too.. Doesn't happen anymore, does it??

Unregistered

Wowww!! U really in love with Bali... Did you visit the doctor from 'Eat Pray Love'? LOL!

Unregistered

Is the guy your male "Companion"? I'm betting your stay was Complimentary.

Man, you coulda been "A Something", all that potential going to waste is criminal.
Hey, Good Luck paesano.

Unregistered

Good post! I've heard of Club Med but never really thought much of it. truly an insight into this beautiful franchise :) U've already convinced the future me! hehe...

Unregistered

If it's really RM600 per night per person, then it's really cheap and worth it.

Even the Club Med Cherating branch would have costs over a thousand. I would never thought that going overseas for the similar thing would be cheaper.

Unregistered

Hey man, whats the difference between babi guling and the siew yoke (roast pork) we have here? Which do you prefer?

kennysia.com

babi guling is suckling pig, stuffed with condiments and slow-roasted over charcoal.

siew yoke is siew yoke lah.

The difference is the spice the Balinese use to stuff their pigs. It's juicier.

I like both. It's like asking me to choose between Ferrari and Masserati.

Unregistered

I so wanna live like Kenny Sia. Wot a life.

Unregistered

I see a trend back to the 'good old days' when the site was starting out back in 04/05. I think with less scrutiny from the public, you can write better without any inhibitions like those days. I observed that from the comments posted and the number of ppl chatting in the chatbox.

I just hope you don't ever stop writing no matter how infrequent! Keep it up and all the best.

Cheers,
Reader since 2005.

Unregistered

omg..i never tot it was that nice until i read this post! i'm saving up! thanks for the info and all =)

Unregistered

oh my.....really wanna go there and relax.......release my tension in da biz...one day....i'll go there!!!

Unregistered

Feels so excited seeing your photos......
I'm going to club med soon... :)

Unregistered

Very interesting and informative, Kenny. Thanks for sharing!

Unregistered

this reminds me my Club Med trip 3years ago...my heart was so heavy when i was leaving there.

Unregistered

This remind me the life as a G.O with club med phuket...working from morning till night :P

Unregistered

I've been to Clubmed Cherating, Malaysia too.. They have the same facilities.. n the G.O. are really nice.. they r on duty in different countries.. you might see different batch of G.O. every year.. n the fun part is Trapez.. should get a cert for the intermediate level!

Unregistered

maybe u should try each clubmed around the world.. :)

Unregistered

wah! you must be rich. All year long go holiday only. wish i have a life like yours. peace:)

Unregistered

Hello,

I plan to go Bali this late November and it's my first time to visit club med. After reading your blog, I get more excited about food and every activities. BTW, will you recommend any SPA outside the club med in Nusa Dua?

Thank you in advance^^

Louise

Unregistered

Hi I am boon ping

Unregistered

I was just searching for Clubmed Bali and saw this post. Love the review!! Been to the one in Bintan... gonna see and compare which one's best. Thanks!

Unregistered

Hi Kenny, I just discovered your blog while searching for reviews on Club Med Bali.

You write well and have a cool blog. I also read about your Level Up gym. Well done! I shall be following your writings.

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