8 Sep 2007
Swiss Grand Hotel,Nusa Dua, Bali
Suite
A$329/£142 week
8°48'30.15"S 115°13'23.38"E
1 Bedoom
No kitchen
Timeshare Rental
Week

 

The Swiss Grand is an officially rated 4 star boutique hotel which has sold some rooms to timeshare, meaning there are a mixture of regular paying guests and those taking their timeshare entitlement or exchange holiday. The hotel is small - about 30 (huge) rooms, 3 one bedroom suites and two very private villa units with plunge pools - never seen the point of those things myself, but there are a lot of them around. This was our 5th time here, but the first time in a suite - we got the suite with the outdoor living area, which meant TV only in the bedroom but we weren't complaining at this price. Both areas were very large, were well maintained, kept spotlessly clean and serviced daily - twice some days. The bathrooms here are almost as big as a regular hotel room, complete with a bath to keep Peter happy. 20 or so international channels on the satellite TV kept us amused and there was a DVD player but no sign of disks. Being a hotel, there are no cooking facilities beyond a kettle and mini bar fridge, but the tourist restaurants nearby are inexpensive.

Bedroom

The downfall of this hotel has always been the extra charges which are exorbitant - the business centre costs were outrageous, and internet access the most expensive I've seen in Bali - A$25/£11 for 4 hours WiFi access (as a guide, the neighbouring mega-posh Hyatt charges A$18/£8 for 24 hours). They even charge to use the 'library' which, in reality, is only books that previous guests have left behind, and bikes are available to rent by the hour for a price I forget (but I remember it made my eyes open wide). The restaurant looks OK (we've never tried it), very expensive compared with eating outside but on a par with other hotels in the area. The gym is free but hardly worth the bother and, importantly in the tropics, not air conditioned.

There is a free daily shuttle bus into Kuta, one way only - probably worth the taxi fare back if you're going to eat there as Kuta is priced for tourists not captive market tourists. The location is good and bad, depending on what you like. Nusa Dua was invented in the 1980's when the effects that mass tourism on areas like Kuta were becoming apparent. A fairly isolated enclave of little used land was cleared and a swag of luxury hotels built. Bringing in high spending tourists and putting them in an enclosed area was seen as a way of ensuring the problems in other areas weren't repeated - maximum dollars for minimum impact on local land and culture.

Outdoor Living Area

The result is a very sterile area with manicured parkland, no litter, no hawkers and no ambience. Entry gates with security guards (even before Bali became a target for terrorists) ensure no local people are wandering around. Still, this formula seems to suit a lot of the kind of people who frequent the Hyatt, Hilton and Sheratons of the world. High spending tourists, however, seem less likely to come to a country perceived as being dangerous, so since the tragic bombings in Kuta and Jimbaran, the hotels of Nusa Dua are far from full, and the units in the equally sterile shopping centre are mostly unoccupied. We've also noticed since our first visit in 2000 at least half of the tourist restaurants outside the gates of the complex in Bualu village have closed, and more than half of those within the shopping centre are no longer in operation. Being just outside the gates of the Nusa Dua compound, the immediate environment of the Swiss Grand is not quite as sterile as other hotels in the area, and it's closer to Bualu village where, apart from reasonably priced tourist restaurants (about 5 minutes walk), there are the incredibly cheap warungs (local restaurants) and food stalls used by the locals - when I say cheap, I mean a good feed for just over a dollar or less than 50p each, or double that for a very good feed.

There are tourist-oriented convenience stores located around the restaurants where you can get the basics and local mini-marts (selling exactly the same thing, minus fancy lighting and air conditioning for less money) where you can get most things except fresh meat and fish, - the local warungs will sell them to you for a reasonable price, but it's cheaper to eat out than in. It's a 10 minute walk to the nearest beach, or 20 minutes to the hotel beach club (beds, towels, a toilet and bar) which is serviced by a free hourly shuttle bus. There are enough 2 to 3 hour walks in the area to fill a week, covering everything from sparsely inhabited rural and costal roads to tourist areas and local village back streets. For going further afield, taxis abound (make sure they have a meter and insist that they use it), local transport (bemo's) cost little for going into Kuta, but they won't always stop for tourists and if they do they often try to charge much higher prices.

Motorbikes can be hired for A$9/£3.75 per day (more than twice the amount everywhere else on the island, and they won't negotiate due to the captive market). If you decide to go for it, as well as nerves of steel, you need an International Driving Licence endorsed with BIKE which means you have a valid motorbike license in your own country. The people hiring you the bike will tell you it isn't necessary and the local police will let you off if you pay a "fine", but as it's a documented legal requirement you are invalidating your travel insurance as you're breaking the law and you won't be covered if you have an accident. Don't say you weren't warned. And don't buy petrol from roadside stalls selling it out of glass bottles - it's got more additives than a tin of soup.

On a bright note, the new Novotel hotel and privately owned condo complex over the road from the Swiss Grand has free WiFi and an excellent signal can be picked up from the bar and lobby and probably from the rooms at the front of the hotel - ours was too far back to get a stable signal.

Pool Area

The Novotel also has a much bigger, nicer swimming pool and nobody questions your right to lie on their brand new and very comfortable sun beds or use their nice fluffy towels. (I found a one bedroom condo advertised on a holiday let site for US$65/night, which is very reasonable and probably open to negotiation if you were to stay a week).

All in all, very pleasant. Would we return - it's our 5th time, so I have no doubt that we will.