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Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: Alaya Resort Ubud

Staying at Alaya Ubud was like stepping into a dream. 

It has all the components of MY ideal Balinese holiday: a tropical-themed room overlooking rice paddy fields, frangipani and coconut trees-lined grounds, soothing massage, and warm hospitality.

I was really looking forward to my stay at Alaya ever since I saw pictures of it online, and it did not disappoint.

The minute my cab pulled in front of the open-style lobby, I was immediately greeted by a staff wearing a traditional-style uniform, but with a modern flair.

Check in process was a breeze, and within a few minutes, they handed my room keycard together with a map of Ubud.

As the staff walked me to my room, I couldn't help but notice the use of natural materials throughout the hotel which gave it a rustic feel. This, combined with modern fittings, will surely please all kinds of travelers.

I was given the spacious and beautifully furnished Alaya Room (Room 311) which had a terrace overlooking the rice paddies.

The bed was just gorgeous! It's huge and fluffy with lots of pillows. 
The frangipanis on the bed and towels were also a nice touch. :)
Kimonos, slippers, an eco bag guests can borrow (can be bought from the front desk), electronic safe, and plenty of fluffy towels are kept inside the spacious cabinets. 

The usual coffee and tea making facilities, and mini bar are also available. 

Aside from the air conditioning unit, there's also a ceiling fan both in the room and in the terrace.

The decorative wall was a nice backdrop. It extends from the room onto the terrace.

My favorite part of the room? Easily the 'open' bath area with a huge stone bathtub. 

There's a generous supply of top-notch organic toiletries such as Lime Lemongrass shampoo, Cinnamon Frangipani conditioner, Vanilla Rosemary shower gel, Lavender Eucalyptus body lotion, and Spearmint Patchouli hand soap. If not for the big bottles, I would've taken them home!

Even if you opt not to have a spa treatment, you can still treat yourself to a decadent bubble bath. The Rose Coconut bath foam smells divine!  

dolce far niente!

When I managed to drag myself out of the room, I walked around the resort to enjoy the landscaped garden and lush surroundings. 

Some of the guests were just lounging by the lagoon-shaped pool, and I really can't blame them. The atmosphere is just very relaxing.


And what's a Balinese vacation without having a spa treatment, right?

I was so thrilled they gave me a complimentary 2-hour treatment at DaLa Spa.

European glamour meets Balinese aesthetics
DaLa Spa's design is so charming. I'm loving the chic porter's chairs!

I arrived 15 minutes earlier than the appointment schedule, and while waiting, I was immediately served cold lemon grass and pineapple juice, and a cold towel.

The staff then explained to me the scope of the 2-hour Manis Klepon treatment. 

I was then asked to fill out a personal information/preference checklist where I need to indicate if I have any allergies or medical conditions, any specific body parts I want my therapist to focus on etc. I even get to choose the room temperature, pressure, and the kind of music I want to listen to while having the treatment.

After handing the form to the staff, she walked me to a table where my therapist, Putu, was preparing the 'ingredients' that will be used for my treatment. She grated some coconuts which she then mixed with palm sugar. This was for my body scrub.

We then went down to one of the luxe treatment rooms. 

Putu handed me a robe to change into. Slippers were provided as well. She also taught me how to assign a PIN code for the electronic safe where I can store my valuables.

After changing, Putu started with the foot bath, which was then followed by the coconut and palm sugar body scrub to exfoliate dead skin cells. Next was the pandanus and suji leaves body mask, which started out warm then gradually gave off a cooling sensation. 

Putu then showed me a basket of flowers, and explained what each one was while gradually dropping them into the tub filled with warm water. This is for the Seven Flowers Bath, which was very relaxing, and washed away the remains of the mask. 

Putu gave me 15 minutes to enjoy the bath while she prepared the new robe and disposable underwear. She also left me a cup of tea by the vanity desk before she left the room.

Finally, it was time for the one-hour Balinese massage. 

Putu was very careful with the strokes, and was continuously checking if the pressure and room temperature was just right for me. It was really relaxing that I nearly dozed off.

The treatment ended with a chamomile facial spritz which woke up my senses. haha

After the treatment, Putu brought me back to the main hall of DaLa Spa where I was then served hot ginger tea with Balinese dumpling stuffed with palm sugar, and served with grated coconut named...Manis Klepon!

I highly, highly recommend their spa treatments! You will definitely feel like royalty. :D

Pardon the grainy pictures. These were taken using my phone's camera.


For breakfast, guests get to choose from Petani Restaurant's set breakfast menu. Don't be disappointed if it's not buffet style because I assure you, the breakfast set is as good as brunch.  

I had the American breakfast set which consists of a bread basket (toast, croissant, Danish pastry) served with butter and jams; fresh fruit platter served with fresh homemade yogurt; omelette, bacon, sausage, grilled tomato, potato, broccoli, and cauliflower; freshly-squeezed orange juice, and latte.
Petani Restaurant

Alaya is located along Jalan Hanoman so it's close to a supermarket, a number of ATMs, restaurants, souvenir shops, and is just a 5-minute walk to the Sacred Monkey Forest. 

I still regret not staying long enough in Ubud, and in Alaya. The laid back vibe, culture, and the lovely people easily made it one of my favorite destinations to date.


~~ I was hosted by Alaya Resort Ubud for a night, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~

Jalan Hanoman, Ubud
Bali 80571 Indonesia
Tel: +62 (361) 972200
Twitter: @AlayaUbud
Instagram: @AlayaUbud

For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review: The Kana Kuta, Bali

The Kana Kuta is a newcomer in the hotel chain-penetrated hospitality industry of Bali (especially in Kuta), but is already making a name, and it's easy to see why.

photo from The Kana Kuta's website

The entrance is quite a bit tricky to locate because the main building is behind the Star Anise Restaurant along Jalan Setiabudi.  

The open layout and spacious lobby will welcome guests upon arrival. You'll get more of a resort feel than a hotel.

The cheerful staff immediately greeted me, and served a refreshing drink, mini samosas, and cold towels while I was being checked in.

Once the check in process was done, another staff took care of my luggage and assisted me to my room. She was very nice and speaks English well (as with most of the staff), and was very much willing to attend to my needs. She even brought the adaptor to my room when I called the front desk to ask if there's one that I can borrow.

I was given the Executive Room, which was very spacious and spotless. I liked the contemporary design. The deep red and black accents were balanced by the white sheets, cream walls, and light wood furnishings.

The cabinets were huge, and there's plenty of space to stow the bags and/or luggage. 

Other amenities include an electronic safe, coffee and tea making facility, writing desk, and a couch that can be turned into a day bed.

I also love that they provided rubber slippers instead of the fluffy ones.

The bathroom was not that spacious, but it doesn't feel cramped. 

They don't have a tub, but it's okay as I prefer a shower stall just because it's easier to take a bath. The water pressure's a bit too strong, though. 

The hotel facilities include a modest swimming pool, gym, meeting rooms, and a play area for the kids.

The Kana is not in the beach area, but they have free scheduled shuttle services daily to Kuta Beach.

Seleriana Restaurant

Buffet breakfast is served at Seleriana Restaurant which faces the pool. 

There's a good selection including live congee, noodle, and egg/omelet stations; breads and pastries; fresh fruits; cereals; and some Japanese, and Western fare.

I would also recommend that you try out the Grand Rijsttafel at the Star Anise Restaurant. It consists of 20 Indonesian dishes, and is perfect for families and/or group of friends. 

Grand Rijsttafel
Soto Ayam (chicken broth, egg, cabbage, glass noodles, fried shallot);
Ikan Asam Manis (grilled fish with sweet & sour sauce), Udang Sambal Goreng (fried prawn with chili sauce), Telur Bumbu Bali (boiled egg with spicy sauce), Ikan Bakar Bumbu (marinated grilled fish with raw Balinese spices), Opor Ayam (chicken with curry sauce), Sate Ikan Bali (minced fish skewers), Ayam Taliwang (Taliwang style grilled chicken), Sate Ayam (traditional chicken skewers in peanut sauce), Otak-Otak (grilled minced fish cake in banana leaf), Gado-Gado (rolled Indonesian vegetables with peanut sauce), Kacang Panjang Bumbu Kalas (long bean with coconut sauce), Terong Kecap (fried crispy eggplant in soy sauce), Tempe Manis (fried bean cake with sweet soy sauce), Perkedel Jagung (sweet corn fritter), Tuhu Telur (omelet with tofu), Rempeyek (Indonesian peanut crackers), Acar Kuning (vegetables with yellow pickle sauce);
Cake Tape (sweet cassava muffin), Es Campur (Indonesian mixed shaved ice dessert);
served with yellow rice and Teh Botol (bottled tea)
Make sure you schedule your dinner at Star Anise on either Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday at 6:30-7:00 pm so you also get to watch the Balinese Dance Performance.

As I was out most of the time visiting Bali's attractions, I didn't get to spend much time at the hotel. But I was always welcomed back with a smile, and the staff are genuinely interested to know how my day was. 

When I checked out, I asked the front desk where I can get a Blue Bird Taxi to Ubud, and before I know it, the taxi was already pulling up at the parking lot.  

When in Kuta, stay at The Kana and you won't be disappointed.


~~ I was hosted by The Kana Kuta Bali for 2 nights, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~

Jln Setiabudi No 8, Kuta
Bali 80361 Indonesia
Tel: +62 (361) 8496100
Twitter: @TheKanaKuta

For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Review: Traders Hotel, KL

Before heading to Indonesia, I had the privilege of staying at Traders Hotel in KL, Malaysia.

Located in the heart of the city, Traders is the ideal base for business travelers and families, especially those traveling with kids, because KL's attractions are easily accessible from the hotel.

photo courtesy of Traders Hotel KL

When I entered the ground lobby and asked to be checked in, the staff courteously told me that the main lobby is actually at the 5th floor. Another staff immediately escorted me to the main lobby and offered to help me with my bags.

The main lobby was not as flamboyant as one would expect from a Shangri-la brand, but the moment the receptionist asked me to complete the check-in by signing on the Wacom tablet, I knew I was in for a different experience. 

Main lobby at the 5th floor

I was then handed my room keycard. 

No WiFi login details were provided because FREE WiFi is accessible throughout the hotel premises.

My Tower View room
The earth colors give the room a homey feel.

The room was modest in size, but space was utilized well and all the amenities you would expect of a 5-star hotel are there.

The bed was just the right size and firmness. There's also a small sofa, and a lazy chair with foot stool near the window where I sat to gaze at the twin towers...while munching on my cupcakes.

My room was on the 31st floor with a view of the Petronas Twin Towers and KLCC Park! 

There were mini cupcakes, a bowl of fruits, and chocolates from Gobo when I arrived. Sweet!

To avoid looking cluttered, they used sliding doors for the cabinet and bathroom. The mini bar, and coffee and tea making facilities, are 'hidden' under the writing desk.

Other room amenities include LED TV with satellite cable, electronic safe, umbrella, plenty of power outlets with built-in international adaptors, iron and ironing board, and hair dryer.

The room may be simple, but the bathroom is definitely luxurious. 

The amber glow makes the counter look ethereal, no?
Can you spot the lollipop? ;)

It has Johnson Suisse fittings, and TOTO toilet bowl with eco-washer (that automatic water spray that washes away the dirty stuff :p). 

There's also a generous supply of premium toiletries and complete grooming kit. 

Another thing that really caught my attention was the tiny dial on the bathroom wall which I discovered to be a volume control, so you can still listen to whatever program/movie is on the TV while you're taking a bath! I find it really cool. 
That night, I went to check out the famous SkyBar where you can enjoy a drink or two while chilling out to music spun by guest DJs.

"SkyBar offers guests the ultimate in refreshing drinks and intoxicating views all in a chic and cosmopolitan ambience."
The pool and the twin towers are beautifully lit up at night. 
You can also watch KLCC's dancing fountain show from here.

My only concern was because my room was just two floors below SkyBar, I can somehow hear the music in my room. While it didn't bother me that much, this might be a problem for light sleepers.


Breakfast is served both at Gobo Chit Chat and at the Traders Lounge. 

If you want to try everything at the buffet breakfast spread, go to Gobo Chit Chat. If you want more privacy and less foot traffic, you can have your breakfast at the Lounge. However, breakfast choices in the latter is not as extensive as Gobo's.

The buffet breakfast serves deli, homemade yogurt, cereals, pancakes and waffles, omelette, noodles, Japanese, Western, Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian cuisines, fresh bread (they have gluten free ones, too) and pastries, variety of cheese, cakes, fruits, and juices. 

The gym, business center, and meeting facilities all have unobstructed view of the twin towers.

Traders is not about space, flashy furniture or fancy equipment. They put more attention into comfort and quality of service.


~~ I was hosted by Traders Hotel KL for a night, but all opinions in this review are my own. ~~

Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 5088 Malaysia
Tel: +60 (3) 2332 9888
Twitter: @TradersHotelKL
Instagram: @tradershotelkl

For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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