Calmed, I'm sure
The Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort is an oasisof tranquillity in the middle of the tourist mayhem, writes Holly McDonald
LET ME BE clear: Kuta is not my favourite Bali destination. Give me the fishing boat-littered east coast beaches of Amed, the solitude of Sidemen's paddy fields or the Swiss-mountain cool of Munduk. But crowded Kuta?
Still, more and more people are staying in Kuta - and it's not just backpackers and surfers.
These days, the area attracts a more well-heeled crowd who are curious to see what all the fuss is about. Either that or they are giving in to their teenage kids, who want braids and temporary tattoos, a visit to Waterbom Bali ("Bali's Best Water Park") and to pick up some shopping bargains.
It's these travellers the Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, opposite the beach, is likely to attract. Opened in December last year, its 203 rooms and suites are spread over three storeys that start one level above the street and are angled to make the most of the sea view. Opening onto a decked courtyard with curving water features, a pool and gardens, the view is lovely, if at the expense of some privacy as the balconies are entirely glass.
The layout means that guests can see the top of the waving beach palms and breaking surf, but not the madness and mayhem of the street below.
I spent a night in a suite overlooking the ocean and was impressed by the space and contemporary decor.
Beige-tiled floors are softened by plush linens, mother of pearl accents lend an Asian flavour, Carrara marble bathroom fittings and side tables set a luxurious tone and bright azure carpets in the lounge and bedroom provide pops of sea colour. A capsule espresso machine is an extravagant touch, toilet amenities are comprehensive and the included Wi-fi was easy to use.
The alang alang-fringed roof and hotel interior lend an airy, beachy vibe. For a feel of what the area would have been like decades ago, without the crowds, and with volcanic cones in the distance, check out the beach in the early morning, especially on a clear day.
A few minor irritations included coffee sachets for a plunger but no plunger; no second power outlet for my laptop; and my cordless phone didn't work (the one on the desk did).
The Shine Spa, next to a curved pool surrounded by white loungers, offers competitive prices for the high quality of service. My massage was like nothing I'd had before, starting with a feather tickle and using a silk scarf to pull me this way and that.
Bene Italian trattoria offers stunning sunset views over Kuta. I recommend starting with paper-thin slices of Italian meat and chunks of cheese; the seafood stew perhaps suffered a little waiting for me to finish these off.
The buffet breakfast at Feast, where the hot pink chairs freshen tired eyes, offers freshly pressed juices, little glass-potted yogurts, great mueslis and Asian and Western hot food.
The adjacent open-air mall, BeachWalk, offers sophisticated shopping and a cinema and a food court offering an array of Asian cuisine - I recommend the char kway teow.
One last tip: as comfortable as this hotel is, don't just stay in Kuta.