“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” ― Bill Bryson

The Balinese Villa Versus The Luxury Resort

The Balinese Villa Versus The Luxury Resort


I’ve been to Bali twice in my life and, like many Western tourists, have spent much of my time there enjoying lavish treatment at villas or resorts.

The first time, I went with two of my girlfriends. It was a ‘girls’ trip’ for all intents and purposes, where drinks and pool time were the only items on the agenda. But it was also marred by my break up from a partner of four and a half years, just one week prior. My memories from that trip are hazy, most likely because I did little more than drink, sunbake, swim and repeat. As you might expect, the drinking started early and ran late.

Fortunately, I had the good sense to persevere through my misery and spend at least one lovely day exploring beyond the hotel, in the beautiful town of Ubud. Except for that single trip, my immersion into Balinese culture was embarrassingly limited.

The second time around, I went to Bali to celebrate my Uncle’s wedding. My entire family decided to make the trip too, which made it the first family holiday in 10 years. My partner of three years came along too.

It was a very different experience in almost every way.

I was able to secure 10 days of annual leave for the trip. The first 2 nights were booked at the Conrad Hilton in Nusa Dua, where the ceremony was to be held. The last 8 nights were booked at Peppers Villa in Seminyak. This trip was luxurious resort hotel versus private Balinese villa. I had always wondered about the benefits and the differences each type of accommodation, and now I had a true comparison.

Let it be known, this was by far the most luxurious holiday I had ever been on.



The Conrad Hilton in Nusa Dua

My partner and I left Melbourne in the late afternoon. When we landed in Bali, it was close to midnight. We hopped in a cab from Kuta Airport and drove the 20 minutes toward Nusa Dua. We couldn’t see much in the dark, but as we drove up the long driveway to the Conrad Hilton, even in the darkness, it was hard to miss how impressive it was.

Never before had I seen, let alone stayed, at a place that so obviously exuded luxury. My uncle booked the accommodation for us weeks earlier and I hadn’t even considered taking the time to look into where exactly we would be staying. If I had, I might have been prepared for how luxurious my room would be. As it turns out, we were booked into a Deluxe King Garden View Room. Located on the ground floor, the 45 square metre room featured a king-size bed, a spacious bathroom, (with a spa bath and shower), and a back door that opened onto the Conrad’s landscaped grounds and expansive pale blue pool.

The next morning, as we made our way from the room to Suku (one of the Conrad’s five resort restaurants), we were only just beginning to properly appreciate the extravagance of the Conrad Hilton. From the large, semi-exposed breakfast dining space to the three expansive pools and the beach front view, the Conrad Hilton was, by definition, luxurious.


Pros of the Resort Stay

  • Super. Fancy.

  • There are five restaurants on site.

  • There’s a massive pool and a beach front view.

  • The hotel will organise any recreational activities your heart desires.

  • The hotel also has its own day spa.


Cons of the Resort Stay

  • Resorts are not the best choice for those who value their privacy above all else - pools and dining spaces are naturally filled with equally excitable travellers.

  • With literally everything you could ever need (including clothing stores) in the resort grounds, you never really have to leave. I put this in the ‘con’ pile because, while you’re in Bali, you should probably see some of it.



Peppers Villa in Seminyak

After the wedding, my immediate family and I migrated to Peppers Villa. We had booked a Three Bedroom Royal Pool Villa (with an extra pull-out bed for the living room). The entire villa spread across 450 square metres and featured a private swimming pool, a large poolside bale and reclining loungers, a complete kitchen, all surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden, complete with Koi pond. Then there were the bedrooms. Each bedroom featured a four poster, king-size bed with a mosquito net and it’s own private outdoor bathroom. Each bathroom featured an exposed shower, a spacious marble bathtub and its own beautiful tropical garden. With a restaurant and a day spa on the premises, the private villa experience was an entirely different kind of luxury.


Pros of a Private Villa

  • Absolute privacy. With a private pool and lounge chairs, you need not see another guest throughout your entire stay if you don’t want to. Besides your friends or family, of course.

  • Outdoor bathrooms. I’m sure some private villas feature indoor bathrooms but there is something about showering outside that’s incredibly liberating.

  • With all of your kitchen essentials in the living room, you can cook for yourself, if you’re feel particularly productive.

  • BBQ with the family. Because you have this entire space to yourself, you’re often able to organise a cookup inside your villa, which is perfect if you’re there for a special occasion.

  • The staff at the villa will also most likely be able to coordinate myriad activities and sightseeing tours for you.


Cons of a Private Villa

  • With one bar and restaurant, the private villa mostly likely will not cater to your every need during your stay in the same way that a resort can.

  • But frankly, that might be a good thing.

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