Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bali 2014 - Potato Head Beach Club

If you are lucky to be staying at the W Bali - or even if you are visiting - don't forget to step in to the Potato Head Beach Club next door. It is just a short walk down the beach. This is one of the most unique F&B venues in Bali - worth a visit just to admire the design.

If you come in from the land side - you are greeted by this amazing  curved wall made out of recycled wooden shutters. It is an impressive feat of design and craftsmanship - the panels are so perfectly put together, and the mix of colours create a mesmerizing mosaic-like effect.

Pass the impressive entrance, you will enter into a double-storey main area that is divided into different sections. There is a main bar area, an Asian tapas restaurant called Lilin, and a French restaurant called Tapping Shoes helmed by a Japanese chef who cut his teeth in Michelin-starred restaurants. 

The building itself is u-shaped and wraps around a large glass lawn. Next to the beach is a swimming pool and pool deck where most of the guess were relaxing.

The crowd seems to be a mix of locals, expats and tourists. With great design and setting - this is no doubt a wonderful place to spend a few hours. Prices here are high by Bali standards, so bring your credit cards.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Bali 2014 - W Bali

Seminyak is home to some of the best hotels and resorts in Bali, and about 3 years ago the much awaited W Bali opened at the upper end of the area. I always enjoy visiting W hotels as the design-focused developments never cease to surprise and delight. Not knowing what to expect, we ended up in a journey that took longer then expected, entering into some small unmarked roads, ended up in the driveway flanked by water features on both sides - and then finally the sight of the hotel.

The building itself looked quite tame compared to the other W's I have visited. The only thing that gave it away as a W hotel was the quirky flying-saucer like entrance canopy.

Once you enter the lobby though - the W touch is unmistakable.

The most impressive feature of the hotel is the pool. It is huge - and divided into several different zones - but the overall emphasis is on chilling.

Like all Ws, there is also the signature WooBar. The one here is pretty unique with a Moroccan inspired design.

If you have the money to spare - staying at a W Resort is quite an experience.It is one of those places where once you check in - you don't want to leave !

Friday, January 23, 2015

Bali 2014 - Jalan Kayu Aya

If you are planning to do a bit of shopping and dining in Bali, then Jalan Kayu Aya in Seminyak should be on your list. This is the main shopping and dining street in Seminyak, literally chock-a-block full of boutiques, shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, etc. Some of the best restaurants in Bali can be found here. It stretches for about 1.5km from Sunset Road to Jalan Laksmana. The development is also pushing further North - continuing in Jalan Petitenget which is seeing a lot of interesting venues cropping up.

Plenty of boutiques and lifestyle shops. Don't expect cheap price tags though. The prices here are comparable to Singapore or KL.

Even if you are not planning on shopping, walking along the street  - doing a bit of people watching is also quite enjoyable. You may even spot one or 2 models - and even movie stars on their break. We thought we spotted Pierce Brosnan - but maybe not. We definitely spotted a Malaysian VJ
in a sexy bikini top.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bali 2014 - IZE Hotel Seminyak

The choices for accommodation in Bali is so bewildering that making up your mind can be a arduous task. I spent quite some time researching for a nice hotel in the Seminyak area, and the first shortlist was more then 10. Finally it was the location that decided for me - and IZE Hotel Seminyak was it. When we arrived at the hotel, I was really happy that I had made the right choice.

Besides the great location which is right on Jalan Kayu Aya - the main shopping and dining street in Seminyak, I was also attracted by the cutting-edge modern design. The open reception lobby is protected by a beautiful metal screen which provide shade from the sun and rain. The angular design is carried throughout the building - achieving a coherent overall visual language that is unique and pleasing.

The is a pool deck at the roof top with views toward the beach.

The room is quite generous in size and also beautifully furnished with thoughtful modern design. The frosted patterns in the glass panels behind the bed is especially striking.

The cafe is on the ground floor next to the road. This is where breakfast is served. The selection is not as wide as in a typical large hotel, but of high quality. You can even select the eggs off a menu and it will be served at the table - a nice touch.

The IZE Seminyak is a really nice hotel in a great location. The service is always friendly and with a smile, and the pricing is very reasonable. Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bali 2014 - Dinner at Fat Chow

I have read a lot about Fat Chow - a stylish cafe near Bali Beachwalk, and have made it one of our designated stops for dinner during this trip. Fat Chow is located along Jalan Popies II, off Kuta Beach Road. The cafe is quite small - but it is beautifully designed and furnished. The unplastered brick walls, raw corrugated iron cladding, warm timber bench tops and colourful cushions give it a rustic chic that is the in thing at the moment.

The menu is modern Asian food presented in a Tapas style. There are lots of small bites in the appetizer section, plus more substantial dishes which you can order to share. Good thing is they have an option of choosing 4 items from the appetizer section for a fixed price - which was what we opted for immediately. The 4 appetizers we chose were Pork Satay Lilit, Chicken Wings - marinated with coriander, sesame and honey,  Fat Pao - crispy pork in a deep-fried Chinese bun, and Pork on Fire - thin slices of pork belly sauteed with black pepper and Asian spices.

The stand outs were the Fat Pao and Pork on Fire - really packed with flavours.

We also ordered Fat Chow's Fried Rice. This looked like your ordinary Chinese fried rice - but was anything but ordinary. It was excellent - very tasty and with unexpected crunchy bits in the rice which gave it an interesting texture. We are still trying to figure out what the crunchy bits were.

The Nasi Campur was equally good. Every component was very well executed and flavourful. This was easily one of the best Nasi Campurs I have tasted.

Don't miss Fat Chow if you happen to visit Bali. It will give you one of the best dining experiences on the Island and at a very reasonable price to boot.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bali 2014 - Grand Inna Kuta Hotel

On one of my morning walks, I came across this hotel next to the beach which I never noticed before. It turned out that the Grand Inna Kuta Hotel is one of the few hotels with a direct access to the beach in Kuta. What attracted me was the nice design of the cafe next to the beach. It had a rustic look from the use of a lot of recycled wood and raw timber.

My interest piqued, I decided to explore some more. On the first floor is the coffee house which is even more beautiful. This was one of the nicest cafes I've come across in Kuta.

Moving on to the lobby, the design was just as nice. I especially liked the Indonesian fabric used as decorative panels on the ceiling. The designers have done a great job with the renovation to this hotel.

As you come out to the main entrance, you can see what the hotel building actually looks like. The exterior is rather uninspiring - and this is what you normally see from the main road. No wonder I have never noticed it before, but now that I know the interiors are so nice - this could be our next place to stay in Kuta for future visits.