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Review of the Grand Mirage Resort, Tanjung Benoa, Bali, Indonesia

All-Inclusive Stays Provide Great Value for Vacationing Families in Bali

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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the Grand Mirage Resort, as seen from the swimming pool area.

the Grand Mirage Resort, as seen from the swimming pool area.

Image © Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com.

With all the family-friendly resorts in Bali competing for your attention, it’s refreshing to find an establishment that manages to rise above its neighbors by owning a nifty travel concept. For the sprawling Grand Mirage Resort in Tanjung Benoa, that idea is the “all-inclusive stay” – a category that lets participating guests enjoy unlimited food and beverages, plus unlimited access to some of the resort’s activities.

Imagine that: as an all-inclusive guest, you can raid the minibar as often as you like, you can have room service sent up any time, and you can drink as deeply of the hotel’s ample selection of entertainments as you desire. Within certain limits, of course. (More on those limits in a bit.)

Guests can still opt for the basic breakfast-and-room package which, given the size of the property and the amenities they can enjoy in the Grand Mirage, turns out to offer great value for their Bali experience nonetheless.

First Look at the Grand Mirage Resort

The resort is located in Tanjung Benoa, a strip of beach facing the Indian Ocean. Tanjung Benoa sits just above the exclusive Nusa Dua resort enclave, and is a thirty-minute drive from the Ngurah Rai Airport near Kuta. Tanjung Benoa is a more laid-back, family-friendly alternative to party- and singles-friendly Kuta.

Tanjung Benoa is close to the airport, about a twenty-minute drive away in minimal traffic but up to an hour away in heavy traffic conditions. The Grand Mirage provides airport pickup (free for all-inclusive guests, US$30 one-way for bed-and-breakfast guests). In any case, taxis are extremely easy to come by in this part of southern Bali.

As an all-inclusive guest, your guide took advantage of the free airport pick-up provided by the Grand Mirage Resort. Our driver was a chatty local, fairly conversant in English and eager to help (as we needed SIM cards for our GSM phones, he readily stopped by a phone store to help us pick up Telkomsel SIMs and credits; read about Telkomsel's prepaid SIM cards). We arrived at the Grand Mirage at 10 in the evening, whereupon we checked in and had copper-colored plastic bracelets attached to our wrists.

All-inclusive guests must wear this bracelet at all times; it serves as a badge granting all-inclusive access to the restaurants, bars, and activity centers within the Grand Mirage Resort. The bracelet is designed to stay on even under water; we were only able to remove it by cutting it off with scissors, the day after we’d left Bali.

The resort building is a massive four-floor affair. The shops, F&B and entertainments are located on the lower two floors. The whole building is held together by a giant atrium in the middle, where a statue of Rama and Sita stand at the very navel of the building on the ground floor. Two guest elevators at the atrium reach all four floors.

Two long wings extend from the central atrium, containing the resort’s 310 guestrooms along their four levels. Ground-floor rooms facing the sea exit right onto the resort lawn, while the rest offer balconies.

On the south side of the grounds facing Jalan Pratama (away from the beach), you’ll find the entrance to the Thalasso Bali Spa, a thalassotherapy-centered wellness center featuring seawater-derived treatments. The Spa’s Aquamedic Pool, filled with filtered, heated seawater, stands in a pavilion facing the sea.

Walk past the Grand Café facing the beach on the ground floor, and you’ll walk right onto the resort’s extensive grounds: the large swimming pool and pool bar sit in the center of the property, and the beach is immediately adjacent. The resort provides lounge chairs and beach umbrellas; guests get beach towels from a counter near the swimming pool and often use them to reserve choice seats near the pool or facing the sea.

The Romantic Ocean View Room

Romantic Ocean View Room, Grand Mirage Resort.

Romantic Ocean View Room, Grand Mirage Resort.

Image © Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com.

Your guide and his spouse stayed at a Romantic Ocean View room (4425) on the far end of the Grand Mirage’s north wing. The Romantic rooms are specifically booked for couples; no kids are permitted in these rooms, and guests bringing their families would be better served booking regular deluxe rooms or suites.

Romantic Ocean View rooms are 42 square meters in size. The immediate impression is that of comfortable luxury: polished wooden floors, modern wood and rattan furniture, with a canopy overhanging the king-size bed in the center of the room. A small workdesk stands on the far end of the room, adorned with a single universal power outlet (“220 volts, 10-16 ampere, 50 Hz”, the room lit tells us; our U.S.-style plugs work fine).

The marble-floored bathroom holds a bathtub, a shower stall, and toilet; the wall immediately adjacent to the bathtub features a folding window that permits views from the bathtub out to the flatscreen TV mounted on the bedroom wall and the sliding door leading to the balcony. Toiletries are provided by the hotel, including bath foam for the tub.

A cabinet holds the refrigerator/minibar, which stores the room’s drinks complement: Bali Hai beer, orange juice, water, Sprite, and Diet Coke. As per all-inclusive rules, we’re allowed to raid the minibar as often as we like, and the contents are replenished daily by the staff.

The room’s other amenities include individually-controlled air conditioning, coffee and tea, in-room safe, hair dryer, IDD phone, and cable TV access. The hotel furnishes guests with a kimono and slippers for their in-room use.

An iron and ironing board are available upon request; you’ll be charged for having your laundry done, but the hotel allows you to have ten items washed and dried for US$10.

The View from the Grand Mirage Balcony

A sliding glass door opens up to the compact balcony, which has just enough room for a small round table and two seats, only large enough for meals for two guests. Your guide and his spouse took some of their meals at this space, taking advantage of the unlimited room service.

The sea view isn’t exactly expansive – with hundreds of rooms facing the sea, the building design allots its balcony space sparingly – but you get enough for a nice waker-upper at dawn, as the sun rises right over the east-facing Tanjung Benoa Beach. The Thalasso Spa’s yoga teachers take advantage of the sunrise to hold their classes on the lawn immediately under our balcony.

As the sun rises higher, you begin to hear the drone of the jetskis and motorized rides propelling the parasailers and banana boats across the sea. Tanjung Benoa in daylight is abuzz with activity, the beach swarming with swimmers and the skies fairly alive with parasailers.

All-Inclusive – What’s In, What’s Out

Grand Mirage atrium, facing Grand Cafe.

Grand Mirage atrium, facing Grand Cafe.

Image © Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com.

Let’s be clear, the Grand Mirage did not invent the all-inclusive concept – the day manager of the neighboring sister property Club Mirage explains that the concept was first borrowed from the cruise industry.

A number of other resorts in Bali also provide an all-inclusive package for their guests, among them the Club Med (compare rates), the Melia Benoa (compare rates), and the Bali Tropic (compare rates). It’s the range of amenities and activities given the price paid for the package that make an all-inclusive stay in the Grand Mirage such a compelling deal.

The “all-inclusive” package implemented by the Grand Mirage Resort looks like a blank check at the outset, promising unlimited food, drink and activities. The fine print rules out a number of extras, though, which are available to guests but will have to be paid for.

What’s in. Room service; buffet and a la carte meals at the Grand Mirage’s restaurants – the Grand Café, the Jukung Grill, La Cascata Italian Restaurant, and Chopsticks Chinese restaurant; non-motorized watersports, like sea kayaking, windsurfing, and catamaran sailing; bicycles and bicycle tours; use of pool, beach, and lounge chairs adjacent to both; use of tennis court; use of computer and other entertainment facilities at the Cool’s Lounge.

All-inclusive visitors also get a ticket to watch the music-and-dance spectacle Devdan at the nearby Nusa Dua Theatre, about a fifteen minute drive away.

What’s out. WiFi; your guide was provided with 30 minutes’ free WiFi use at the Cool’s Lounge, but vouchers for in-room WiFi must be purchased at the lobby, costing IDR 130,000 (about $14) for three hours’ use. Bintang Beer and other selected beverages; only Bali Hai Beer is available in the all-inclusive menu, and more expensive drinks may be charged to your room. Motorized watersports, like the parasail, seawalker and jetski – vouchers for said sports may be provided to you depending on the deal you cut with your travel agent or with the resort management. Thalasso Spa and Devdan Theatre; again, vouchers may be provided depending on your deal with the travel agent.

The all-inclusive package is about 80 percent more expensive than the regular room-and-breakfast-buffet-only package, but it’s ideal for families who want to enjoy every bit of the family-friendly fun offered by the Grand Mirage. Spared of the need to tally costs and limit mealtimes, guests can take in as much as they can take of what the resort has to offer – when they want it – and pay a fixed cost for the lot.

For more on the Grand Mirage Resort’s family-friendly activities and the food choices on the premises, proceed to the next page.

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