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Review of Club Bali Kota Bunga, Puncak, Indonesia

A Hillside Resort Two Hours South of Jakarta

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating

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Swimming pool, Club Bali Kota Bunga

Swimming pool, Club Bali Kota Bunga

Image © Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com

Club Bali at Kota Bunga Resort is set at an elevation of about 3,600 feet in Puncak, a mountainous area about an hour and a half south of Jakarta. This small resort is located in an upscale vacation village called Kota Bunga, a fantasy getaway for rich Indonesians and vacationing Arabs. Visitors to Club Bali at Kota Bunga will find a family-friendly setting close to the gaudy attractions of Kota Bunga, and a comfy place to chill out in the crisp mountain air.

Welcome to Kota Bunga

The hills south of Jakarta have always been a favored vacation spot for residents of Indonesia’s sprawling capital. You drive down the Jagorawi Toll Road, exit at the Ciawi gate, and you’ll find yourself along the winding roads climbing up the Puncak Pass, first through Bogor down Jalan Raya Puncak until you reach Cipanas and Kota Bunga a little beyond.

You’ll enter Kota Bunga and you’ll find yourself in… in… a “confection” is the word that first comes to mind, less a village and more of a fantasyland for wealthy Indonesians and Arabs (or so my escort tells me) who want to get away from Jakarta.

Kota Bunga is their escape: a village with rows upon rows of fantastically-designed cottages, built around manicured streets draped around the hills. The place has its own “Little Venice”, a theme park built around an artificial lake. The houses are all Chinese-inspired down one street, Medieval down another, all done up in primaries and pastels. This is what suburbia looks like in Alice’s Wonderland.

In the midst of Kota Bunga, Club Bali at Kota Bunga looks quite at home: the resort building that surrounds the perimeter looks like a castle, complete with a crenellated guard tower in its midsection. Except the fortifications within are honeycombed with apartment suites, and the castle courtyard holds a pool and tennis courts, instead of horses and knights ready to do battle.

Families First at Club Bali Kota Bunga

2-bedroom suite, Club Bali Kota Bunga

2-bedroom suite, Club Bali Kota Bunga

Image © Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com

Club Bali at Kota Bunga is unabashedly a family-friendly resort, if the slide-bedecked pool doesn’t clue you in. Jakarta families love to tramp up to Puncak and Kota Bunga to check in at Club Bali for the weekend, enjoying the cool breezes (such a departure from the warm Jakarta air!) and the family attractions in the resort and outside.

The resort embraces the climate, providing 61 apartment suites along the building’s three storeys, with the second- and third-floor units having private terraces overlooking the nearby mountains and large windows to let in the cool breezes.

The rooms range in size from the small studio units to capacious two-bedroom apartment suites. The former are one-room affairs with kitchenette, toilet, shower stall, and a washbasin in the sleeping area. The latter have large beds with sizeable living areas, complete with kitchenette in the living area/foyer. The rooms don’t have air conditioning, as those would be superfluous given the cold climate up in the mountains.

The upper-floor rooms are accessible via an elevator in the resort lobby. The ground-floor rooms are all arranged around the central courtyard, and these rooms have no views. The studio rooms on the ground floor simply open out to the courtyard (the sliding glass doors require one to close the curtains for privacy), while the two-bedroom suites on the ground floor have windows facing a curtain wall.

Spa Services and More at Club Bali Kota Bunga

The courtyard in the middle of the resort is dominated by a swimming pool with assorted pool toys – a spiraling pool slide set in the middle, some spray guns along the sides, and a shaded poolside table. A tennis court stands next to the pool, on the far end of the compound.

At the time of your guide’s weekday visit, the restaurant on the second floor was under renovation; it’s fully functional during the weekends, serving buffet and a la carte meals. The menu has both Western and Indonesian dishes on offer; their “American breakfast”, with eggs any style, sausage, and toast with both butter and jam served on the side, was perfectly fine, as was the brewed coffee that came with it.

The Princess Spa is located on the outer side of the building, with a nondescript entrance that provides access to a hairdressing salon, massage tables, sauna room, and a lounge with a floor-to-ceiling window and a view of the mountains. The house specialty is the “Pijat a la Club Bali”, a combination of traditional massage techniques, Swedish massage and shiatsu – the package costs about IDR 190,000, or $19.

The spa suites also provide access to a weights room and a billiards room on the upper floor.

Exploring Kota Bunga and Beyond

Living room area, 2-bedroom suite, Club Bali Kota Bunga

Living room area, 2-bedroom suite, Club Bali Kota Bunga

Image © Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com

Club Bali Kota Bunga is proud of its kids’ program; on weekends, they engage guests’ kids with fun activities like kite building and mini soccer. The kids’ playroom next to the lobby has a Playstation, a ball swim, and a number of electronic toys to keep the li’l ones occupied.

If that doesn’t keep the kids happy, you can engage the Club Bali Kota Bunga’s house van to take guests to Little Venice, Kota Bunga’s own theme park, with an artificial lake and gondola rides simulating those of the park’s famous Italian namesake. The park also has bumper boat rides, live music, and a Wild West-like show.

If you’re interested in something closer to nature, the van also does tours to destinations outside Kota Bunga: from animal encounters at Taman Safari to parasailing off the Bukit Gantolle cliff in Puncak Pass, landing in the tea plantations below.

Puncak and the surrounding areas are also notable for their factory outlets selling surplus items from the nearby garment factories; your guide bought a Calloway golf shirt for the equivalent of $20 at the Brasco Factory Outlet ten minutes away from the gates of Kota Bunga.

Contact details, when to visit, and more on the next page.

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