The bottom line: Dynasty Bali is a wonderfully family-friendly resort, located where the action is in Kuta, but offering more than your money's worth of luxury in all the right places.
Couples looking for a romantic getaway will not like the hotel, as its family-oriented atmosphere means there's lots of kids running underfoot. Peace and quiet it ain't.
However, families and friends will find everything they want in the Dynasty Bali, assuming they're looking for a good time, great eats in the hotel and just outside on Jalan Kartika Plaza, easy access to the beach, and fun for the kiddies.
Friendly Service, Within Limits
I arrived at the Dynasty Bali expecting just a place to crash in between jaunts across Bali. I realized later how much more there was to the place.
From its open-air lobby to the cozy "Irish" pub to the garden view rooms to the easy access to both beach and Jalan Kartika Plaza, it was a wonderful experience in its own right, if you don't mind lots of kids and no Internet access in the rooms. (Paid Wi-fi access is available at the lobby.)
Visitors ride quite a way into the compound before disembarking - the hotel insists on stringent security checks, passing its guests through a gauntlet of gates and inspections before welcoming them into the open-air structure that houses both the lobby and the "Piazza" restaurant/bar area.
Check-in is a relatively simple process, helped out by a well-trained, friendly staff. To me, however, it seemed that their friendliness decreased directly in proportion to the complexity of our interaction - the bellhops were quite chatty and pleasant, but the lady dispensing the Wi-fi minutes in the guest services office seemed rather curt and impatient. (There were several steps involved - buying minutes, entering passwords, logging on and logging off, etcetera, that in hindsight, could exasperate the Buddha.)
The hotel is laid out so every other facility radiates outward from the main building - the Piazza and the Irish-themed pub Gracie Kelly's are on the ground level below the lobby, and corridors to both left and right lead to the rooms. The lobby also overlooks a garden and two smallish-sized swimming pools. A little further past the pools, a guarded gate leads down a path to Tuban beach.
Guests can choose from 312 guest rooms, ranging from "deluxe" rooms with king-size beds to executive suites with room for 2 adults and 3 kids. Rooms are equipped with IDD phone, satellite TV (note: reception was awfully frizzy while I was there), mini-bar, complimentary coffee and water, safe deposit box, and air conditioning.
I got a deluxe room on the ground level, facing the garden. The room was quite tastefully decorated in typical Balinese detail: modern artwork on the walls that could have come from some studio in Ubud, hand-carved furniture, and an orchid on the bed.
The bathroom en suite was clean, even if its age was showing. Guests enjoy the use of a built-in hair dryer, or plug in their own via the available electric outlet.
Dining and Drinking in the Dynasty
I got the breakfast buffet included in the package, and the spread is quite good. From 6am, the Piazza restaurant level serves a wide array of Western and local breakfast choices - if you've gone native, you'll like having tofu, noodles, or rice; or you can select from their fresh juices, breads, cereals, and cold cuts. The menu is changed every day, spoiling us for choice in the breakfast department.
Actually, diners get a wide variety of choices in everything food-related: the Dynasty's Irish pub offers hearty traditional Gaelic fare; the Golden Lotus Chinese restaurant serves hot Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine; an Indian restaurant sits out front on Jalan Kartika Plaza; and drinks are served at the lobby and at the pool.
We had dinner at Gracie Kelly's, the aforementioned Irish pub decked with all the accoutrements one would expect of a traditional Gaelic watering hole: rustic wood furniture, stained-glass booths, and an ample selection of beers from far and wide.
We sat ourselves down at a corner decorated like an old-fashioned library, complete with fake fire glowing in the corner. Looking through the menu and seeing many traditional dishes like Dublin Coddle and Beef and Guinness Pie, I settled for a Shepherd's Pie, which went great with the local Bintang Beer.
Gracie Kelly's strikes its only discordant note (several, actually) with the inclusion of a combo band that played Western tunes. They were passable, if slightly too loud, and got lost in the middle of their rendition of "With or Without You".
Pool, Spa, Beach, and Jalan Dewi Kartika
The pools are quite cozy, if smallish. Deck chairs are easy to find nearby, and if you're staying for longer, you can order lunch from the pool lounge, or get a foot massage poolside for 90,000 rupiah.
The hotel's own "Kupu-Kupu Kiddies Club" takes care of children from 4-12 years of age, with access to the kid's pool and its waterslide, an air-conditioned club room, and an outdoor play area. A professionally-trained staff will relieve you of your kids, keeping them occupied while the adults go off to enjoy Bali on their own.
Massages can be had at the Dynasty Bali's spa, with reasonable rates to boot. A traditional massage costs 220,000 rupiah, which can go down great at the end of an exhausting day out.
The Dynasty Bali's location is perfect if you want to explore the rest of Bali. From the lobby, it takes all of five minutes to reach the beach and five minutes to get to Jalan Kartika Plaza, where you can shop, dine, and party to your heart's content.
Just a few minutes' walk down the street, the air-conditioned Discovery Centre Mall offers all the shopping you'll need. If you want something less pre-packaged, a number of shops down the street sell all sorts of goods from pirated DVDs to bandannas to tailored suits. Taxis are very easy to find on the street, should you want to explore Kuta further.
Jalan Kartika Plaza also has a lot of restaurants along its sidewalks, offering everything from simple warung food to five-star dining. You can even get cheap thrills from the "Bali Slingshot", a carnival ride that straps you down and hurls you sky-high.