This was our first of potentially many trips to Bali, and we had a fantastic time! I’ve travelled to various countries embracing the experiences travelling brings, bed bugs in Venice, an excruciating Brazilian wax in Barcelona, and had my passport stolen in Dublin. My standards are pretty……….low, and I am genuinely happy to go with the flow.
So let’s see how the Grand Mirage Resort & Thalasso Spa – Bali went!
All In option:
Initially we were pretty excited to be staying at the Grand Mirage as they offer an All Inclusive option on top the standard room rate, which would include all food and beverage as well as extra activities such as water sports, jet skis etc. But it was the endless cocktails that really got me peaking and with the kids ages being, 6, 3 & 1 the convenience of having everything easily accessible and included was looking like it might be a big benefit! . Ian and I were giving it serious considered for our 10 night stay, but at an extra $75USD per adult and $37.50 USD for children over 6 per night (approx. $100AUD per adult, and $50AUD for child) we decided to see what our eating and drinking habits were going to be like before adding this to our trip and justifying an extra $250AUD per day!!
But thank goodness we didn’t sign up for all-inclusive. The food was better a couple of meters just out the resort gates, and the prices in the resort, as expected, were the same as you get in Australia when eating out, no Bali prices here. In the end we still spent $1,000 on food and beverage at the hotel, but nowhere near the $2,500 this would’ve been had we decided to do the All In option. A night eating out at the hotel restaurant wouldn’t give our family much change out of $100AUD, but go to The Tree just down the road and you can eat the same with better quality food and cocktails for $50 AUD. If you don’t plan to use the water sport extra’s and plan to be in bed with the kids asleep by 8pm I’d recommend not going all in. (Plus we got a bout of Bali belly so once that kicked in there was no way were going to get an extra $250 worth of value out of it.) So hopefully this is a good guide whether it would suit your stay.
The All In option also doesn’t include the day spa treatments, and these are also priced competitively with Australian spa treatment prices. $60AUD+ for an hour treatment, when just over the road you can get an hour full body relaxing massage for $10AUD.
We stayed in the family wing, which is completely separate to the main hotel. We knew this going in, so wasn’t a problem. We tried breakfast at the main hotel, about 100m walk back up the beach, but it was flat out and crazy busy. The kids were overwhelmed, and there was actually no hot food left when we arrived at 8am. Breakfast in the family wing was way more relaxed and plenty of food. (Quality was average, and there was something different most morning, possibly depending on the nationalities of majority of guests staying at the time, e.g. Chinese, Middle Eastern, veggies from the previous night’s roast dinner?!)
The family wing does also lack the traditional Bali feel the Main wing has, and is a fairly modern hotel that could be really anywhere in the world.
OK yes, it’s a family wing, I’m all for kids having fun and I have 3 of my own that sometimes can be tough to control but I wasn’t prepared for kids running up and down hallways and ringing door bells during all hours of the night and early hours of the morning. Nor was I prepared for the crying newborn in the room next door from 2:30am-5am in the morning. The walls aren’t the thickest and the crying baby set off my 1 year old. The night after this, the baby cried from 9pm til 11pm, so that was a bit better.
We stayed in a Junior Suite, that advertises being made for a family of 5, but really it’s made up for a family of 4. The day bed is larger than a standard bed and could double as a bed if needed, but we used a porta cot which had to be set up the day after our arrival as it wasn’t ready when we arrived at midnight. The rooms themselves are pretty spacious and the kids were happy to entertain themselves in their own room.
The pool area and water slide are great, and this is where we spent a majority of our time. The pool is a good depth and our 6 year old could stand up at both ends, but the dip in the middle was a little deeper. The water park for the younger kids is also great and would suit kids probably 3-6 maybe younger, depending if they like the buckets of water splashing on them.
Kids club is free for kids over the age of 4 and seemed to be well run. My kids were happy to spend their days in the pool so we didn’t actually use the kids club. Under the age of 4 you either had to supervise or hire a nanny to supervise.
The rooms on arrival are clean. There were ants on the tea station, but I can live with that. However, once in the room, the standard of housekeeping drops. We didn’t get new drinking glasses after our first night, and I’m not sure how, without washing up facilities we were supposed to re-use the ones initially given. Any dishes clearly left for collection, were left by the cleaners, even if piled above the fridge looking like they need to be taken. The only way the get taken was to leave them outside the room, and even then it would take a while for them to go. It was pretty obvious they were dirty dishes, but not the cleaners job to take them?
The timing of when the room got made up each day was pretty inconsistent as well, sometimes the bell would ring bang on 9am for it to be made up, but then other times we would be down at the pool until 4pm and the room still hadn’t been made up. This makes it hard to judge when to put the little ones down for a nap, but we worked around it. Also, towels weren’t always replaced during the room make up, and at times arrive after dinner, I think it depends on when the clean ones come in to the hotel.
The restaurants, the kids club, other communal areas and the pool were all met expectations and were clean.
Overall there wasn’t really any outstanding staff members we noted. All the staff seem pretty complacent and very used to knowing that they don’t have to try hard to maintain business. It’s one of the only hotels that accommodate larger families so they have a bit of a monopoly on the market especially if you are looking to fit a family of 5 or more. There was no reputable Bali hospitality noted, and from my experience, the staff in Thailand seemed to be more genuine with their hospitality and grateful for your business.
The Grand Mirage is in it for the money, and not guest enjoyment or value for money!
A final goodbye
The soccer World Cup – Was not available in rooms! Please enjoy viewing in the Panorama Lounge and spend money at the bar instead if you wish to view the world cup!! Now after talking to our driver, it appears that The World Cup was televised on local channels for free in Bali, just not at The Grand Mirage. I would’ve happily gone down to the Panorama Bar to watch the World Cup, but I have 3 kids, who by the time 7pm rocks around aren’t really up for me watching the world cup in a bar!! For a resort that prides itself on Family, this speaks volumes as to where their priorities lie. With a hand on your back pocket!?
The free WiFi – Hmmm not so great. Early in the morning it seemed to run faster, but then come lunchtime or after dinner and it was so slow it was painful. Not sure if everyone was trying to stream the World Cup, but that’s possibly the explanation, or it’s just not strong enough to meet the demand of all the guests.
On check out – When we went to check out, without even consideration being given to our stay, the Concierge informed us next time we should consider upgrading to the all-inclusive package. I had to point out to him that actually no, that wouldn’t have been more beneficial for us, we spent $100 (plus approx. $50 out in the local businesses) a day, compared to the $250 they wanted to charge us. After he questioned how many nights we stayed he backed off and said, oh no maybe not!
Our flight was at 11pm I asked (knowing the answer was already likely to be a “not unless you are going to pay a lot of money”) if we could potentially have a room for the afternoon for Georgia to have her nap in. “Yes that will be an extra $85USD.” Hmmmm! “maybe the baby could sleep on one of the pool lounges instead!” Family resort, do you know the behaviours of an 18-month-old? So I let this one slide, and we ventured down to the kids club to wait it out until our driver arrived.
But then………….. Jetstar canceled our flight!
So we were moved to a flight at 2pm the next day! This left us already checked out of our room, but still in a resort we had just spent over a week in at a cost of $5,000+. We went up to our friendly concierge and asked if there were any rooms available for the night as our flight had been canceled, lucky for us there was! We could go back into a Junior Suite, the room we had just checked out of, and that would be $500 AUD for the night!! Say what!!!
Our previous nightly rate had worked out to approx. $450 per night, and now after spending 10 days there and paying over $5,000 to this family friendly resort, with our flight being delayed, they were really keen to help us out, because a room was available, and charge us more for that one night than what we had paid every other night!
We were out of there! Jumping into a taxi to take us to Sanur (100% nicer location, no hassling while walking down the street, go find a hotel there instead!) and had one of our most enjoyable nights of the trip, in a more traditional Balinese hotel.
Would I recommend the Grand Mirage Resort & Thalasso Spa – Bali?
No! For a resort that prides itself on being a family resort, and one of a few resorts, that cater for a family of 5 without having interconnecting rooms, it struggled to meet expectations when considering the price you pay.
Don’t get me wrong our family holiday and spending time together was great, the kids got to hang out with us 24/7 and this was particularly important for their bonding with Ian, who works crazy long hours. Just seeing Georgia’s face light up every morning when she came in squealing with delight “Dad!” was priceless, and their bond is now closer than ever.
I try hard to see the positives in everything, and have stayed in various types of accommodation, and this is the first negative review I have written, honestly it’s doesn’t take much to make me happy, but I appreciate value for money. So if you are looking for accommodation in Bali for your next trip, do yourself a favour, and don’t stay at the Grand Mirage, unless of course you have cash to burn!
Feel free to leave me a comment about your travels, I’d love to hear from you.
And if you are looking to fund your next holiday, check out the link below or read my article on how you can make money working from home here.