It was dark and late when we pulled into the dirt road that lead to The Menjangan Resort. All we saw was dirt roads, tall trees and eyes in the darkness. Where was this they were taking us? Then, out of a clearing we saw the tall Bali tower with it’s soft cushions and chairs, and beautiful natural construction. We were greeted with welcome drinks, cool mint towels after our long drive, and were ready for our stay over the next few days.
The Menjangan resort is one of the few resorts allowed in the Bali Barat National Park. It’s commitment to sustainability and building made entirely of natural, local resources allow them to maintain this permit. And we got to enjoy all the perks the hotel had to offer
Due to a mix-up we did not get the Monsoon Suite that we had booked, but were put into a Monsoon Deluxe instead. This suited us just fine (I hadn’t even realized we had booked a suite). The room had a king bed and two twin sized beds, along with a TV with on-Demand movies and a mini-bar in the main room. There was a decent sized closet and a safe. And the bathroom had a luxurious tub, shower, and spa quality shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in re-fillable jars.
In he room we were given snake fruit and passion fruit to snack on, and there was bottled water to drink. Plus, all throughout the resort there were filtered water stations were we could refill the metal water bottles they provided in the room. They even provided a beach bag made from recycled product packaging to use during our stay.
The hotel had two restaurants. The main restaurant was the Bali Tower Bistro. Here you had a selection of Indonesian and international dishes. And there was a kids menu that had smaller portions and much more food to my picky daughters taste (she lived on pizza, pasta and milkshakes the entire trip). We found the prices comparable to a family restaurant in the United States. The second restaurant, Pantai, was closer to the resort’s private beach. This resort seemed to have a larger selection with more fish options on the menu. We enjoyed a lunch, and two dinners here, including a special BBQ they had on the beach. The BBQ had all sorts of skewers of meat, suckling pig, and the most amazing sweet spare ribs.
One of our favorite places and the first place we checked out was the Mangrove Spa. Along the resorts private beach is the spa, with individual huts overlooking the water. You are first brought to the changing area, where you are given a robe, slippers, and disposable underwear. (Tip, if you are larger, use your own). Then, you are walked back to your private hut, where you are given a cool drink and a foot wash in a tub filled with fragrant flowers. They offer a range of treatments, but I went for the hour long Balinese massage. Using a mix of pressure points and western muscle running, it’s one of the best techniques I’ve ever experienced. The massage was amazing and I felt like a loose noodle afterwards. While the resort is significantly more expansive than the rest of Bali, it was extremely reasonable by US standards at $20 for an hour long massage. Afterwards you are offered a choice of drink (hot or cold tea) and given a chance to relax before moving on to your next activity.
For me, a vacation to a tropical location is not complete without water activities. First off, right outside the door of our hotel room was the pool in the monsoon lodge. The pool was the perfect height for my children, and it was big enough for the guests to enjoy and not get overcrowded. In fact, we often had it to ourselves. There was also a small splash pool for toddlers and babies, and a hot tub for grown ups (and kids who want to play grown up).
In addition, the resort has a private beach accessible only to those staying at the resort. The beach is near a mangrove field, and you could actually see the mangrove trees growing out of the water. But watch for the spiky roots! There were beach chairs, and the restaurant and bar were nearby, and would bring drinks out to you on the beach. There was a hut for the beach towels that were plentiful. My husband and I enjoyed lounging on the chairs while the kids walked into the calm water and played around to their hearts content.
Finally, right near the beach was the Padi water sports center. There you could rent canoes, kayaks, snorkel gear, whatever you needed. You could also walk from there down to the private jetty, where you could walk out and jump into the water that was deeper and do some swimming, snorkeling, or take off from your kayak or canoe. We did a little snorkeling, but when I stepped on a coral and had to get my husband to take a spine out of my foot, I was done snorkeling, and we went back to the beach for me to get a drink.
One of the things that surprised us was horseback riding. Remember the room mix-up? Well, to compensate for our trouble, they comped us a bunch of services, including a sunset horse backing riding trip for four. The trip took us down to the beach to see the sun set behind the volcano, and then lead us back up.
Got a chance to check out the stables and ride to the beach at sunset
By far the kids favorite part of the resort was the Safari car. You see, the resort is HUGE. It was a five minute drive from the Bali Tower to the Monsoon Lodge. It was an 18 minute drive from the monsoon lodge to the Beach/Spa area. So the way you got around was via the Safari car. You simply called the front desk and they sent one to you. It was a double decker Jeep that took you over the rough dirt roads to all the amenities of the resort. The first night, the kids immediately wanted to sit in the front at the top and I allowed it (I was tired after our 24+ hour journey). The next morning, I actually saw what we were driving over, how close the branches came, and realized I was letting my kids do this…with no seat belts. They had a blast. I kept having visions of disaster the entire time. But there were no accidents and they came out unscathed so I say do it! Just don’t watch or pay too much attention and you’ll be fine.
There were also bikes all over the resort you could pick up and use if you wanted. They even provided helmets for the kids to use. My son and I biked to Bali Tower once. He had a blast. I’d rather let my kids ride in the front of the jungle car with no seat belts. To be fair, I’m woefully out of shape, and I don’t do well in heat and humidity. But also, the bikes were not in the best of conditions due to the rust from the humidity. But we made it, survived, and took the jungle car back.
Not every hotel is perfect and there were a few small cons I feel I should list to have an honest review. The first was the AC unit for our room was not big enough. Neither my husband and I like heat, so we could not get the room cool enough to our liking. Also, due to it’s eco setting it would shut off in the middle of the night and I would wake up hot. This could have been our room, and to be fair we never said anything to the front desk.
The other small con was the size of the resort. Due to the size and the need to call a jungle car you had to plan ahead when you had a spa appointment or needed to get to Bali tower to meet our tour guide. But that’s a minor inconvenience considering the luxury and silence you get.
The last small con is the remoteness. We had been warned and were right, this was the most expensive part of our trip. Were not near a town, but actually in the park. This meant we had to eat all our meals at the resort restaurants. The food was very good, but it was like eating out everyday in the US. Breakfast was included (and it was a filling, good breakfast as well), but it did make it the most expensive part of our trip. (Especially when you are in vacation mode, and ordering cocktails all day long. Opps. )
The Verdict: Book it Now!
We loved our stay at the Menjangan. And it was a perfect place to start the trip. We were told a lot of people didn’t make it out to West Bali due to the remoteness. It’s a perfect place for peace, quiet, relaxation, and to commune with nature while enjoying luxury accommodations. The food is excellent, the staff aim to please, and there is everything you might want to do in one resort. I highly suggest you make it part of your Bali itinerary.
This trip was part of our series Robin Turns 40 – Celebrating in Bali, Indonesia
*Stared photos taken by Atma Photography