Some of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in the world, including one that is owned by the Sultan of Brunei, are found in Nusa Dua, Bali.
The name Nusa Dua refers to the entire eastern side of the Bukit Peninsula at the southern tip of Bali, or to the safe and rather sterile tourist enclave known as Kawasan Pariwisata (Tourism District) at the southeast side of the island.
Either way, its crystal clear water, stretches of white sandy beach and manicured gardens make for a perfect spot for luxurious resorts to make it their home, and for tourists to enjoy their holidays in a peaceful and orderly manner.
At the 18-hole Nusa Dua Golf and County Club, one of three top golf courses in Bali and is said to be the most popular for its convenient location, golfers can tee off into the sunset as gentle waves come from the blue sea and caress the banks surrounding the luscious greens.
Tranquil, quasi Olympic-size swimming pools under coconut trees that are the trademark of five-star hotels seem to blend seamlessly with the not-too-distant blue sea.
Not surprisingly, Nusa Dua is home to many good quality spas. If you are staying at a luxury resort, you will certainly have access to in-house spa and treatment facilities.
Nusa Dua is not about sand, sun and spas only, however, as art galleries, museums and numerous shops surround them.
The Pasifika Museum is highly recommended for anyone interested in the art of Bali, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific region. Exhibitions include works by European artists who made Bali their home, as well as renowned local painters and Polynesian artifacts.
“We deliberately set up this museum as a study in contrast,” says Frenchman Philippe Augier, one of the owners of the vast and well-maintained museum.
“We are sure that at some point in time, between their suntanning activities and cocktail hours, tourists would seek a cultural respite and visit our museum.”
The Pasifika Museum is a pebble’s throw away from the Bali Collection, a complex of shops, restaurants of all culinary delights, galleries, Sogo Department Store and Periplus bookstore.
Nowhere else in Bali, or perhaps even in the entire world, for that matter, can you listen to a lady crooner from North Sumatra doing a rendition of the famous Russian ballad “Dark Eyes” in English laced with a heavy Batak accent, to the delight of tourists with deep pockets from Moscow and Leningrad.
The prime tourism enclave is also home to an international-class convention center (BICC), which is at close proximity to luxury hotels. The UN climate change summit of two years ago was held here, as well as the annual Commonwealth Bank ladies tennis tournament featuring top aces.
A bit of background of Nusa Dua: development of the area began in the 1980s, spearheaded by Joop Ave, the brilliant and suave minister of tourism, post and telecommunications during the Soeharto era.
Nusa Dua is said to have the highest concentration of luxury hotels and private villas in the world, from the Amanusa and the Nikko to the Gran Melia and the Westin.
Just about any well-heeled Jakarta-based businessman owns a hotel there, from Rosano Barack of the powerful Bimantara Group (Westin)and Peter Sondakh of Rajawali Group (Laguna and the Ritz-Carlton) to the Sutowos (the Ayodya) and Jan Darmadi (Grand Hyatt).
Darmadi also happens to control the Bali Hyatt in Sanur.
And when the Sultan of Brunei decided that he should have a permanent place to stay in Bali, he bought the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel and Spa.
For good measure, he set up his own private quarters replete with a private pool adjacent to the main building of the hotel. In keeping up with his egalitarian inclinations, the Sultan allows those with excess funds to lease the private three-storey bungalow albeit at exorbitant rates.
In your spare time it would be instructive to visit Serangan Island (Turtle Island), as boats from Nusa Dua and Tanjung Benoa give you access to the turtle conservation area. They are usually glass-bottomed boats that allow observation of marine life from within the boat. Locals keep turtle eggs in traditional conservation nests until they hatch, while the youngsters are released from local beaches.
Nusa Dua often gets a lot of bad press amongst travelers as it looks, one has to admit, so artificial and sterile. A Disneyland aura hangs over the site, but the fact remains that it is the place to stay if you put a premium on privacy, wish to be in Bali to relax and relax only, and see no reason to venture beyond the premises.