OUR GUIDE TO THE LATEST FROM BALIChanges at Waterbom Park
With new hotels opening, the expansion of Ngurah Rai Airport nearing completion, and steps being taken to ease problems such as traffic congestion, the future of tourism in Bali looks bright, according to the general manager of one of the island's long-established resorts.
Craig Biber, general manager of the Bali Garden Beach Resort in Kuta, says the outlook for Balinese tourism is generally positive - so much so that the Indonesian-owned, Australian-managed resort has just opened two new sibling properties, the Maharani Beach Hotel in Kuta and the Samsara Inn in Legian.
"There are a lot of new properties coming online in Bali, so that tells us that there's some confidence in the fact people are investing and continuing to build hotels in Bali," Mr Biber says.
Recently opened accommodation options in Bali include The Magani, a sibling property to Bali Niksoma Boutique Beach Resort, both of which are in Legian. Facilities at the 108-room Magani include a restaurant and bar, spa, business centre and pool with swim-up bar.
Of the new sibling properties to Bali Garden Beach Resort, the Maharani Beach Hotel is a completely refurbished hotel.
Mr Biber says it is "priced as a three-star product but is right in amongst a number of five-star hotels" on the Kuta beachfront. Samsara Inn is a brand-new property which is "quite unique" for Bali - a boutique hotel with a heritage feel which is not only adults only, but also completely non-smoking.
"In Bali, the rules about smoking are very relaxed, so people smoke in the hotels, in the swimming pools, in the restaurants, everywhere, and it doesn't appeal to everyone," Mr Biber says.
Having worked in the hotel industry for 25 years in "pretty much every State in Australia", Mr Biber moved to the Island of the Gods a year ago with his family after "going back and forward to Bali for 25 years".
He has been impressed by the way local authorities have recognised and responded to problems such as traffic congestion and the cleanliness of beaches.
"I think there's a lot of recognition that for Bali to continue the success it's had, they've had to focus on those changes and they've had to react in a positive way," he says.
He predicts that the future of the island will be in continuing to develop what he sees as one of its biggest strengths: the diversity of accommodation and holiday experiences that are available.
"I think while it remains so diverse in what it offers, and while it represents such good value for money, it will continue to be a popular destination," he says.
"You can have two or three holidays just within Bali - it's a relatively small island but if you're in the coastal Kuta area, then maybe you head up into Ubud into the mountains, or across to Candi Dasa or Lovina.
"There's a whole range of destinations that are very, very different within Bali, so a lot of people are choosing a multi-destination holiday within Bali and staying in two or even three places over a two-week period and having three very different holiday experiences - all on the one island."baligardenbeachresort.com, samsarainn.com, maharanibeachhotel.com
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