Like a Mayan temple rising from the jungle, the Apurva stands boldly on a cliff face in Nusa Dua. Looking back from the beach one cannot help but be impressed by the shear scale of this resort. 475 rooms, 5 restaurants, a massive pool and lush tropical gardens on 14 acres of land, we can easily say this is the largest resort we have EVER stayed in. At night, if you look down from the lobby, it feels like you are at the top of a skyscraper looking down onto a city.
Opulent and grandeur does not do the lobby area justice, it will take your breathe away with its copper layered ceiling and its 4 large internal hand carved wooden pavilions. Its imposing scale tastefully displays Indonesian craftsmanship and is meant to function as a place of meeting or gathering.
We have arrived during the resort’s soft opening – the large villas are nearing completion, the signature restaurant “Koral” will be open in a few weeks – but mostly it seems finished. They are expecting the grand opening in January 2020. In the meantime we have taken an 8 day package to revel in its grandeur.
Let’s start with the location. Nusa Dua is at the southern end of Bali. Perfect for families but a bit isolated from the hustle and bustle of Seminyak or the best foodie areas. The Apurva is even further south of Mulia, The Westin, Sofitel & St Regis whose resorts all front Nusa Dua Beach and which are connected via a beachfront path, perfect for a morning or evening stroll. Unfortunately, the walkway does not extend to the Apurva Kempinski mainly due to a cliff face, which leaves the Apurva Kempinski fairly isolated. It is flanked between the Hilton Bali and the Ritz-Carlton, so apart from walking around the resort, there is really no where else to go on foot. The good news is that you may not feel the need to leave.
Rooms are large and spacious, we booked a beach view which also overlooks the main pool area. Beds are king size and are very comfortable, with big lush pillows. Plenty of bottle water are provided (in glass bottles), and we received fresh tropical fruit everyday. On arrival we were greeted with soft, sweet macaroons that melted in our mouths, and some delicious local sweets.
Our package generously included daily breakfasts and the choice of lunch or dinner for each day of our stay. There main restaurant is Pala which also has a rooftop bar on top. The buffet breakfast is served here and it is a fairly standard buffet breakfast. You can also choose to eat at Pala for lunch and dinner too – buffet-style dinner or a a-la-carte lunch. The dinner buffet is divided by cuisines, Indian, Chinese, Western, Balinese, Japanese. The other choice for dinner is the Reef Beach Club, which is on the beach front, or Izukawa, the resort’s signature (Japanese) restaurant.
While the Pala buffet dinner was less than impressive, we were holding our breaths for a better experience at the Reef Beach Club. The decor is detailed dark wood and luxurious. The sound of the waves and the warm evening air adds to the atmosphere. It feels like holidays. It feels decadent yet relaxed. We were then disappointed by the menu. It was limited (pizza , burgers, pasta etc), which wouldn’t have been an issue if the food was excellent. We ordered the fried calamari, the pasta, which strangely was only offered as gluten-free and was also the only vegetarian offering (there was no vegan), and the BBQ snapper. Without going into full details, each dish was a disappointment and we were seriously questioning the value of our package deal. So that was our one and only trip to that restaurant. Part of our package included one dinner at the resort’s signature restaurant “Isakaya by Oku” (Japanese). It was clearly the best food being served at the Apurva but still lacked the refinement required for a five star resort.
As we remarked earlier the isolation makes you a captive of sorts in this resort, to go somewhere different for food choices you will need to book a car or taxi. Seminyak is about a 35 minute drive from the resort where there are a plethora of amazing restaurants to eat at. Unfortunately Nusa Dua does not have a great reputation for good restaurants so it is really worth travelling to Seminyak to treat yourself, at least once!
TIP: Download the Gojek app onto your phone. It is the Uber of Bali. You can book on the app and pay cash, the cars are better than the taxi’s and it is very convenient when out and about. Price for a car to Seminyak is around AUD$16.00
I started off by saying it reminded us of an ancient Mayan temple, but will this resort stand the test of time. Looking at the construction and attention to detail, I think not. It already has a lot of wear and tear 10 months after opening, while we were there we found pieces of disconnected tiles in the pool (which we removed), heavily scratched and marked lift doors, timber decking around the pool area warping and nails rusting, drippy paint work, exposed pvc piping and wiring in the water features, pool lights not working – overall fairly sloppy construction. It will be interesting to see how it fares overtime.
On the last night at the Apurva we were joined by the Indonesian paramilitary during the buffet dinner at the Pala Restaurant. It seemed strange that heavily armed military were dining with us, taking over most of the restaurant. We were concerned and to be honest wondered why this was happening at a five star resort. Is this something they do to keep in good with military, just like how Australians offer free McDonalds to police? Not sure, but it put a damper on the night.
We have seen some fairly gushing reviews on the Apurva and while the size and scale is impressive, unless you just want to chill and forget the rigorous of life I would recommend a smaller boutique hotel or villa close to Seminyak, Canggu or Ubud . These areas offer more variety and greater food choices where you can truly experience Balinese culture and lifestyle.