Way back in the ‘good old days’, the year 1980 to be exact, was when I and a few of my good mates took our first big overseas adventure to what was then being marketed as a surfer’s utopia, where you could surf ultimate waves all day and party hard all night.
I wasn’t the gung-ho surfer type like some of my buds, but I didn’t mind a paddle and certainly enjoyed a party! It was an exciting time and I had heard so many Bali stories from other mates that had already discovered this nirvana that I was more than ready to explore the “island of the gods”. Now you may find it hard to picture now if you are a Bali frequenter, but what we experienced then was something for us at 17-years-old like we had never dreamt of.
Kuta Beach, with rice paddies surrounding a small basic village with gravel roads, open drainage, minimal Warung’s and tourist opportunities with the accommodation on offer being that of homestays, cheap losmans and the rare “resort” like the one we stayed in. The very basic “Ocean Blue Club” was one block from the beach and we stayed in uncomplicated tiled floored rooms with a few rock-hard beds with traditional thatched roofs keeping us dry. A swimming pool with some plastic chairs around it and an endless supply of toasted jaffles and the still ever popular Bintang beer keeping our spirits high.
We were in heaven!
I could continue this story for many pages, but the names of the guilty would need to be changed, and the shenanigans we got up to may offend the eyes and ears of some readers, so I will keep those memories internal and move forward 35 or so years!
I fell in love with Bali then and there and have since returned 15 times at a minimum. However, my love for Kuta did wane as it became more popular with a certain type of tourist and for me it lost a lot of its charm. In fact, I probably stayed there only once or twice in the years that followed since that maiden expedition.
That all changed for me just last month when I was tempted back to where it all began for me all those years ago. The GM and now good mate from one of my favourite Sydney hotels, The Ovolo Woolloomooloo, knew of my love for Bali and was dead set on me checking out their new kid on the Kuta block, a luxury boutique offering by the name of “Mamaka by Ovolo”. As I was heading over for a little break anyway I decided a few days’ work beforehand wouldn’t be an issue and I was certainly keen to see if Kuta still had the elements that had me steering clear for all those years.
What a great call it was, thanks Kieron.
Mamaka has without doubt thrown out the challenge to the other operators beachfront by giving Kuta accommodation seekers a classy, but very cool luxury boutique option that has given (in my eyes) the lift in style that was lacking in this area.
Located directly opposite the beach on Jalan Pantai, Mamaka is certainly sending out the good vibrations. Kuta has also risen to the occasion on many levels in this post pandemic period that is now seeing many travellers returning to Bali. The beaches are cleaner. The streets a little less manic. The hawkers even seem a little less insistent and extremely grateful to see us again.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed is the mesmerising sunset on Kuta Beach and sitting on the rooftop location of Mamaka’s, Kuta Social Club with a cocktail in hand and a little tapas from Executive Chef Ben Harrington made it even more alluring! Seriously, this pom from Essex is now in his element procuring Mediterranean delights with a Balinese twist, and damn it’s good! The whole top floor of the hotel is screaming, “hey, just relax OK”! Rooftop pool and Cabanas with views right over all of the western beaches of Bali, you can even get caught plane spotting as the airport is only 15 minutes away. That also means you can start that holiday even quicker when you arrive. Another favourite for me was people watching from both levels of Street 32, the hotel’s main dining area.
The room choices are many and varied to suit all budgets and tastes, but the one thing that is consistent with them all is their cool creative and somewhat eclectic vibe that really is just a flow on from the whole vibe of the hotel.
I guess the bottom line for me is, my old friend Kuta is returned as an option for me and I certainly suggest you take a look at my new friend Mamaka. In fact, head to my website and take advantage of a killer deal that not only saves you dollars, but is packed with a bevy of bonus perks!
Scott McRae is an accomplished actor, entertainer and travel writer. Scott is ‘The Travelling Guy’.