Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels was finalized last year when the two loyalty programs were integrated although many minor details – like the name of the program – were left up in the air. Marriot finally revealed the name, BonVoy, earlier this year to the disappointment of many including me. How about just keeping the name “Marriott Rewards?” Clearly that would be too simple and descriptive.
This was my first time in Bali. I’d always heard great things about Bali but didn’t have big plans for this stay. This trip was more of a general reconnaissance and as it turned out a chance to try one of Marriott’s Autograph Collection hotels.
Posts about the trip to Bali:
The Autograph Collection is one of 30 Marriott hotel brands. There are 166 hotels in the Autograph Collection worldwide. Marriott advertises the Autograph Collection as a conglomeration of unconventional boutique hotels that are “unique in design and thoughtful in spirit.” Autograph Collection hotels were originally independently developed and operated until Marriott convinced the owners to join its stable of hotels. The Stones Hotel belongs to the Autograph Collection. I decided to stay there because of the location and semi-reasonable price of just over $100 per night.
Denpasar Arrival and Check In
The flight from Seoul, Republic of Korea (ICN) arrived at Bali’s international gateway, Denpasar, Indonesia (DPS) just after midnight. After exiting immigration and customs, I withdrew some Indonesian rupees from an ATM. While I prefer to use credit cards to earn points, it is always good to have local currency. I assumed I would need cash for the taxis ride to the hotel.
The taxis was a nice minivan with leather captain’s chair seats. The ride took about 20 minutes and cost just under $10. I arrived at the hotel just before 01:00. It took a couple of minutes before someone came to check me in.
While the clerk was going over the details of my stay and the services and amenities of the hotel, an assistant brought a refreshing drink and a cool, moist towel.
The clerk recognized my Marriott Ambassador status and confirmed my Your24 check in and departure times. Your24 is a legacy Starwood benefit that Marriott incorporated into the BonVoy program. SPG allowed members staying 75 or more nights a year to request check in at any hour with check out ostensibly being that same time on the day you leave. In practice though, if 1:00 a.m. was the Your24 checkout time, hotels let the guest stay until noon. If the Your24 checkout is 10 a.m. hotels often allow a late checkout at 4 p.m. Your24 was one of the best benefits of the SPG program. It can save the expense of booking an extra night.
Unfortunately, Marriott moved my cheese. Under BonVoy Marriott now requires credit for 100 nights each year and $20,000 in Marriott spend after taxes to be eligible for Your24 and the services of an Ambassador, a personal concierge to arrange for any requests or services during a stay. Although I had credit for 106 Marriott nights in 2018, my spend was less than half the amount to qualify as an Ambassador this year. Nonetheless, Marriott was generous and renewed my Ambassador status for 2019 and I still have Your24 for another year.
I believe that kind of break is what the hotel industry refers to as a “soft landing.” Even though technically a member fails to qualify for a previously held tier, sometimes a program does not take that status away immediately or only lowers the guest one level instead of two or three. But unless the rules change or I hit the lottery, this is the last year I will have Your24 benefits as I will never spend $20,000 in a year at Marriott or any other hotel chain.
In addition to Your24, the clerk said that Ambassador status at The Stones Hotel gave me free breakfast, a room upgrade, a 1,000 point welcome gift, plus the standard earning rate of 10 points per dollar and the 75% bonus for Ambassador status.
A room upgrade means any room better than the one I booked up to a standard suite. When you book the least expensive room (and I always do), it’s easy to get upgraded to a better room. But scoring a suite happens only about 50% of the time in my experience.
My room was upgraded from a Twin Guest Room to a Deluxe Pool View Guest Room.
Deluxe Pool View Room
This room was unusual because you go through the bathroom to get to the living and sleeping area.
The bathroom leads to the bedroom.
Room amenities included slippers, robe, dental and shaving kits and two bottles of water per day. WiFi was strong. High Speed WiFi is free for BonVoy Platinums and above.
Sliding glass doors lead to the balcony overlooking the pool.
The breakfast buffet was the best part of the hotel stay. It is served in Stones Kitchen on the lobby level next to the pool. The buffet is available from 06:30 to 10:30 daily. It was complementary for me but costs $24 for those who must pay. Guests can choose from a wide variety of Indonesian, western and Asian dishes.
The waffle station was outside. There is seating inside or out. Inside seating was a little cooler and not as humid as the outside area.
The Stones Hotel is located across the street from Kuta Beach in Bali’s Legian section. Shops, minimarts, and some restaurants line the street next to the beach. Beachwalk, a large open air high-end shopping mall, is within a 10-minute stroll.
Kuta Beach is right in front of the hotel on the other side of the beach road. Kuta looks like a great place to learn to surf. There are a ton of places and individuals offering lessons. Surfers of various abilities looked like they were really having a great time enjoying perfect 3 – 5 foot waves. I was tempted to try.
Other Services and Amenities
The Stones has a fitness center, full service spa, free on site parking, a swim-up pool bar, drinks delivered via paddle boat, Big Fish Bar & Grill serving lunch and dinner, and kids activities. It wasn’t until checking out that I learned that The Stones provides free airport pick up and drop off for Platinum level members and above. I wish I’d known that before paying for a taxis from the airport to the hotel.
Marriott assigns The Stones Hotel to Category 4 of eight categories. I think that is about right. It is a very nice middle-of-the-pack hotel in a great location, Bali, Indonesia. The Stones is a typical large beach hotel. Because it is large and rather typical of the beach hotel genre, it seems out of place with the unique boutique hotels that the Autograph Collection advertises. I recommend this hotel, but if/when I return to Bali I would like to try a different hotel.