Bali without the bustle
From the moment you step out of the airconditioned coolness of the impressive new Ngurah Rai International Airport at Denpasar, the heat, noise and traditional Bali "aroma" can be overwhelming.
The airport opened last year and, while the queues are still long for the familiar "Visa on Arrivals" and immigration, it's a far cry from the old terminal.
The rooms have all the mod cons.
It's still under construction, but once completed, the airport will become a major hub for Asia and another step in Bali's frenetic development.
So arriving at the new Mantra Nusa Dua is a welcome sanctuary away from the hurly-burly that is Kuta, Legian and, nowadays, even Seminyak.
It has been a long time since I ventured to the other side of Bali, having enjoyed Seminyak on a previous visit, but with the growth in that area, almost every paddy field, once a ubiquitous feature of that part of Bali, has been turned into a shop, restaurant, resort or private villa.
Seminyak is still a great holiday destination but for some peace and quiet and a glimpse at the traditional Bali, Nusa Dua is well worth a visit.
It is also even closer by car these days, with the opening of the new toll road that spans the Benoa Harbour from near the airport to Nusa Dua, which was built to give dignitaries and world politicians direct access to the resorts in the area when Bali hosted the APEC conference in October.
The new and affordable 172-room Mantra Nusa Dua is only 10 kilometres from the airport, or about 25 minutes by car, and boasts panoramic hilltop views to the Indian Ocean, or hillside vistas.
The generous-sized rooms, from panorama suites, family suites to one and two-bed deluxe rooms, are modern and welcoming, with all the conveniences of complimentary wireless internet access, hair dryers and flat-screen TVs that the modern traveller demands.
The Chakra spa and wellness facility, state-of-the-art fitness club, a big pool with access to a sports bar and lounge (plus separate children's pool) make spending a week or a weekend at the resort a pleasant occasion.
Then there's the array of cuisine on offer, from a vast breakfast smorgasbord of eggs, cereal and fruit to ham and cheese, small cakes and nasi goreng.
By the pool, beers and food from club sandwiches to traditional Indonesian rendang are on offer.
Dinner at Rasa restaurant also offers Western and Indonesian fare, with a kid's menu. It's all excellent value, though, since in the rest of Bali, alcohol is expensive.
It's best to buy some duty free and have a pre-dinner tipple on the private balcony before heading out to dinner. However, at the hotel's pool and sports bar there is a happy hour with two-for-one beers and cocktails.
As is the trend in hotels and resorts across the small island, there is also extensive conference space with a ballroom catering for up to 400 delegates.
Eight meeting rooms and boardrooms with dedicated business centre are also available and, for Mantra, which has 50 properties in Australia, it's all just the beginning of a major expansion.
Following the success of Mantra Nusa Dua, the brand expects to open more properties in Asia during the next two years, including in Bali.
The writer travelled at her own expense.
New Zealand travellers are required to pay US$25 (NZ$30.15) per person for a 30-day "Visa on Arrival" (VOA) at Denpasar's Ngurah Rai International Airport. There is also a 150,000 rupiah (NZ$14.85) per person departure tax.
STAYING THERE The Mantra Nusa Dua has doubles starting from NZ$139.5 for an airconditioned superior king room with wireless internet access, flat screen TV with a selection of local and satellite channels and en suite bathroom with rainshower.
Address: Jalan Raya Nusa Dua Selatan, Sawangan, Nusa Dua.
SEE+DO The resort's beach club is located at secluded Geger Beach, a short complimentary shuttle ride from the hotel. There are sunloungers and a cafe serving all-day meals and drinks.
Sydney Morning Herald