My approach to collecting points is pretty straightforward: do everything in my human power to earn as many points per dollar spent (except for Zara, which is the only time I’m willing to purchase in-store, and “waste” precious points). While it’s not difficult to accrue a stash of points, it certainly takes diligence and some thinking when you reach for your wallet.
But, when it came to my recent trip to Bali, I learned something new about Marriott. It appears the brands Ritz-Carlton Reserve collection is not eligible for Bonvoy points, which is a major set back. While I did earn 3X points per dollar on my Chase Sapphire Reserve, I was floored by this policy. If I’m spending upwards of $700 per night, I sure as heck wanted points. I was tempted to cancel but after reading the reviews and having major FOMO (Fear of missing out), I decided to keep the stay. Shockingly, I left without any qualms. I repeat: I did not earn a single Bonvoy point on what may have been my most expensive hotel stay ever and I was OK with it.
In this 2-part post, I’ll introduce the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand and my share a review of my stay at the award-winning Mandapa, a Forbes 4-star luxury-verified hotel and #12 Luxury Hotel in the World - TripAdvisor 2019 Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Introducing Ritz-Carlton Reserve
Bali has been on my travel bucket list for quite some time. I’ve long dreamed of Bali’s exotic secluded islandscapes, dense jungles, affordable 5-star accommodations, and Indonesian cuisine. I picture Bali to be a travelers paradise filled with culture and peaceful buddhist practices. So, when the opportunity to visit arose, I jumped all over it.
I came across Mandapa very early on in my trip planning, alongside the Four Seasons, Viceroy, and Hanging Gardens. On Marriott’s website, Mandapa was introduced as a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property, which peaked my interest. What was this so-called Reserve designation, and what did it entail? Is this property a part of a portfolio of independently run boutique hotels which leverages the power of the Ritz-Carlton brand? Directly from the Ritz-Carlton Reserve website, it reads:
Time stands still as the joy of discovery is anticipated, embraced and savored. An exploration of an unusual place, the excitement of an unexpected adventure, an indulgence in uncommon luxury. It is Ritz-Carlton Reserve – a rare place set aside for those who appreciate an exotic sanctuary tucked away in the most exquisite corners of the world.
For the most discerning travelers seeking a personalized meaningful escape, these resorts feature chic, relaxed and intimate settings that weave indigenous flavors with highly responsive, individualized service. From the dedicated butler appointed to create an experience tailored to your needs to the indulgent spas and distinctive recreational opportunities, each destination offers what is truly the journey of a lifetime.
More specifically, according to a Forbes article from 2013, Ritz-Carlton fans claim the hotel chain has become too cookie cutter and affluent travelers demand unique and boutique. Cue Reserve, Marriott’s most rarefied brand, which is set to deliver highly-personalized and tailored resort experiences set off the beaten path with immaculately designed rooms and butler service. And, to deliver on top levels of service, the brand boasts a higher staff to guest ratio.
I was so intrigued.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Locations
At the moment, the Reserve brand is comprised of just 5 properties, although 2 are still under construction. The 5 properties and open status include:
Pearl Island, Panama | Opening Summer 2020
While not confirmed by Marriott, a 6th property has been identified and reported by Travelpulse.com for development in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.
The Mandapa is located along the Ayung River in Ubud, a serene jungle town about 1.5 hours from Bali. I absolutely loved Bali’s jungle life. In fact, I would highly recommend spending more time in the jungle than the coast and beaches, which was frankly dirty and unpleasant.
The footprint of Mandapa is massive. Set inside a cozy valley, the main entrance and lobby sits atop of a hill overlooking the entire property, with rooms cascading down the hillside onto the valley floor. Split into two sections with suites are in the main building while the 20+ villas scattered across valley floor. The restaurants, spa, gym, and amenities are scattered inside the valley and along the river. There are plenty of rice patties to fill the gaps.
I stayed 2 nights in a One-Bedroom Rice Terrace Pool Villa and the experience just blew me away. Besides the spectacular accommodations which included our own villa, private pool, indoor and outdoor seating areas, an outdoor shower, and a gorgeous room - we also had our own private butler who was the nicest, most attentive. I’ll save more details for part 2 though in meantime, here are a few pictures to set the mood.