Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Bali Wedding Preparation: Real Life Updates of Guest Accommodation - Harris Bukit Jimbaran & Hidden Valley

I would like to express my utmost gratitude to Alex, who has made this update possible.

Alex, who is going to have his wedding at Tirtha one month after mine, contacted me after bumping into this blog during his research. Since then we have been sharing our experience and findings on Tirtha wedding arrangement, which I promise I will sort them out and share later on.

Alex went to Bali to do his 2nd scouting (so dedicated, isn't it?) for Tirtha and more importantly, accommodation for guests. Harris Hotel Bukit Jimbaran is among his list, but he is more eager to find a villa to accommodate his guests. After all, this is Bali, why would one pass a chan

Without further ado, here comes the pictures. All these pictures are taken by his phone camera, but they are still amazing, isn't it?

First, some overall shot of the hotel. Looks not bad, not the fanciest but clean and tidy.
Outside view of Harris Bukit Jimbaran
Pool view room

Here's the pictures of the room. They are of decent size. Probably consider small in Bali? Room have basic amenities - "toothbrush, toothpaste, hair dryer, shampoo, locker, minibar, 2 free bottles of water, kettle". Alex alerted that he found ants in the room.

Standard room

He also shared with me regarding the suites available. There are 8 in total, all located at the same floor. Each suite has a living room and is interconnected with another standard rooms. It is great for family, however I can't imagine the headache in sorting out the rooming arrangement if I choose these. So I give up.

Here's the pictures of the suites.

Suite room

Living room at the suite

Living room at the suite

Breakfast are of acceptable standard with many varieties. Pastry are good.

Harris Cafe
Of course the highlight of the hotel is its rooftop lounge. According to Alex, the atmosphere was good with music playing, lying beds, and big round sofa at the centre can cater for large group.

The photos taken with his phone looks almost like what was shown on the website.

Small chapel like structure at the rooftop

Rooftop lounge

Another angle of the rooftop lounge
I asked him to check out the spa at Harris Bukit Jimbaran as well as the facilities surrounding it, and he gladly obliged (Thank you soooo much! Alex.)

Spa at Harris Bukit Jimbaran is more expensive than what they can get outside, but not as exorbitant as in the high end hotel. Figure 250,000 rupiah for an hour massage. Massage in Bali ranges from 50,000 rupiah at road side establishment to 1,000,000 rupiah in out-of-the-world hotel. So I guess you pretty much get what you pay for. The feedback from Alex regarding the massage was "good but not great". Yet, they "fell asleep towards the end". I will take that as a good sign?

I also asked him to check out surrounding facilities. Apparently there are 2 minimart closeby - K Mart and Post Mart, a salon cum massage store around 12 min walk and a Kat Kichen restaurant next to Harris.

Ok, that's all for Harris for now.

Alex's main focus for this trip is to find a villa for his guests. He is having Harris as his back up plan because most of the villa can't fit all this guests in one place and a lot of them have exorbitant prices!

Thankfully for him, he manage to find a boutique hotel with a mixture of villa and hotel rooms set in a close compound - Hidden Valley Resort Bali. It is something like Abi Bali, which I mentioned previously, with a more wallet friendly price-tag.

The cheapest pool view room starts from USD 50 nett including breakfast, while the more expensive sea view (!) room is USD 60 nett. They also have choice of villa starting from USD 112 nett for 1 bedroom or 116 nett for 2 bedroom.

Hidden Valley hotel
This hotel is looks secluded, as oppose to Harris right in the middle of road. And with relatively less number of rooms (26 hotel rooms, 1 VIP executive suite, 2 family suites, 7 double storey villa and 3 single storey villa), you might have the whole place to yourself!

Alex also had his lunch there, reviews: Awesome food! I guess you can arrange all the welcome dinner, post wedding party at the same place. They also have a spa too!

I won't post too much pictures of it here (since I don't have them also, just ripping it off from their website), but you can go over and check it out at their gallery.

The hotel is up and running, the villa is the midst of final touch up, and will be done by end of Dec or early Jan, which I think is a bit too close for my wedding. And I have paid down payment for Harris. Or else, it would be a very good choice.

That's all for now. For those who want to know more, feel free to email me or Alex directly. We are more than happy to share info.

Recently I found out another of my friend is going to get married at Tirtha too! (Yup, that's on top of the one who already did in last October). Perhaps we should start a Tirtha Facebook support group soon! :D

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bali Wedding Preparation - (Re)visit to Designer Bridal Room 2/ Update on Dress

Here's a sneak preview of the dress. Tada!

Yup! Eventually we/I chose the last dress because I really like the bodice. It is slightly dropped-waist. But due to the very well-constructed bodice (in fact, I think the bodices of Lusan Mandongus and Annsul Y are the best among the more than 20 bridal shops that I have tried), it accentuates the curve better than normal waist.

And I mentioned how I like the off-shoulder strap that covers my broad shoulder- as I swim quite a bit. It looks much nicer wearing it this way instead of what they show online.

The skirts is still pale in comparisons - mainly because I am so spoilt by the numerous layers of tulle and lace offered by this brand. It is really the standard cut for most bridal gown you will find out there. We are planning to add lace trimming or lace appliqués ourselves - if I can find the time.

The service is superb. I must gives kudos to Grace, who has been working with me these 2 rounds. After bothering them for so many times and trying on so many dress, I ended up with one of their cheapest dress (!!) yet the service is still warm and graceful. Grace looks extremely skilled when taking the measurements, I guess she knows some tailoring herself.

Going back for fitting 3 weeks later. Will be matching the dress with a cathedral length/ 300cm long veil. I loooove long veil. :D

I have the pleasure of having both my mum and grandma with me on the day. My mum was actually "taking leave" from the hospital to see me in the gown - she has been admitted for more than 2 weeks. It was a great day!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bali Wedding Preparation - (Re)visit to Designer Bridal Room 1

As with every other bride, the moment I know I am getting married, I am ready to get my gown. :P After so many years (well, literally that's true) of looking, I pretty much know that I am getting a Lusan Mandongus or Annasul Y at Designer Bridal Gown, KL.

So at the following week after the our decision, we flew down to KL for the gown. (Ok, this is exaggeration. It happened to be a long weekend, which I sort of planning going back to KL. So, might as well as check back with Designer Bridal Gown at the same time.) 

But, before that, I head down to Tanjong Pagar Road just to check out how much it would cost to rent. We went to Di Gio and Rico-a-Mona, the rental package cost $2,788 nett for former and $2,488+7% for later. Each package comes with: 
  • 1x wedding gown
  • 1x evening gown
  • 1x tea dress
  • 2x groom suit
  • 1x make-up and hairdo
They sounds like you are getting lots of stuff for your bucks. However, I know deep down inside I only need 1 wedding gown which cost $2,000 to rent alone. And given Mr's relatively tall size, most of the suit of the rack doesn't really fit him well. So after we left Tanjong Pagar road, I told Mr "Why don't I take $2,200 from the $2,788 to buy a gown when you take $588 to tailor make a suit?" Mr wears a suit quit often, so he can re-use them quite frequently.

And so off we went to KL.

The 6 dresses I tried during this visit. Numbered according to the sequence I tried them.

Things have changed slightly at Designer Bridal Gown, KL. Instead of unlimited trying of gowns, one can only try 5 gowns from the rack, unless you pay RM2000 "to join as member". The membership fee is deductible from your eventual dress purchases, and on top of that, you will get RM1000 discount off the price-tag immediately.

I guess this is to prevent people like me who went there trying all the gowns without buying :D

Oh, by the way, they keep quite a good record of all dresses each customer tried. So don't think you can cheat the system by going back multiple times. But if you can, let me know!

Actually, after going through the process, I think limited to only 5 gowns really makes one be very careful and selective when choosing the gown. And it really narrows down the choices so that it actually makes it easier to make the final decision.

Not surprisingly, all 5 gowns I chose was either Annasul Y or Lusan Mandongus (they do have other brands!). And I managed to pick them out without even looking at the labels. I guess I am really drawn towards the soft feminine style for these two labels.

Designer Bridal Room Online Store

The following pictures are taken from Designer Bridal Room online store. In case you don't know, they have an online store where price is cheaper than their showroom. Why people would buy a wedding dress online is something that baffles me. But what will stop me from buying the gown from their online store after trying the actual dress is also something they will need to work out.

And more importantly, the pictures shown at the online store doesn't do the gown justice at all! I have been stalking their online store since the launch and nothing caught my fancy.But things are totally different when I see them in the store.

Here's the first dress I tried. It has a satin bodice, a drop waist and skirt made up of countless layers of tulle. I always think that I can't carry drop waist due to my petite height (160 cm) but this dress proof me wrong. Apparently, with the correct cutting, drop waist can really flatter your body shape. However, the tulle skirting is a bit messy in my opinion and slightly too big to my liking. This dress is retailing at RM10,800 (or RM11,800) in the store and available for RM8,400 online.

Beryl by Lusan Mandongus

The second and the forth dress I tried are pretty similar - sweetheart strapless neckline, bodice that ends on the waist and A-line dress. I thought this cut would be the most easy to pull off.  But I was wrong. For some reasons, I look fatter in these 2 dresses and not flattering at all.

Candy. Snow by Annasul Y

Celeste by Annsul Y
The difference between these 2 dress are the different lace pattern on the bodice and the different lace appliqué on the dress - Candy has randomly distributed lace while Celeste has lace bordering the hemline. I prefer the bodice of Candy but the skirting of Celeste. In fact, I am not the only one. I was told that there was a bride order made her dress exactly just that: Candy bodice and Celeste skirt. Well, too bad I don't have enough time to order a new dress.

I remember both were retailing at RM8,800 in the store; but Candy was slightly cheaper at RM6,600 at the online store, while Celeste costs RM7,350.

Left: Bodice of Candy. Right: Bodice of Celeste

The third dress is most unflattering of all on my body. And I was quite disappointed because I am actually quite look forward to a bateau neckline and a trumpet cut. But oh well, one can't complain when she doesn't have a model body right? This dress is available online for RM6,600. Not sure how much does it cost in the store. I didn't bother to ask :P

Daralis. LM by Lusan Mandongus

I love the fifth dress. It is exactly the style I love most - understated luxury. I have this irritating preference for stuff that looks simple at the first sight, but in reality is much more complicated. This dress is just that. Underneath the simple layer of lace-appliqué tulle is actually a layer of lace that's so delicate that it melt my heart just looking at it. But such a luxurious fabrics was hidden from plain eye sight, giving only a slight shadow of it if you look carefully.

Caydee by Annsaul Y
Close up for Caydee
I almost getting this one, retailing at RM8,800 in the show room and available for RM7,600 online.

Then we thought, since I am getting a dress from Designer Bridal Room anyway, shouldn't we join the membership and try out a few more pieces just to make sure we didn't leave out The One?

Designer Bridal Room "membership"

That's what we did and I tried the last dress of the day - Citrus from Annasul Y's diffusion label Snow.

I must say that this picture does not do the design justice. The off shoulder strap looks way much better in real life. And it can camouflage my thick arms! :D

But what makes us really excited is the price tag. This dress is retailing at RM4,800 in the showroom and available at RM3,840 online. That's almost half price from other dresses that I have been trying!

Citrus. Snow by Annasul Y.
Close up view of Citrus
I love the bodice. I love the way the tulle was carefully and delicately weave into body-flattering pattern. However, the skirt is slightly disappointing in comparison. It is made up of 2 layers of tulle on top of so-so quality satin, not the rich creamy type that I experienced from them. There is not enough lace nor enough tulle to create the dreamy flowy feel that I associate with this brand. But I guess for this price, something has to be compromised, isn't it?

As we were approaching their closing time,  we decided to reserve this dress for now. Let see whether I will change my mind 2 weeks later, when the final decision is made. :D

Any questions on wedding preparation in Bali or about something I have written on the blog? Feel free to drop me an email or leave a instant message on my Facebook chat!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bali Wedding Preparation - Tirtha Weddings Singapore 1

Okay. Just sent my full guest list to Harris Hotel Bukit Jimbaran. Total guests count currently standing at 44 pax, including the bride and groom. The reason why I include the bride and groom into the total guest count is that, apart from the fact that they are the host and technically not the guests, their headcounts are still count in every single expense related to the wedding such as transportation, accommodation, wedding reception, drinks package etc.

We foresee there are still a couple of people joining, probably less than 5. That will bring our total guests to around 50 pax, which is around the number I expected.

If you remember the Singapore Package I mentioned in earlier post, you might recall that it is catered for 70 people at SGD 19,800 nett. I calculated how much each item will costs if it has been added separately according to the standard price charged by Tirtha Bridal in Bali. And this is what I get:

Value of Singapore Package, including 15.5% tax and USD to SGD conversion of 1.27. Wedding planner fee not included.

But more importantly, the Singapore Package includes a wedding planner (which is added as the last item in the Singapore Package and so insignificant that I almost overlook it). The wedding planner will not only liaise between you and Tirtha Bridal in Bali, she will also help you source for all other miscellaneous items such as accommodation and transportation for your guests in Bali, pre-wedding dinner, post-wedding breakfast etc. She will be flying there to Bali to ensure everything is handled and passed over smoothly. Moreover, if you have a post-wedding banquet in Singapore, she will also help you coordinate it. 

Given that Tirtha Weddings Singapore's wedding planning package costs SGD 4,800, and the actual day coordination will cost additional SGD 1,900, choosing the Singapore Package is a no brainer.

However, we only have 50 guests!

The cost for 50 guests, assuming that we take up all the services from them (which can be slightly more expensive than sourcing externally), will only be SGD 18k. 

Cost for 50 pax, assuming we are engaging Tirtha for all the same services. Price includes 15.5% tax and USD to SGD conversion rate is 1.27.
The cost didn't include wedding planner, which is quite substantial. But since I have done a lot of sourcing and researching by myself, the additional help might not be that crucial to me. In fact, I personally think that the actual day coordination will be much more helpful than the wedding planning stage for my case.  

We raised our concern regarding the higher price-tag to them. This is when the confusion I mentioned last time happened. In short, the person who has been liaising with us was on leave, the boss was not around to clear confusion, we have a very short time frame and we want to make sure the venue is secured, there is a promotion that's expiring, and Mr has a very specific request for the videographer that left unanswered. 

However, things cleared up when we met up with them again the next time. 

In fact, they recreated a Singapore Package for 50 people for us, which includes everything in the previous Singapore Package except that the food and beverage will be cater for 50 pax only. The package price is SGD 17,800 nett, with additional person at SGD 150. 

They also manage to get Axioo as our videographer as part of the package. Previously Axioo is only appointed as their photographer. But Mr love Axioo's video so much (see here) that he really push this through.

Our deposit for Tirtha Uluwatu

At this moment, we are still working on the details with them. We have up to 1 month before the wedding to finalize all the details. 

I think one thing that's quite different in working with Tirtha Weddings compared to typical wedding vendors in Singapore is that in Singapore, negotiation is only possible before you pay the deposit. After that, you are pretty much at the mercy of the merchant. At Tirtha, the deposit is only to book the venue, the details are being work out later. But I might be wrong. So let see how things work out and I will definitely keep updating! :D

Any questions on wedding preparation in Bali or about something I have written on the blog? Feel free to drop me an email or leave a instant message on my Facebook chat!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bali Wedding Preparation: Guests Accomodation - Harris Bukit Jimbaran

Okay, here's the first post regarding my wedding preparation in Bali.

Why the hotel? You may ask. It sounds so boring compared to venue, dresses, flowers etc.

Well, the venue has been chosen long time ago. Dress wise, based on my experience, I think my choice is pretty stuck with either Annasul Y or Lusan Mandongus. Flowers, I guess I can consider that later. And I did share some ideas on flowers and decoration on my previous post.

On the other hand, with only 2 months in hand, we pretty much need to invite our guests immediately. And guests need basic logistic info to make decision.

Anyway, once we confirmed with Tirtha Bridal that 12 Jan 2014 is available, I started looking for hotels for our guests.

There are lots of hotel in Bali, from very basic to ultra-premium. Seminyak/ Kuta has the highest concentration and selection of hotels. However, it's relatively north position and the notoriously heavy traffic between Kuta and Jimbaran means that getting from Seminyak/ Kuta to our wedding venue Tirtha Uluwatu will be a big hassle. In fact, according to one of my friends who stay in Seminyak and attended a wedding at Tirtha Uluwatu, she spent 1.5 hours on the road despite it is only estimated to be 41 min trip on google map.

Given ours is a morning celebration, we don't want half of our guests being late or missing the ceremony, don't we?

Relative geographic location of the main hotel hubs

Previously we stayed in Abi Bali Resort Villas & Spa which located in Jimbaran. We really like the cosy Bali villa style and its spacious room. Room rate of around USD 100 per night was decent for what we get. And I especially like their open air bathroom design. It was so much fun and relaxing to shower under the sky.

Abi Bali Resort Villas & Spa. Picture from their website

However, Abi Bali's manager is not responsive to our inquiry. We have sent multiple emails enquiring about possibility of group booking and group rate and they all went unanswered. As we can't wait for any longer, we move on looking for other hotels.

We focus our search around Jimbaran due to its close proximity to airport and relatively closer proximity to other sightseeing destinations. However, if you and your guests are well-loaded and looking for a getaway from everything else, hotels in Uluwatu (Banyan Tree Ungasan, Alila Uluwatu, Bvlgari, Karma Kandara, Semara Villas) and Nusa Dua (Conrad, Westin, St. Regis) might be your choice.

Jimbaran also has its own fair share of luxurious hotels such as Four Seasons, Ayana, Karma Jimbaran. But we don't think an ultra-luxurious hotel is necessary since the guests are going to spend most of their time at Tirtha Uluwatu instead of the hotel.

So as we go through the list at Tripadvisor, a relatively economical hotel pop up high in the ranking list among the luxurious brand name - Harris Hotel Bukit Jimbaran.

Harris Hotel Bukit Jimbaran
Compared to other well-ornated Balinese villa, the architecture of Harris Hotel Bukit Jimbaran is pale in comparison. However, it is a new 4-star hotel with 200++ rooms and full F&B capacity, meaning that it will able to take it group booking and cater for 50 guests easily unlike some smaller boutique hotels.

Hotel lobby
Hotel room
Rooms are modern, clean and basic. Nothing fancy but enough for a night stay for our guests.

One of the highlights for Harris Hotel Bukit Jimbaran is their rooftop bar, which offer a fantastic view of Jimbaran Bay. We are planning to hold our welcome dinner here on the night before our wedding. I hope the weather is good then we would have an amazing sunset!

Rooftop bar
View from the rooftop

And more importantly, the relative affordable price means that we are able to provide 1 night of hotel stay to all our guests. Something that we didn't think that we will be able to do it.

All our emails (and I sent no less than 10 of them in a short time frame) are promptly responded and I must give a kudos to the sales executives Mr Gustya Nugroho. He patiently and promptly answered all my nitty-gritty questions. They even specially created a set menu for our welcome dinner as we don't want a buffet. (A side note: there is around 10 different versions of buffet offered.)

I must say dealing with them is a breeze so far and I hope our stay will be as satisfying.

For now, I need to go tally up all the information of the 50 guests who are going to check in on 11 Jan 2014!

Any questions on wedding preparation in Bali or about something I have written on the blog? Feel free to drop me an email or leave a instant message on my Facebook chat!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Our Wedding Invitation for Tirtha Uluwatu, Bali and Color Scheme

Our wedding invitation! Designed by me :D The picture is from Tirtha Bridal's Facebook page. Hope they don't mind since I am not making profit from it.

You might find the color theme familiar. Yes. It is exactly the same color theme I have for this website. I always love this unique tone of green, but didn't know what it is called. Mr think that it is Tiffany Blue, but hell no, Tiffany Blue is has more blueish tone.

After some digging, I think the closest is the sea green, which sort of make sense, as I love the sea so much. It happen to match the aqua pool surrounding the chapel at Tirtha Uluwatu.

The color scheme will be a variation of aqua green/ sea glass tone, accented by variation of grey.

This tone works well for variation and save me a lot of trouble to fine the exactly same tone. And I think it gives some interesting effect like the picture below.

Found these pictures under "sea glass" theme, which I think they are quite nice. (Sorry, can't remember where I got these picture from)

I know I most likely don't have time to source for and execute all these details. But it never hurt to browse through. :D

Another color scheme I am thinking is this;

The accent of purple fuschia will give an interesting pop for the visual effect and it is much easier to source of purple fushcia flowers than sea glass flowers.

Any questions on wedding preparation in Bali or about something I have written on the blog? Feel free to drop me an email or leave a instant message on my Facebook chat!