Bali bundles holiday bargains

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BALI, 14 December 2018: It’s been a mixed bag of fortune and misfortune for the holiday island of Bali this year, but the destination is responding with special offers to attract bargain hunters even during the peak festive season months, January through to February.

Swiss-Belhotels’ website is packed with offers for its nine properties on Bali some linked to partner airlines. Hotel groups are way ahead of airlines in the online packaging space and Swiss-Belhotels is an example of how to attract more direct bookings through attractive website deals. Top of the page assurances say Swiss-Belhotels properties  will offer online bookers a free second drink at the hotel they book, free Wi-Fi, the option to pay at the hotel and a best rate guarantee.

If you had to file a criticism of Swiss-Belhotels’ upsell tactics and added-value online presentations it would focus on the bewildering choice of packages deals. But a closer look shows some require a boarding pass on Indonesia’s national airline Garuda or low-cost Citilink. That suggests they are irrelevant to most travellers flying direct to Bali from cities in Asia.

Clicking on the latest Swiss-Belhotels email blast we checked the group’s offers in Bali for late January 2019 at two of its resort properties one in Kuta and the other in Pecatu

A budget two-star property Swiss-BelExpress Kuta Legian quoted an inclusive rate, after tax and fees, at USD29.30 a night for a booking late January 2019.

Location is busy in a small street in Kuta notorious for traffic.  Room downside: No coffee or tea making facilities.

A check of Agoda for a booking late January flags a rate of USD29.07, almost identical to the hotel’s website offer with payment on arrival, but minus breakfasts.

The four-star, 199-room, Swiss-Belresort Pecatu quoted a rate of USD102 (deluxe twin) for the same week in January.

Located on the island’s southern peninsula overlooking surfing beaches, the property is part of the Pecatu Indah Resort complex, a 15-km drive from the airport.

The Agoda offer on the same room category, but minus the breakfast perk, offers a rate of USD52.06 for the same route category. It appears that for the four-star property the best rate guarantee is a mite shaky.

That leaves the airfares and from the three Southeast Asian gateways (Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok) the bargains for Bali holiday breaks are hard to beat.

Flying from Singapore

Singapore residents enjoy the best options for direct flights to Bali. Fares are the cheapest too for flights that take just two hours and 40 minutes.

Jetstar will get you to Denpasar and back to Singapore for as little as USD98. AirAsia also has direct flights to Bali with a roundtrip fare of USD131 and Scoot the low-cost subsidiary owned by Singapore Airlines quotes a fare of USD147.

The fares go silly after that with Garuda selling a roundtrip fare for USD400 fare on direct route to Bali. Singapore Airlines is a more credible option if you want to splurge with its cheapest fare starting at USD559.

Kuala Lumpur

Out of the Kuala Lumpur gateway the choice is limited to three options. AirAsia offers the lowest fare at USD116. The flight time is three hours and 10 minutes.

Malindo Air sells its lowest Bali fare at USD129 and full-service Malaysia Airlines’ best offer starts at USD174.

Bangkok

From the Bangkok gateway, Thai Lion Air has the lowest roundtrip fare to Denpasar pegged at USD194, while Thai AirAsia competes with a fare of USD207. Flight time is around four hours and 10 minutes.

Thai Airways International, which pioneered direct flights from Bangkok to Bali mainly to fly European travellers booked on package holidays, sells a roundtrip fare at USD509.

Which island wins?

To put fare costs to Bali in context a one-hour domestic flight from Bangkok to the holiday island of Samu will set you back USD298 to USD350 on Bangkok Airways reflecting the airline’s virtual monopoly on the route. You can travel to Bali on a low-cost airline for a little over half of the Samui fare (USD194).

A domestic flight to Phuket Island is currently a bargain at around USD35 to 40 on numerous low-cost airlines that fly from Bangkok. Definitely, with these bargains Phuket is on Bali’s radar as a tough competitor for beach holiday travellers.

However, from Bangkok to Phu Quoc Island in southern Vietnam the lowest fare quote varies from USD252 to USD283. Flight time is one-hour and 50 minutes.

Again Bangkok Airways is the only airline flying direct between the two destinations and this again inflates the fares. As a result it is cheaper to fly a low-cost airline direct to Bali despite the additional three hours of flying time. From the Bangkok gateway, Bali and Phuket are a competitive set while Samui and Phu Quoc are at disadvantaged due to higher fares.

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