[Airline Review] – Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 (MH851) KUL-DPS (8 Aug 18)

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 at the tarmac of Denpasar Airport

On the Ground

This is the second leg of my trip via Malaysia Airlines from Singapore to Bali. As there was a delay in takeoff at Singapore Airport, our transit time has been reduced from 1hr 20 mins to 45 mins. When we disembarked from the previous flight, we saw a ground staff standing at the gate with a paper stating the gate of our onward flight. Our onward flight to Bali departs from gate G4, which is next to the gate of our onward flight.

The Aircraft

Malaysia Airlines uses B737-800 for Kuala Lumpur to Bali. This version of the B737-800 comes equipped with In-Flight Entertainment system (I termed this B737-800 V2 to differentiate the version without IFE in my previous post).

The Cabin

The cabin in Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 looks bright, coupled with the use of white walls and white mood lighting during boarding, the cabin looks clean and fresh. The pilot also uses different colour mood lighting during the flight to help passengers adjust to the time of the day. Economy Class seats are decked in two shades of red, with the main seat in maroon colour and bright red as the headrest. The tight leather wrapping on the seats makes the cabin look new and tidy. There are a total of 16 seats in Business Class and 144 seats in Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2.

There are only two lavatories onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 in Economy Class, both are located at the rear of the aircraft. Due to the limited space onboard, the lavatories are a tad smaller compared to those found onboard larger aircrafts such as B777 series. However, the clever use of bright lighting and mirrors made the lavatory feels larger than it actually is. The lavatories housed the standard equipment like toilet and sink. Onboard amenities in the lavatories are limited to hand soap other than paper cups and tissues (some other airlines still provide cologne and/or mouthwash).

The Seat

Seats in Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 are arranged in 3-3 configuration. The maroon seats and bright red headrest measures 30″ in pitch and 17″ in width wrapped in cowhide leather. Unlike other airlines, the headrest cannot be adjusted. The legroom in the Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 is very good, I still had a good amount of space between my knees and the seat in front of me. There is a USB port located on the bottom right of the TV screen for passengers to charge their mobile devices. The seat recline button is located on the right armrest. The Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 also comes with a single fold tray table, which is perfect for passengers who brought their laptop to work onboard.

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Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

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Legroom is very good in Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

The seat pocket in the Economy Class cabin is fairly large and has only one tier, which is good enough for passengers to store small items. In-flight magazine, duty-free catalogue as well as the aircraft safety card are stored in every seat pocket onboard Malaysia Airlines. The in-flight magazine was very useful to help me kill time when the IFE was down halfway through the flight. Malaysia Airlines seem to be cutting operating costs as pillows and blankets have to be requested. During the flight, I attempted to request for a blanket and was told that there aren’t sufficient blankets carried onboard.

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Seat pocket with in-flight magazines and safety card

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Pillows were not distributed at boarding, passengers have to request for them

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Seat lighting and air vent at the ceiling above my seat

In-Flight Entertainment

All Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 comes equipped with on-demand In-Flight Entertainment system. Economy Class seats are fitted with 9″ touchscreen TV that kept me entertained during the flight. Despite TV screens having touchscreen function, the touchscreen function seems to lag quite a bit and I find using the remote control to be a lot less frustrating when navigating through the IFE menu. The IFE is loaded with a large collection of movies and TV shows, some of which are fairly recent Hollywood blockbusters. However halfway throughout the flight, the IFE hanged and there were no attempts by the flight attendants to reset the system despite being a three-hour flight.

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IFE system in Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2

The IFE controller is stored beneath the TV screen, which has functions such as seat lighting control, flight attendant call buttons on top of the four-direction control panel for navigation of the IFE system and the standard video control functions. A qwerty keyboard is found on the back of the IFE controller, which serves no function as there are no items on the IFE menu that warrants the use of the keys on the back of the controller. Headphone jack for the IFE is located on the right armrest. Headphones are already being placed on every seat at the time of boarding. These headphones were collected prior to landing for recycling purposes.

The Food

Food was served about one hour from taking off. Unlike most airlines which served food in a tray complete with salad and dessert, food offering was a tad simpler in the Economy Class cabin onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2. Food was served in a cardboard box, that contains the main meal, an oat biscuit and a packet of peanuts on top of a small cup of water. On this Kuala Lumpur-Denpasar flight, passengers in Economy Class cabin were given the choice of Roasted Chicken Rice or Fried Fish with rice. I opted for the chicken rice and the chicken rice is very tasty. Rice is full of flavour and the chicken is tender and juicy. It is a pity the portion served is a tad small. After all the passengers were served with food, the flight attendants went around the cabin to serve beverages.

Service

The service onboard is the Economy Class cabin on this Malaysia Airlines flight is rather mediocre. There is hardly any smiles on the flight attendants. I pressed the call button to request for pillows and blankets, the flight attendants did not seem to bother to bring me these items the first time around. I had to request for another time before a pillow is being brought to me. During meal service, it is apparent that the flight attendants serving the Economy Class cabin rushed to complete meal service. The flight attendants disappeared into the rear of the aircraft and were not seen during the flight other than during meal service and prior to landing. One of the attendants convenient skipped asking my row for beverages during the beverage run. When requested for beverage, the attendant gave an irritated look on her face.

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Flight attendant during meal service

Afterthought

Economy Class seats onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 is very comfortable for the three-hour flight time to Bali. The Economy Class cabin looked modern and feels clean, thanks to the colour scheme and the bright lighting used throughout the flight. The IFE system was easy to navigate and provided me with entertainment halfway through the flight. It would be perfect if the IFE had not hang halfway through the flight or that the flight attendants did their due diligence to reset the system rather than leaving it hanged. The catering onboard in the Economy Class was tasty, but the portion is a tad small. The service onboard is less than desirable. The flight attendants did not seem to put in the effort to provide any form of service other than distributing food and drinks and collecting the used headset.

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V2 taxiing to the runway in KLIA

[Airline Review] – Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 (MH604) / (MH613) – Economy Class, SIN-KUL (8 Aug 18) /KUL-SIN (11 Aug 18)

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1

On the Ground

Check-in Counters

This is a trip that I took with my friends to Bali from Singapore via Kuala Lumpur due to the cheaper fares for the Singapore holiday period. Malaysia Airlines operates 9 flights daily between Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. The airlines fly out of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2. The check-in counters for Malaysia Airlines is located at Row 5, in the middle of the terminal. There are 3 counters opened at the airport terminal at the time of our checking in with 1 dedicated for Business Class passengers and 2 for Economy Class passengers. Out of the 3 counters, only 1 counter was manned, perhaps due to our flight being scheduled 3 hours at the time we check-in. Unlike some other airlines, Malaysia Airlines did not seem to cater any counters for passengers who have completed their check-in online. There was no queue at the time of our check-in and we were served immediately when my friends and I entered the queue. The ground staff handling our check-in was friendly and processed our check-in efficiently. She also briefed us on the time we should appear at the gate and our gate number. As we are connecting via Kuala Lumpur, the ground staff placed our Kuala Lumpur to Bali boarding passes into an envelop and placed our Singapore to Kuala Lumpur boarding passes into our passports. This provided us with the convenience of not having figure out which boarding pass should we be using for Singapore to Kuala Lumpur sector.

The Aircraft

Malaysia Airlines uses B737-800 for the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur route. There are two versions of the B737-800 that Malaysia Airlines is using, one is the refurbished version that comes with In-Fight Entertainment units, while the other seems older without IFE. I term the version without IFE as V1 (though not official from Malaysia Airlines) and the version with IFE as V2. For both legs between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines uses the B737-800 V1.

The Cabin

The Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 cabin is a tad dull decked with dark blue seats which gives it an aged look. The use of white bulkhead in the cabin and yellow mood lighting during boarding and throughout the duration of the flight gives it a clean feel but did little to give the cabin a newer look. Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 comprises a small section of 16 seats in Business Class at the forward of the aircraft and 144 seats in Economy Class, separated by a wall.

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Mood lighting used during boarding

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The same mood lighting used during flight

There are only two lavatories in the Economy Class cabin serving all 144 passengers, both are located at the rear of the aircraft. Despite the small size of the lavatories, they are kept clean by the busy attendants. The use of bright lighting and mirrors in the lavatories made it look larger than it is, reducing the feel of claustrophobic for passengers. Lavatories are equipped with the standard essentials that are found onboard most aircrafts such as push button taps and toilet with trash bin being placed below the sink. The amenities in these lavatories are limited to hand soap and tissues.

The Seat

Seats in the Economy Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 is arranged in 3-3 configuration. Each seat has a pitch of 30″ pitch and a width of 17″, which is fairly comfortable for this 50 mins flight time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. All the seats in Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 Economy Class cabin are wrapped with cowhide leather. The legroom in the Economy Class cabin is very good with a good amount of space between my knees and the seat in front of me. I did not feel cramped up in the Economy Class cabin seat.

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Seats in Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 Economy Class cabin

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Legroom in Economy Class is very good

As with most airlines, the tray table onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 is found on the back of the seat in front of me. The tray table does not have a bi-fold function and is large enough for me to browse through the in-flight magazine on. The seat reclined button and the 2-pin headphone jack is found on the right armrest. As the B737-800 V1 is an older aircraft, the lighting control, air vents and the call buttons are located on the ceiling above my seat. The seat pocket is located in front of my seat is fairly deep (but dirty) where one can find a copy of Malaysia Airlines in-house travel magazine as well as the aircraft safety card. There are no amenities such as pillows, blankets and handphones on the seats in the Economy Class cabin.

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Lights and aircon outlet above our seat alongside the flight attendant call button

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Deep but dirty seat pockets

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Seats in Business Class onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1

In-Flight Entertainment

In-Flight Entertainment is non-existent on Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1. There is a small panel on the right armrest which seems to provide some form of in-flight radio entertainment. I did not test out if there are indeed any in-flight radio as Malaysia Airlines does not provide headphones for this short 50 min flight between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. The only other form of entertainment onboard is the drop-down TV screen on the ceiling, but these screens are only used prior to take-off for the safety video. They remained undeployed throughout the flight time.

The Food

Due to the short flight time, each passenger is given a packet of peanuts and a cup of orange juice. I requested for an additional packet of peanuts, which the flight attendants are happy to provide.

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Only peanuts and a cup of juice is served

Service

The service onboard Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 plying between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is good. The short flight time provided minimum interaction between flight attendants and passengers. Flight attendants are seen helping passengers finding their seats and stowing their luggage in the overhead bin during boarding. Despite the short flight time and only two flight attendants serving more than 100 passengers, the flight attendants are seen wearing smiles on their faces during the service run. The flight attendants went around serving peanuts and drinks as soon as the seat belt sign is turned off, ensuring that all passengers in Economy Class cabin get the drink and the peanuts.

Afterthought

Despite the lack of IFE and the ageing aircraft, Malaysia Airlines B737-800 V1 is comfortable for the short 50 min flight time. Passengers would not have much time to watch any shows even if IFE is available. Despite the hectic schedule, the flight attendants in the Economy Class cabin are still seen wearing smiles on their faces when interacting with passengers.

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Malaysia Airlines B737-800 winglet

 

[Accommodation Review] – The Nibbana Villas (4 Bedroom Private Pool Villa), Bali, Indonesia (8 – 11 Aug 18)

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The private pool and the gazebo in the villa

Location

The Nibbana Villas is located in Seminyak area, an upscale and less crowded part of Bali, north of Kuta. The location of The Nibbana Villas is a tad far from Seminyak town centre, approximately 20 mins walk to Seminyak Square. However, the villa is within 5 mins walk to Bintang Supermarket, where a night market full of local food is located. Seminyak is also where most of the villas in Bali are located, mostly comes with their own private pool. The Nibbana Villas seem to share the same facilities as Jineng Villas. Visitors who might have difficulty communicating with their taxi drivers can quote the address for Jineng Villas. There is a small 24-hour convenient store across the road where The Nibbana Villas is located.

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The walkway to our villa

The Villa

We booked a 3 bedroom villa, however, we were surprised to know that we were given a 4 bedroom villa upon our arrival. Since we paid for 3 bedrooms, the staff welcoming us during our arrival informed us that the 4th bedroom, located on the second floor will be locked. However, he is kind enough to let us view the 4th bedroom in the villa, which is slightly smaller than those rooms on the ground floor.

Garden and Pool Area

The villa that we booked comes with a private swimming pool. Walking through the 2-panel wooden door that serves as the main entrance to the villa premises, we arrived at the outdoor area of the villa. From the entrance, it is apparent that the villa is designed with the private pool as the centrepiece in mind. The building structures of the villa are built surrounding the swimming pool. There is a large gazebo placed near at one end of the swimming pool, near to the main entrance to the villa. This gazebo is a perfect place for those who are not swimming to relax in. The private swimming pool in the villa is quite big, occupying almost the entire real estate of the villa, with a few trees planted on either side of the pool. The size of the pool is perfect for its occupants to get a good swim or just to chill out when the day in Bali gets hot. There are a few pool size deck chairs placed around the pool for guests to rest onto while not swimming.

Living Room

The living room is the first room that is near to the main entrance of the villa. The entire living room is air-conditioned, which is a feature I wanted when looking for a villa for my stay in Bali. My previous experience in Bali was met with a war with mosquitoes, hence an enclosed living room for my friends and me to chill out becomes one of the factors when scouting for an accommodation for our trip to Bali. The size of the living room is excellent for us to chill in. The decor of the living is modern, yet comes with a touch of Balinese in the feature wall with the Balinese wood carving. A 3-seater couch together with 2 single seat armchairs (large enough to squeeze 2 persons on) forms the centrepiece of the living room. In front of the 3-seater couch is a coffee table large enough for us to play card games on and to put our snacks on. Tucked by the wall, in front of the couch is a TV console where the cable TV, as well as some books, is placed. The only hairdryer in the entire villa is stored in one of the cabinets in the TV console. There are a couple of chairs and a small side table placed behind the 3-seater couch by the wall, which provided additional seating space for the occupants of the villa. The living room has powerful air-conditioning provided great cooling for the occupants of the villa.

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Living room in the villa

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There are more chairs in the living room to chill out

The Bedrooms

The bedrooms in the villa are identical, except for the placement of the furniture inside the bedrooms. The decor of the bedroom is simple and the lighting in these rooms are bright. The villa uses yellow lighting in the bedroom which gives out a cosy and comfortable feel to the bedrooms. The air-conditioning in all the bedrooms are powerful enough to cool the room within a short period of time. The sleep quality on the king beds is excellent. My friends and I were able to get quality sleep on the beds.

Bedroom #1

This bedroom is linked to the living room with a wooden door separating the rooms. There is another door that faces the swimming pool where guests can gain access into the room. As we enter this bedroom, a king size bed that is placed in the centre of the bedroom caught our attention. The king bed is placed facing the main entrance to this room.  Bedside tables are placed on either side of the bed, each decked with a bedside lamp and power outlet, providing convenience for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto. Behind the king bed is where the dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner with the exception of one of the bedrooms where the dressing tables are placed beside the bed. A large wardrobe with a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. I like the clever use of a headboard in this room as it divides the bedroom into 2 areas and allows access to the wardrobe behind as well as the dressing table. Hangers are provided inside the wardrobe. Despite being able to store a large quantity of clothing, however, there are no hanging racks inside the wardrobes. A TV, facing the bed, is mounted on the right corner of the room next to the entrance to the room. An armchair placed below the TV for guests to relax.

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2 is located next to the kitchen and dining area. Unlike bedroom #1, the king bed is placed by the wall facing the bathroom as we enter this bedroom. Similar to bedroom #1, bedside tables are placed on either side of the bed, each with a bedside lamp and power outlet for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto.  The dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner with the large wardrobe are placed beside the bed. Similar to bedroom #1, a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. Hangers are also found inside the wardrobe. The TV in the room is mounted on the left corner of this room, between the main entrance to the room and the bathroom. Similarly, the armchair for guests to relax in is placed under the TV.

Bedroom #3

The decor and placement of this bedroom are similar to bedroom #1. Bedroom #3 is the largest of the all the bedrooms. A king size bed, facing the entrance to this bedroom, placed in the centre of this bedroom immediately caught our attention as we enter the room.  Bedside tables are also found on either side of the bed, each with a bedside lamp and power outlet for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto. Similar to bedroom #1, the headboard separates the dressing area and the main resting area in this bedroom. Behind the king bed is where the dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner. A large wardrobe with a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. Hangers are also found inside the wardrobe, but there are no hanging racks inside the wardrobes. We had to hang our clothes on the handle of the wardrobe. The wardrobe is large enough to store a substantial amount of clothing. The TV mounted on the wall to the left corner of the room and faces the king bed similar to the other 2 bedrooms. The armchair in this bedroom is placed in the right corner of the bedroom.

The Bathrooms

All of the bedrooms in The Nibbana Villas comes with an ensuite bathroom. The bathrooms in all the bedrooms are identical, with the only difference being the orientation of the facilities in each bathroom. The bathroom in all 3 bedrooms are bright and clean and is rather large in terms of the size. In all 3 bathrooms, the sink area is placed next to the entrance to the bathroom. The sink area is rather sizable with sufficient space for 2 persons to place their personal toiletries. On one side of the sink, one can find a power outlet mainly to charge electric shavers. The sink is placed in the centre of the sink area with a mirror hanging on the wall above it. In the centre of the bathroom is a large bathtub with Jacuzzi function. The tub is clean when we check in and the Jacuzzi function works very well. There is a walk-in shower next to the bathtub that has both a rain shower and a regular shower head. In front of the walk-in shower, next to the entrance of the bathroom is where one will find the toilet. The villa does not provide a full set of bath amenities, soap is provided instead of shower gel. However, toothbrushes are provided in The Nibbana Villas (some hotels do not provide toothbrush).

The Kitchen and Dining Room

Located between the rooms and in front of the swimming pool is where one finds the kitchen and the dining room. The villa uses an open concept for the kitchen and the dining room, likely to cater for cooking needs in the villa. Tucked by the wall of this area is a small kitchenette, fully equipped with 2 stoves, microwave oven, toaster and an electric kettle, allowing its occupants to do some simple cooking. This is also where the staffs of the villa come in every morning to prepare the breakfast that is included in the price of the villa. Along the same kitchen bench is a sink where one can wash their plates in. The villa is also fully stocked with plates and cutlery, sufficient for 8 occupants, to enjoy a decent meal in. There is a water dispenser, capable of dispensing hot (sufficient to make a hot cup of coffee), cold and room temperature water. I find this water dispenser very functional and saves us time to boil water. Next to the water dispenser is where a large fridge is located. The dining table is placed in front of the kitchen area, which is large enough to seat 6 comfortably. This is where the staff would serve breakfast every morning. There is a small stand-alone toilet beside the kitchen and dining area, which is very functional for the villa’s occupants.

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The kitchen in the villa is fully equipped

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Dining table with the fridge and water dispenser in the background

Service

The service we received at The Nibbana Villas is nothing short of excellence. The great service started with the booking. As I booked the villa through a third party website and asked some questions regarding the booking. I was surprised to have received responses from the villa management. The reply was very prompt and the staff relentlessly answered all my queries. When I arrived in Bali, I received WhatsApp messages from the villa informing me that they took note of my arrival time and that the villa was ready waiting for our arrival at the villa. I was also given directions and the exact location of the villa. The staff responding to my WhatsApp messages even told me to give them a call should our driver got lost. I also received text messages from the housekeeping staff to confirm our arrival time. At the villa, we were greeted by a housekeeping staff, who introduced himself to us and showed us around the facilities in the villa. The staff helped us with our luggage, served us welcome drinks and took our order for breakfast the next morning. The same housekeeping staff, came in the next morning to prepare our breakfast and brought together with him another housekeeping staff, who are equally friendly and approachable.

The housekeeping staff are meticulous in cleaning the villa. We would always come back to a clean villa and tidy bedsheets. The housekeeping staff even changed our towels despite us not placing them in the bathtub every day (some hotels will only change towels when they are being placed on the floor or in the bathtub). The housekeeping staff always wore smiles on their faces whenever they bumped into us in the villa. They even helped us with our luggage on our departure date when the front of the villa was flooded. Breakfast is always served on time and the staff would prepare coffee and tea.

Overall

While the location of The Nibbana Villas is not central, my friends and I enjoyed the tranquillity of the surroundings that this location has to offer. Walking to Seminyak Square takes a little longer, but the presence of the nearby Bintang Supermarket more than makes up for the distance. For SGD1,300 for a 3 bedroom private pool villa that comes with breakfast, I thought The Nibbana Villas offer good value. The bedrooms are sizeable and the air-conditioned living room makes a great place for us to gather late at night without worrying about mosquitos. The swimming pool is rather big and the sleep quality on the beds are exceptional. The bathrooms in the villa are bright and clean and the Jacuzzi tubs gave us a relaxing soak. We felt welcomed by the warmth and friendly staffs who are also very helpful. I highly recommend The Nibbana Villas for visitors to Bali.