Bali's long-running down-market tourist area Kuta got a long-overdue upscale transformation late in 2012 when the first 5-star from a recognizable international brand opened. Don't expect any Sheraton-brand city style here: Bali's first Sheraton is bang opposite iconic Kuta Beach and evokes a more casual beachfront vibe, part of an all-new Sheraton generation that serves up a young, fresh, and interactive approach that's reflective of this dynamic Bali suburb (albeit with the expected brand luxury).

The concept here is that you're among the action when you want, but also elevated above Kuta's mayhem when you prefer a deluxe, press-the-mute-button bolt-hole. Interiors play on natural materials and feng shui water elements, with an impressive and massive split-level open-air lobby lounge drawing in natural ocean breezes. All guestrooms, including a street-side Presidential Suite, feature sleek contemporary interiors, the latest technologies, and Italian-marble bathrooms. Practically all units are ocean-facing, with private balconies for glorious Kuta Bay and sunset views, and floor-to-ceiling windows for maximum sunlight.

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Note that there's a surprisingly small main pool and deck, but two sprawling social courtyard gardens on either side compensate for whatever space limitations there are on sunbathing and chilling. Poolside, three-story Bene is one of the island's finest Italian restaurants. Child-friendly facilities include an extensive kids' club. The strikingly contemporary Starwood Sheraton comes connected to an equally pioneering Kuta concept: an upmarket retail/entertainment complex, which is open-air and eco-friendly.