Bali, Indonesia. The exotic island paradise that so many travelers head to during their holidays. But it can be difficult when it comes time to choose which hotel to stay at because there are simply too many in Bali, and I feel like there are new ones opening all the time!
This time we opted to stay at the acclaimed Alila Villas Uluwatu. CNNGo listed Alila Villas Ulutwatu’s pool as one of the top 10 pools in the world, and it has won numerous other awards from Conde Nast and other travel magazines/ sites. Many awards were for its green architecture. Kiwicollection.com gave it a score of 90/100 and labelled it as one of their Wow picks. So with all these accolades we were indeed very exciting to check it out.
We were greeted by hotel staff holding up a sign with the hotel name on it, and we were escorted to the pick up zone where an SUV pulled up to take us to the resort. The cars were simple and humble (meaning no hotel name plastered all over it). It was around a 30-45 minute trip from the airport to the resort. As we drove we soon entered very isolated dirt roads with no street lights and surrounded by forests with an occasional private villa. Alila Villas Uluwatu is located in a very secluded spot amongst the cliffs and hills of Uluwatu.
Once we got off the car we were greeted by quite a few staff, including the general manager himself who as I later discovered is almost always at the lobby or walking around checking up on guests. I was immediately in awe of the architecture it was simple, beautiful, yet also strong. The lobby and much of the public spaces were all open air with minimal furniture. We checked in on a sofa and were brought water and towels, on the tables next to the arm chairs and sofas were bottles of lotion, sunscreen and face spray for guests to use. Check in was quick and painless and before we knew it we walked to meet our buggy that took us to our villa.
Here are various shots of the lobby area:
The villas are arranged by level, since the hotel is built on a hillside cliff. We were on the second level. There are only two types of villas, three bedroom villa and pool villa. Each villa comes with a private pool, outdoor cabana, tanning chairs, outdoor dining table, outdoor shower with plants and a pond, bath, shower, his/her sinks, daybed (which can be converted to a large extra bed for two), single or kind size bed, TV, work desk, and various amenities (coffee/ tea maker, refrigerator, his/her toiletries, tanning items, robes, outdoor activities bag his/her sun hats, slippers, insect repellent, flash light). The villa can be completely open air, as the floor to ceiling windows by the daybed can be fully opened and one can simply jump into the pool from the daybed, all windows (including the bathroom ones) are floor to ceiling to optimize one’s view.
The pool was surprisingly big, and I could actually swim a decent lap in it which is great compared to most pool villas that have small plunge pools. The villa itself is well designed yet practical, it immediately makes you feel relaxed and the housekeeping staff do a great job of keeping things in order and very clean. They also provide complimentary bottled water. Unlike other hotels with multiple different telephone lines, Alila Villas keeps things simple with only around 3-4 lines (outside line, operator which is the front desk, general manager and there might have been one more but no extra dial was needed for inter-villa calls). The lighting and AC controls were easy and straightforward, the only confusing knobs were for the multi-function showers.
Overall these were great, spacious and soothing villas and the decent sized pool definitely added to the value.
Here are various shots of Villa 212:
Hotel Grounds/ Facilities
The rest of the resort was equally stunning and soothing as the villas. The award winning 50m infinity pool has indeed climbed up my list of best pools, though it has tough competition with Marina Bay Sand’s 150m infinity pool overlooking Singapore. But this pool is truly well designed and from multiple angles it looks to extend right out to sea even though it is perched on a cliff. The Sunset Cabana that seemingly defies gravity by hanging over the edge of a cliff adds to the surreal feeling that one gets when they look at the pool. I have never seen public bathrooms as soothing as the ones here, each stall, and gym shower is indoors but open air and they face a pond with plants and dripping water features. The yoga pavilion is just great to look at, it is an all glass facade located on its own small plot of land right off the lobby. Every part of the resort is designed to blend in with the surrounding and to create and give off the same feeling no matter where you go in the resort. There is even an on site temple built mainly for the staff but the very friendly staff will gladly take you on a buggy tour of the resort grounds further uphill and stop by the temple. If you need some exercise and want to really be secluded then you can take the 650++ steps to the private beach located at the foot of the cliff, however this beach is very rocky and is not very suitable for beach activities.
Here are some shots of the resort grounds:
The sunset cabana being prepared for a wedding, according to the general manager there is about 1 wedding a day during the high season but they are usually held in a 3 bedroom villa if those are not booked.
The resort’s food is extremely good. The breakfast is complimentary with most packages, if not it is $25 and very much worth that price. It is an all you can eat a la carte Tapas style breakfast. Each dish comes in a relatively small portion so you can very easily eat almost every item on the menu before being overly stuffed, but its also easy to share with people and have a bite of everything. They do have in villa breakfast options but I’d say just head to Cire every morning as the menu changes everyday. And it will be tough to decide because everything sounds delicious and you wont go wrong with anything because they all taste great, except for a traditional Indonesian herbal drink I ordered which was very bitter but I figured it would be adventurous to taste a traditional Indonesian breakfast drink. The lunch and dinner menus are quite extensive offering a la carte options as well as tasting menus. I tried a tasting menu from both Cire (5 courses) and Warung (4 courses but with a lot of food as it was small bowls of traditional Balinese cuisine for you to taste) and both were delicious, except I think the Warung one was more worth it as it was nearly $60 cheaper than the Cire one. When a wedding takes place in the cabana, the reception is usually at Warung so it will be closed but you can still order most of Warung’s signature items at Cire. The cocktail and drink menu is also quite good with a few Alila specials that were quite good, including a non-alcoholic cocktail called the Alila Sunset and a tropical cocktail called Lemongrass Fusion, both were quite good. And at each restaurant you have the option of dining in a cabana or in their open air seating area with the great view of the pool/ ocean.
Some key food photos (the highlights):
Alila Villas Uluwatu is definitely worth the price tag.
The staff are friendly, professional, and very attentive (the housekeeping manager checks each room after his staff is finished cleaning and if you are in there he will ask if everything is clean and if you need anything else). You have a semi-butler service, as staff are on-call 24/7 and if you ask for anything for your villa it will be delivered, it may not be immediately as staff have other rooms and things to do but its still pretty fast and efficient. The general manager is always in sight and he is very friendly and really makes an effort to make sure everyone is enjoying their stay, even if you’re not Hugh Jackman (who was staying there at the time).
The food is amazing. the villas are very comfortable, well designed and clean. The resort grounds offer ample room to relax in seclusion and you will certainly not get bored as there are many activities to choose from, and you can do tours or take a car with you, just head to the front desk and ask.
Though I didnt personally use the spa, I heard it was quite good and instead of a treatment room, each person or couple gets a treatment villa.
The resort is secluded, and with all the open air space and secluded spots, it never feels crowded or noisy.
It is both family and couple friendly, as the restaurants to have kids menus and there is a nanny service, though at the end of the day I think it is more catered to the romantic couple looking for a getaway.
It is a rare environmentally friendly designer hotel that strikes a near perfect balance between design/ aesthetics and practicality/ function with excellent service and amenities.
Once again, I highly recommend Alila Villas Uluwatu when you travel to Bali as it is certainly on my top 5 list of best hotels I have stayed at.
Hotel website: http://www.alilahotels.com/uluwatu