BALI HIGH LIFE
Bali High Life - Luxury Travel Magazine
Bali High Life
|By: Susan Borham and Lucy Jones, Issue 46 – Autumn 11|
|LUXURY VILLAS IN BALI ARE NOW SERIOUS COMPETITORS TO THE ISLAND’S RESORTS FOR HOLIDAYMAKERS TRAVELLING IN GROUPS, BUT HOW DO YOU DECIDE IF A VILLA STAY IS RIGHT FOR YOU? SUSAN BORHAM AND LUCY JONES REPORT.|
Bali is the kind of place people visit and think, “I could live here,” and so they build their dream holiday house with the distant hope they’ll one day live permanently on the island. In the meantime, to help cover the costs of its staff and maintenance, it makes sense to make it available on the private villa rental market. With over 1,600 private villas now available for rent on the island, 10 per cent of them marketed as luxury, they’ve become serious competitors to the island’s thriving luxury resort industry.
There are different views on the advantages of the one over the other but there’s little doubt that compared to staying in a resort, leasing a luxury villa will get you more space, privacy and value for your money on a Bali holiday. With this in mind, and to better compete with the high-end resorts, the luxury villa management companies in Bali are attempting to make the villa experience as close as possible to a luxury resort experience in every way imaginable.
Some villas, for example, make the distinction between a cook and a chef and for a little extra, will provide the services of a restaurant standard chef. In most luxury villas the staff manager will act as a concierge during your stay, facilitating your excursions from the villa to local restaurants, golf courses and other activities as well as by arranging in-villa visits by local yoga teachers and spa staff for on-site massages and beauty treatments. Some villas have rooms purpose-built for this use in an attempt to bring it closer to a resort spa experience. Babysitting services can also be arranged for around A$5 per hour and there are villas with fully equipped gyms.
Domestic staff clean and tidy throughout the day and some perform a turn down service in the evening. Some villas even provide a comprehensive range of luxury bathroom products.
|Value For Money|
|An average room rate in a luxury resort during peak season might be around A$500 which is about A$250 per head, per night. Often breakfast is included in that rate but after breakfast, you’ll pay for most other things. If you have say eight people in your group, enough to fill a four bedroom villa, during peak season you’ll pay around A$200 per head per night. So you’ve already made a saving on the room rate but you’ll get some extras as well.|
Luxury villas have a staff of at least six whose services are included in the cost of the villa rental. Some of those people are around to look after the grounds and maintenance, the swimming pool and villa security but there’ll always be at least one cook or chef, other domestic staff and possibly a driver.
At meal times you’ll often only pay the local market cost of the ingredients for all of the meals you choose to eat at the villa during your stay. The same goes for beverages: alcoholic and non alcoholic. At the end of each day the staff will present you with a daily account including receipts of anything purchased that day on your behalf. The account is usually for a small amount, around say A$10 per head if you don’t drink very much alcohol (which by the way is heavily taxed in Indonesia and so is relatively expensive).
The domestic staff will also take care of your laundry on site returning clothes to your room washed, dried and folded or ironed and hung for either no extra charge or a small per garment charge.
Sometimes a car and driver is included in the villa tariff, saving you about A$50 for a half day use or, on the days you make use of it all day, A$80. The arrangement at each villa varies slightly but, regardless of whether the villa has a dedicated car and driver, airport transfers for all of the guests are sometimes included in the villa rental rate. (Same goes for some luxury resorts.)
|Space And Privacy|
|The average size of a four-bedroom luxury villa is around 550 square metres in built area on a land size of around 1,000 square metres. No resort can offer you the extravagance of space a private luxury villa offers.|
|Now For The Disadvantages|
|When you book a room at one of the international brand resorts, you can have some confidence that the resort is interested in protecting the reputation of its brand. That means that if you’re staying at a Four Seasons for example, high standards are met in staff training and this will be reflected in the delivery of service during your stay. You can also expect a high standard of maintenance of the resort’s facilities. You don’t have the same assurances when you rent a private villa. Luxury villa tenants have reported significant events like no hot water for a half day (it having been depleted by morning showers), very poor water pressure generally and a collapse of broadband service delivery. |
And on the topic of broadband service, many of the luxury villas have WiFi and it’s often free, but the speed is sometimes slowish compared to the five-star resorts.
The staff at the villa you choose may be highly trained and motivated to make your stay trouble free and relaxing, or depending on the culture created by the manager, may be more interested in giving the appearance of being helpful while actually offering as little help as they can manage to get away with. (In Bali, as with everywhere else in the world, the expectation of an appropriate tip - between A$20 and A$50 for each guest - at the end of your stay can go a long way toward enhancing the general mood of the staff.)
Some of these problems can begin to be addressed by choosing a villa that is managed by a reputable villa management and marketing company with a brand it has spent some money promoting internationally and wishes to protect. In that case, you can be more confident maintenance standards will be high and a certain level of staff training has been undertaken.
A common, perhaps unavoidable problem is the standard of artwork adorning the walls and throughout even luxury villas. As a guest of the villa you’re subject to the taste and budget of the villa owner. In international brand, luxury resorts the art has been sensitively selected by interior designers to be benign enough not to offend a very wide range of guest sensibilities, as well as to be of a certain aesthetic standard. Local market art is a common choice for luxury villas in Bali and the standards of the local artists varies there as it does anywhere.
If the wall decorations don’t irritate you, the sounds, smells and noises of locals living, working and performing ceremonies nearby might. Private villas are often set in local neighbourhoods and so their residents may be subject to the smoke from paddy fields being burnt off, or the loud mechanical noises from the harvesting equipment or the banging sounds of the scarecrows in the breeze, designed to protect their crops.
Bali’s luxury resorts on the other hand, are generally set within extensive grounds that act as a buffer zone between guests on holidays and locals going about their daily lives. In fact, where there’s any threat to the sanctuary of a luxury resort, the general managers have been known to quickly lean upon their carefully cultivated relationships with local leaders to have the situation resolved or avoided. But while peace and serenity is preserved for the guests, this practise might also contribute to the quarantined, culture-less feeling resorts these days try so very hard, in so many different ways, to address.
At one private luxury villa in Bali, from across the rainforest, we listened for an entire day into the evening and the early hours of the following morning, as a village leader on a hand-held loudspeaker prepared the locals for a once-in-every-five-years village cremation ceremony; his haunting half singing, half speaking was achingly beautiful. Our villa manager invited us, on behalf of his community, to attend the ceremony and some of our group went along. They described it as one of the most moving events of their lives and they felt privileged to have been included. An opportunity like this is unlikely to have arisen at a resort.
Here are seven private villas in Bali.
|Rates: US$1,750 (about $1,740) per night in low season to US$2,850 (about A$2,832) per night in peak season. All rates are subject to a 5% service charge and 10% VAT.|
Sleeps: up to 10 adults.
The five-bedroom Villa Atas Ombak has 100 metres of beach frontage a few kilometers north of Legian.
With jaw-dropping views out to the ocean from the living areas and across the acre and a half of garden area, the villa sprawls over its generous land parcel. The two-storey main building has three bedrooms, a dining area, a large open-air living room and other entertaining areas. A separate building houses two more guestrooms with ensuites.
Favourite high-end shops, restaurants and entertainment venues such as KuDéTa, Hu’u and the Living Room are all within a five-minute drive of the villa. Stand out features include the large open-air living room set beside the 18-metre swimming pool for all day long family fun.
A domestic staff of 15 services villa guests. The market-price system applies for meals.
|Villa Sungai & Sungai Gold|
|Villa Sungai |
Rates: US$800 (about A$792) per night in low season to US$1,100 (aboutA$1,089) per night in peak season.
Sleeps: four to six adults plus children and babies.
Rates: from US$550 (about A$545) per night in low season to US$700 (about A$693) per night in peak season.
Sleeps: two adults.
These two villas can be connected to form one four-bedroom villa, or rented separately as either a one bedroom villa for a couple or a three bedroom villa for three couples with sleeping places for children and babies.
A short drive from the popular villages of Legian and Seminyak, the villas are tucked away in the traditional Balinese village of Cepak and set on a river, beneath a tropical rainforest canopy.
The main villa looks onto the river beyond its own eighteen-metre horizon pool and is made up of three bedrooms all with indoor/outdoor ensuites, a sitting (or lying on a huge canopied daybed) room and the dining area. There’s also a small massage room that takes two massage beds.
Next door (connected by a walk way) Sungai Gold is just one bedroom with ensuite and its own infinity pool and poolside bale.
The extras at both of the Sungai villas include: use of a 24-hour chauffeured vehicle; airport transfers with VIP express butler both ways, (comes with an extra per person charge but is highly recommended to make your arrival and departure process as hassle free as possible); Acqua Di Parma soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body cream and bath salts; Nespresso coffee system (Ristretto, Arpeggio, Roma, Decaf Intenso); Bose sound in the pavilions; Tivoli Audio and loaded iPods in guest rooms and sarongs, sandals, shopping/beach baskets in each room. And one more extra…. fabulous canapes are presented to guests before dinner each evening along with a cocktail menu.
But what is truly exceptional about Villa Sungai is its staff under the expert and meticulous on-site management of Made Purna.
Contact: Villa owner Pamela Hayes
Ph: +61 41 032 4535
|Villa Majapahit Maya|
|Rates: US$575 (about A$571) per night in low season to US$790 (about A$785) per night in peak season.|
Sleeps: up to eight adults.
Villa Majapahit Maya is one of four separate and private villas sitting in a row along the beachfront in North Sanur, Ketewel close to the traditional villages of Celuk, Batubulan, Mas and Sukawati and not far from the tourist activities of rafting, an elephant safari park, a monkey temple, tennis, horse riding, water sports and golf. It’s a 30-minute drive to Ubud and Seminyak, in different directions.
Maya is a two-storey, three-bedroom villa with a 16-metre lap pool set in a lush lawn that leads to the beach, which is not actually always swimmable. A couple of bales on the lawn provide guests with alternative entertaining and relaxing spaces. The indoor/outdoor living space of the main house opens up to the lawn and swimming pool.
The bedrooms and their ensuites are generous.
The meal arrangement at this villa is slightly different to the “market-cost” model of many other Bali villas. Here, a trained chef offers a menu of reasonably priced local and international dishes for each meal. There is also a fairly small per-garment charge for laundry.
Among the villa staff, a butler is on hand to make arrangements on your behalf, and for anything else. There’s also a car and driver available for excursions.
|Rates: US$495 (about A$490) per night in low season to US$695 (about A$688) per night in peak season. All rates are subject to a 5% service charge and 10% VAT.|
Sleeps: up to eight adults.
The two-storey, four-bedroom Villa Sadia is in the traditional village of Tiyingtutul, ten minutes drive from the beach at Canggu on Bali’s south west coast. The fine dining restaurants, nightlife and boutiques of Seminyak are 30-minutes drive from the villa.
Each bedroom has its own en-suite and there’s a separate sitting room upstairs that is great for separating adults and children in this otherwise open plan house. Other entertaining areas include a ground floor terrace that looks onto a lawn that slopes down to a 12-metre swimming pool and pool bar. The long distance view from the terrace is of a traditional, working rice field.
A staff of nine oversees the running, maintenance and security of the villa and meal arrangements are by the “market price” system.
Villa Sadia is a member of the nearby Canggu Club where villa guests are welcome to use the club facilities which include a full gym & spa, tennis & squash courts and football pitch. The Greg Norman designed Nirwana Bali Golf Course is also a short drive.
|Rates: US$1,200 (about A$1,189) per night in low season to US$2,000 (about $1,981) per night in peak season for all three villas. All rates are subject to a 5% service charge and 10% VAT.|
Sleeps: up to 18 adults.
The setting for the Sanur Residences, 10 minutes from the historical village of Sanur, is described as rural beachside. On Bali’s south east coast, it’s a 15-minute drive to the cultural centre of Ubud. The Sanur Residence complex includes three side-by-side self-contained villas, each with three bedrooms. Guests can rent either the full nine-bedroom complex (all three villas), or just six of the nine bedrooms (two villas). The three villas share a large garden, the 23-metre swimming pool and a communal dining room (as well as each having their own dining rooms).
Most luxury Balinese villas are designed in the tropical indoor/outdoor style that is all about opening the living and dining areas of the house up to the external environment by minimizing the distinction between the indoors and the outdoors using open-able floor-to-ceiling glass doors leading onto outdoor entertaining areas. Air-conditioning is futile in the indoor/outdoor style and so usually only the bedrooms are air-conditioned and as a result, when not in their bedrooms, guests are exposed to the sometimes very high temperatures of the island. At Sanur Residences the villas are air-conditioned throughout, perfect for guests concerned about heat and humidity. The bedrooms and ensuites are very large. Meal arrangements are by the “market price” system.
|Rates: US$750 (about A$745) per night in low season to US$950 (about A$944) per night in peak season. All rates are subject to a 5% service charge and 10% VAT.|
Sleeps: up to eight adults.
The absolute beachfront, four-bedroom Villa Pushpapuri is near the traditional village of Ketewel on Bali’s south-east coast.
From the villa’s living areas (and some bedrooms), guests enjoy one of Bali’s finest views across the ocean towards the beaches of Keramas and the islands of Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan and taking in Mount Agung.
Villa Pushpapuri is designed in a traditional Balinese pavilions style where rooms have separate pavilions that are placed around a central courtyard, maximizing light and views.
The accommodation arrangements include a living and dining pavilion, a games room (with pool table), a two-storey master suite with a jacuzzi, an upstairs study and a DVD room. All of the guest bedrooms are air-conditioned with ensuites. There’s also a 20-metre swimming pool and for surfers, there’s a popular surf beach nearby.
Meal arrangements are by the “market price” system and there’s a small extra charge for laundry.
|Rates: US$1,025 (about A$1,015) per night in low season to US$1,425 (about A$1,412) per night in peak season. All rates are subject to a 5% service charge and 10% VAT.|
Sleeps: up to 10 adults and up to five children.
The five-bedroom Puri Bawana is in the fishing village of Canggu, a 30-minute drive to the restaurants and shops of Seminyak and one hour to the cultural town of Ubud.
The villa is a series of thatched pavilions linked by pergola-covered walkways. The pavilions house an open living area, an elevated dining area, an entertainment room, two kitchens, the five bedrooms with ensuites and a children’s bunkroom. There’s a 30-metre swimming pool in the landscaped grounds.
Guests can walk a few minutes to Hotel Tugu beside the beach at Canggu where there is a fine dining restaurant and a spa. This villa is also a member of the Canggu Club and so villa guests can use the club facilities, which include a full gym & spa, tennis & squash courts, football pitch and large pool.
Meals arrangements at the villa are by the market-price system.