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Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

Today (August 12, 2015): Review of Alila Villas Uluwatu (Bali, Indonesia).
  • Location: Google Maps
  • Address: Jl Belimbing Sari Banjar Tambiyak,, Desa Pecatu, Bali 80364, Indonesia
  • Hotel website: Alila Villas Uluwatu
  • Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso

Alila Villas Uluwatu is Bali’s most spectacular hotel, located in the dry savannah landscape of the Bukit Peninsular in the South of the island. Poised on an elevated plateau that meets with limestone cliffs sweeping down the Indian Ocean, the view from the hotel is nothing less than breathtaking. Blending in with these spectacular surroundings, the unique design of the hotel combines the delights of traditional Balinese pavilion architecture and rural landscapes with modern dynamic treatment of space and form.

Alila Villas Uluwatu features in my top 10 lists of the best luxury hotels in Bali, the world’s best honeymoon resorts, and the world’s best luxury hotels.

In this review (more info & photos below the slideshow):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • General info on Bali (how to get there, best time to visit, highlights, suggested itinerary)

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The unique and über-chic design of the hotel’s communal areas and open-plan rooms will blow you away upon arrival. The cutting edge design was created by the award-winning Singapore architectural firm WOHA, whose global reputation for innovative design projects in tropical environments has earned numerous accolades. From an architectural point of view, this is one of the most stunning hotels that I ever visited, and it should be on your bucket list when you visit Bali.
  • The jaw-dropping setting of the resort is a visual delight: it is located on cliffs 150 m (492 ft) above the Indian Ocean offering breathtaking views.
  • The 50 m (164 ft) infinity pool perched along the cliff edge takes a serious claim to be one of the most spectacular and beautiful hotel pools in the world.
  • The hotel’s iconic Sunset Cabana – an overhanging cliff-side platform with dramatic views over the Indian Ocean – is one of the most photographed hotel features in the world. You will find it on the cover of many travel and fashion magazine.
  • About 400 steps through the jungle (a 10 minute walk down and a 20 minute walk up when you are in shape) will bring you to a private and remote golden sand beach. It is one of Bali’s most beautiful beaches, somehow reminiscent of Hawaii’s rugged Napali Coast. Keep in mind the beach disappears at high tide and is in the shade for most of the day (except for a few hours around noon – so time your visit accordingly). Also, there is no beach club or service, so the beach is simply there to be enjoyed in all its natural beauty.
  • You’ll be assigned a 24-hour personal butler during your stay (with a choice of private, discreet and indulgent service options).
  • One the biggest strengths of the resort is the very well-trained staff and management. They are omnipresent though not intrusive, and will do all they can to make your holiday a success. The general manager was there to greet me and to say goodbye: this is one of the few luxury hotel that I visited where the general manager was so visibly present and seemed to genuinely care about his guests. It makes you feel very welcome.
  • The 65 fabulous pool villas will exceed your highest expectations as they are all about private space, incredible comfort and views towards the Indian Ocean. They are all very spacious and come with a reasonably sized private pool, a wonderful relaxation pavilion, a heavenly soft bed (with luxurious Ploh bed linens), indoor and outdoor rain shower, bathtub, and some of the best bathroom amenities that you will ever receive at a hotel. Walkways and bridges connect the relaxation pavilion and pool to the spacious living area.
  • The smart open-plan design of the villas allows the gentle sea breeze to flow in freely, while from the bed to the bathtub, every view is open to the outdoors.
  • There is complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access throughout the resort.
  • The hotel offers complimentary yoga classes (based on a daily schedule).
  • The resort has two restaurants on site: Cire offers contemporary Western-style cuisine while the more mellow Warung offers authentic Indonesian fare.
  • The Alila brand is famous for its wellness facilities and spa facilities – with  therapists trained in anatomical physiology, massage, meditation – so it should not come as a surprise that its Uluwatu outpost has a stunning Spa where guests can indulge their mind and body.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Alila Villas Uluwatu is a gorgeous property and my favorite luxury hotel in Bali. I highly recommend it. But there are a few things that you need to know to set your expectations right when you consider a stay here:

  • The location of the resort is stunning, but you don’t get a good view of the sunset from the resort (except from their sunset cabana). The resort itself is in the shade about 1 hour before sunset (at least, this is the case in the dry season, which runs from May to September).
  • The famous view of the cliffs and ocean can only be enjoyed from the ‘sunset’ cabana, not from the pool nor from your room. The higher your room is located on the hill, the better the view, but it will still not be an open view onto the ocean.
  • As said, the beach is wonderful but can only be reached by many steps and there is no service on offer. The last day of my stay, I found out that next door, there is a public beach club available in a somewhat similar setting where you can relax on day beds. It would have been nice if I had known this from the start of my stay. Also keep in mind that the equally luxurious Bulgari hotel next door has a similar beach, with a lift to the beach and a beach club, so this may be an option if you would like a setting like Alila but with the added benefit of a beach club.
  • Breakfast is served according to a very original concept (a daily changing, à la carte menu) and tastes delicious. Keep in mind though that when you book a room at Alila Villa Uluwata, breakfast is not included in the room rate (price is currently $35 USD per person, excluding 21% tax and service).
  • Food at the Indonesian restaurant was excellent, but I was not impressed by the fare of the Western restaurant.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 10/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Rooms: 9/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury resort like Alila Villas Uluwatu (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, early check-in, late check-out, daily breakfast, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Request a villa in the 4th row of villas, since these offer the best views.
  • A beach club is not present at the hotel itself but can be found at a nearby public beach.
  • Romantics should reserve at least once during their stay a cliff-hanging open-air cabana for two, for idling above the Indian Ocean, while enjoying a perfect dinner.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

GENERAL INFO ON BALI

Bali, the famed Island of the Gods, takes a serious claim to be paradise on earth (although its popularity has taken its toll in certain areas). Varied landscape of hills and mountains, rugged coastlines and sandy beaches, lush rice terraces and barren volcanic hillsides all provide a picturesque backdrop to its colourful, deeply spiritual and unique culture.

# When to go

The best time to visit Bali is during the dry season from April to September, when humidity is not as high and when a refreshing breeze cools everything a bit down. The hot and sticky rainy season lasts October to March with downpours that can obscure all visibility. The worst rains fall between December and February and this is certainly a time you do not want to be in Bali.

# How to get there

The following airlines have regularly scheduled flights to Bali:

  • From/via Oceania: Qantas Airways, Jetstar Airways, Air New Zealand (seasonal), Virgin Australia
  • From/via Asia : Air Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, EVA Air, Hainan Airlines, Korean Air, Philippine Airlines
  • From/via Middle East: Qatar Airways (via Singapore)
  • From/via Europe: KLM (via Singapore), Transaero Airlines

# Highlights

  • The city of Ubud, the cultural heart of Bali
  • The magnificent ricefields of Jatiluwih
  • Bali’s highest mountain, Guning Agung
  • Lake Batur
  • Tanah Lot Temple

# Suggested itinerary

Do not stay in one hotel during your Bali holiday as there is so much to see and explore. I suggest the following 7 to 10 day itinerary:

  • 2 to 3 days in Seminyak in South Bali to overcome the jetlag and enjoy the beach (recommended hotel: W Retreat & Spa – review coming soon).
  • 2 to 3 few days in the legendary town of Ubud, located in the jungle of Central Bali (recommended hotel: Como Shambhala Estate; read my review here).
  • 2 to 3 few days in the wonderful remote setting of the West coast (recommended hotel: Soori Bali; read my review here).
  • 3 days in Uluwatu as the grand finale to your holiday (recommended hotel: Alila Villas Uluwatu).

All hotels mentioned above are excellent and also well located to visit the different areas of interest in Bali.


ALILA VILLAS ULUWATU

ALILA VILLAS ULUWATU

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

CABANA IN POOL AREA

CABANA IN POOL AREA

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL

SWIMMING POOL AT SUNSET

SWIMMING POOL AT SUNSET

VIEW FROM SUNSET CABANA

VIEW FROM SUNSET CABANA

VIEW FROM SUNSET CABANA

VIEW FROM SUNSET CABANA

SUNSET CABANA

SUNSET CABANA

SUNSET CABANA

SUNSET CABANA

BEACH

BEACH

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA (RELAXATION CABANA)

POOL VILLA (RELAXATION CABANA)

POOL VILLA

POOL VILLA

THE WARUNG RESTAURANT

THE WARUNG RESTAURANT

THE WARUNG

THE WARUNG

CEILING DESIGN OF CIRE RESTAURANT

CEILING DESIGN OF CIRE RESTAURANT

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT GROUNDS


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2 Comments on Review: Alila Villas Uluwatu, Bali’s most spectacular hotel

  1. Mrs Rousseau // August 14, 2016 at 3:54 pm // Reply

    Just arrived at the hotel after long flight. This lady who was supposed to bring us to our room, just put us on some electric car, however we asked her to ‘walk’ us to our room, so we could find out the shortest way to go, but she simply ‘refused’. Never experienced this before. Hopefuly the rest of the staff is more friendly, otherwise, this will be a terrible holliday.

    Like

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