Alila Villas Uluwatu is a five-star hotel, like many others, but I’d dare say that it prides itself on its service standards, facilities and amenities far more than other establishments who share the same rating. Case in point: Journeys by Alila, which is “a series of uniquely curated activities which integrate indigenous nature, traditional culture and local community for an authentic destination experience.”
Unlike most hotels whose concierge teams mainly provide booking services, Alila offers a thoughtful assembly of immersive experiences that celebrate local life and Balinese culture. In other words, they do the hard work of planning your itinerary for you. To them, it’s really not about the destination that tells the story but you, as the protagonist, on your journey, that make up the storyline. From a bespoke list of 14, guests can choose from experiences that focus on spa and wellness, arts and crafts, surfing, and even a visit to a local children’s orphanage.
One excursion that came highly recommended by their Leisure Concierge team — yes, you read that right — is their “Journey to the Southern Beaches” half-day adventure. Starting with a private car that takes you from the hotel lobby to Jimbaran Beach, with an intern in tow. Yes, an intern, whose sole responsibility is to assist you with anything you want or need during your time together.
“Unlike most hotels whose concierge teams mainly provide booking services, Alila offers a thoughtful assembly of immersive experiences that celebrate local life and Balinese culture.”
Eschewing the obvious choice to put you on a luxury speedboat, a local fishing boat — or “jukung” — is the designated mode of transportation so guests can enjoy a truly authentic experience. But before boarding, our intern and driver made sure to transfer boxes of food and drinks from the car and set up our seats, padding them with towels and positioning us near the bow for unobstructed views. Then we were off.
Encompassing eight of the most famous beaches in Bali, including Padang Padang Beach, Honeymoon Bay and Bingin Beach, we cruised along under the late afternoon sun — there’s no shade on the jukung — admiring the changing scenery and waving to surfers bobbing in the sea. While I wouldn’t recommend this particular boat for those who are prone to seasickness, our captain was considerate and mindful of slicing through bigger crests with caution. A few splashes every now and then just made it all the more fun. Once we set eyes on Uluwatu Temple, only then did we loop back towards Jimbaran.
“Eschewing the obvious choice to put you on a luxury speedboat, a local fishing boat — or “jukung” — is the designated mode of transportation so guests can enjoy a truly authentic experience.”
Despite the fact that we were in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the service was bar none. Plied with chocolate cookies and juices from the get-go, we stopped to swim and snorkel on the way back. Of course, all the gear we needed was hand-schlepped from the hotel and neatly stowed away in the stern. Once we’d risen from the water, bento boxes holding smoked salmon, sandwiches, chocolate-dipped strawberries and fruit were handed to us. The sun had now begun to set.
At this point, I must confess that I’m not a big fan of the sea. Or the sun. On the way back from Uluwatu to Jimbaran, I even covered myself with a full-face visor and towel so as to limit my sun exposure. But something about bobbing on the boat with a lap full of delicious food, an ice cold watermelon juice within reach, and the sights and sounds of the sea made me throw my cares away. The gorgeous sunset from my vantage point on the water was the cherry on top.
So what if I got a little tanned? I was grateful, grateful, grateful.
Where: Alila Villas Uluwatu
Jl. Belimbing Sari, Br,
Tambiyak Desa Pecatu, 80364 Uluwatu, Indonesia
Phone: +62 361 8482166
Note: The critic was invited by the hotel but all the opinions expressed herewith are her own