This is Part I of a two part review.
Navigate to Part II: Alila Villas Uluwatu (Sunrise to Departure) for details of the main pool, breakfast, lunch and the departure experience.
The drive from Ubud to Uluwatu took around 1.5 hours, passing the airport and continuing to the far southern cliffs of Bali.
Alila Villas Uluwatu is quite well hidden, seeing the sign from the road you’d have no idea that a resort of this calibre was hidden at the end of the narrow, twisting lane.
Before we could enter the resort we were stopped at a fortified guard post where we were asked for the details of our reservation. Once we were given the all clear we began to wind through the magnificent resort grounds.
We were greeted as we stepped out of the vehicle and our bags were taken from us. A host then guided us through a very impressive atrium…
….and into the most spectacular hotel lobby I’ve ever seen. Nothing can quite prepare you for how absolutely incredible the view is.
As we sat listening to our hosts explanation of the facilities we began to notice some of the small details that were going to set this stay apart.
Ice cold drinks, the glasses thick with condensation and endless scented moist towels… ahhh Asia.
Throughout the resort small plinths and trays are set up with a selection of amenities on them. These include mosquito repellent, sun cream, moisturiser and a facial mist spray.
These are also available in the villas and even at the restaurant tables. Alila has obviously noticed that guests use these items a lot and decided to ready them for us, so that we wouldn’t even need to ask.
After the intro we were escorted to a buggy, waiting to take us to our villa.
A week or so before our stay I contacted the reservations department to request a villa on the fourth “floor”. I had done some research online and had seen a couple of places mention that since we would be taking buggies down to the main resort anyway, we should aim for the most privacy and best view. Our villa : 408, did not disappoint.
The villa came with an iPad for accessing resort and activity info as well as ordering room, service, browsing the web and streaming movies to the TV
Beats the hell out of a Nespresso machine!
An amazing, deep soaking tub
The leather drawer under the tub was filled with the same amenities found in the lobby and restaurants
The indoor shower
When I went to unpack I noticed that my suitcase now had a beautiful Alila Villas Uluwatu luggage tag attached.
There are even two different types of dressing gown per person! A towel one for when you come out of the pool or bath and a warmer woven one for sitting outside in the evening.
Past the dressing area and sinks we come to the outdoor shower. This area was cool and shady most of the day, perfect for escaping the heat
In a word the Villas at Alila Uluwatu are magnificent. There is an abundance of space and every whim and desire is catered to. The furniture is robust and heavy. The layout of the villas puts you directly in touch with the elements. During the day the windows and doors can all be fully opened to effectively turn the villa into an open air space, allowing the cliffside breeze to gently cool you.
Bali is an island famed for its magical sunsets and Alila in particular is renowned for its spectacular Sunset Cabana. After spending a couple of hours enjoying the villa, that’s exactly where we headed.
The best view of the sunset is obtained by sitting right at the end of the Sunset Cabana. We headed down early to make sure we got a great spot. Seriously, can you imagine having anywhere better to be?
As the deep amber sun plotted its inevitable course into the Indian Ocean, darkness descended over Alila Villas Uluwatu. All of a sudden we were in an enchanting illuminated world, recessed lighting and candles casting mysterious shadows through the cracks of wooden cages. The pool was resplendent with turquoise light and all the while the ocean roared gently below.
One of my favourite places in the resort was the library. I believe this room was planned from the very beginning, a nod to Alila’s roots in Aman hotels.
The design of the room makes it completely relaxing and inspirational. There are so many juxtaposing elements all complementing each other phenomenally. Light/ dark, soft/ hard, natural, man-made, smooth/ rough ; every element works perfectly.
During the daytime the pool was more compelling but at night the library really came into its own.
Alila Uluwatu has two restaurants. A European establishment named Cire and the more casual, locally flavoured, Warung (Indonesian for restaurant). In my pre-stay reading I kept hearing that Warung offered better food and better prices. After trying it on the first night we were never tempted to veer “across the pool”!
Service was very personal, all of our preferences were noted on the first evening and then subsequently remembered by the servers throughout our stay.
For our first dinner we took a seat by the magnificent driftwood sculpture and enjoyed one of the tasting menus.
The box in the centre contains all of the ‘usual’ amenities. Facial mist, mosquito repellent, moisturiser etc.
(Note: in the years since this review was written I’ve returned to Warung on no less than four occasions, just to eat the crispy duck. Alila Uluwatu is less than 30 minutes drive from the airport. If you have time before a flight you will 100% not regret coming here to eat)
We visited the gym on our second night and in our entire time at Alila we never saw another guest use it. For me it had become a necessary tool to stimulate hunger after almost 10 solid days of overeating !
The showers were open walled and faced a high walled moat/lake replete with reeds. Showering here was a unique experience, bested only by….
Fresh water and towels
The gym had absolutely everything you need except for one thing. After our workout, Kamara came out with her hair dripping wet.
“They don’t have a hairdryer”, she said.
I told her not to worry, I had an idea.
We headed next door to the spa and mentioned our surprise at the fact that there was no hairdryer. The spa staff were massively apologetic (despite this probably being completely out of their control) and immediately ushered K through to a treatment pavilion where she could dry her hair.
Meanwhile I sat in the beautifully appointed waiting area.
I would have happily sat there minding my own business but the staff went above and beyond, they wanted to make sure that my five minute wait was comfortable. I was immediately offered a delicious iced ginger and lemon tea, which I enjoyed sipping on listening to the spa music and watching the reeds gently blowing back and forth.
We tried to walk as much as possible, rather than taking a buggy. At night the illuminated stairs made for a secluded and romantic wander back to our villa.
At night the interior of the villa is reconfigured by the darkness, just as the common areas of the resort are.
With the nightly turndown service came bookmarks, lip balm and a lavender pillow spray as well as fresh bottles of Alila water.
What did we think of Breakfast? Lunch? The famous cliffside infinity pool?
Continue to part II of the review to find out! REVIEW – Alila Villas Uluwatu (Sunrise to Departure)
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