Uluwatu is very different to the other areas of Bali. It is particularly arid and as such is relatively uninhabited by locals. The cliffs make for some particularly dramatic views though and numerous high end resorts and villas have appeared over the course of the last decade (many of which we visited during our time here).
Looking out into the endless blue; with no land between you and the town of Onslow, NT; 888 miles to the South, you find a deep sense of calm within.
We absolutely loved our stay at Alila Villas Uluwatu in 2014 but the rates this time around were North of $650 a night, which honestly is a fair price. However, I don’t travel as much as I do by paying a fair price for things, I like to get an awesome deal.
The Edge is one of those places that is eminently instagrammable, if you’ve ever looked at images of Balinese hotels and resorts, chances are you will have come across a photo of the iconic main pool, flanked by bright orange sun loungers, with the endless blue ocean serving as a backdrop.
Via a combination of topcashback and promo codes I was able to bring the price down to $550 per night for four people!
There was still no sign of our butler (or towels or drinks) so I approached the bar staff and asked them what was going on. At this stage they had made no attempt to engage us in any way and were just keeping their heads down, wiping the bar, polishing glasses and playing with their phones. I thought that maybe I had misunderstood the manager and that we were supposed to order our own welcome drinks at the bar. The barman however asked us to keep waiting and assured us that our butler would be with us soon.
Ten minutes later (twenty minutes after our arrival at the bar) the butler introduced himself and offered us each a non-alcoholic lime and mint drink.
Despite it already being nearly 2pm the butler said that our villa was not yet ready and suggested that we order some food whilst we waited. The menu at The Edge has quite a variety of menu options covering all corners of the globe. We split a few starters to begin with and then each ordered separate mains.
Beef carpaccio and deep filled potato skins
Definitely one of the best lunch views ever. It feels very special having this to yourself.
I ordered the lobster Tom Yum soup as my main course. It was delicious and very generous for the price.
The service really dragged on despite us being the only customers. We got the distinct impression that the staff had been told to linger as our villa was not ready. Still, we didn’t mind too much given the setting.
After our dishes were cleared there was still no sign of the butler and it was now 4pm. I decided to have a look at the rest of the resort and started to head towards this small relaxation area, I was quite surprised to see that on the right of this image was a large room with a water filled floor where a couple were receiving massages. There was no rope or sign of any kind to stop people heading this way, despite it being right next door to the bar. One of the therapists quickly hurried towards me and made an X shape with her arms. So I headed back to the bar and asked them to find out what was going on with our room.
Our butler showed up ten minutes later and made no mention of how long we’d been waiting, he simply asked us to follow him and took us to the villa. We got in a buggy once again, which was a little ridiculous, given that our villa was directly above the pool. Perhaps this kind of frivolousness seems luxurious to some but honestly I’d rather have the independence to walk around on my own, rather than waiting ten minutes for a one minute buggy ride. We didn’t take buggies again after this.
On the other side of the bamboo screen was a giant building site, easily doubling the size of the resort, replete with pneumatic drilling and constantly moving heavy goods vehicles.
The construction was stopped whilst we were checking in but honestly the loss of a view from the bedrooms, the casting of shadow over the pool and the noise were not worth the reduction in price. In my opinion the resort should have remained closed whilst this level of work was going on.
The bathroom was fantastic, a very light and open design with lots of nice little details.
Infinity bath with bedroom view.
Super high pressure rain shower
Very fancy Lanvin toiletries
First time I’ve ever seen infinity sinks in a bathroom (or anywhere for that matter)
More Lanvin amenities
After showing us the first bedroom the butler led us into the spectacular lounge. I took this shot at night, as the dynamic range of GoPros isn’t great and the sunlight in Bali is so strong.
Our jaws pretty much hit the floor as soon as we walked in.
Before we could get too excited, exploring the villa, our butler hit us with a pretty weird bombshell. We asked him why half the bags were still in the lounge. He said that the villa was only booked for two people so two people would have to sleep in the living room!
At this point the service had gone from being reactive, slow and indifferent to actively bad.
Why had this not been raised at any point up until now? Clearly there were four of us checking in and we had been waiting for hours to get to our room. This time could have been spent clearing something like this up.
Luckily I always keep a plastic folder with hard copies of all my reservations in it (these folders are then filled with ticket stubs, menus and maps to form a scrapbook of sorts for each of my trips).
The reservation very clearly stated that we had reserved a two bedroom villa for four people. The butler asked us to wait whilst he made a call. In the meantime we carried on taking pics and trying our best to recall a time where we had ever experienced service this bad and wishing that Dedung from Villa Bulung Daya would show up to whip the staff here into shape.
Taking some time out to enjoy the ocean view from our lawn, in front of the living room.
There was a lot of very cool artwork throughout the villa, these folders were our main source of info after we discovered that most of the staff were just winging it.
Our welcome fruit amenity
The sound system in the villa was great, a bonus of being the only guests at the resort was that we could make all the noise we wanted!
More cool artwork
The dining area
Another member of staff came to supervise us whilst we waited for our butler to return. He poured us some water and made a perfunctory effort to answer questions.
We opened the drawers behind the bar and found a bunch of broken forks and a sticky mess left in one of them.
The second staff member disappeared around the corner into the service kitchen and then left the door wide open.
He said that if we wanted to make coffee we could use the nespresso machine in the service kitchen, pointing to a boxed machine on top of one of the kitchen shelves, although he qualified this by saying, “maybe it’s broken though”.
The kitchen itself was pretty run down and grubby looking, we went in from time to time to grab ice from the freezer and not much else.
At this point our butler re-emerged and said that we were right and we had indeed booked two bedrooms.
He then asked if we wanted to see the larger villa upstairs as maybe we could stay there instead. I had seen picture of the bigger villa online. It is called The View. It has five bedrooms and looks absolutely outrageous. Straight up, Bond villain, out of control opulent.
I was starting to think that maybe this butler wasn’t so bad after all.
We were pretty freaking excited about the prospect of staying in this epic mansion and started to agree that this was probably appropriate recompense for the shoddy service up until this point.
It felt like we had only just seen Business Class for the first time, thinking this was as good as it could get, only to be immediately shown First.
After our brief tour the butler walked us back to The Cliff and asked us to wait whilst he made another call. Bad news. The big villa was being used to stage wedding photos the next day, so we couldn’t have it.
Maybe I’m being too harsh here but would it not have made sense for him to get the OK first before showing us around a much nicer villa and then telling us we couldn’t have it?
Oh well, at least we had a chance to get up there and enjoy the view.
In any case, the second room at The Cliff had been prepared whilst we were upstairs in The View, so we flipped a coin and Mr and Mrs R took room #2… which it turns out was infested with ants. The butler spent some time in there trying to clear them, to little effect. I’m guessing The Edge either doesn’t have a pest control guy or he was on holiday because no follow up was offered. The butler just kind of shrugged his shoulders and left Mr and Mrs R with the ants.
At this stage we were all more than ready for a drink, I called reception and asked if they could make reservation for us at Rock Bar and also requested a cab to take us there at 5.20.
We spent the next forty minutes or so unpacking and getting ready.
By 5.30 we hadn’t heard anything and were starting to worry that we’d miss the sunset. I called reception only to be told that Rock Bar doesn’t take reservations and no cab had been booked for us.
I quickly floated the idea of abandoning Rock bar altogether but we figured we might as well check it out regardless.
Unfortunately Mr R didn’t join us for breakfast either day. By the time we finished our first drinks at Rock Bar, on evening number one, his stomach was already hurting. As I mentioned earlier, we didn’t share mains when we ordered our lunch whilst waiting for the rooms to be prepared (mainly because a couple of us ordered soups, which are pretty hard to share and only Mr R like the idea of the burger).
Everywhere else throughout this trip the four of us either shared our food or ordered the exact same things.
The chances are very high indeed that the food at The Edge made Mr R sick, to the extent that he created (he was quite clear about wanting me to share this detail) a profoundly green poo. The guy was just totally wiped out and missed out on the Uluwatu portion of the trip almost entirely (I’m glad to say that he managed to recuperate sufficiently to drink a bottle of Krug in Cathay First on the flight home though)
I personally found that first lunch to be really good in terms of taste, albeit unbearably slow in its delivery.
We had another late lunch at the villa, on day two, which again took forever to serve and was missing a main course. When I asked what was going on, the butler disappeared and returned 45 minutes later with a criminally overcooked piece of grilled tuna.
One – if you’ve forgotten my dish entirely and everybody else has finished eating, the appropriate response is to admit to this and ask me if I mind waiting for the dish to be freshly made (most good places would offer to comp the dish too), whilst advising me of the estimated cooking time.
Two – if you take 45 minutes to cook and serve a piece of tuna steak, something is seriously effed up in your kitchen. If that tuna is fresh, you only need to grill it for a minute on each side, put some salad on the plate and get it from the kitchen to the villa. Given the fact that the villa is directly connected to the kitchens via tunnels, this shouldn’t be a problem. If it is, why not use one of those buggies to save some time?
So, the food was variable in quality, sometimes great, mostly below average, with terrible service and a high likelihood of making you sick.
Thankfully there are plenty more dining options in Uluwatu, many of them exceptional in terms of food quality, service and decor.
One of the master bedroom pavilions, next to the enormous living room
Hell of a place to enjoy a coconut. The View is the furthest villa from all of the construction, whilst it was still slightly visible and audible, it was markedly less of a nuisance from here.
After a while our butler appeared and offered to give us the full tour, starting with the outlandish home cinema.
There were also a series of smaller bedrooms and a kids room, which weren’t too interesting. Then we came to the second living room.
Next to the second living room is a huge private garden where wedding receptions are usually held.
The garden gives a great view of The View as a whole.
Despite being part of the same group of hotels as Mesastila, The Edge sorely lags its sister resort when it comes to service. I’d like to point out that the service was never rude, we never felt insulted, it is just that the basic training didn’t seem to be there.
A luxury property should make you feel welcome and comfortable at all times. There should be no ambiguity and no waiting around. You need to be able to trust that everything will be taken care of and that you don’t need to make the effort to go hunting for thing yourself.
This stay was the opposite of that, in almost every respect.
To be fair, the butler got slightly better throughout our stay. It appears as if we were helping him to get through Butlering 101.
On the surface here things look great but so many aspects of our stay were actively bad that I could never recommend this place to anybody, even at half the price that we paid.
As we were in our car, leaving the resort, the butler received a call saying that Mr R had left a shirt behind. He asked me if Mr R wanted it back (we were on our way to lunch at Alila Uluwatu next door so it could easily have been sent over whilst we were eating).
Mr R leant over to me from the back row of the minivan and quietly said words to the effect of: “If he’s asking as opposed to letting us know it’s being sorted, it means they probably want to charge us or create a hassle of some kind, maybe even delay us from getting to the airport on time after lunch. You know what? I don’t even like the shirt enough to want to deal with people from that resort anymore.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is probably all you need to know.