Bali is such a special place and everything you’ve heard and read about it being one-of-a-kind is true. Because it is such an amazing island and an immensely popular destination, resorts across the spectrum have staked their claim here, along with countless boutique hotels and private villas. Search Hotels.com and there are 3,298 results that come up. How did I choose where to stay?
The more I travel, the more I seek out experiences that are new and different and they truly make traveling worth it. That was my criteria for this Bali trip, a unique place to stay. After a few hours of researching, I came across Villa Sungai and read the detailed press and reviews and noted the peace, privacy and service that is now synonymous with the property. But what I read didn’t even begin to fully capture the personal touch.
Personal Touch: First Contact
I began emailing with Pamela to book my stay and she asked every question under the sun, about prior visits to Bali, the purpose of my trip, what I wanted from it, activities I was interested in, dietary restrictions and preferences and so much more. The attention to detail was enormous and it wasn’t fully realized until I arrived and everything was set to my exact specifications.
Once you confirm your trip with Pamela, you are asked to send through all of your travel documents and travel details because Villa Sungai does not have a front desk or a formal check in. Initially, providing all of that information upfront was another thing to add to my to-do list, but once I got to the property, I immediately understood why Pamela and team set it up that way and it made all the difference. I was greeted and picked up by Made, was escorted to the villa and was free to enjoy everything as soon as I got there, no check in, no front desk, no hassle.
Personal Touch: Service
All of my preferences came alive throughout my stay: Delicious meals when I wanted to eat (8am breakfast, noon lunch, snacks in between and 7pm dinner), plenty of seafood menu options (I am pescatarian) along with meat choices (my guest was not), an arrival spa treatment, a trip to Tanah Lot and Seminyak and additional service whenever you needed it. Because I was asked what I wanted out of my stay, which was rest and relaxation, the staff knew exactly when and when not to check in. I think they caught on pretty quickly that my photographer Becca and I were very low-key.
The wifi cut out during an evening storm and we both had a lot of work to get done that evening. Putu was very quick to call a service provider to check on the connection and get someone sent out the next morning. We needed internet before then and the staff helped search for places that were open with wifi. Thankfully they were able to resolve and get the connection back up shortly after. The wifi in Bali is not the most reliable and you would be surprised at how many hotels, villas, restaurants and cafes (even the best and highest rated) just blame the connection when you ask them to reset it. I get that it is an issue across the island but the response and reaction at Sungai was on point and so appreciated. Sometimes it is nice to know that people care!
A Return to Nature
I love the bustle and energy of being in a city but I need to disconnect and escape to the countryside. Villa Sungai was that much needed return to nature, literally surrounded by a lush jungle and river, rice terraces along with my favorite kinds of neighbors including frogs, roosters, birds and geckos.
Personal Touch: Giving Back
There is so much havoc that tourism wrecks in every destination whether you are able to see it or not. That is why I am a huge proponent of giving back wherever I travel in whatever form I can, especially in culture, education and/or the environment, which are some of the most directly impacted areas by tourism. I was thrilled to hear that Villa Sungai has a direct program to give back to the local primary school, whether it is providing pencils, pens and other school supplies or visiting the English class program held in Made’s home that friends of the villa continue to contribute to. I scheduled a visit to drop off some supplies and meet the children but unfortunately school was closed that Monday before checking out. I will definitely be stopping by the next time I visit Bali!
My stay was bliss. Bliss bliss bliss. The personal touch was above and beyond what I have experienced in the past and it will be difficult for any place to try and top in the near future.
I haven’t mentioned much about the location (in a village 15-20 minutes outside of Canggu), the pool (inviting and refreshing) or the decor (teak furniture, Phillipe Starck pieces, white linens and Turkish pool towels, flowers everywhere, amazing day beds and lounges (there are too many to count!) because plenty of people have covered them here and here. But I did get a drone to capture the amazingness of the full property. Here is the first #themodmanjetsets, ever: