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Old Nov 2, 18, 2:54 pm
  #6  
Fraser
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: New York, NY
Programs: BAEC Gold, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Gold, AMEX Platinum (US)
Posts: 18,071
A few months late...

Pre-Stay:
So the wife and I were looking at a wide range of Bali options. As first timers to Bali the range of options was quite overwhelming, even when only considering Virtuoso/Amex FHR level properties. I was keen to stay at one of the fabled Aman properties but then the Amex FHR book for 2018 arrived, announcing a new property to their stable, the Soori Bali. It looked just perfect for what we were looking for and so I made the online reservation. This hotel is part of LHW Leaders Club but is not a Virtuoso hotel.

The hotel is in Tabanan, around 2hrs from DPS airport, and around 40 villas sit between rice paddies and the beach. There are three main categories of pool villas; Mountain, Beach and Ocean, ranging from 2200 sq.ft. to 3100 sq.ft. The former looks over the rice paddies towards the mountains whilst the latter two face toward the ocean. The main difference between the Beach and Ocean being the much larger pool at the Ocean Villas and the better view as they are higher up sitting “on top” of the Beach Villas.

I established contact with the hotel to make a series of arrangements and was impressed by the speed of their responses. Due to late arrival from Hong Kong we opted to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn by Ngurah Rai upon arrival and so were picked up from there, although I noticed the Tanah Lot temple was almost “enroute” so enquired if it was possible to change the pickup time and stop briefly on the way, arriving at the hotel for around midday. This extra stop was included at no cost which was a nice touch. I also made spa arrangements, dinner reservations and that for a private driver for an early morning visit to the rice terraces. I had asked about Tegallalang but the concierge noted that Jatiluwih was much closer and larger if we wanted to see that, so we took them up on it.

Arrival:

I’ll be honest, things didn’t start too well! We were due to be picked up at 9.30am but due to heavy traffic our driver, Nata, didn’t make it to us until after 10am. He apologized profusely noting it had taken an unexpected 3hrs for him to make the 21 mile drive over due to some street festival, traffic and an accident. Given when I had researched it several times (hearing of Bali’s wretched traffic) it always showed between 90mins and 2hrs, I felt bad about the animosity I felt inside and relaxed a little. The hotel branded car was equipped with a large fridge of glass bottled water, cold towels and jarred snacks for the ride. Nata was really excellent and was almost part tour guide and driver as we made our way across to Tanah Lot. He explained a lot about Balinese culture, but not so much that we were bored or couldn’t wait to get out of the car, and when we got to Tanah Lot, half expecting to fend for ourselves he walked over and gave us a full understanding of what was going on, took pictures etc. etc. He was just excellent.

The arrival at the hotel itself was very special indeed, you kind of wind your way around the corner of the rice terraces (it’s on Google Street View for the curious!) before the security check and then down a short lane to the “head house” where we were greeted by the general manager and a myriad of staff. The view over the pools and down to the ocean are rather breathtaking and the slightly delayed pickup was all but forgotten. Our Amex FHR benefits were explained, but as the hotel includes a $100 spa credit for all stays along with breakfast it was largely limited to early check-in and guaranteed 4pm departure. Upgrades are listed as an FHR benefit but we were in the highest category villa short of a 3 bedroom, 9000 sq.ft. villa anyway so certainly wasn’t expecting anything there! The wife was very keen on the Ocean Pool Villa and we didn’t want to gamble on an upgrade so were happy to pay the premium for the better villa off the bat. Nevertheless the hotel did say they had put us in their best Ocean Pool Villa which was nearest the spa/restaurant/pool area.






Villa:

It was down a few flights of steps from reception and sure enough our villa was as convenient as can be. The entrance from the main walkway was divided between our villa, 202 and the Beach Pool Villa, 201…upstairs to the right for us, down stairs to the left for the others. We opened our gate to see the cabana, pool, gardens and ocean below. Just beautiful…

https://www.sooribali.com/accommodation-opoolvilla









The door to the villa opened into the bedroom with a large bathroom in the back with his and hers sinks, plus deep soaking tub, then outdoor private shower out back. The pool went up the side of the villa to the bath but then opened out to a decent 6ft deep or so. Plus the covered cabana area with table and couch. From our villa we could just about see the main pool area and the gardens below with the ocean just beyond.

Around the hotel:

We settled into the villa but had a couples Balinese massage booked that afternoon so walked the short distance over. The place is owned by a couple of architects and it shows in the really beautiful buildings and touches everywhere. The massages themselves were amazing, so much so that my wife booked another for the following day! We burned through that $100 spa credit many times over but the treatments themselves weren’t hugely expensive at least by say Western/NYC standards. Whenever I’m captive on a resort I largely expect to pay a huge premium for such services…

After the spa we relaxed by the main pool. There are about half a dozen toweled lounger beds nestled between them. Now I’m not sure if it is the design of the
place, low occupancy due to Mt Agung concerns or what but the hotel felt almost deserted, we hardly ever saw anyone other than at breakfast/dinner or the occasional person out wandering. We had some excellent food and cocktails (bashed out of coconuts) by the pool and enjoyed the post-spa sun for a few hours.










The hotel has two restaurants, Cotta and Ombak, that are almost adjacent by the main pool area. The former being the host for breakfast and being mainly local food, whilst Ombak is billed as the signature restaurant with more worldwide options. We had dinner at both restaurants and thought the food, cocktails and service were excellent. There were little things about the service that really impressed us. The first day we got satay by the pool and it came with this great sambal style sauce. When the food was being cleared away my wife asked about it, and then on the second day we ordered some more with extra sauce. One of the waitresses noted my wife liked the hot sauces and so made a note to our reservation that any food we ordered was to be brought with some kind of hot sauce! The one thing I was really impressed by was the breakfast…I’m not usually too bothered by hotel breakfasts but this was the best I’ve had anywhere. It was done as a tasting menu with maybe two dozen options and the options were different for every single day and you could order as many as you wanted. Very high quality plus some excellent iced coffees and the like.




In terms of activities there were a few things throughout the day. I went on a 1hr guided bicycle ride (with three other guests) around the nearby villages and rice paddies one evening, there were a few stops where the guy leading explained about village culture, the rice paddy system etc. With the sun going down and light sea breeze it was quite breathtaking. We also saw an evening pilates class taking place on the lawn one evening, so nothing too taxing!

As noted above we got a private driver one morning, a 6am departure for Jatiluwih. We had Nata again and he was his delightful self, and he’d arranged for all kinds of mobile friendly breakfast options to be ready for our 60min or so drive up the mountain. We were back in time for the excellent breakfast too!
When it came to leave we once again had Nata as our driver for the drive to the Conrad Bali for the last couple of nights.

It’s hard to find fault with the Soori…although more remote that adds to its overall ambience. The beach itself wasn’t private (none are in Bali) and occasionally you’d hear the motorbikes of locals come close by (although there was a peninsula close adjacent to the hotel so it was at the “end” of the beach) but it wasn’t bothersome and nobody would really be on the beach itself. The hotel also had security guards that wandered along the perimeter. The only other annoyance was with the room keys, old fashioned with no keyfobs and the gate to our villa was a little fiddly. So yeah, that’s how picky I got.

I know Bali is popular with people on here and I’d be really curious to hear from someone else what their thoughts are. It’s not as convenient as the Jimbaran/Benoa/Nusa Dua resorts but once you’re there you’ll soon forget the drive, unless you take the helicopter option!
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