On the 2nd May, my son got married at this boutique hotel in Sanur. The day itself was amazing and everyone had a great time. Please bear with me as I give you the history of our dealings with this hotel. I apologise in advance for the length of this review, but in order to give you the whole picture I have to start at the beginning.
My husband and I spent a great deal of time in early June, 2010 searching out suitable wedding venue options for the bride and groom, which wouldn’t cost them a fortune but still be practical and Balinese in style. We came back to Australia with masses of photographs and 4 different options for a venue, for them to choose from. This venue and one other were the top contenders.
Early in the second week of June last year, I met with the owner of this, almost finished, hotel with a view to my son holding his wedding there. During this meeting I was shown around the property by the owner and I could definitely see potential for a wonderful wedding venue despite it being located on the By Pass Road and the location not being very good at all for a hotel. I distinctly remember asking 2 very precise questions during this meeting and they were:
1) What, if any, is the curfew time for the reception? Answer: As we are in a commercial area we really don’t have to worry about this, we have no neighbours that will be disturbed. I then went on to say that I couldn’t see the reception going on any later than midnight anyway.
2) What will the Banjar Fee be to hold a wedding here? Answer: There is no Banjar fee again because we are in a commercial area there is no need for the Banjar to be involved.
The meeting progressed with me asking as many questions as I could possibly think of and getting as much detail as I could. It was agreed that should the bride and groom decide on this venue, they would be required to book out all the villas for a minimum of 3 nights on top of the venue hire fee. The owner could not give me a figure for the venue hire fee at this meeting as it was something he had not thought about at this early stage of the hotel’s life.
On our return to Australia, we showed the bride and groom the options we had found, listing out the pros and cons of each venue. They very quickly decided that they wanted more information from this hotel and I emailed the owner asking for him to please provide us with a break down of how many villas the hotel had and the prices per night for each villa. I also asked him to please provide us, as soon as possible, with the figure he required for the venue hire fee.
On the 29th of June I received an email on behalf of the owners from Desy who gave me the quote for the venue hire fee of $250USD and also gave me the room rates per night. They had kindly given us a promotional rate that was the same as their soft opening prices for the hotel. The hotel was due to open in September for business. I have copies of all emails that passed between myself, the bride and the hotel management over the next 11 months, if any one wants to verify what I am saying.
In fact, there was a mistake made in their very first reply. I had been given the wrong rate for the 2, two bedroom villas. This was ok, it was still very early and there was no harm done. It then took me a further 2 emails to verify how many of each villa type were available. Eventually, on the 9th of July I received this information:
One bedroom non pool villa (9 units) : USD 80.00net per room per night include breakfast for maximum of 2 persons
One bedroom private non pool Villa (1 unit) : USD 110.00net per room per night include breakfast for maximum of 2 persons
Two bedroom with private pool villa (2 units) : USD 150.00net per room per night include breakfast for maximum of 2 persons
The booking was then confirmed at these prices and in good faith the bride and I began to organise which wedding guests would fill the rooms of the wedding venue for the required time and it was decided after consultation with the wedding party and the bride and groom’s friends that they would all make use of the villas at the wedding venue. They were all looking forward to having the whole resort to themselves in the lead up to the wedding.
Over the next months, flights were booked and I was given the job of confirming the wedding venue hotel bookings. As soon as someone booked their flight (and in some cases as soon as the airline made changes to their flights) the hotel was informed. In fact most of the guests staying here had now decided to stay for 6 or 7 nights instead of the 3 required.
In this time period, Desy was no longer my contact, a person called Aditya became my contact. No problem. One of the guests contacted the hotel wanting to pay a deposit on his accommodation and was told there was no booking for a wedding or any of the wedding guests………..some very quick phone calls were made in a panic and all was sorted, Phew.
The management changed again with a woman called Leona becoming involved. She was lovely and filled us all with confidence. Except that we were now informed that there was 1 less 1 bedroom villa available. No explanation was given, but this was ok, we could work around this.
The Bride and Groom took a quick trip to Bali in January. Leona was away so informed them that her boss, Mery would attend their meeting at the venue.
Present at their meeting was Mery, The hotel owner’s wife, the caterer, and the bride and groom. This was when the fun and games really began.
Mery proceeded to tell them that the quoted venue hire fee of $250USD was far to low and that the hire fee would be $1,000USD. Well, the groom is an accountant who specialises in business management and he was having no part of this. We had a written quote for the hire fee and this was what it was going to remain or the entire booking would be cancelled. The owner’s wife did not say a word and finally it was the caterer (a friend of hers) who put her foot down and told her that this wasn’t good business practice. There was then a verbal promise from the owner’s wife that the original price would be honoured.
On their return to Australia, the bride and groom wanted confirmation of the hire fee in writing and a series of very, very terse emails ensued between them and Mery. Mery continued to try to get more money from them, stating that they needed more for the extra power we would use and the Banjar Fee. It wasn’t until they told her in no uncertain terms that the entire booking would be cancelled if she didn’t honour the original quote, that she finally backed down and accepted the original quoted price. We were under the impression then, that the owner and his wife had nothing to do with these goings on (as they were now in France) and that it was Mery who was solely responsible for this unpleasantness. Given what was to ensue, now we are not too sure that this was the case……………..
Now please understand that we always knew that the quoted figure was very cheap when compared to other places we had visited. But, a quote is a quote, and assumed that they were using this wedding, as the first held there, as a precursor to holding other weddings there in the future and we were benefiting from being the first. We even told them that they were free to bring in their own photographers at the wedding (which they did to take photos of the venue, set up for the wedding later that day) or to use any of our photos in their promotional material, in return for the reasonable rate. I also went about hiring our own labour for the wedding so that there would be as little pressure on the hotel staff as possible.
Given the problem earlier with regards to an accommodation deposit, it was decided that the safest way to pay the deposit was for my husband and myself to pay the deposits in a lump sum in person. 6 weeks before the wedding we attended a meeting with Mery, the owner and his wife, and the caterer. The deposits (all bar 4 of them which hadn’t arrived in our bank account in time) were paid and the meeting was very amiable. All was looking very good. Especially as the caterer, in the presence of the owner and manager, told us that they intended to provide a buffet breakfast for the guests when the hotel was full of just wedding guests. It sounded lovely and we thanked them for being so considerate and even arranged for the bride to bring over a jar of vegemite for the buffet.
The only issue that arose from this meeting was that we thought, given the number of available rooms we had been given, that we still had one villa to fill and had organised for a couple to hire this room the night of the wedding so that they didn’t have to travel back to Seminyak late at night (they live there). Luckily I bought this subject up at the meeting and was told that the couple were welcome to stay but there were no more timber cottage villas available, but that they could set up one of the spa rooms as a bedroom for the night at the same price. So suddenly, there is yet another villa less than we have originally been told. We politely refused the offer as one of the biggest selling points of this hotel is the traditional Javenese timber cottages and didn’t feel that a converted spa room was an appropriate substitute.
The wedding planning continued and on the 4th of April I sent an email to Mery asking her to again confirm the number of 1 bedroom villas they had available. The answer I got was that there were 8 Gladak Houses (1 Bedroom Villas) and 2 x 2 bedroom villas. And that they could also provide additional 1 bedroom villas by converting spa rooms to hotel rooms if necessary.
So, as far as we are concerned, we now have the entire hotel booked out for the wedding period and we have the 2, 2 bedroom villas booked and the 8 “Gladak” house 1 bedroom villas booked.
The hotel starts filling up with wedding guests. The last to move in was one of my other son’s and his GF who had actually been in Bali for a week already and had happily been staying in a room, 100m from the beach, with all amenities and a full buffet breakfast for $50 per night. They had booked the wedding venue room as a favour to me and the bride and groom to assist in booking out the entire resort and were, even at the reduced rate we had been given, paying $80/night for this room.
But they were not in a Gladak House as has been sold to us for almost a year and confirmed in early April. They were put into a converted spa room that was all marble (the bathroom was ridiculously large). Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing really wrong with the room, (apart from there being no fridge and no jug to accompany the tea and coffee making utensils provided, and the air conditioning not being able to cool the room in the middle of the day) it just wasn’t what had been sold to us and never were we informed that this would be the case.
Then to make things worse, the breakfast all the guests were served every morning was the same thing, a very small, unappealing meal. There was never a sign of the promised buffet and after the first couple of days almost everyone started opting to eat their breakfast elsewhere and pay extra for it.
My son and his GF were now paying more for a room that wasn’t what was promised and didn’t even have the same facilities that their previous $50/night room provided AND had lost the buffet breakfast they had been getting included in that price. To say my son was not happy is an understatement.
In the interests of honesty, there were a couple of issues that a couple of the guests were responsible for but even these were handled very poorly by the owner.
2 nights before the wedding we held the Hen’s and Buck’s nights and on their return to the hotel a couple of the guests were very intoxicated and were swimming and making far too much noise. The majority of the other guests were trying their hardest to keep the noise level as low as possible but the few that weren’t were making a lot of noise. But, in their defence, as far as any of us knew, there were no neighbours for them to disturb (as told to us by the owner back in June, 2010) and the entire hotel was booked out with their friends who were all still up, having a quiet drink. If they had have known this wasn’t the case, the issue would never have arisen. I have personally known most of this group of friends for years since they were young teenagers. Not one of them has a malicious or obnoxious bone in their bodies.
Instead of confronting the noise makers (or even the entire group) the owner confronted a lone female guest (probably the quietest person in the entire group) while she was walking back to her villa and mention was made of the police being called. I was informed, the day of the wedding by the caterer that they were all almost thrown out that night.
The other incident concerned a set of sheets and some towels being accidentally stained by tanning lotion by one of the female guests. It was a complete accident and there was nothing malicious or deliberate in it at all. 1million rupiah was demanded to replace the linen and while I think the price demanded was high, I don’t have a problem with the owner wanting to be compensated. What I do have a problem with is the manner in which the whole incident was dragged out by the owner over 2 days. The girl responsible wasn’t happy about having to pay that much, but had agreed to and as far as she was concerned, the matter was settled. She and those she was with did not need, the next day, for the subject to be bought up again and mention made of the girl’s “sulking” over the issue.
The undiplomatic demeanour of the owner was bought home to me the day of the wedding when he made the assumption that the air conditioner was left running in the bride and groom’s villa while the front door stood wide open. I was the one who had opened the door as I was in and out of the room all afternoon setting up the decorations, and at no time was the a/c ever turned on. The snide comment made to me was, in no way, called for or deserved.
The attitude of the owner is actually completely baffling to me. In some instances he went out of his way to accommodate, insisting that he provide, and his staff dig holes in his lawn for, the bamboo for 6 Balinese flags that the bride wanted, when we had been planning to ask to use the umbrella bases that were in use around the pool so that there wouldn’t be any holes dug into his lawn.
But in other instances he was almost anal in his pedantic nit-picking. For instance he insisted that the band could not change positions after the ceremony and expected them to play the entire reception with their backs to the guests and unable to see anyone. Or when at 11pm, the band had stopped playing and everything was all packed up as much as it could be by my staff. The only people left were the hotel guests and my husband and I. I decided to let my staff go home as they were just standing around doing nothing. What remained to clean up were approx 10 glasses and less than a dozen beer bottles and even they had been moved onto 2 tables so that the remaining area could be completely cleared. All the remaining tables were cleared and all the chairs stacked. He proceeded to have a go at me for letting my staff go home. I tried very calmly to explain to him that I wasn’t going to leave any mess behind and that I had sent my staff home in the knowledge that I would clean up the few remaining items, myself.
By this stage the bride and groom were so confused by his attitude, the groom picked up a camera and took photos of the entire area to prove, if needed, that there was so little left behind. In fact, it took me, with the help of the male guests, exactly 5 minutes to clear everything, wash the glasses and move the stacks of chairs (hired by us, not the property of the hotel) under cover.
Then to add salt to their wounds, on the Wednesday morning after the wedding (the wedding was on Monday), the 3 remaining wedding guests, (all the others had checked out on the Tuesday) went to breakfast and for the first time were offered a menu and choice of breakfasts. So the skimpy, poor breakfast wasn’t the norm and was only offered while the hotel was full of wedding guests. This completely baffles me and I still can’t work out if the breakfast issue was poor management and organisation or just penny pinching on the part of the management.
And then there is the instance of the 2 cases of bintang (and 2 further cases of empty bottles that we had paid a deposit for) that mysteriously disappeared from an esky full of ice, overnight, while in a supposedly secure area of the hotel. This beer was to be picked up the next morning and taken to a recovery BBQ that I was hosting that day for all the wedding guests.
As a business woman myself, I understand perfectly that over an 11 month period, things change, but surely we should have been informed of these changes and new conditions as they occurred, not allowed to blindly go ahead under the misconception that all remained as first discussed.
Given that the position of this hotel is not good, the only time I would recommend this hotel is as a wedding venue. As a DE for Bali I would never recommend it as a resort for holiday makers. In fact, if run properly, this property could be a gold-mine as a wedding venue. From my experiences helping to plan this wedding, I know how few and far between good, reliable, honest, affordable wedding venues are. Even paying the $1,000 venue hire fee and full price on the accommodation for guests this place has so much promise, I would be very surprised if it weren’t booked out far in advance for weddings. But, as it stands with the current management, there is no way I would recommend this place for anything, it’s just too hit and miss.
And given that the full price of the rooms (1 bedroom villa is usually $150/night) it is actually very expensive compared to other, much better situated, better run properties, with better rooms and facilities, I cannot ever see myself recommending this place. This hotel is just not good value for money.
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- Also Known As:
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