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“Almost perfect (just not quite).”
Review of Saman Villas

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Saman Villas
Ranked #1 of 25 Hotels in Bentota
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 8 May 2014

Saman Villas was the accommodation we picked for our final week of a Sri Lankan tour and after a busy week of staying in 3 different areas and seeing/doing as much as we could, we were looking forward to a relaxing week by our own pool in one of the suites.

In many ways, Saman Villas lived up to (and at times, exceeded) our expectations but in some areas, we found it just short of perfect. In truth, it had a lot to live up to as we had, two years prior, stayed in a water villa on an island in the Maldives and that remains our benchmark for beach accommodation.

The drive from Ella to the Bentota area was a long one and when we eventually arrived at Saman Villas in the later afternoon, we were pretty shattered. After a short check-in, we were escorted to our room via the main areas which were pointed out on the way.

Our room (number 29 - a lower-floor deluxe suite with swimming pool) was right at the end of the northern end of the hotel. This was both a blessing and a curse for reasons I'll go into later. After arriving one of the staff members brought us some fruit juice and a bowl of fruit which was nice. Our suite consisted of a bedroom area, an inside sitting area, an outside sitting area, the pool area and then going back in, behind the bedroom, a changing/wardrobe area with it's own sink and vanity unit plus a large safe and luggage storage. From this room, a door led into the bathroom which was, at the shower end, exposed to the elements which allowed the daylight in, as well as birdsong etc. to come in.

The suite was very well equipped with a Yamaha 5.1 sound system, two TVs (one in the bedroom and one in the inside sitting area), a desk, a mini-bar/fridge, the large safe and also a number of buttons and switches on the bed for turning on/off various lights and also for controlling the electric blinds on both doors.

WiFi is free but I found it to be horrendously problematic. On the first day, we could only see one router (for rooms 27/28) from various devices (laptop, ipad, phone) so I called the front desk and they sent someone to reboot the router serving rooms 29 and 30. After that, we could occasionally connect to either router but the speeds were slow, almost unusable at times. We eventually found that we could get a pretty good speedy connection in the bathroom.. so whenever we need to do something (check local attractions, email, check-in to flights etc) myself or my partner found ourselves sitting in the small wooden stool in the bathroom getting that done.

Speaking of the bathroom, while the exposed shower area was nice, it does have some drawbacks. Firstly, it means this room is not air conditioned which means that it can get pretty hot if you're on the wc or using the mirror etc. But more importantly, it means that during peak insect hours, you could find a decent amount of mosquitoes flying around (even if you use the incense burners).

The pool area is really nice surrounded by trees and a nice little area to relax. A few drawbacks here too though - firstly, as has been mentioned in other reviews, your private pool isn't really private. We were fortunate in that nobody was staying in room 30 above us during our stay but had there been, they would have been able sit on their balcony watching us in the pool. In addition, people in the next two rooms (27/28) would also be able to see us (one from their upstairs balcony and the other through the patchy hedge between us). IN that respect, having the end suite was a blessing.

The curse of being at the end was related to noise. There is a building over the wall from the end villa - not sure what it is, but they were making various noises during our stay (constant clattering on one day, shouting and talking loudly another day). Unfortunate but I guess there's not much Saman Villas can do about their neighbours. However, even without that, on a few days of our stay, we were subject to others making good use of their Yamaha sound systems and even playing relatively calm music producing a ton of throbbing bass that was a bit jarring. Some may be okay with this but I'm just saying that if you expect a completely relaxing experience, just remember that it may not be a quiet as you'd expect.

Food wise, we found the food to be very good here - certainly the best of all of our accommodation in Sri Lanka. We were staying half-board so breakfast and dinners were included. Breakfasts were very good and consisted of a selection from a continental, US or sri lankan breakfast. Dinners were presented as a 6 course menu from which you could pick from various appetiser/entree/dessert options with an amuse-bouche and sorbet palette cleanser before specific courses.

For lunches, we tried the in-room dining menu a few times which was fine - it was a good selection including burgers, sandwiches (great club sandwich) and some more exotic Asian dishes. Sadly, there are no in-room tea/coffee facilities - instead you are allowed to order tea/coffee to your room free of charge once a day (in the morning).

The staff were always smiling and said hello every time we passed. I generally found Sri Lankans to be very hospitable and they are all keen that their foreign guests go away with good memories (and recommendations) of the country. That said, I did find that the staff are at the room a bit more often that I'd like - you can turn your little room number sign to 'privacy' so you're not disturbed but if you plan to spent the morning/noon at your pool, they'll call instead to arrange the various staff member visits.. including pool cleaner, garden sweeper, different people in and out to clean the room/change towels/bring fruit/refresh minibar etc so it seems like there are people at the room for over an hour. We learned to time some of our activities around this (and the evening turn-down) but if you just want to unwind in peace, you'll still be called to arrange some of these.

We used the spa once - the spa area is very good and the staff very professional but I did find the prices to be a little high (certainly higher than anywhere during our trip). We also made use of some of the day trips on offer although we avoided the whale watching as their trips are arranged via the navy boats. Instead we arranged transport to/from Mirrissa through the hotel and just booked a trip with another whale watching company (the excellent Raja & The Whales) ourselves.

If you're a beach lover - the good news is that the beaches both north and south of the hotel are fairly empty. The bad news is that more than a few hundred yards out on either side, the beaches are pretty filthy with rubbish (plastic bottles, polystyrene etc.) strewn all over. Not Saman Villa's fault but don't go with expectations of a perfect beach (go to the Maldives for that).

All in all, Saman is probably as good as you can get on the West/South-West coast but it's not quite perfect.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank MProudfoot
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brendon M, Manager at Saman Villas, responded to this reviewResponded 21 May 2014

We thank the reviewer for the recent stay at Saman Villas.

We thank the reviewer for their comprehensive review and scrutiny of Saman Villas placed on Trip Advisor as It will help us in our continues development of our facilities and service.

We know we can never be perfect, but we continuously strive to achieve it.

We would like to make a few comments about your observation and seek clarifications.
We only serve sparkling wine on arrival along with a fruit basket and we were quite surprised to note the reviewers comment that our staff had served fruit juice. Obviously something very wrong has happened and we have written to the reviewer to obtain reconfirmation

We profusely apologize for the poor Wi-Fi signals. The service we have provided is the best available in Sri Lanka, but it is not good enough. In 2012 we changed from “Dialog” our previous service provider who was much worse. We have failed in that as we have not monitored signal levels as frequently as necessary. We have notified our. service provider to rectify the issue and give us a report. Thank you for bringing this to our notice. We are sorry that you and your partner had to spend time in the hot and humid bathroom to access WiFi.

“Open air bathroom” is very popular with our guests and many call it “a bathroom to die for”. I assume your comments arise from excessive use of the bathroom because of poor WiFi signals.

In our website the swimming pool in Deluxe Suite with Pool is described as “The swimming pools are for private use for the occupants of the suites. Privacy of the swimming pools cannot be guaranteed as the swimming pools are out doors and may be seen by other guests”. We introduced a bold type font nearly 2 years ago to ensure that guests are aware that swimming pools in Deluxe Suites with Pools do not provide absolute privacy, before they book. We use the word “private” to describe swimming pools because it is a simple word which means according to the Oxford Dictionary “use of one particular person or group of people. We believe we are very frank and transparent and our intention is not to deceive our guests. If a guest prefers a higher degree of privacy or absolute privacy we have 2 suites, in fact with better facilities, at higher prices. Once again we use the oxford dictionary definition of “privacy”.

On a property adjoining our neighbor, a small building is being constructed. We monitor the noise level using our own sound meter. The dB levels are within the environmental standards permitted by law for building construction and hence we cannot lodge a complaint. We appreciate that noise at times may be disturbing and annoying. We agree with you that we have not provided a “complete relaxing experience”. Please accept our apologies.

Reviewer had mentioned that “I did find that the staff are at the room a bit more often that I'd like” We are studying the problem and will reduce staff visits.

We are sorry we could not make your holiday perfect. We hope you will visit Saman Villas again and we will strive to make your next visit 99% perfect.

Thank you for your constructive comments.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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329 - 335 of 820 reviews

Reviewed 5 May 2014

Absolutely wonderful!! We only had 3 nights but it was bliss. Beautiful staff,great food. The villas and location was beautiful. As soon as we arrived all the stress of the working world disappeared Can't wait to come back to stay again for much longer. Fiona and Chris (AUS)

  • Stayed: April 2014
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4  Thank Fionafaughlin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2014 via mobile

We are just about to check out after four days of luxury. Wonderful place, wonderful staff, wonderful food. Get a villa with private pool and pamper yourself. It is very quiet and peaceful so don't be expecting anything approaching fast pace. We feel like we have been at a high end health spa!!

Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
1  Thank IntegralDJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2014

We stayed for 8 nights, yes my credit card is now lying in a dark place not to be used again this year but it was worth every penny!
We stayed in a pool villa, which was brilliant, our little garden and pool got the sun all day. The room itself was very spacious. I loved opening the electric blinds each morning to the perfect view of our pool and the ocean beyond. Our garden also came with its own little squirrel, who kept us entertained with his attempts to carry a chunk of watermelon through the hedge!
We did have plans to visit other restaurants in the area but our first lunch in the Saman restaurant convinced us to stay in the hotel each night! The food was fantastic! The menu is extensive, in fact even after 8 nights, we still hadn't tried all the courses that took our fancy. The prawn and asparagus gourmet is a must!
The service in all areas of the hotel was excellent. All staff were friendly and helpful and couldn't do enough for us, yet still managed to stay discrete and unobtrusive.
Thank you for everything, we had a marvellous time and hope when the credit card has recovered to visit again soon.

Room Tip: Pool villas are worth the extra.
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank TimtamKL
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 April 2014

We recently celebrated our daughter's wedding at this wonderful hotel. It has a beautiful setting with views over the beach. The rooms are luxurious and the food exceptional. The staff were all very friendly and couldn't do enough for us. A perfect experience.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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3  Thank Carol T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 April 2014

We stayed here 4 nights and this included our wedding day and meal for 25 guests.
To say we were ecstatic with the quality of service and the staff here would be an understatement, they couldn't have been nicer, kinder, friendlier or better if they tried.

They accommodated all our needs and questions, were very flexible with our wedding ideas and made the day really perfect, including arranging for a friendly elephant and professional photographer/ videographer. The quality of the products they produced for us was very very good and we would recommend them without a doubt.

The hotel itself is super luxurious and a very special place to spend as much time as you can afford to. The food is amazing (with a wide range of choices) and very reasonably priced and very well portioned for a boutique hotel. The staff in the restaurant and bar are all just amazing..I can't stress this enough.

In fact, all the staff from reception, our wedding organisers Imali and Gayathri to the cleaners and pool staff are a real credit to the hotel and made us feel so welcome and special - especially for our wedding day!! Nearly every member of staff congratulated us and wished us a 'happy life' which was much more than we expected.

I can't recommend this hotel enough and would happily answer any questions of anyone wants more info about our stay here.

Room Tip: If it doesn't break your budget, the rooms with their own pools are absolutely amazing and worth...
  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank clayweir
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 April 2014

Everything was perfect in this hotel, from the excellent service to the beautiful grounds. What a view!! The hotel rise above a rock overlooking the powerful ocean on both sides, we woke up every morning with a full view on the sea...

Probably one of the best hotels in Sri Lanka, worth the spending. We stayed there for 3 nights, wish we could have added-up 1 more....

The service was picture perfect with geniune, professional& kind Staff, breakfast and choice of food was excellent...+ they have an amazing spa worth to try: try the ayurvedic "Shirodhara".

The hotel itself is a gem: the design is a mix of waxed concrete and wood, its an extremely peaceful and refined architecture.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
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Thank mimosachan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Saman Villas

Address: Galle Road, Bentota 80500, Sri Lanka
Region: Sri Lanka > Southern Province > Galle District > Bentota
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Bentota
#1 Romantic Hotel in Bentota
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Bentota
#1 Luxury Hotel in Bentota
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Bentota
#2 Family Hotel in Bentota
Price Range: £254 - £604 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Saman Villas 4.5*
Number of rooms: 27
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Saman Villas is laid out on a magnificent rocky headland dividing two long, surf-swept golden beaches. Close by is a sleepy fishing village but you would not know it, the only sounds are sea gulls' cries and the surf below. The resort is inspired by ancient Sri Lankan architecture. The restaurants, bars and villa suites are all angled to take full advantage of the sea shore vista either side of the headland. A terraced garden draws the eye to a dramatic infinity-edge pool. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Saman Villas Hotel Bentota
Saman Hotel Aturuwella
Saman Resort Aturuwella

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