Bali, also known as the island of the Gods, is one of those island getaways that manages to retain its rustic charm and traditional identity despite being so developed. Heritage temples, magnificent rice padi terraces, and sun-kissed beaches co-exist in perfect harmony with modern restaurants, luxury spas and chic hotels.
Because the primary purpose of this Bali trip was one of gastronomy, and to a lesser extent, luxury, we opted to stay in Seminyak as most of the top-notch restaurants are concentrated in Seminyak. In spite of the dizzying number of villas in Seminyak, there is a dearth of truly ritzy hotels. While the W Bali Retreat & Spa - Seminyak isn't as opulent as, say, the Bulgari or any of the 3 Aman hotels in Bali, it is considered one of the most (if not the most) fancy resort in Seminyak.
The W Seminyak is bustling with a youthful, lively, hip vibe, so expect to see people, mostly Australians and Koreans in the late-twenties-early-thirties range, milling about at every corner of the resort. In line with its hipster image, expect pops of neon colours everywhere. Wifi is freely and readily available throughout the resort, and many facilities, like the pool, spa and gym are open 24/7, so this is really a resort that never sleeps.
While the W is more stylish than it is luxurious, service was absolutely first-class. The staff exuded warmth and friendly initiative, and were so on the ball, we hardly had to lift a finger, ever.
So, the bottom line is, I'd return to the W, but only if I was staying in Seminyak. For absolute luxury in Bali, I'd recommend the Bulgari.
The cobble-stoned driveway into W Seminyak. The resort building is a good distance (about half a kilometer) away from the main street of Jln Petiteneget, so guests will be advised to cab out instead of walking.
The breezy check-in reception. We still couldn't decide on the seaview room or a villa when we checked in, so the obliging staff showed us both accommodation options to help us decide.
Reception bar, where the resident mixologist whips up zesty cocktails to cool down those hot summery days.
The W serves complimentary refreshments that was switched up everyday: this was the Mint Tea Lover, with peppermint, lime and honey
Summer Sips was a delightfully citrusy blend of mango, guava, orange and lime
The expansive main pool that was always packed with glistening oiled-up bodies.
The rough sea isn't exactly conducive for swimming, and ditto for the rocky beach. But, the sea view was certainly stunning.
The W is an excellent wet-weather resort; with loads of loungers on the mezzanine facing the pool, and beyond that, the sea.
While these daybeds are virtually empty during sunny days, they're packed with guests when the rain storms hit.
After the tour of both accommodation options, we couldn't decide between the ocean view room (because only the hotel rooms allowed for seaviews), and the villa (because these had their own private pool and were bigger), so we stayed at both! The verdict: we'd pick the pool villa, but only if we got villa 26 or 27, which are the closest to the main building, and thus, walkable to all the amenities.The rest of the villas are too far away, and require the use of a buggy every time you needed to head out to the main building.
Spectacular Ocean Facing Retreat
These 42 sqm sea-facing rooms, located in the main hotel building, are upwards of USD500 per night.
The view was indeed spectacular, once you step out onto the constrained balcony. Unfortunately, the bed wasn't positioned to face the view, but rather the small-ish 40" tv.
The bathroom, it was as big as the room itself. The shower drainage was poor, and the spaces between the tiles were a gross brown.
Large soaking tub - fits 2 comfortably
I thought the bath buddies were the cutest - the Hubs reverted to his child-like state playing with these during bath-time.
Loved the tongue-in-cheek toilet humour (pun intended)
Marvelous One-Bedroom Pool Villa
These 225 sqm villas are upwards of USD530.
The pool's completely private (naked swimming ftw!); I liked that we could pipe in our music through to the outdoors, so it facilitated our chillout sessions by the pool.
The humongous bathroom, with an even bigger soaking tub, and a clear view of the pool and bale daybed. Unfortunately, the water filtration system is in dire need of upgrades; it wasn't evident at first, but once we'd drained the bathtub, we noticed black streaks and visible dirt particles left behind.Also, the Hubs noticed the rancid smell wafting through the jet sprays.
The business center behind the bed.
The W's complimentary treats for CNY festivities...me love gummies!!
The garden view of the hotel rooms was a little uninspiring; but the spacious gym had with enough weights and cardio machines, and a bright countenance. There were hardly any complimentary fitness classes (boo!), but I liked that the gym had a sandbag that I could punch up. The gloves stunk though; high time to replace or launder them. And I liked the water infusions; there was an orange one, a cucumber one, and the ubiquitous lemon one.
The gym is located just next to the Away Spa.
The walkway to the spa reception...so very calming and zen, very unlike the rest of the buzzing resort.
The welcome lounge
The couples treatment room, good space, but awfully gaudy electric blue lighting. Still, I thoroughly languished the Body Bliss Massage (Rp1.2m/S$126 for 90minutes) so much that I dozed off...and then snorted myself awake, totally embarrassed! Oh well...I'm sure I'm not the first to have done that!
For men, I'd recommend getting the 4.5 hours Style+ spa package (IDR2,800,000/S$295), which finishes off with a whisky on the rocks! For that last point alone, the Hubs got himself pampered with a warrior exercise to stretch out, scrubbed within an inch of his life with black pepper and cinnamon, massaged on his acupressure points, a facial, and pedi. Yup, I married a metrosexual (he'd spent longer at his fitting than I did for my wedding gown!)
Post-treatment relaxation lounges, facing the garden and a koi pond for maximum bliss.
Relaxing with a full bar is de rigueur on holidays!
One of 2 breakfast joints - both buffets were pedestrian, but this has a wider ala carte menu
The other complimentary buffet breakfast option - bigger premises, but smaller ala carte menu. I preferred Fire's breakfast.
Wanna Be Chef Cooking Class
The private cooking class (IDR650,000/S$69 per person), which we booked on a rainy day, was excellent indoorsy fun. Held at the Ice Bar annexed to Starfish Bloo, a mobile kitchen was set up facing the sea.
Class started off on a high with raspberry bellini. If only all classes started off this way...
We learnt how to make Opor Ayam, Ikan Pepes and Coconut Salad, and honestly, these were the best balinese food I've ever had! Quick background: I don't exactly have the best impression of Balinese cuisine because it's generally bland compared to its bolder Sumatran cousins.On second thought, maybe these were awesome because they are more Sumatran than Balinese.
The chef showing us how to skin and fillet a fish.
and how to wrap the fish in banana leaves securely. I thought this was the most hygienic cooking class ever, with a separate cutting board for seafood, vegetables and meat. Gloves were always used as well, and everything was just so neat and tidy, and pre-prepared for us.
Freebies after the class, with the recipe book, cap...
including the very cute pun-ny apron.
The Woo Bar boasted a most spectacular view, and although the bar was completely open-aired, it was very breezy. We were here during the day, and also at night, and loved it either time.
Complimentary beet crackers which were surprisingly yummy.
The straight-off-the-children-menu Macaroni & Cheese (Rp75,000/S$7.88) laden with smoked chicken and triple cheese was surprisingly good as well. Rich but balanced, this managed to stay light despite being so substantial.
The Rosemary Chamomile (Rp75,000/S$7.88) was incredibly refreshing and aromatic. I'm inspired to put this herb into my teas from now onwards.
The Baileys Frappe (Rp125,000/S$13.14) perks you up, and mellows you out. What a delicious conundrum.
The Bubble Gum Mojito (Rp135,000/S$14.19) light rum, bubblegum syrup, lime, mint, honey and soda; and Kiwi Whiskey Sour (Rp135,000/S$14.19) with Jameson irish whisky, pressed kiwi, lemon juice, and gomme syrup, were fruity and light, but packed a potent kick.
For a hotel with a middling buffet breakfast, their room service was surprisingly decent. Stick to the Indonesian fare though, the one western side dish we ordered was abysmal.
The Chicken Laksa Noodles (Rp145,000/S$15.24), of yellow egg noodles chunked with tofu, tender chicken, egg, succulent prawns in a spicy coconut milk gravy was richly sumptuous.
The Nasi Goreng (Rp150,000/S$15.77) Indonesian-styled rice fried with fried chicken, fried egg, beef satay and peanut sauce was artery clogging but so worth it.
The Ayam Soto (Rp145,000/S$15.24), a comforting Indonesian chicken soup, was heart-and-tummy-warming. The thing about the W was how they grew their own baby sprouts, and loaded them into their dishes. The beansprouts lent a refreshingly clear touch to the robust Indonesian dishes.
The Mie Goreng (Rp150,000/S$15.77) Indonesian-styled noodles fried with fried chicken,
fried egg, beef satay and peanut sauce was just as artery clogging as the rice version but just as worthwhile.
The Truffle Mashed Potato (Rp75,000/S$7.88) was awfully disappointing. The dairy used to whip this was cloying and left a heavy lurking aftertaste.
W Retreat & Spa Bali - Seminyak