Great for: Switching off in beautiful natural surrounds
What is it? Small resort
Will set you back: USD 385 – 640 p/n
The first of many stand-out things about The Samaya, is the group of warm, friendly faces that greet you as you arrive at the open-air lobby in Bali’s spiritual and cultural hub, Ubud. The staff are happy to see you in that natural and authentic manner that all Indonesians seem to have, and you can’t help but be humbled as they welcome you into their beautiful resort as if you were friends returning home. With a lei of flowers placed around our neck to begin the check-in process, we are already relaxed after being picked up from the airport and enjoying some cold water and fresh fruit on the drive to Ubud. There is something instantly calming about this small corner of the world that we can’t quite put our finger on… and we haven’t even seen our room yet.
Although the lobby was being refurbished during our stay, it only takes a quick ride down the hilly grounds towards our villa to get a sense of what this small resort is trying to achieve with its design. Namely, elegant simplicity in which the beautiful surrounds are intended to be the star. With all the villas positioned near Bali’s famous Ayung River, the resort relies on natural materials to reinforce its surroundings, and this ensures guests aren’t likely to think about the office at all while staying here. The Ayung Villas, ideally positioned on ground level right alongside the river, are large and to-the-point in their style. The villas have their own gated entrance that gives the feeling that you are entering your own house, and this, of, course is precisely the idea. A good sized swimming pool is the first thing you see, but the first thing you hear is the river – right there on your doorstep. It’s our favourite thing about the Ayung Villas and it’s a beautifully relaxing environment to be in.
There are five types of accommodation at The Samaya, varying from hill-side locations to river-side locations and with one, two or three bedrooms. Although slightly different in price, all have similar features and all are large and lovely. The Ayung Villas’ big outdoor balés are positioned near the river, and we found this to be a gorgeous place to sit and while away the afternoon. The bathroom is the star of the interior, being especially oversized with a large jacuzzi complete with disco lights, and a beautiful vibrant piece of artwork located directly above. The bed is supersized and comfortable, although I feel it could have benefited from a pillow menu given pillows are such a personal thing and can make or break a night’s sleep. Also, the hairdryer and iron as well as the outdoor table setting are in desperate need of an update and I believe a hotel of this level should have capsule coffee machines in all of the villas as standard. Entertainment-wise, the hotel has a number of DVDs on offer that you can hire from reception if you’re in the mood for a relaxing night in.
The staff at The Samaya have an expression – “Eat, sleep, spa”, and it says it all, really. When you come to The Samaya, you do whatever you want to do, when you want to do it, and generally it will revolve around those three activities – for good reason. The spa is extremely beautiful with a large outdoor pool for those that want a dip after their treatment, and the treatment rooms are typically Indonesian in style and instantly relaxing with their view out onto lush greenery. I had an excellent massage here followed by a manicure and it was just what the doctor ordered. Next to the spa there is a fully equipped gym, and the hotel also puts on a number of free activities for its guests. They can also organise external outings for you and they provide a free shuttle into town each day. Yoga classes are held three mornings a week, as well as bicycle tours and you can also sign up for a Balinese cooking class for a a fee. My only criticism? Although yoga is traditionally supposed to be practised at sunrise, not too many people on holiday want to get up at the crack of dawn so I think an 8am or 9am yoga class would be more appealing than the current 7am time slot! Good WIFI is available everywhere at the resort, and room service is 24 hours. Fantastic.
The service is truly excellent at The Samaya, and one of the reasons it is so special is that it feels real. The staff come across as genuinely happy and content, and want to ensure your stay is wonderful. Each villa rate includes a 24-hour butler service which simply means a staff member is on call for anyting you may need, at any hour, and this is one of the many wonderful things about five-star holidaying in Indonesia – they really dote on you. There were only one or two oversights during our entire stay, such as the coffee jar in our villa was empty when we arrived and was never replenished until we made a point of showing them. However, this is a minor criticism. The management at The Samaya is one of the few I have encountered that are deeply interested to hear your feedback on the hotel. They want to know what they are doing right, what they can improve upon and any other feedback that would ensure that you will return to stay with them, and that when you do it will be faultless . Their dedication to hospitality is a testament to the professionalism at The Samaya and a benchmark that I wish all hotels would adhere to.
This is one of the highlights of The Samaya Ubud. The food is consistently good, from eating breakfast at Scene Restaurant to dinner at Swept Away with the rapids of the Ayung river beside you, and even to room service. The breakfast in particular is excellent, and the best bit of all is you can choose to eat it at any time of day, anywhere. The a-la-carte menu is incredibly extensive, and essentially all-you-can-eat – perfect if you’re one for a morning workout, or simply if you’re in ‘holiday mode’. We loved the a-la-carte breakfast menu and found it incredibly refreshing when most hotels and resorts these days opt for the buffet option to be eaten within a certain window. There is even an entire page of gluten-free options which shows how much The Samaya caters to the guests. Even though you can easily eat breakfast in your villa, we highly recommend eating at the restaurant because the open-air dining and view over the rice paddies is just divine.
Furthermore, Swept Away is the number one restaurant in Ubud on Trip Advisor and it’s easy to see why. It has a truly romantic ambience with a beautiful setting on the Ayung River, and the food is simply excellent. I recommend the Chef’s four or six course degustation if you’re really in the mood to indulge and make the most of the beautiful ambience. The Samaya also serves a complimentary afternoon tea, served either in your villa or at Swept Away.
The Samaya is only a fifteen-minute drive from the centre of Ubud with all of its art galleries, boutiques and local eateries. Ubud is considered the artistic, spiritual and wellness centre of Bali and is well known in the yogi, health and natural medicine community. The region surrounding Ubud is characterised by beautiful green rice paddies that are utterly unique and well worth a visit, and there is also the sacred nature reserve Monkey Forest. Ubud has an instantly relaxing feel to it, making it perfect for those wanting to escape city life but still holiday in an area where there is plenty to do and see, particularly for culture-lovers.
place to get away from it all