Not all 5-star resorts are created equal.
Food and travel writer Sarah Dougherty checks in to The Samaya Seminyak for 24 hours and revels in a resort that offers endless space and generous hospitality.
The experience of checking in to this geographically blessed 5-star resort begins the moment you turn into the driveway off the chic Oberoi Road in Seminyak. Built on a wide stretch of beachfront between Kudeta and La Lucciola, two of the island’s most fashionable venues, The Samaya seduces from the moment you step out of the car. The views through reception lead directly to the sea, offering a taste of what’s inside.
This strip of beach, like many others in Bali, is lined with 5-star resorts, but there are a few things that set this one apart. Three main things in fact; the space, the service and the fabulous location.
With just 52 private pool villas built on 2.8 acres of land there is an incredible amount of wide open space. There is a sense of exclusivity at the Samaya that has nothing to do with stuffiness. The impossibly blue, freeform pool surrounded by lawn and gardens is central to the resort and, like a lot of other things at The Samaya; it is huge. Surrounded by gazebos and sun lounges the grounds look towards the sea, brushed with a gentle ocean breeze. I got to thinking there is no way this resort would be built this way today, with space at such a premium now. Best of all it is created with the user experience top of mind. Long before it was ever a buzzword, the designers at The Samaya nailed it. Even when the resort is full there are no crowds or loud music, no aqua fitness classes or a fight to secure the best sun beds, there is a pervading sense of generous hospitality.
The Samaya is a villa-only property with two sections; 30 Beachside villas and 22 Royal Courtyard villas, straddle Oberoi Road, each with its own character. The Beachside villas come in two categories and all are one-bedroom, although some can be connected. The Royal Courtyard villas built in the style of a royal Balinese compound, offer one, two and three bedrooms. Each villa is built with generous proportions, loaded with light and luxury fittings. There is a nod to bauhaus architecture in the flat roofs and the modern symmetry of the buildings. Each villa has a large private pool, a living room, King-sized bedrooms and the largest bathrooms this writer has ever seen. Complete with a sunken bath equipped with a TV, a separate shower and toilet, an outdoor shower and a dressing room. All decked out in marble with sliding doors that open to the pool deck. If the outdoor spaces weren’t so spectacular, you might not leave your villa. All the five star expectations are met in the villas from coffee machines, well equipped mini bars, luxurious amenities, cable TV, fast wifi and space to relax in private.
It’s rarely cold in Bali but the resort’s restaurant that sits right on the beachfront lives up to its name. Breeze has an international modern menu and the chef is excellent. Breeze overlooks the beach and extends along the beachfront. This is one of Seminyak’s best sunset spots and is busy every day with guests from inside and outside of the resort.
The night I stayed at The Samaya a wine dinner was being held and I was offered the choice to join or order a la carte. Once I had seen the menu, I was in. The four-course menu was restrained and modern, paired beautifully with the Italian wines. With a table on the seafront, washed by the signature ocean breeze, it was a beautiful meal right down to the meltingly tender beef. The staff at The Samaya are well worth a mention. Genuinely interested in the comfort of their guests, as I ate alone, they brought me a pashmima for the breeze, asked about my meal, refilled my wine regularly and at the end of my meal I felt like hugging my waitress, she was so lovely. If you check the Trip Advisor reviews, most, if not all, mention the staff. They are never intrusive and so genuinely good at their jobs.
Breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and sunset cocktails are all served here at Breeze. The food aims for a lighter touch and offers an excellent Indonesian menu as well as a host of salads and seafood alongside some great grills. They also do cooking classes and waking up to breakfast here is a treat.
Waking up in Seminyak.
I live in Seminyak and often walk this beach in the morning. Waking up so close to the beach I couldn’t resist an early morning walk, a dip in the ocean followed by breakfast overlooking the beach. It reminds you that the simple things in life are really the best. Waking up at The Samaya, with the beach just steps away from your door, is my idea of luxury.
Ah, the spa. The entrance to the spa, much like the entrance to the resort itself, is very grand. Once inside you are again struck by the enormous spaces and although it looks as though it could use a little spit and polish, I was led to a spa room that was just metres from the sea with large windows that open to the breeze. The massage that followed was amazing. There was nothing out of the ordinary, apart from the location, a simple Balinese-style massage, but the masseuse was great. Once again, The Samaya won me over with the quality of their staff. The oils were delicious, the coffee scrub was aromatic and together with the breeze, I was the most relaxed I can remember. Even if you aren’t staying at The Samaya, you might want to put this on your list.
As hard as it is to leave the refined luxury of the resort, right outside you’ll find some of Seminyak’s best eating and shopping. Walk along the beach to La Lucciola in one direction, Kudeta in the other, or drop in on the neighbouring resorts like The Legian, The Oberoi and the Alila Seminyak. Streetside the busy shop and café at Kim Soo offers great food, coffee, cakes and a very affordable home-wares and gift shop. Along this strip of Oberoi there are also some very stylish boutiques like The Tailor and His Lover, 216, Jem and more. The Vin+ wine shop is a great spot to drop in to fill up your mini bar and the adjoining wine bar offers a great selection by the glass. The ever-popular Motel Mexicola is around the corner and many of Seminyak’s best restaurants are within walking distance.
The incredible beachfront location
Breeze for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the best seats for sunset
Spacious villas offer modern facilities with a touch of Bali.
The spa treatments are highly recommended.
The freeform pool overlooking the ocean will lure you out of your villa
The neighbourhood offers endless opportunities to eat, drink and shop.
Petitenget temple beside the resort hosts some amazing ceremonies and is the area’s most important temple, and one of its oldest.