Saying goodbye to the ‘Jati Cottages’, we took a short taxi to the ‘Kebun Villas‘ just a few kilometres down the road. The pictures we saw online showed a beautiful resort and the prices seemed quite low, so why not give it a try?
On arrival, we passed through the security gate at the street and drove up a long path to the front of the hotel. First impressions are very important and here they make a good one! Beautiful stone work with Koi ponds welcome you into a spacious lobby with comfortable couches. The staff smiled and said hello while offering us a welcome drink. Check-in only took a few minutes, but we’d arrive early and our room wasn’t ready. After about 10 minutes, we were told that we could go to the room.
The porter helping with our luggage led us past the small pool beside the resort’s only restaurant, where the free breakfast is served. Up another level on the hill and we pass the main pool. An extremely long pool with various depths. Kids at one end, adults at the other. Some room are accessible here. Just a few steps up to your private terrace. The upper level rooms are up another long flight of stairs. The porters earn their money carrying the luggage here. Be sure to give them a small tip! The climb is well worth it though. These rooms all have a view of the pool and an ocean of green green green jungle. Quite beautiful, especially at sunset.
We ended up spending several nights here and I must say, it was our favourite place on the island. Is it a 5 star super amazing resort? No. Is it right on the beach? No. 2-star Michelin restaurant? No. But the staff are amazing! They obviously have been extremely well trained and try extremely hard to please, if it’s at all possible. I even tried an experiment to see how far they’d go to make me happy. I asked a random employee who happened to walk by me at the upper level pool (not the one beside the restaurant): “Could I get lunch served here?” The poor man was just a maintenance worked with limited English skills. But he said politely: “Just one moment Sir.” He quickly ran and got someone whose language skills were a little better. They repeated back to me “Sir, you’d like to eat by the pool?” Several minutes after that, a very confused looking waitress came up to the pool level with a menu. I waved to indicate it was me that wanted food. She came over, took my order and not long later I was greeted with hot food.
To the Kebun staff: YOU ARE AMAZING!! You really made my stay enjoyable. I’ve stayed at many 4 and 5 star hotels that did not have service as good as yours. You should be proud!
Rooms by the shallow end of the pool will get a lot of noise from the kids. Even though the resort was nearly empty when we were there (a real plus!) we still had to keep the terrace doors closed to keep the noise down. I’d pick a room at the other end, if I was to return again.
The restaurant’s breakfast was quite large. Something for everyone I’d say. They could do a better job of setting it out and keeping it hot, but I can’t fault the selection of food. At night they serve a Tex-Mex menu (paid). Having spent a lot of time in Mexico, I’m pretty tough to please. The local grocery doesn’t have many of the ingredients you’d need to make authentic food. But all in all, it was pretty good and the price was reasonable.
During the day, we went in search of a nearby area known as “Coco Beach”. To our surprise, this place was also deserted. Not a single person on the entire beach. All along the beach are grass huts obviously used as some kind of market during busier times. A few of the merchants were there, in hopes of getting a customer, ANY customer. But the majority were empty, giving the real feel of a ghost town. Creepy, but wonderful for the camera! Amazingly strong surf here. We waded out into knee deep water and I could feel the undertow trying to suck us in. Not a place to bring small children. Great if you’re a surfer! We saw (and heard) waves several meters high coming in all afternoon. So calming.
At one end of the beach is the restaurant and spa that uses the same name. Their local cuisine is served hot or cold under a string of open-walled grass huts. Keeping out the sun, but letting in the cool breeze, these huts are a great place to spend the day. Comfortable pillows surround you. Eat a meal, have a cold beverage (or 12) and laze about. The prices were quite good, but honestly I remember the experience much more than the cost. I guess that says it best!