After a quick flight from Lombok to Bali, we arrived at the “Bali Khama” resort. We found an online deal that gave us the normally $250 per night resort, for 1/2 price. This being the low season, there were deals everywhere. Why not enjoy a little luxury?
I can sum up the experience easily this way: The Bali Khama is a 4 star resort that is trying really really hard to a 5 star resort. The grounds are beautiful and the staff work hard. But it’s clear that their management is dropping the ball.
[Full disclosure: After some of these problems happened, I approached management to make a deal. I’d photograph some of the resort in exchange for a room upgrade. The resort was mostly empty, and it would have cost them nothing. Their marketing department seemed excited the idea and quickly gave me approval to take pictures of the resort. The general manager however, refused my upgrade request. (One would think they’d at least give us a different room. But this wan’t offered.)]
It’s my intention to write an unbiased review of the resort.
The pictures from the gallery above include many of the things I really liked. The Bali Khama’s main pool, the landscaping and the style of the interior decor. All of these get top marks from me. The staff as well. They tried extremely hard to provide top level service and most of the time they succeeded. The litte things really do help. Like always greeting me when I entered the lobby area and give a nice smile. This means a lot. You can tell that the staff that normally interact with the guests have had customer service training at a very high level. They really do seem to care.
The breakfast staff also impressed me a few times. On a day when my wife was sick, they not only suggested that I take some food to her, but they also sent a helper to carry it. They didn’t have to, but they did. And several days later, once she had recovered, they asked her how she was feeling. That made us feel really special.
The main pool area is gorgeous! Other than a shortage of places to sit in the shade, especially to eat, I really can’t complain. It’s big, clean and very stylish. There’s even a kiddie pool for those that aren’t quite ready for the deep end. Pool towels are provided for free and the attendant even remembered and called me by my name all week.
It’s really an impressive resort to walk around. The site is truly amazing. At first glance, it took my breath away. It’s when you look closer that you start to see problems.
The beach area seems really nice at first. Then you realize that the entire area in the water is very shallow and covered by grass. The beach itself is cleaned every day, swimming isn’t much fun when you’re dodging seaweed. There are also some stones in the water. It looks like it’s all sand in the pictures, but it’s not. Swimming footwear recommended. I brought snorkelling gear, expecting to spend at least a little time each day in the water. After 10 minutes I came out and never went back in.
Both ends of the beach have a pathway that leads to the neighbouring resorts. For their normal price, I had expected a private beach. Instead what you get is a non-stop line of people walking by you. Even though there is a security guard posted there most of the day, they do not stop (or are not allowed to stop) people from other resorts using this beach. Considering how crowded the other resorts were, I don’t blame the people for trying to find a little peace and quiet, but I found it quite annoying.
In the first photo gallery, there’s a picture of a table set on the beach. Quite a romantic spot and I’m quite jealous that it wasn’t for me. I just happened to walk by as it was being setup. The bad part, which I didn’t show in the photo, is that it was placed less than 2 meters from showers that you’re expected to use before entering the main pool. The very elegant looking couple having a nice dinner were right up close to people in their speedos and bikinis. If there had been a breeze I think they might have even gotten wet.
We had to call for a repair crew 3 times during our short stay: to fix a bathtub fixture that sprayed water on you, instead of into the tub and for an air conditioning unit, twice. It stopped working several times and leaked water into the ceiling of the room, which eventually ended up on the bathroom floor. They came promptly and worked fast, but it could have all been prevented.
As a fan of “Hotel Impossible”, it’s easy to see that this resort’s maintenance budget has been stripped to the bone. They are not really fixing things, they just do a temporary repair and moving on. Before the air conditioning died the first time, I could see that the access panel in our bathroom had recently been opened. Instead of replacing the unit with a new one, they patched it up 2 more times while we were there. If they want to be 5 stars, they’ve got to address this stuff. Our ceiling had tiny drops of mould where the water had been sitting and the walls really needed to be painted again.
Housekeeping generally did a good job, but I found some stains on the wall behind the bed and on the curtains. Both easily found and cleaned, if they had looked for them.
Normally the housekeeping and maintenance staff always remove their shoes before entering your room. In Indonesia, this is quite common. Slippers or barefeet are acceptable, shoes are not. But when they think nobody is watching, they don’t bother to use the walkways. Instead they walk across directly across the grass and (you guessed it) right into the rooms.
In 6 days, we found bugs in our bathroom 4 times. It’s quite normal in Indonesia for this to happen. Rainforests, humidity and nature. I get that. But 4 times? And what the heck is that thing anyway? All I know is that they are really good swimmers! When I turned on the water, it only moved faster. There was an automatic bug spray device installed in the room, not that it did any good.
The out of reach places in the room, like the bathroom fan and ceilings are disgusting. Same goes for the shower head and the lower parts of the walls. Anything above or below eye level seems to have been ignored. Pull back the shower curtain and you see broken stone tiles. It looks like they’ve been like that for a while. Management should catch these things, even if the daily maid doesn’t. Inspections need to be made.
Storing unused beach chairs with a waterproof cover does make sense. But not at the beach in front of the guests. Ugly… Surely there must be a better place than this.
FINAL NOTES on the Bali Khama Resort
With a little effort, I think the resort could be the 5 star vacation destination that it wants to be. But not the way they’re doing things now. They’ll have to lower room rates (like the deal we found) which will mean even less money for upkeep and training, which could keep things spiralling downward. They need to invest in this property to get it back where it needs to be.
At 1/2 the normal price, I think we got what we paid for. Would I go back at full price? NO WAY.