Perhaps because hotels are so heavily marketed, holidaymakers seeking a vacation on the island of the gods – Bali, Indonesia – too often overlook the many benefits of renting a luxury villa for their overseas holiday.
The hotel marketers have done such a good job that official statistics show that more than 70% of visitors to Bali choose to stay in plush hotels and only 16.4% decide to experience the unique benefits of a luxury villa vacation.
Hotels are generally owned by multi-national companies that have developed a formula for running their businesses. While there are some notable exceptions, they too often build hotels based on construction templates that have proved popular elsewhere. Their aim is to cram as many guests into their establishments as is practically possible and space is at a premium. Some even build smaller furniture to fit better and give the illusion of larger space.
Villas, on the other hand, are mostly owned by private individuals who have designed their building from their hearts, like their home. Many spend time living there when the villa is not rented out, so their work hard to ensure the decor, furnishings, atmosphere and facilities are first rate.
Hotels offer single rooms for their standard rate and anyone wanting more will pay a hefty extra fee for a suite. Most of their business is couples or single travellers. They have strict rules and regulations relating to meal times, facility use and specialise in adding extra costs for whatever service you use, such as room service, laundry, telephone and internet.
The hotel business model is built on booking a single room (usually a double bed or two singles) and amplifying your booking fee as much as possible with added extras. The per head cost will usually be much more than what you would pay to book a luxury Bali villa for your vacation.
Many luxury Bali villas have four or more bedrooms and can cater for up to eight people. This makes them ideal for a group booking, whether it be by a family having a special gathering (anniversary, birthday, wedding), a club (book club, walking club, dining club, wellness club or SCUBA club), or perhaps a company running an annual corporate planning break.
The group booking factor is where the costs of renting a villa can really show great value, compared to the higher costs of hotels. For example, if the villa charged US$340 a night it would be, at first glance, up there with some of the more expensive hotels. However, when you calculate the actual per head rate is where the villa value shines. For a villa sleeping eight people and charging US$340 a night, the per head cost would be just US$42.50 a head per night, like way cheaper than a hotel fee.
The villa value does not stop there. Many of Bali’s estimated 10,000 private villas will offer further discounted rates for longer term stays of a week or more.
As to service, villas also shine ahead of the hotel experience. Many Bali villas employ local Balinese as on-site helpers to cook meals, do laundry, clean rooms and serve drinks to guests. Villa meals can be prepared to a guest’s precise requirements and they can even accompany helpers as they go to local markets to purchase groceries – a great introduction to the local Balinese culture.
Often villas will employ three or four helpers and these can even outnumber the guests, ensuring great service as it is required. The helpers are generally coordinated by a villa manager who is on call 24/7 to promptly handle any issues that arise for guests. You can be sure that you will develop a special friendship with villa managers and helpers, way beyond what would be possible if you stayed in a hotel.
Unlike hotels, which are often constructed in busy city centres near the noisey action of nightclubs, big restaurants and late night shopping, villas are more likely to be in rural areas of Bali, specifically to escape the city chaos. From your hotel window in Denpasar you are more likely to have a view of half-built hotels, construction cranes and traffic jams. You can expect to share your hotel swimming pool, if it has one, with crowds of fellow holidaymakers and to have to put up with possible late night parties, splashing and screaming, because Denpasar has become hugely popular to the younger generation seeking party time.
Unfortunately, the south of Bali too often has lost its spirituality, peace and quiet. It has sometimes become a victim of its own popularity.
From your Bali villa patio – and patios with panoramic views are a common villa feature – you can expect, instead, to see the wide ocean, with an illusion of a curved horizon, or a mountain valley and coastal plain, with sparkling night lights below.
Villas are sometimes built in the midst of villages, giving guests the opportunity to talk to local people and learn of the community culture that is very special to Bali. Villas have private swimming pools for your use only, and generally have lush gardens where you can enjoy peace and privacy.
Would you rather holiday in a luxury house, or a cramped hotel room? Would you prefer beautiful natural scenery rather than construction cranes? You choice for your next holiday should put booking a luxury Bali villa at the top of your list if you want to discover the ‘real’ Bali.
Indonesia Outdoor Furniture by Ross O. Storey