Sunday, January 13, 2013

Santi Mandala Villa & Spa, Bali Ubud Review

I'm doing this review at Santi Mandala's restaurant now. Thought I better write whenever I can as I'm traveling faster than I can spare the time to blog these days. And it's so good that it's raining in hot Bali now. :P

Well, you see, my best friend signed up for a yoga retreat and since her hubby didn't come along this round, she invited me to stay with her in Bali, Ubud. I've always wanted to visit Bali Ubud and preferably stay at a villa facing the padi fields, so I grabbed the chance and accepted the invitation with less than 2 week's notice. As it's a free stay, I'm not complaining even though this villa isn't surrounded by the  padi fields! ;)

At least I have this bunch of padi keeping me company at my table now. Haha..

Santi Mandala Villa & Spa is situated about 25 mins away from Ubud Town Centre by car. Hence, it's a quiet and relaxing place that's away from the crowd. It's also rustic and surrounded by lush greenery.

We arrived late at night with the hotel transfer arranged by Santi Mandala at 250,000IDR one way.

You'll come through this bridge before arriving at the hotel lobby below.

Some days, the locals will come by here to catch fishes in the late afternoon.

And here are some pictures of the hotel grounds.

Full of greenery and peacefulness, it's definitely a place to come for rejuvenation. They also conduct biking, hiking, cooking and yoga classes for those interested.

View Of Pool From Across The Bridge

It's a quiet villa without many guests and much noise in the daytime. Probably it's because of the distance from Ubud Centre and everyone is out and about during the day or chilling in the comfort of their rooms.

Infinity Pool

View From The Pool

The room is comfortable and well worth the money. It's rather private and integrate nature into its design.

The villas each come with a main door to a small garden leading to the room. We stayed in the Garden Villa which was the most basic one available at less than 150SGD per villa per night. My friend paid only 130SGD per night for this stay.

The Romantic Bed

The balcony opens up to the view of the pool and faces the east so that you'd be able to catch the beautiful sunrise.

Welcome Fruit Basket

The washroom was great with an open air shower and a bathtub overlooks the hills down to the pool. People may actually see you when you get out of the bathtub or when you're using the loo if they look hard enough. Just draw the curtain and all problems solved.

Although I really love the open concept of this bathroom, this place does have a lot of insects and even mosquitoes! The sink itself will  have at least 7-8 insects unlucky enough to be trapped by water droplets and drowned when we get back every evening.

And the worst thing is geckos do climb in!! Eeekks!!! It gave my friend a hard time falling asleep every night.

Breakfast is available at the restaurant daily and it's a good thing they change the menu everyday.

Now, there's 3 things I really don't like about Santi Manda Villa. One is the lack of wifi in their basic rooms and it's only available daily from 7.30am to 10.30pm at the restaurant. I know this would help in giving you no choice but to disconnect and relax. But hey, I don't need to disconnect to relax and enjoy nature. And even so, they should at least leave it on the whole day because the restaurant area is open and people who need to hook up to the net can still drop by at night.

The second thing is the transport to Ubud Centre. It can be quite a pain in the ass. They only have shuttle services out at 10am, 2pm, 4pm,8pm  and 10pm. The return service is half an hour later. So, if we need to get out or get back at a different timing, we'd have to pay 80,000IDR. And if you're located just a short walk of 15 mins away from the town centre, you'll need to pay a total of 100,000IDR which I found ridiculous. We almost had to do that for our massage appointments every night in the town centre as Santi Manda; Villa Spa closes at 6pm!! But some spas offer transport at a much better rates. Some spas and day tours even do pick up and drop off for free!

I'll review the different spas and day tours I went to in Ubud in my other posts.

Lastly, the food isn't fantastic. And Balinese food can be really tasty. The first time we ordered Soto Ayam and Tom Yam Goong, we almost died from overdosage of salt!!

This afternoon, I was craving Yum Woon Sen from my Bangkok trip a few days back and just had to order this.

It was oily and bland but after asking for some lime and soya sauce with chilli padis, it tasted better. Maybe it was because I asked them to make it less salty...just in case.

I then asked the waitress to recommend a Balinese dish that is good. So Ayam Bakaka so it was and it was delicious! Once again, I highlighted that I didn't want a salty dish.

Overall, Santi Mandal Villa and Spa is really a value for money place to stay in Ubud. Especially so if you don't intend to go to the town centre much. But then again, I wouldn't want to eat at the villa every night.  I'd rather venture out for some good Balinese food.

Oh and regarding the geckos, my friend spotted a huge one crawling across the wall the first night and freaked out after that. After that, we saw another 2 and had to get the staff to remove 1 last night 'coz it took over our bathroom. :|

At night, little frogs come out to play and mosquitoes are present even with the insect repellent available in every room.

So, if you ain't afraid of these creepy crawlies, insects included, and love nature, this place will be ideal as a value for money and peaceful villa in Ubud, Bali. As for myself, I rather try a new hotel the next round.

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