I recently traveled on a press trip for ten days throughout Indonesia and visited Bali, Jakarta, Lombok and The Gili Islands and as I write my reviews I find my mind returns to this incredible land of beauty, where the days are filled with absorbing all that is new and different and the sunsets brilliant as the golden rays cast warn glows across the ocean.
Our group, of about ten seasoned travel journalists, headed off the well traveled island, although oddly enough not considered one of the main islands, of Bali and headed to another beautiful paradise: The Gili Islands.
Not knowing what to expect, I became somewhat concerned as the ride over to Gilli-Senggigi was on a small motorboat. Comparing it to a twin prop: it was a 20 minutes, heavy bouncing, choppy, bumpy ride and sprayed a lot of water. Without any covering or cabin, we all endured about twenty minutes of water spray. We didn’t get soaked, but defiantly water was spraying in backs and our faces depending on what side of the boat you sat on.
When we arrived to what looked like a paradise compared to what we left, which is difficult to understand as one island is more beautiful than the next. On the islands of Gilli-Senggigi we were treated to a beautiful resort with pristine beaches, stunning swimming pools, buildings, restaurants and pathways.
Hotel Vila Ombak
We checked into the Hotel Vila Ombak. The unique entryway had hand carved doors, a beautiful foyer, very ornately decorated with bamboo and teak, Tropical Island, furniture. The Vila Ombak staff greeted us with a delicious refreshing fruit punch in what looked to be a hand carved tribal leader drinking cup and then we were each taken to our rooms which were also very unusual.
Approaching your room, there was a lovely front facing patio, basically a sitting area which looks over the other bungalows front porches. The room is a standard rectangular room, of adequate size with a single bed and a double bed, a closest and an odd glass door which leads outside. When you open the glass door and step through, you are outside, literally. It is a semi-enclosed bathroom. The uncovered portion of the bathroom contains a curved green shower, with tropical plants draping down from the outside. Across from the shower enclosed is the sink, mirror and in the corner is in the toilet.
One of the first things I did after photographing the room was wash my face, to remove the salt water spray that had sprayed on me from the boat ride. Being that I wanted to wash off the salt water, I took a shower and realized the sink water and the shower water are both sea water which was a bit of a surprise that all water for brushing your teeth or washing your face or taking a shower is actually sea water, it’s heated like normal water but its sea water.
I noticed off to the side of the shower was a bucket with a scoop on top and above that a water faucet and it didn’t quite register what it was. I saw it and I opened the cover of the pot to find water. And just let it pass through my brain and then when we went to eat lunch and discussed the salt water shower and one woman said, you are supposed to finish off you rinse by ladling off, rinsing off the fresh water from this covered caldron, and pouring it over yourself to get the salt water away.
Which seems rather ridiculous because how are you going to get it all away; another problem I had with the shower there were three lovely ceramic containers, one was shampoo, one condition and one was soap, but in order to use them unless you wanted to put them on the floor of the shower you have to leave the shower, walk across the marble floor get the container, put the shampoo over your head by the sink, walk back into the shower, shampoo it, rinse it out, and do the same thing if you wanted to put shampoo in twice come back out, walk back to the shower. With no shelves of any kind in the shower or around the shower it would. Obviously, I found the bathroom set up not convenient and certainly not accustomed to the salt water used for personal uses.
When it came time to unpack the first thing I like to do is charge up my computer, my camera, and my electronics. And of course, I hadn’t realized I needed to bring a converter because most of the hotels in the world, I go to in the world have an American adapter. So I went to the concierge services and found out they didn’t offer one. I ended up having to purchase one in the local store. It wasn’t expensive, about $25,000 rupees or $2.50 USD. It didn’t break the bank or set me back, I guess I just expected a resort that catered to Americans to have those types of conveniences.
Sheraton Beach Resort Senggigi
If I thought I had stepped in a paradise with pristine beaches what awaited next on my trip to the Gilli-Senggigi was the breath-taking beauty of the Sheraton Beach Resort Senggigi!
When we arrived, after scuba diving off the shores of Senggigi, four of us immediately went swimming. The pool, at the Sheraton Beach Resort Senggigi, is really amazing, it’s huge, and laid out beautifully lushly landscaped with palm trees and stone torches surrounding the pool and free standing torches inside the pool. To the left there is a large tribal chief face that doubles as a water slide. At night the torches burn with fire. While not an infinity pool the Indian Ocean is visible from the beach front facing pool. It is tranquil, tropical and magnificent.
The Sheraton, a Starwood property, is beautiful, a five star hotel, whose beach front faces Mount Agung at Senggigi Beach and produces unbelievably stunning sunsets. The well manicured grounds boost nearby a Lighted Outdoor Tennis Courts, and tennis lesson, a golf course nearby, a host of water sports including a Dive center, snorkeling, an outdoor pool, water slide, outdoor children’s pool and a private beach!
Included on our trip were lovely accommodations at the Sheraton. I was given a Superior room. Although, it was on the ground floor it included a lovely terrace. It was a very pretty room with two doors that lead out to a beautiful porch.
My room was very close to a gorgeous garden, the pool and the restaurant. The only problem was you couldn’t lock the terrace door from the outside. If you got caught up in the urge to explore the grounds, you needed to go back into the room, look the door and then exit through the room door, locking the patio door from inside, walking through the hotel and back around to your original idea.
I suppose it is a small inconvenience for the beauty of the opportunity. The rooms are well cared for with all modern amenities including large flat screen TV’s, internet and truly all one would expect from a Starwood property.
The tour operators and the hotel hosted a dinner for our travel group. It included traditional Balinese dancers, freshly prepared local seafood, delicious and unusual tropical drinks. It was very special, they had a huge poster, I felt very welcomed and almost sad as my trip to this wonderful, exquisite paradise was coming to an end.
The Gilli-Senggigi Islands may be off the beaten path but they are well worth the minor travel inconveniences to each the unspoiled beaches. The The Vila Ombak had a charm that wasn’t expected and it was more localized and still enjoyable. The Sheraton Beach Resort Senggigi is such a lovely property, the staff attentive to every need, the food, both local fare as well as western favorites, high quality and very enjoyable. It truly is a five star resort!
For more information on each property: