Soori Bali, Bali, Indonesia | HOTEL REVIEW

INTRODUCTION TO SOORI BALI

Soori Bali is a stunning boutique resort on the unspoilt south-west coast of the Indonesian island of Bali, with a backdrop of rice paddies and the volcanic Mount Batukaru looming in the distance. Until three years ago, it was managed by Alila Hotels & Resorts. It is now run independently and became a new member of Virtuoso hotels in 2018.

Date of stay: September 2018
Room: Ocean Pool Villa #203
Reviewed by: Aaron Yeung

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PHOTOS AND VIDEOS by CHINMOYLAD

 WHAT I LOVED

  • Location. Situated at a unique seafront location on the south-western coast of Bali, Soori Bali is surrounded by rice paddies on one side framed by the mountains in the background, and the expansive Indian Ocean on the other. The location is secluded and serene, away from the chaos of Kuta, Jimbaran and the Bukit Peninsula. However, it remains within touching distance of some key sites of interest, including the floating temple of Tanah Lot.
  • Beach. The resort sits on one of the most beautiful black volcanic sand beaches in the world – and some of the finest sand we have experienced; it is soft and shimmers in the sun (but beware: it gets hot very quickly and stays hot!). By law, all beaches in Bali are public – however, since there is not much development around, the beach is, for all intents and purposes, “private” only to its hotel guests.
  • Design. Designed by SCDA Architects/Soo K Chan, the resort’s design is overwhelmingly contemporary (and thus somewhat lacking a sense of place), but delve further into the details and you can begin to see elements of local materials, patterns and methods, including flower-patterned tiles, bronze and stone accessories crafted by local villagers, and the heavy use of black batu candi volcanic stone and paras ketaling limestone walls that bring the outside back indoors.
    The resort’s eco-friendly nature has allowed for natural ventilation through the use of landscaping and material usage to allow better cooling within the villas, and natural irrigation system that it shares with neighbouring rice paddies.
    Even without the local touches, the contemporary design itself is stunning with its clean, minimalist lines, and texture and colour palettes that borrow from its surrounds.
  • Rooms/Villas. The boutique resort features only 48 villas, each equipped with private infinity pools and equally beautiful ocean or rice paddy/mountain views. The two-level beachfront villas, Ocean Pool Villa (upper level) or Beach Pool Villa (lower level) have direct beach access, and the private outdoor pavilions offer the perfect place to enjoy the sunset.
    • Ocean Pool Villa. The room we stayed at in Soori features ample space (at a very spacious 275 sqm/2,960 sqft) for a couple, with a focus on indoor-outdoor living spaces, featuring an inner courtyard and a shaded outdoor space by the private infinity pool, perfect for sunset watching and cocktails with expansive views of the ocean. The private pools in the Ocean Pool Villa are larger than the entry level accommodation (Beach Pool Villa/Mountain Pool Villa).
    • Mountain Pool Villa. This is certainly a different side to Soori, commonly associated with the beach, and one that we absolutely love. These villas, a very generous 290 sqm/3,121 sqft, on the back side of the resort, look out over the neighbouring rice paddies – on a clear day, Mount Batukaru is visible in the background. The private pool is smaller than in the Ocean Pool Villas. However, do note that due to its proximity to the rice paddies, there is less privacy as a result, and the vicinity can also bring about more mosquitos, insects and other critters.
    • Deluxe Ocean Pool Villa. The Deluxe Ocean Pool Villas (646 sqm/6,953 sqft) are among the most spectacular one-bedroom villas in all of Bali. Technically, they’re part of the six-bedroom residence, featuring the upper-level master bedroom with a huge private infinity pool, large outdoor deck, pavilion and lawn with barbecue and bar facilities, as well as a gourmet kitchen, private gym and spa therapy room.
    • Residences. The resort features three- and six-bedroom residence options (along with the one-bedroom offering of the Deluxe Ocean Pool Villa), perfect for larger families, multi-generational travel, and larger groups. These rooms are also reasonably priced considering the space and hard product/facilities on offer.
    • Value. The entry level rooms are priced relatively highly, just about in line with the other top resorts in Bali – although you do get ample space and large private pools at Soori. However, the multi-bedroom options are very reasonably priced here compared to multi-bedroom villas or residences at other luxury resorts in Bali, considering the size and hard product on offer.
  • Bathroom. Huge compliments to the design here – this is a lesson in how to create a stunning walled-in bathroom. Although lacking in gorgeous views or bathtubs by the window, the bathroom continues the resort’s clean look with twin vanities, a simple yet beautiful sunken tub (accented by candles), as well as an outdoor shower option. Much of the usable indoor floor space has been dedicated to the bathroom, and it shows – despite essentially being a closed-off room, the effect is soothing and calming thanks to the use of muted tones and colours, beautiful textures, and very strong symmetrical proportions.
  • Service. The service at Soori was generally quite impressive throughout our stay, nearly flawless, with some highlights/key points:
    • Staff almost always addressed us by name and knew who we were
    • On one afternoon, we had a pre-wedding photoshoot (separate from our review) planned to take place in the vicinity of the resort, but not actually at the resort. The staff took this into consideration, and offered to let us use the Soori Estate (their 10-bedroom residence) as it is popular for wedding ceremonies and it was then unoccupied during our stay.
  • Food. There are two restaurants at Soori, Cotta, (serving Indonesian cuisine and all-day dining) and Ombak (serving eclectic European). In addition, there is also the Reading Room, which provides a light selection of food and drinks.
    The dining experiences at Cotta and Ombak were excellent and the food quality was exceptional throughout our stay. You can order food from either restaurant while sat at either one, which shows a very good level of flexibility expected at such resorts, in particular as the restaurants are nearby. A few key dining highlights:
    • We were impressed with the made-to-order breakfast served at Cotta; the key features change everyday to offer guests a start to a new day with surprise including a new daily selection of juice mixes.
    • Some of our favourite dishes during our stay:
      • Crispy Prawns
      • Red Snapper Carpaccio
      • Seared Tuna Loin
      • Snapper (some of the best snapper we’ve had)
      • Udang Bumbu Merah (red shrimp in paste – our absolute single favourite dish)
      • Nasi Goreng Ayam (Chicken Nasi Goreng)
  • Excursions and experiences.
    • Soori Spa. One of the most beautifully designed spas in the world; if Soori is seclusion with nature, then this spa is tranquility and peace of mind. The landscape pool in the atrium with an open roof is sophisticated in its design, which allows sunshine and even rain to fall right into the pool. When it does rain, it adds a beautiful aural experience. The Soori Spa has five private treatment rooms providing a wide range of treatments from the most traditional Balinese Massage, warm stone therapy to Half Day Spa Journey, which includes yoga and meditation enabling you a true balance from inner side. I chose the Balinese Massage with its signature blend of massage oil which was recommended by the Soori Spa. It is an ancient healing therapy, involving various therapeutic techniques such as strokes, skin rolling, palm and thumb pressure to give the entire body a true relax. After the treatment, were also served withsignature cookies and hot or iced herbal tea.
    • Segway. We enjoyed our guided segway ride through the neighbouring villages and rice paddies. It is both a unique and convenient way to experience the nearby village as it combines being able to explore the outdoors but at a pace that is able to cover the distance required without too much trouble. For the area required, a car just wouldn’t work. The distance is walkable but depending on weather conditions it may not be ideal. Plus it offers a fun integration into existing technology
    • Other Activities. Soori Bali offers a range of free activities from yoga to kite flying on a daily basis. There are also other activities on offer on-site, although not all activities are run by Soori Bali, for example, horse riding and ATV on the beach, although these require advance booking.

POINTS TO NOTE

  • Pura Tegal Linggah. Pura Tegal Linggah, the peninsula next to the resort is part of Soori Bali’s property. The resort is constructing a road so guests can have easier access to enjoy the beautiful view of Soori from the top of the peninsula. However, this may also temporarily disturb the peace and tranquility in the region.
  • Bat Cave. There is a bat cave under the Pura Tegal Linggah at the end of the beach which guests can explore. The bats sometimes fly out from the cave in the evening – hundreds of them – which is an incredible sight at sunset. However, be wary when venturing too far and it is better to go with a guide.
  • Service. As mentioned previously, service at Soori was genuinely impressive for the most part. However, it is fine margins at resorts like these, and Bali has perhaps some of the best service in the world. It was so nearly flawless, but not quite. We only really had one incident that was otherwise uncharacteristic for Soori Bali.
    • Anticipating needs or going out of their way to match guest’s wants: When arriving for dinner at the restaurant on one evening, we asked if we could borrow some mosquito repellent. Unfortunately, the staff present only offered that this is available complimentary in-room, instead of either providing a new bottle/spray or fetching it from the room for us as we were already sitting down at dinner. 
    • In addition to the above incident, since staff go through the care of remembering our names and details well for the most part, a no-sign policy and staff knowing our room numbers would definitely help kick Soori’s service quality up to the next notch.
  • Soori Estate – Ten-Bedroom Villa. We were excited to see the much vaunted 5,250 sqm/56,500 sqft Soori Estate, which is a 10-bedroom villa at the northern edge of the resort. Similar to the six-bedroom villa, the ten-bedroom is also divided into two levels. The four rooms, including two master bedrooms in the upper floor have  panoramic sea views. The other six rooms are in the lower level, each with a balcony overlooking the verdant gardens. The 230m2 private pool is tiled in cerulean blue and has an infinity edge that meets the ocean. The Soori Estate is popular for multi-generational family trips or bigger groups, as well as private bookings for special events and functions and weddings. However, considering the hype surrounding the estate, we were actually left unimpressed by the property in contrast to villas around Southeast Asia. In particular:
    • We don’t think the villa is well lit, especially if you are (stuck) in some of the lower floors.
    • Considering the size of the property (and 10-bedrooms, thus the number of potential guests that may be present at any one time), the private pool actually feels somewhat small; additionally, it just doesn’t feel as impressive as it should, considering the hype.
    • Having said that, there are very few 10-bedroom properties (attached to a resort) in Bali; and at that scale, your options are either Soori Estate or privately-owned villas.
  • Beach Pool Villa. Now priced in line with the Mountain Pool Villa, the oceanfront counterpart, the Beach Pool Villas, are probably our least favourite rooms in the property. The terrace and rooms of the beach pool villa feature much more light and dark woods in the paneling, and subsequently feel darker in tone, further exaggerated by the lack of sunlight due to their positioning in the lower half of the structure. Additionally, they also lack complete privacy as well as other guests may walk past your villa on their way to the beach (although from a short distance away).
  • Strong Waves. Unfortunately, the strong waves and currents can make swimming, or enjoying other simple activities typically associated with a beachfront property (kayaking etc) quite difficult, and this is true for most of the year. However, it is a good place to surf!

GENERAL INFORMATION

  • Soori Bali is 90-minutes drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
  • For quicker (and more picturesque) arrivals and departures, the resort does offer a heli transfer to/from the airport at Denpasar, starting at USD 1,200/way. The resort features one of only a handful of helipads in Bali.

HOTEL FACT SHEET

  • LOCATION: Tabanan, Bali
  • OPENED: 2010
  • HOTEL ROOMS: 48
  • RESIDENCE VILLAS: 3
  • RATES FROM: USD 600/night++
    Rates are only an approximation and subject to change and availability

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