W Retreat & Spa Bali – Trip Report

by Adam

This is part eight of my Bali / Kuala Lumpur trip report and includes my stay at the W Retreat & Spa Bali.

Coming off a great stay at the St. Regis Bali Resort, I was hoping for more of the same at the W. Located in Seminyak, it is about a 30 minute trip from the St. Regis but can take up to 2+ hours in traffic. If you’re coming from the airport, the hotel is about 10 miles or 30 minutes. I arrived around 9pm and there was no wait to check in with the Welcome Desk. I booked a Wonderful Garden View Retreat (the lowest available room) for a non-refundable rate of $189 USD. The room was also available for 20,000 Starpoints or 8000 Starpoints and $150 USD. For $49 I decided to keep my points. I was informed that I had been upgraded to the Spectacular Ocean Facing Retreat (the same room with an ocean-view). I had checked SPG prior to leaving and saw that suites and villas were available, but it was late and I didn’t feel like doing the upgrade song and dance routine.  The lobby and W Lounge were very nice and everything was open and faced out towards the ocean and pool.

The room was nice and looked like many other standard W rooms I’ve stayed in. The bathroom was unique in that it had a remote controlled retractable ceiling shade and skylight…pretty cool. As with many W’s, the bathroom was simply a few panes of glass in the middle of the room, no doors, curtains, etc. Though it wasn’t a great upgrade, I really liked the room. The W bed is always amazing and the “chill-out” sitting area with a couch was really nice. My favorite part of the room was the terrace overlooking the pool and beach.  It included a chaise lounge and a table and chairs. During the rainy season, the waves are so strong that you not only hear them, but you can feel the vibrations in your room as well. I was excited to find this welcome gift of cupcakes (the white one is a candle) on the corner table. There are two complimentary waters in the bathroom and two next to the bed, all four are refilled daily.

HDMI, 2 USB, and a universal outlet…

That white control below is the remote for the retractable roof in the bathroom.

Above the toilet – Please take your time. I enjoy watching.

Each night a list of the daily activities for the following day as well as the DJs spinning that night is placed on your bed. If you are facing the pool/ocean you will hear the music. I didn’t mind it but some guests may.

I was really happy with the room and left the hotel to go and check out Seminyak. I wentt to bed a few hours later and woke up to start blogging. I started outside on the balcony in one of the loungers and then moved inside to the sleeper sofas. That’s when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I let it go and then noticed it again, upon closer inspection I realized that two ants were crawling on the sofa. The sofa was located in the corner of the room and I hadn’t been in that area the night before except to collect my cupcakes. As I glanced down at the floor it became apparent that there was a pretty large ant infestation in that part of the room. Ants were crawling in a circular pattern on the floor and up on the sofa, we are talking 30+ ants.

I called the Whatever/Whenever desk who said they were sending someone up. I said I would rather just move and was told to wait for a phone call. Instead, they sent up two maintenance men with ant spray who proceeded to cover the whole room in the mist. Luckily, I was still packed and had moved my items out into the hall. At that time I decided to bring my luggage downstairs to the Welcome Desk and request a new room. The guest service manager was brought out and apologized profusely. He informed me that they had the same room available one floor below but that it would take 90 minutes before it was ready. I was OK with this as I was writing a blog post anyway and the internet was much faster in the lobby. He walked me over to one of the tables in the W lounge and asked if he could get me his favorite cocktail, a passion fruit mojito. It wasn’t quite 1130 yet, but why not.

He returned about 15 minutes later to see how I was doing and that’s when I browsed over to spg.com on my MacBook Air and showed him that there were several suites and villas available. I asked if the hotel restricted upgrades, his response was that they absolutely do not for the suites. If it’s available and they have a platinum member staying, they are move than happy to upgrade. On the other hand, he said the villas are managed separately and SPG members are not normally upgraded, even if they are empty. He mentioned that he didn’t think there were any suites available, but if there were he would definitely put me in one. Well, that was it, he said he needed 15 minutes and then I’d be in my new marvelous suite. Another cocktail and some pizza…

The suite was really nice with one room almost identical to my last room and then a second room of wall-to-wall couches and a 52 inch TV. The best part about the suite was the enormous terrace, almost triple the size of my previous room and it also overlooked the pool and beach. The terrace had multiple loungers, a hammock, and several tables and chairs. The terrace was accessible from either room. and outlets were also available outside.

The suite had the same bathroom as the retreat, minus the green sinks. The same remote and retractable skylight included…

One of the great perks of the W is the free bike and scooter rental. Using a regular bike you are only a 5-10 minute ride from Seminyak Square. Seminyak feels more authentic than Nusa Dua (gated enclave of 5 star resorts) where the St. Regis is located, but you’ll still see several western stores and establishments catering to tourists.

Fast forward to my first night in the marvelous suite, I was in bed and felt something on my back. I told myself that I was just imagining the ants, but to my surprise when I went to scratch away the imaginary ant, I found a tiny black bug crawling on my lower back. I immediately turned on all the lights and examined the bed, unfortunately finding three more of these tiny black nothings in the sheets. Another call to Whatever/Whenever, this time asking them to bring an entire new bedding package upstairs. A very nice young staff member arrived and re-made the entire bed, I asked for a change of the duvet and pillows as well. As we were unfolding one of the new sheets, we saw something green fall out…a grasshopper!

Yep, I am totally aware that this was Bali and I’m fine with insects in most places, but it just seemed crazy to find these in a W room that charges significantly more than any other local hotel and refers to itself as the luxurious star of Seminyak. I had to be up real early the next morning for another day of touring, this time a 12 hour tour, so I did a full search through the new bedding and then went back to sleep. I checked out the next morning (as scheduled) and after the tour I was dropped off at the brand new Sheraton Bali in Kuta.

Besides the insects, the W was a nice property, no different than most W’s. In fact, I kept thinking I was at the W South Beach or W RetreatKoh Samui, elements from both of these properties can be found in Bali. The design of the hotel was great and I really enjoyed the open lobby and outside areas. At night, the hotel really comes to life and there are candles and festive lights all over the property.  Note that if you are visiting during the rainy season, the beach may be a disappointment. Expect a narrow beach with black muddy sand and rough waves. Perfect if you are a surfer.

The staff at the hotel was really one of the highlights of my stay, friendly and helpful like everyone I met in Bali. The other highlight was the breakfast, which I selected as my SPG Platinum amenity. Not as over the top as the St. Regis or the Sheraton but very impressive nonetheless.  I really enjoyed the vegetable tacos, homemade yogurts, and sushi. You can eat inside or choose to sit outside overlooking the pool and the ocean.

I received a survey from SPG after the stay which I filled out honestly, with the good and the bad. I also posted a short entry on this blog regarding the W Bali experience.  I quickly received an email response from the Director of Rooms less than 24 hours after the survey. It seems like they may be BoardingArea fans or have Google Alerts set for anything published about the hotel…

Dear Mr. Adam,

I thank you very much indeed for taking your time to participate in our online questionnaire. I highly value every feedback given by our valuable guests. As it is only through feedback that we can improve our products and services. I understand the need to meet our guests’ expectation. And I truly regret that we have failed you on that occasion. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. I have been seriously looking into your concerns. And as soon as I read your review yesterday, which is also posted on what I believe may be your blog, I managed to have a meeting with our Director of Style and Pest Contractor. We had a good meeting where we agreed to work on some concrete action plans toward our existing system. Bugs is everywhere in this tropical area. But having these creatures inside bedroom of W hotel is something we can not tolerate ourselves. Another point we agreed on our discussion yesterday is the quality of room inspection conducted by our Style Team. This is something that we have to fix immediately. The ants infestation in your 1st room show us on how the inspection quality is really in an urgent need to improve. Mr. Adam, I do hope that you will still give us an opportunity to prove that it was an isolated incident and not the norm at W Bali. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have another plan to visit Bali in the future and want to stay at W Bali again, so that I can personally look after your needs. Once again, please accept my sincere apology for all the inconvenience you have experienced.
Best Personal Regards,
Director of Rooms
Sounds good, it seems like they are genuinely looking into the bug situation and have action plans in place to improve the experience for future guests.

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David February 10, 2013 - 10:00 am

The insects issue is a pretty big one. Regardless of the environment, if a property is serious about providing a hassle-free experience, it’s possible (I stayed at the IC Thalasso in Bora Bora and didn’t experience one bug in 5 days there). Thanks for sharing though!

JohnB November 9, 2013 - 8:43 pm

Since you spent time in Bali at 3 different beach areas, I have a question. I haven’t been to Bali in 13 years, but I experienced not very sanitary conditions on the beachs. Raw sewage was coming onto the beach from pipes in Legian and Seminyak. Has this been fixed?


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