When you stay somewhere for a week or more you start to see everything, all the bubble wrap starts to come off.
At the first villa we stayed at, my first impression was excellent with pick up from the airport and delivery to the villa was easy and stress free. The driver was waiting as we exited the terminal, he took control of everything including our luggage, he asked the usual questions “ have you been to Bali before?” to gauge whether he could sell us a day trip to the monkey forest!
Once we arrived at the villa 30 mins later the host was on hand to answer any questions. It was 11.30pm and the host obviously waited up for us to arrive, which was great service as our plane was 90 minutes delayed. He then gave us the codes for the automatic gate. He wished us well and let us know he was right next door if we had any questions at all. We collapsed after the long flight and possibly too much wine.
The first villa we stayed in
The next morning we awoke to a beautiful villa with the sun coming up, and the surroundings were very quiet. We decided to go for a walk to get our bearings. The first hurdle was how do we get out? There was an electric gate and no buttons to be seen anywhere? The only buttons were door bells with music notes on them. We wandered around for 10 minutes until I saw a local on the other side of the gate and asked him, he said press the door bells to the villa!! Hey presto the gate started to open!
Button for Automatic Gate which looks like the doorbell for villa next door
Learning 1. Never assume your guests know the system, always have clear signage or switches so its not an issue for any guest! Have all the information in a tidy compendium. People never want to ask anyone as it makes them look stupid – make them look smart!
Australian’s who go to Bali know not to drink the water, even when brushing your teeth. So on day 2 I looked through the kitchen for bottled water but there wasn’t any. I then asked the house keeper and she told me that the host who lived there for 35 years had never had a problem with the water as he had installed water filters. I looked under the bench and could not see any water filters anywhere. Whether the host did have filters or it was a bluff didn’t make any sense to me. So we chose to buy water from the local coco supermarket. Our friends staying at another villa had a chilled bulk water dispenser which gave everyone confidence that the water would be fine to drink. I had the pleasure of “Bali Belly” on my first trip from drinking the water, so having it again wasn’t something that I wanted!
At night the mosquitoes come out and I went looking for spray for the rooms and aeroguard for personal use, again there was none. The mosquitoes in Bali are known to carry Dengue fever so covering up and spraying is essential at night, so another trip to the shops was on the cards.
Learning 2. Always try to make the guest feel at ease. Be on the front foot with all your communication to your guests. Never try to save money on the essentials.
I had a long talk with the house keeper one morning and I discussed the mosquitoes and she asked did I turn on the lights? I said no, she said they don’t like the lights so turn on all the lights and they will stay away. There was a mosquito net on the bed and she said before it gets dark make sure it’s all tucked in. She also said she rubs lemon grass in her skin to stop being bitten at night.
Learning 3. You can learn a lot from the locals, especially the things you think you know all about. Getting local knowledge about hidden traps is so important. Can you share some local knowledge with your guests? Local taxi phone numbers, better yet his mobile number? An easy way to the beach? Best restaurant in town? Best coffee?
We spent a whole day relaxing by the pool, reading books, listening to music and drinking Bintang. Everyone was in bare feet and we all noticed that our feet were getting dirty. At first we didn’t know where the dirt was coming from but after a while it must have been the porous floor tiles throughout the villa. It made the villa feel dirty and everyone commented on it. Was it that they didn’t clean the villa properly or was it the choice of floor tiles? I asked the house keeper how often the floors were cleaned and she commented how she loved to clean all the floors daily as it made the villa smell nice.
The tiles never felt clean
Learning 4. Always select surfaces that are easy to clean. Porous surfaces seem to hold the dirt and are harder to clean. Can you walk through your holiday house with clean feet and they stay clean? It’s something you don’t think about until it happens to you.
One of the things we like to do while in Bali is inspect villas we see on the internet. We check if the photos hold up to seeing them in person. If the villas truly match up to the photos, we put them on our short list for next year’s holiday. Over the years I have come to realise that most photos that appear on the accommodation websites are when the villas are brand new, the reality is often very different.
On last year’s visit to Bali we booked a 3 bedroom villa because there was 6 of us. It had a large pool, spectacular bedrooms all with ensuites, and a beautiful garden. The photos looked amazing but I wasn’t 100% convinced because I had never seen it in person. The correspondence was excellent with the hosts asking great questions like, “ Would you like any tours booked for you?” “Would you like a scooter organised for you?” On arrival to the villa we immediately noticed broken decking and the tiles around the pool all looked cracked. Worse still was when you jumped in the pool there was broken tiles that cut one of my friend’s foot that required stitches. After the first night in the villa one of the couples realised there was a litter of cats who lived above their bedroom. This meant they got little sleep due to the noise. Also air conditioners to bedroom 1 and 2 broke down on day 2 and weren’t fixed until day 4. Basically the villa was very run down and needed lots of maintenance. Most of these issues you would have noticed on an inspection.
On my last visit we went to 6 villas for an inspection and only 2 resembled the photos. The majority were a little tired and lacked maintenance.
Learning 5. Always be 100% honest with your photos, make sure they match the offer you are selling. Never promise a holiday house experience you can’t deliver.
Final Thoughts : I love Bali and it’s people. I will continue to go there because there is so much choice in villas, bars and restaurants. The villas that thrive are the properties that continue to improve their customer service, facilities and have ongoing maintenance.
Our second villa was amazing