We recently traveled to Bali/Lombok/Gili Islands for a two week honeymoon holiday, and we decided to cap off the adventure with a stay in a romantic, secluded Beach Cabana in Benoa. This hotel and the Benoa/Nusa Dua area was completely the wrong choice for us and from the moment we walked into the Novotel Bali Benoa, to the moment we left, our stay was little short of a nightmare.
We arrived at 1pm, tired after a long taxi ride from Seminyak, and were barely greeted upon entering the hotel. I am an Accor Advantage Plus member, and even though there is a desk reserved for AAP members, it took 20 minutes before we even got to talk to a customer service representative. Upon check-in, we were basically presented with a list of exclusions for the hotel, which is a really super way to greet your guests, especially if they are on their honeymoon (as we were, and as I specified in my email to the hotel even before we landed in Bali). We were also made to wait almost an hour before a room was ready for us, despite the fact that we arrived around 1:30pm, which in 90F heat with humidity, is not exactly pleasant.
I came to Benoa to relax, and our treatment by the front desk staff was not conducive to relaxation. Despite informing the hotel a month in advance that this was a honeymoon trip, we were placed in a Beach Cabana that was adjacent to the pool and the major walkway between the Lobby and the pool/beach area. This meant that people walking next to our Cabana could theoretically see into the room if we had the shutters open and into the sunken bathtub area. So much for privacy!
I mentioned this to the staff shortly after we checked in, and she imperiously informed me that the hotel was fully booked for that night but that they could switch us to a different cabana tomorrow. I said OK. She also tried to UPSELL me to the Beach Villa for an additional $150 USD, which I declined as I was already not very impressed with the hotel from the start. When we went to switch rooms the second day, we were put in a Cabana two doors down from our original one, and the entire place REEKED of smoke. It was completely unsanitary and disgusting. I thought I was going to choke.
The Front Desk woman had told me that we were going to be moved to the last Cabana of the row, which was the most private, but she neglected to tell me that the family in that Cabana had arranged for late check-out that day, and as they were planning rooms, they were going to keep the room until 6pm. We had plans on the other side of the island that necessitated us leaving the hotel around 3pm, but we were not able to leave until 4:30 because of the uncertainty of where we were going to move and if we could shower in the temporary (and very smoky) Cabana. In the end, we showered, packed our bags, and left the front desk with instructions to please move our bags to the new Cabana when the other party vacated. Our bags were moved when we arrived back at the hotel after 10pm, which was the one thing that went smoothly during our entire 3 days there.
Getting back to the conditions of the hotel, the Novotel Bali Benoa is really showing its age. I don't know about the regular/garden rooms, but the Beach Cabanas are quite dated. Everything is very tattty - paint in the bathroom is chipped, wood looks old, certain cabanas reek of smoke (what kind of hotel allows guests to smoke in their rooms? Isn't this 2012?), and the bathroom fixtures look worn. We were told that the beach in Benoa is one of the best on the island, but I beg to differ, as the stretch of beach in front of the Novotel was nothing to write home about, and certainly not relaxing, with Jet Skis and banana boats cruising all day long. Plus, there is little about the place that is Balinese. I could have been in Cancun or anywhere in Australia lying on the beach loungers with all the oiled up fat foreigners. We were certainly not in Ubud anymore.
Yet another source of irritation for us during our trip was the extensive list of exclusions we were presented with upon arrival. For example, because I used my Accor complimentary voucher for one night of the hotel, we were not entitled to the buffet breakfast for one of our mornings. I thought this was rather bogus, but the hotel rep suggested that we order breakfast using the Accor discount. On the subsequent morning, we ordered Continental breakfasts in the room. We specifically asked to sign for the breakfast bill and were told "No, it's your honeymoon so we're not charging you." I thought this was nice, if a little weird, and let it go.
The next morning, upon arriving to the hotel's buffet breakfast, we were told by the restaurant staff who told us that we would have to pay for breakfast. At 8:30am, this is not how you want to be greeted during your last day on the island. I politely told the restaurant staff that they were mistaken, that we were told to pay for the first day's breakfast (which we tried to do) and that the lady at the front desk specifically told me that the second day's breakfast would be complimentary. I ended up having to go to the front desk TWICE to clarify this situation, without being able to sit down and touch my breakfast, which obviously only added insult to injury. In the end, I was told that we would have to pay for breakfast the second day because the first day I could not use my Accor discount on room service food (so ridiculous).
The buffet food itself was OK, the selection was extensive but the quality of food was not as good as breakfast at many of the smaller boutique hotels/villas that we stayed at. With all of the guests milling around, it definitely felt as if we were on a cruise ship at times. They even stage a mock "night market" on Saturday night...for guests that have no desire to find out what Bali is really like. Seriously?
The cherry on top of this three-day fiasco was this - despite asking the front desk repeatedly to itemize our bill and show us exactly what we were being charged, we came to the front desk to check out before we had to leave for the airport, and were asked to pay for the day use of the room. This was BOGUS, as we had specifically been told by a woman at the front desk earlier that same day that they would comp the day use of the room after we had to move Cabanas TWICE. She told me that she specifically requested it from the Hotel's GM, so why would this show up on our bill? I promptly asked the front desk to remove it, and they did. I was not about to pay Accor $25 for a few hours use of their tatty Cabana after all the hassle their staff put us through.
I want to say that in general, the staff (bellboys, concierge, kitchen staff, pool staff, etc.) were extremely kind and gracious. What really made me angry and could have ruined a completely fantastic and relaxing vacation was the total rudeness and disorganization of the
staff at the Front Desk/Accor Advantage Member desk. Do you regularly treat guests like this? Is it because we were a relatively young couple compared to the other families with children and you think we can be pushed around? I'm not sure what accounted for the behavior of the Front Office staff, that after two weeks in Bali/Lombok/Gili Islands, it was made for an extremely unpleasant stay.
We spent two entire weeks in bali, and stayed in seven different hotels/B&Bs/Villas. The Novotel Bali Benoa was by FAR the worst value for quality, and certainly in terms of service.
Our experience at this hotel left an extremely poor taste in my mouth, and I know that I will now avoid massive resort hotels like the plague. Despite being an Accor club member, I'm dubious that I will ever return to an Accor hotel again after this experience. Extremely disappointed, I would not recommend, unless you want to come to Bali and feel as if you're at any other beach resort in the world. As for me, I'll stick to the more interesting, non-cruise ship-like parts of the island and stay in smaller hotels where the staff do not make the end of one's honeymoon a nightmare.
If you do not like smokey rooms, be sure to mention this to the Front Desk upon check-in or else the...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.