This was our first visit to Bali and Aleesha. It was a lengthy process choosing where to stay in a new country, but thanks to tripadvisor we made a good choice. Aleesha Villas & Deluxe Suites is an oasis in bustling Sanur. The property is beautifully landscaped and well-kept considering the challenges that must come with the climate. There are five villas and nine suites, a relatively small property that felt just right. Our villa was clean, spacious, and comfortable. It was amazing to have our own pool, which was the perfect size and temperature. Waking up the first day and opening the sliding doors to the pool was awesome. The staff were all very sweet and helpful. I didn't understand why they were described as discreet until we were there, and then I truly appreciated it.
We chose the Indonesian breakfast each day, which was delicious. Some days it was brought to us prepared, and some days cooked for us in our villa. We also took breakfast at the cafe one morning. The breakfast options include eggs, omelette, pancakes, nasi goreng (fried rice with egg), and mie goreng (fried noodles with egg). All come with toast, fruit, and coffee or tea. We also had lunch at Cafe Aleesha one day and found the food to be quite good.
Aleesha's driver was waiting for us at the airport (arranged in advance and highly recommended). If you are new to Bali or Sanur, I would recommend arriving in daylight hours. Our flight was delayed, and we didn't get to Aleesha until 9pm. The cafe was closed and, since it was dark and we were unfamiliar with the surroundings, we didn't get into town and therefore missed dinner. The next morning, the driver took us into Sanur so we could see the way. It's an easy walk to the main street and the beach; just make sure to pay attention to traffic as it is a one-lane road. There are some lovely properties along the walk. If you are looking for a beachfront property you will have to look elsewhere, but if you are looking to relax in a beautiful setting and don't need to be on the beach, Aleesha is perfect.
The town and beach at Sanur were fun, but we spent most of our leisure time at our private pool and at the main pool. The grounds at Aleesha are so nice we didn't feel the need to leave. On two days, the staff booked us a car and driver. It was nice to have this taken care of and to ensure we had a licensed driver, but I might recommend doing research and hiring your own driver, for two reasons. First, we paid a little more this way (although we were told that this was due to recent price hikes on petrol; you may be able to negotiate if you book directly). Second, the driver seemed to have an agenda. We knew where we wanted to go, but he suggested other stops along the way. On the first day, we agreed to one of these before we saw that he was just looking to take us to somewhere we would spend money and he would receive commission (batik, gold and silver smiths, woodworking, etc). We fell for this and were disappointed. We declined his next several suggestions, which seemed to irritate him. But given the awful traffic in Bali and our limited time there (only five nights), we felt we did not have time to waste. We had heard so many good things about the drivers and were therefore disappointed by this experience. However, we don't hold this against Aleesha. If you hire a driver, you should know where you want to go and where you don't want to go.
This brings me to something about Bali that I also didn't expect. On several occasions, people tried to take advantage of us (taxi drivers and vendors mostly). I had heard that the people are what make Bali so special. This was true of the staff at Aleesha, but not necessarily of the people in general. We are fortunate that we were able to take such an amazing vacation, and we worked hard for it and saved up for it. We realize how truly lucky we are. That does not mean that we should be over-charged for trinkets and taxi fare. I was expecting more of the quiet spirituality and less of the in-your-face hawking. Again, the staff at Aleesha were all amazing and I am only referring to some people outside of Aleesha.You should gauge how much something should cost and whether you're willing to pay what's being asked for it. You can also negotiate. As for taxis, if you take one make sure that you are going with the metered fare. Also, they have a minimum of 20,000 or 25,000 rupiah if you call ahead for the taxi, and fares within Sanur are usually less than this. ATMs are pretty readily available. I would recommend having cash as most places that take credit cards do so with a 2.5% charge (including Aleesha). Small bills are very important (10,000 or less) but also kind of hard to come by. We tried to break our 50,000 bills whenever possible so we would have change. Many restaurants include service charge. We tipped drivers and the women who did our massages, and we left a tip for the staff at the end (no idea if this is the best way to go about it, and not totally sure what the correct amount should be).
But back to Aleesha. We were so glad to have two days to just hang around Sanur and enjoy being at our villa. I would recommend having at least two, but more if possible, days to do this. We got massages twice by the pool. I can't speak for the suites, but the villa is a lovely and restful setting. When you walk in, there is an outdoor area with a kitchen, dining table, living area, pool with lounge chairs, outdoor toilet, and outdoor shower (which we used exclusively). There are two sets of sliding doors leading inside, one by the pool going into the bedroom, and one connecting the outside and inside living areas (love seat and chairs). The bathroom inside is huge, with two sinks, a giant tub, a standalone shower with rain head, and a toilet. Behind the bed are two closets and a vanity. One thing we would have liked is more light to be able to see in the mirror better. There is a TV we never turned on, and a cd player. The inside air conditioning is adequate. There are mosquito repellent supplies under the kitchen sink, but one of the most important things I can recommend is to be prepared yourself. We had a small supply of repellent with us, and we used it all. The mosquitoes were everywhere! After suffering the first night, we took advantage of the supplies and we started making sure lights were off inside and the sliding doors stayed shut. It was much better after that, but if you are prone to being bitten, you should bring yourself an arsenal of deet. :)
Some restaurants have air conditioned rooms, but most are largely open-air. We had a really good meal on the beach in Sanur at a place called Izakaya. We also ate at Three Monkeys Sanur, which was very good (prawn laksa!), and Kayu Manis, which was good but less authentic than I expected. One day for lunch we went to Warung Babi Guling Sanur to try the famous babi guling. Only go there if you have a strong stomach and are willing to eat something without knowing what it is. :) Also in Sanur we went to Rasa Senang, which was pretty good. In Ubud we ate at Mozaic, which was very good and very expensive. One night we went for sunset dinner at Jimbaran Bay, and this was lovely. Our driver took us to his preferred restaurant without asking us, which initially annoyed us but it turned out to be a good pick. It seems you can't go wrong with any of these restaurants as long as there are other people there. We also visited Tanah Lot, which was gorgeous (and crowded), the monkey forest, rice fields, and a temple complex above Ubud with many steps (beautiful). The attractions all have small entrance fees. Even getting to the restaurants in Jimbaran cost us! The traffic was really discouraging to sightseeing, although I could stare out the window all day since there are many beautiful and interesting things to look at in Bali. We had heard the traffic was bad, but we were blown away but just how bad it is.
Anything we needed, we asked the staff and they arranged for us with a smile (including a birthday cake). Evie also left flowers for my partner's birthday. It was a very sweet touch. All in all, Aleesha exceeded our expectations. If we return to Bali, we may want to stay in Ubud for some of the time, but we would definitely return to Aleesha and our lovely Villa Diana. Thanks to Evie and the whole staff for taking good care of us and welcoming us so warmly. I would highly recommend this property.