Would have loved to rate the Villa Passion as excellent, the villa itself certainly deserves it, there were however too many issues and surprises during our stay. We booked via baliluxuryvillas.com for a quiet and romantic getaway. Unfortunately it turned out to be different from what we had hoped for and experienced in previous private villas in Bali.
The positive: Villa Passion is stunning, an absolute gem of a villa, tastefully decorated, beautifully built, fantastic swimming pool and located in the middle of the rice fields north of Ubud. Villa is well equipped, comfortable bed, large seating areas and a gorgeous bathroom. The wow factor we are always looking for is overly present throughout the villa. We immediately fell in love. Definitely all the ingredients for an amazing stay !
However for us there were too many negatives.
The unexpected surprises:
- The villa is being marketed as having a fully equipped kitchen. The fact that you're not supposed to use it yourself is nowhere mentioned (website, booking process, pre-arrival info) until you set foot on the property and numerous indications that it is strictly forbidden to bring your own food or drinks into the villa catch your eye. If you rent a private villa, you will expect to bring your own drinks and snacks, if you want to pay for every single consumption there are plenty 5 star properties in Ubud that offer the same luxury at similar prices.
- The villa supposedly comes with a full staff. However the steep rent you pay for the villa apparently doesn't pay their salaries, as along with the "no outside food" comes the mention that every drink or bite you consume comes with a 7% service tax which is "a part of the salary off the villa staff". We are very happy to give generous tips if we feel quality of food and service deserve it, however to have a dedicated staff around you every day and been given the feeling that you need to consume the villa's, at least for Bali, exorbitantly priced drinks and meals, made us feel very uncomfortable. If you rent a villa with staff, the service the staff provides should be included in the rent, and food should come at cost price.
- The villa manager is very inexperienced, speaks poor English (probably more directed at the mainly French clientele) and as a result was not very effective in organising outside services (drivers, trips, etc.). His presence felt very intrusive. The cook managed perfectly well on his day of and made us feel very much at home, whereas during his presence we felt like trespassers.
- The kitchen is located in the middle of the seating area. Not a good idea if you want to offer your guests a romantic experience. Unfortunately before, during and after meals staff (after dinner 3 of them) are hoovering about the kitchen, at times speaking rather loud to each other, as such completely spoiling privacy, let alone romance.
- Breakfast was mediocre at best. Cold toast, cold, undercooked and massively thick pancakes, tiny portions of scrambled egg. We ended up re-toasting the bread ourselves and bought extra croissants in a French bakery in town. For a villa that has French influences breathing through, I suggest they stick to baguette and croissants and leave the "American breakfast" to chain or budget hotels. Or give the guests a choice!
- Dinner choices are limited, but the cook (a very lovely and sweet lady) did her best to cook the Indonesian dishes we asked for. Prices are however more than double from what we paid in other villa's and that is even before having extra tax added.
- The villa has a beautiful spa in one of the lower rice fields. The villa manager arranged a massage. The ladies that showed up admitted to having never been before, being "a friend of a friend", we even had to show them the way to the spa. It turns out the villa hires freelance massage therapists. We expect trusted, experienced and knowledgeable massage therapists for 500.000 IDR. If not, there are plenty massage salons that operate at a fraction of the price.
- Other than the pictures suggest Villa Passione is no longer a free standing villa. A house is being built immediately adjacent to the pool- and living areas. Throughout our stay there was a constant noise of building going on just outside the compound wall accompanied by the smell and smoke of burning debris. Along with the noise came a number of builders who were regularly standing above the compound wall and staring straight onto our terrace and pool. Again, not a good idea if you insist on providing your guests a romantic experience. Obviously you can't prevent your neighbour to built, if however we had been informed of the construction prior to our arrival, we would have chosen another villa. Fair enough, after our second complaint (the first one to the villa manager was completely ignored) the owner kindly offered to change villas. Since it was nearly the end of our stay and we didn't feel like packing up for just one day, we declined.
We did address Bali Luxury Villas agency with most of our complaints, we received an email in response. For us too late, hopefully they will take our comments on, so next guests can benefit.
In the end we did have a nice enough stay in Villa Passion. As said, it's an absolute gem. We did bring in our own drinks and snacks (no one objected), but we also felt troubled by doing so. Not a feeling one needs while on holiday.