We spent 5 days at Saman Villas in February 2013, after 4 days at the Oberoi Grand in hectic Kolkata, another 5 star accommodation.
Be ready, this is a rather long review!
Before our trip started, I had 2 unanswered emails: one I sent shortly after booking (in November/December) about the wifi and the other, a few days before our arrival about being picked up from the airport. I ended up using the Contact link on the website to ask about the transport and finally got an answer.
The chauffeur was waiting for us at the airport, as promised, and offered us some cold towels and drinks when we got in the air conditioned car.
I will not dwell on the fantastic pool and accommodation (which we loved by the way) and will concentrate instead on things rarely mentioned by other reviewers. I appreciate that the review will come across as negative but this is actually not intended. It is unfortunate for Saman Villas that we stayed at the Oberoi just before, but I feel that it is important to highlight where there is room for improvement.
The service was very good but was not as "polished" as that of the Oberoi the staff was very pleasant and polite but I feel that they sometimes did not really know what to do or say. When we enquired about the price of a tuck tuck to go to Bentota, the receptionist just told us to go down and ask the tuck tuck drivers. I feel that the receptionists should know the answer to such questions as Bentota is too far to walk to. When guests left the pool, the towels on the sunbeds were not replaced.
To their credit, the staff really do their best to make good what has gone wrong but I feel that they should work on preventing things from going wrong in the first place. Twice at lunch time, we tried to order the avocado salad from the menu just to be told that there was no avocado (there was avocado in the evening though). Similarly, my scrub at the spa meant to include a flower bath but, again, this was not possible on that day (there were apparently no flowers). On both occasions, the items were on the menu, which is disappointing.
There are some very nice touches, such as the champagne and fruit basket on arrival, the 15-min complimentary massage (foot massage but can be changed to something else) and the beautifully made beds. I also found it great to have a kid-free hotel.
I had a body scrub at the spa. The setting is beautiful and relaxing. I would have found it helpful to have the sequence of events explained before the treatment; after the bath, the therapist told me that the treatment was finished and that I needed to get dressed, only to come rushing in the changing room with a bottle of cream that she dabbled on my back, legs and arms and rushed to apply, with me standing up. When I returned to the bedroom and read again about the treatment, I found out that the cream was probably the avocado and aloe vera cream that should have been applied on the whole body, not standing up in the changing room but on a treatment bed! I thought at the time that something was missing but could not ask as the therapist did not really speak English and I did not speak Sinhalese. This was, in retrospect, disappointing.
The wifi is rather patchy and slow and certainly did not work at all in our room (16, even though it is very close to the main building)
The food was on the whole excellent and copious (we ended up sharing most dishes after the first day!). The quantity and quality of the food however varied. After having a delicious muesli two days in a row, on the third day, it had much less yoghurt and fresh fruits. Also, at breakfast, we were sometimes given the set menu, sometimes the a la carte menu and sometimes both menus.
If you need a tuck tuck, ask reception to call Charlie. He knows the whole area, is very friendly and speaks good English.
The staff are supposedly not allowed to linger around waiting for tips and instead the guests can leave a bigger tip on departure that is to be distributed between the staff. I like the idea but I think that the bigger tip should be shared between named staff; this is difficult though as the staff do not wear name tags. Also, despite the rule of not lingering, a couple of them did so.
Contrary to some reviewers, I did not think that the food was overly expensive, considering the quality and quantity. We also did not encounter any creepy crawlies in our bedroom or bathroom (the insect burning coils that are placed in the bathroom and balcony must be working).
All in all, we had a very enjoyable stay at Saman Villas but I think that it is behind the likes of Oberoi when it comes to service, mainly.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Saman Villas is laid out on a magnificent rocky headland dividing two long, surf-swept golden beaches. Close by is a sleepy fishing village but you would not know it, the only sounds are sea gulls' cries and the surf below. The resort is inspired by ancient Sri Lankan architecture. The restaurants, bars and villa suites are all angled to take full advantage of the sea shore vista either side of the headland. A terraced garden draws the eye to a dramatic infinity-edge pool. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Saman Villas Hotel Bentota
- Saman Hotel Aturuwella
- Saman Resort Aturuwella