We stayed at Joe's over Christmas 2011 and were looking forward to some serious relaxation and a place to enjoy a family reunion of the holiday period. We were a party of 6 adults and 2 children, so had booked the main 4 bed bungalow and one of the two villas. We were prepared for road noise (most places that end of Unawatuna are on the main Galle road and buses and trucks honk their horns a lot in Sri Lanka - nothing that can be done about that so pack ear plugs if you think it will bother you) but not for the construction on the beach. The authorities had knocked down the property wall just before we arrived (for reasons we never really understood) and a digger worked for 3 days of our 6 day stay clearing it. Not the property's fault but it meant there was no safe way for the kids to access the beach other than us throwing them down. also the noise was pretty horrible our those days.
As a general review:
Mahesh - the property's cook and main fixer. Totally made our trip, nothing was too much trouble from arranging a feast for breakfast and evening meal, preparing food for the kids and his amazing flour less chocolate cake to helping us hire a van for sightseeing, sorting the laundry and much more. There are lots of places to eat in the area but do let Mahesh cook you up a treat at least one night - you won't be disappointed! Mahesh gets a seperate 5* vote - he's excellent!
Location - once the digger departed, it was quiet enough, away from the hordes, great garden to watch the sunset from and a jump down the beach for a swim. The kids (and the rest of us!) loved watching the resident chipmunks go about their business from dawn until dusk.
Space - as we had the whole bungalow, we really had the run of the place, the bedrooms were big enough, especially the one bed villa which was really nice. The garden is lovely and there is a big outdoor sitting and dinning room with a table for 10.
General upkeep - ok, Sri Lanka is a developing country but this place was not budget so things like air-con not working, toilets leaking, mosquito nets showing signs of previous squashings, general cleanliness all indicate that more attention needs to be given to this part of the business. Mahesh was run off his feet trying to look after our party and the other two families staying in the property - a housekeepeer to clean and keep on top of in addition / as support is a must as these issues were not resolved during our stay and really did take the shine off the good bits.
Items not working - neither the hot tub nor the wifi were working during our stay. not sure why.
Access to the beach - hopefully this will improve but when we were there, we had to climb over rubble to get to the beach.
Unwanted visitors - on Christmas Day a group of day trippers turn up with the intention of hanging out at the property. They were linked somehow with the owners or investors in the place and fancied a day at the beach. This was annoying as we'd payed for the use of the facilities - having specifically booked the place for our own use. A phone call to the management sorted things out and they eventualy left but it was unpleasant for a while and shouldn't have happened in the first place. If you hire out the property, you should understand you won't be able to rock up with a group of mates to hang out there.
We brought our issues to the attention of the property manager and he did recompense us for our trouble, and Mahesh and his food and careful attention certainly made up for a lot of the small irritations. I want to say I'd come back again, it ceretainly has great potential, but I'm just not sure.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Joe's Bungalow is a privately owned beach bungalow with 4 double rooms in the main house and 2 seperate villas. The whole property can accomodate 12 people. Situated on Unawatuna the beach, the property has a large garden and jacuzzi for guests. No food is included in the room rate but we provide a cook who can prepare meals. Rates are $200 for the bungalow (4 double rooms) per night and $50 per villa per night. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Joe`s Bungalow Hotel Unawatuna