Puri Gangga Resort – Ubud, Bali – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Puri Gangga Resort is nestled among the gently rolling rice fields of Sebatu, Bali. With nothing more than verdant greenery and the chattering of birds surrounding it, the hotel is a haven of peace after the madding crowds of Ubud. Sebatu village is quiet and non-touristy and the hotel itself promotes the traditional Balinese philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana,” which translates as living in harmony between human and human; human and environment and human with the spiritual sense.
The hotel has just opened in October 2013 and much needs to be addressed still. The reception area is cramped and basic, although there is a beautiful stone wall mural just beside it. A small flight of steps leads into the rest of the property. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding rice fields, the rooms too are on ascending levels, reached by charming rough-hewn stone pathways, while stone sculptures can be found all through the property. Not only do the differing levels adhere aesthetically to the natural environment, they also afford a measure of privacy to each room.
The Puri Gangga is a boutique 20-room property, although only 12 rooms are operational as of now. The room categories are classified as Deluxe rooms, Suite rooms, Garden rooms and two Pool Villas. The intention here is to give guests as much of a look and feel of traditional Balinese architecture as possible, and so tables and chairs are of smooth, unpainted wood offset by homespun fabrics in bright colours, while the roof is made of interwoven palm leaves supported on bamboo frames.
Without a doubt, the rooms are extremely tastefully done up. The ceiling is the traditional Balinese high-vaulted style, with intricately woven Sirap leaves on bamboo frames, while the bed is a traditional four poster complete with old-style mosquito netting. All the modern amenities are in place, such as TV, minibar, tea/coffee maker and suchlike. There is a separate dressing area with wardrobes. The bathroom is rather charming with a standing shower and sunken bath; it’s not an open bathroom concept but has a large sheet of glass that gives on to glorious views of the rice terraces. All the rooms have balconies that overlook the rice fields and palm trees.
Walking around the resort is in itself therapeutic, as you are surrounded by a landscape of flowering frangipani and cempaka, and the coconut and jackfruit trees. Nonetheless, recreational options include a spa, small swimming pool which is charmingly situated amid swaying coconut palms and Balinese sculptures and the Moya Yoga centre which is not fully operational yet. Early morning yoga lessons are complimentary. The spa offers two semi-open treatment rooms. The therapies themselves use Indonesian herbs and spices designed for a total wellbeing experience. The massages are quite expensive though and rather optimistically priced at IDR 600,000 for an hour when compared to prices in Ubud.
The hotel also has plans to organise some entertainment activities such as rice paddy trekking, yoga lessons, making Balinese Canang sarees and coconut leaf weaving.
F&B is limited to the 60-seater Kailasha restaurant, overlooking the pool as well as the paddy fields below. Room service is possible until 10pm.
Being a new hotel, the Puri Gangga has many teething problems to overcome before it can be in a position to welcome guests. Being hospitable is the very essence of the hospitality industry and this is something the Puri Gangga needs to wrap its mind firmly around. Service is definitely lackadaisical, at front office as well as F&B; staff training is lacking. The food area needs major improvement as also an urgent attention to hygiene. Bathroom amenities should include moisturiser; indeed, this is now standard practice for hotels. The shuttle service to town is a welcome idea, however, it’s not always on time. Besides, with such few guests as the hotel can accommodate in its current state of readiness, one would think they would be a bit more friendly and inclined to help should a guest request for a change in timing. It is also in poor form for a hotel to haggle on taxi prices with its guests; there should be a fixed amount which is reasonable rather than inflated.
Local attractions to visit within reasonable distance of the Puri Gangga Resort would be Ubud itself; the ancient Hindu temple, Gunung Kawi, which is on the way to the hotel; the Mount Kintamani volcano; the Luwak coffee farm (one of the most expensive coffees of the world) and the paddy fields.
The Puri Gangga Resort is at least two hours away from Ngurah Rai airport, given the condition of the roads as also the incessant traffic. Most major airlines fly in to this airport. For getting to Subatu, you can either be adventurous and take an airport taxi at IDR 300,000 (USD 30) and wait for the free hotel shuttle service at the palace which is the centre of Ubud and where all the hotel shuttle cars come to, or else ask the hotel for an airport transfer at IDR 350,000 (USD35) You will save much time and stress were you to opt for the latter option. The hotel provides a shuttle service to Ubud centre at various times through the day; the journey usually takes close to half an hour. If you would like to take a taxi from Sebatu to Ubud, the price will be IDR 100,000 (USD 10.) Ubud is not near the sea; if it’s the seaside you’re looking for then Kuta, the most popular tourist beach, is about two hours away.
PURI GANGGA RESORT
TEL: +62 361 902222
FAX: +62 361 901077