Bali and Berchtesgaden: W Retreat Bali Seminyak

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest

I was a bit torn as to where to stay in Bali the last two nights. I’ve stayed at the Grand Hyatt and while it’s reasonably nice, I’d rather try something new. Hilton has the Conrad which looks nice, though I’d prefer to wait till I’m HHonors Diamond courtesy of the Citi Hilton Reserve Card before staying there. Starwood has the St. Regis, Westin, Laguna Resort, and W. The St. Regis was outrageously expensive and the Westin and Laguna Resort get pretty bad reviews. The W was available on Cash & Points for $150 plus 8,000 per night, given that it’s a category six hotel. While that’s by no means cheap, it was better than paying the revenue rate of $400+ per night, so I decided on that. I should also mention that there’s a Westin, Sheraton, and Le Meridien opening in Bali in the next year, which I’m very excited to try once they open. I’m especially excited about the Westin, given that it’s in Ubud, an area of Bali I’d really like to stay in.

Anyway, we booked a car from the InterContinental to the W for ~$16USD, and it took about an hour. The W is located in Seminyak, which is maybe on the opposite side of the airport as the InterContinental.

The entryway to the hotel must be half a mile long, though I wasn’t able to grab a picture of it. This resort also had the most serious (or serious looking?) security, with metal detectors, a gate, and agents that performed mirror checks under the car.

Once we arrived at the resort we were welcomed and directed to the open air lobby for check-in, where we were asked to take a seat.

Hotel driveway

The lobby was stunning. I don’t think any pictures I’ve seen of the place do it justice.


At check-in we were helped by a friendly associate that acknowledged my Platinum status and informed us we had been upgraded to a “Spectacular Ocean Facing Retreat.” It’s worth noting that the hotel only has a few suites, so Platinum upgrades beyond that are very rare. The associate also offered us our choice of Platinum amenities, and we selected breakfast, which would be served in Fire Restaurant between 6:30AM and 10:30AM.

Check-in desk

Concierge desk




We were directed to the elevator, which took us to our room on the 4th floor. While the resort as a whole is beautifully designed (in my opinion) the actual floors with guest rooms seemed a bit “bare” to me.

4th floor

Our room was 428, located at the end of the hallway on the left side.


The room numbers are written on rocks attached to a rope and while it looks nice, I can’t say it’s the most practical system.

Room 428

The room was really nice, with a king W Signature Bed, desk, and couch.

W Signature Bed

Next to the bed was some bug spray, which was surprisingly enough free (hey, hotels love to nickel and dime).

Bug spray


I hate couches in hotel rooms with two seats, given that they’re not long enough to lay down on and not big enough to comfortably seat two people trying to have a conversation. So I was happy to see a larger “L” shaped couch in this room.


There was also a small welcome amenity of sweets — nice touch!

Welcome amenity

Back towards the entrance was the minibar and bathroom.

Minibar snacks


Minibar area

The highlight of the room was no doubt the shower, which featured double sinks and a massive shower with enclosed bath tub. While I usually prefer enclosed showers (as I’ve ranted about in regards to the W Santiago), in this case the shower was impressive enough so that it wasn’t even a negative.




There were also some rubber frogs in the bathroom — perhaps competition for the rubber ducks in the Lufthansa First Class Terminal?

Rubber frogs

The bathroom was stocked with Bliss toiletries.

Bliss toiletries

The toilet was separated from the rest of the bathroom and had a pretty creepy/cool decoration at the top.


“Please take your time, I enjoy watching”

The room also had a very nice balcony overlooking the resort and ocean.


Decorations on window



View from balcony

View from balcony

The one confusing aspect of the room was that the website listed it as being 689 feet. I can’t imagine it was even half that big. Come to think of it, I guess that’s in line with how everyone else exaggerates… never mind!

The resort grounds were all beautiful as well, though at times I felt like there was more style than substance. For example they had several layers of water, and at times I didn’t know whether they were pools or just decorative bodies of water, since it seemed like some were and some weren’t.

Lobby overlooking pool and ocean

View of pool and ocean from lobby




Pool (and decorative body of water on top… maybe?)

Decorative body of water… I think?


While the hotel is on the water, the ocean isn’t really swimmable in this area, so I saw very few people actually in the ocean or on the beach. They did have some sand towards the back of the resort just short of the actual beach.


“W” sign by ocean

The hotel also has a nice gym with plenty of modern equipment, and it’s open 24 hours a day.



The Platinum breakfast was in Fire Restaurant, and the spread was fantastic. The weather was very nice both mornings and we could sit outside and hear the ocean while enjoying breakfast.

Restaurant seating

Restaurant seating

Nice seating, eh?

I’ll simply say the breakfast was spectacular. I mean, they even had chocolate cake for breakfast. Chocolate cake. For breakfast. Let’s just say I made up for all those times growing up when my mom told me I couldn’t have a cookie before dinner.

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Breakfast spread

Now, with the obvious stuff out of the way, let me share a few more thoughts. First of all, I like the location of this hotel. Seminyak has a lot of great dining options and attractions only a few minutes from the hotel, so it’s much more “lively” than Jimbaran Bay.

Next, this is physically truly beautiful resort. That being said, it could have been in Cabo, Phuket, Mallorca, or Laguna Beach, and I wouldn’t have known the difference. The hotel had as much substance as an episode of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” I know a lot of people like to attack me for not staying at “local” hotels, but the fact is that I think a lot of chain hotels are able to integrate local culture into the hotel experience. The InterContinental, for example, has incredibly friendly, sincere, and authentic service, and you get a sense of pride from the employees in sharing their “community” with you.

I realize it sounds like I’m about to rip apart the employees, but that’s not the case. They were all exceedingly polite… within the typical “W” structure. Let me step back for a second. If I weren’t a full time blogger or pilot, I’d love to work in the hotel industry. And one of the things that fascinates me the most about large hotel chains entering new markets is how they train local employees who have (most likely) never stayed at a hotel before on what their brand stands for and what kind of an experience they want to deliver to guests. Especially for more unique brands like W, Andaz, Aman, etc.

In my opinion the service at this resort was what you’d expect from W. The employees were all hip, cool, and helpful, though didn’t give off the genuine vibe I feel at the InterContinental, for example. The reason I love Bali so much is because of the people, as I find them to be among the friendliest and most genuine in the world. While the employees here were friendly, I can’t say they were genuine. After all, W calls their employees “talent,” and acting doesn’t involve being yourself.

So I realize I’m rambling, but let me try to sum it up in a sentence — the W is beautiful and the employees are friendly, but the resort really doesn’t deliver “Balinese hospitality.” That’s not to say I wouldn’t return for a night or two to relax, but I certainly wouldn’t spend the majority of a Bali vacation here.

  1. Great review. This is exactly the kind of hotel I would want to avoid in Bali. It actually looks a lot like a hotel I stayed in some years ago in Gavi near Barcelona.

    The W hotel chain truly beams “style over substance”.

    While I have not stayed at the St. Regis in Bali, we hung out on Geger beach right in front of the SR for a few days. Stunning beach.

  2. You’ve never heard Bill Cosby’s routine about getting chocolate cake for breakfast, have you.

  3. @ Coalharbour — Yep!

    @ John — Interestingly enough this is the first W I’ve stayed at that didn’t have an intimacy kit.

  4. Lucky you define exactly the way I feel about the W lots of style but at a price level where you should expect more substance especially in Asia and more so in Bali.
    I am young and understand how attractive the concept is but yet I always feel like I am not getting what I paid for at hotels like the W (or other similar places).

  5. But did you really expect Balinese hospitality? I mean, each to his own, but you stay in a Western chain, far removed from the reality of Balinese life, with Western amenities, Western minibar, Western breakfast …

    Respecfully Ben, if you want local, you have to learn to ignore the international chains. You won’t get Pringles in the minibar at a local hotel, and no one will give a damn which credit cards you hold, but you will see more of the world.

  6. Ben. The lack of intimacy kit makes sense. While Bali is an island predominantly Hindu in its religious orientation, it is still part of Indonesia, which is the largest Musllim country in the world. As such, laws and customs in Bali are reflective of this reality. Drug use and any form of pornography are serious crimes there…as are another handful of other issues that would not provoke similar criminal prosecution in the West.

  7. But they sell condoms in Muslim countries, so not sure why a condom in a hotel aimed at Western tourists would have local old women clutching at their pearl necklaces…

  8. I completely agree with Martyn above – there is absolutely nothing wrong with staying at the Western chain hotels in these places but to equate it (or to expect) an authentic “local” experience from these stays is, with all due respect, just fooling yourself IMO.

  9. If you’re still in Chile, I imagine you’re seeing more chocolate cake (along with pies, cookies, and other U.S. dessert items) for breakfast. My experience there has always been that the breakfast spreads look like U.S. dessert carts. (Though like you say above, not necessarily a bad thing if you’re looking to spoil yourself on vacation.)

  10. I think many times “local flavor” is over rated. I don’t mind a nice “local restaurant” or a show or a trip to see the local attractions but when it comes to hotels, I prefer a western style hotel with a/c, clean reliable showers and clean amenities. I disagree that Western style hotels cannot deliver some of the native experience via decor, food, staff, etc. You can always take a tour out of the resort and see the other part of life on the island.

  11. I think W brand makes you feel you are always in Vegas. No matter where you are you have that sense that all is fake. If I am in Bali I want to feel I am in Bali. No W for me.

  12. @ Martyn @ JettyBoy — The way I look at it, there are some hotels that train their employees to provide genuine hospitality true to their culture, slightly modified to fit the hotel brand. What I love about Bali (and not just the hotels, but the people on the streets as well) is how friendly and sincere they are. I find that at the InterContinental that same level of genuine/sincere hospitality is apparent.

    However, at the W I suspect they were trained to be more “cool,” and I didn’t quite see that as much.

    So while I’m not saying the InterContinental is an “authentic” experience, I do believe you can get some/much of the service culture of a country in a western hotel.

  13. I never saw a bug (cockroach) spray in a hotel. Why did they do this? Seems like they have some small problems. At tripadvisor you can find Reviews were guests had rats IN their room. What is your opinion about that?

  14. When we went to Bali, we split our stay between the St. Regis and the Amandari. The W looks nice, but I agree that thedecor is not at all Balinese. One can stay at a western hotel/resort and experience Bali, but it requires getting out of the hotel with a guide. The cost is minimal, so there is no reason not to do it.

  15. I have to say, the hotel looks amazingly designed – but I think I agree with a lot of your readers with regard to staying at the international chain hotels in search of anything authentic at all. Of course, there are exceptions – but generally the chains are managed by foreigners, cater almost entirely to foreigners, and contribute very little to the local economy other than low wage jobs. There is, of course, a place for them and those contributions – but seeing photos of large swimming pools, huge buffets, and big screen televisions in a country where half of the population lives on less than $2 a day (according to the U.N.) seems as far from authentic as one could get.

  16. Why are people talking about hospitality and not the fact that THERE’S A GODDAMN HONEYCOMB dripping honey into a stainless slide which delivers the honey into a serving dish??!?!

  17. @ jetaway No, they kill their bees with the bug spray (… or the guests kill the bees) šŸ˜‰

  18. Some things I agree with and some not so much. On my honeymoon last year we had planned to split our stay between the St. Regis and the W. Needless to say, the St. Regis was the most exquisite, elegant, personally inviting and impeccably kept resort/hotel I have EVER seen! As for the W, well, I can’t say all the same. The property is stunning – don’t get me wrong – but I think that’s where the positives ended for me. The beach was sub-par, and the staff and overall attitude of the property went along perfectly with the W mentality. I think everyone there was just “too cool to be bothered” with anything. As a result, before I even got to a room I moved my stay to the Laguna. Certainly no St. Regis, but still one of my Bali highlights! Just goes to show – you can’t ALWAYS trust the reviews šŸ˜‰

  19. “Daddy’s great, givin’ us chocolate cake!” – Bill Cosby

    Um, looks nice, but I’ll stay local, in Seminyak, thank you very much.


  20. @Lane – Hahah. “Does it have eggs? Does it have flour? Then it’s breakfast! Just don’t tell your mother.”

  21. I just came back from Bali, and spent 3 nights at “Le Meridien Jimbaran”. There were only a few guests in the hotel, since it will not officially open until late January 2013.
    I enjoyed my stay, the staff was helpful in organizing some day-trips.

    Good SPG recognition: I was granted a Lagoon view room and SPG points.

    The pool is really nice, and the room has a ‘rain shower’ and a separate bathtub.

    The breakfast buffet is delicious but expensive (338000 rupiah, about USD35). I tried it once, then had breakfast at the nearby ‘Grind & Grocer’ at Jimbaran Corner mall.

    Internet is free but Wifi is really slow, and I had almost no signal in the room. It was a bit better on the terrace.

  22. Just saying, hotel security in Indonesia is ridiculously tight – in the capital they check your glovebox, baggage, hood, center console and practically any place you can put a bomb in. They also have dogs at times.

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