After my fun stay at the Grand Mirage capped off my previous trip to Bali, the same company that owns the Grand Mirage invited me to come check out their brand new sister property. Samabe hopes to take the all-inclusive concept so popular at Grand Mirage and brings it to the luxury level. After living for a month in a hut with cold saltwater showers, I’m sure it will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that I practically set my keyboard afire typing my positive reply.
I had been surprised to find how much I enjoyed the all-inclusive experience at Grand Mirage — my friends and I have been looking into doing a Caribbean version next summer. However, while they both sit in the same area of Nusa Dua, Samabe is not about bringing affordable boozy fun to the masses like The Grand Mirage was. This is a serious luxury resort with a price tag to match. While Limited Privileges plans are available, the resort offers an enticing All Inclusive program with wow-worthy benefits like included meals, signature activities, return airport transfers and unlimited laundry. Could this newly opened resort live up to its own hype?
Samabe is made up of two restaurants, two bars, an infinity pool, a private beach, and less than 80 rooms, giving it a quiet and exclusive feel. Samabe is built on a cliff and therefore ocean views are everywhere — as a tradeoff, getting down to the beach will make you feel like you just weathered a workout on the Stairmaster. The property is peppered with one and two bedroom Ocean Pool Villas as well as two buildings made up of Ocean Suites — with the first floor suites featuring private pools. While the Villas are obviously the more private and pricier option, I loved that the suites were no sacrifice — in fact, they were closer to the water and offered better views!
The resort was still under a “soft open” at the time of our visit and was only at about 40% capacity. Still, there were times when we felt we had the entire place to ourselves.
We were reminded of the property’s cliff side real estate several times daily, when parasailers passed by overhead.
When the door opened to our One Bedroom Ocean Pool Suite, we ran around like kids who gained forbidden access to the Diet Coke cooler (and all the delicious caffeine that comes with it.) This was the largest hotel suite I had ever been in and I remarked to Anders that it was larger than most New York City apartments. We both agreed that we’d be perfectly happy living the rest of our lives in that room.
One thing we loved about Grand Mirage carried over to Samabe — all guests, even those on Limited Privileges, enjoy a daily free-flow of non-alcoholic drinks and free access to the mini bar. We both couldn’t help but feel like billionaires every time we grabbed something from that dang mini bar, though I was a little surprised that at a luxury resort they stocked Bali Hai over Bintang.
I felt like I was back on a luxury cruise because no matter where we looked in the room, we saw water. There are two layouts for the suites, and we were in the “separate living room” version — I highly recommend this layout for families who might appreciate the separate spaces and the extra half bath. I was able to tour both styles however and I preferred the style of the studio rooms for a couple — it has a larger balcony, a larger dressing area, and a more modern design.
Of course we were most excited about having our own private pool. However in the end we barely used it — the pools all sit in shade for the entire day and have no heaters, which leaves them icy cold. We forced ourselves to go in for one obligatory dip but ended up jumping out moments later. If I were to return to Samabe I wouldn’t go for the upgrade to a pool suite — we really never used it.
Samabe has two restaurants, Crystal Blue Ocean Grill and Rempah Rempah. The food at Samabe could only be described as gourmet — it really was one of the highlights of our stay.
For those with Limited Privileges, breakfast is included either at Rempah Rempah or via room service and can be taken at any time of day — a nice bonus for late sleepers. We were on the All Inclusive Program, however, and so we were able to eat anytime, anywhere.
Rempah Rempah is the main dining room and will eventually serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At the time of our visit it was open for breakfast and dinner, both of which we tested thoroughly. Breakfast featured both an a la carte menu and a beautifully presented buffet that included sushi, oysters, a chocolate fountain and exotic local fruits. My favorite touch was the vitamin juice sampler that was delivered each morning in a line of shot glasses.
Crystal Blue is the resort’s more upscale, fine dining restaurant. As opposed to a typical dining room, Crystal Blue features a series of private verandahs, so each table has an intimate, private-party feel. The food here blew us away — every single thing we tried was fresh, outstanding, and creatively presented. Portions were petite, which we appreciated — we were able to have appetizers, entrees, cocktails and desserts without feeling ridiculously gluttonous. I was able to compliment the Scottish-born head chef in person and he told us he was in the process of designing a whole new menu, which I’m sure will be fantastic.
Granted, the menu was heavily seafood based but I was able to find dishes that pleased my no-fish palette. I must note that I was disappointed to see foie gras on the menu in a few places, and requested my dishes without it.
Samabe also has two nice details for those that love to eat. One is an indulgent afternoon tea, which is included for those on both Limited Privileges and All Inclusive. The other is the cooking classes three times a week at its Wantilan cooking pavilion with the resort’s head chef. This is one of the Signature Activities available at no additional cost to those on the All Inclusive program — I’m bummed I missed this!
One of our favorite things about staying at Grand Mirage was ordering from the extensive room service menu. Room service was such a prized commodity when I was in hotels with my parents as a kid, I’ve come to think of it as the ultimate luxury. As part of our All Inclusive package we were able to order room service at any time of day, which we did for breakfast one morning, for a snack one afternoon and for drinks and dessert one night. We were a bit disappointed that the room service menu was so small, though perhaps that is the trade off for higher quality.
The alcohol situation at Samabe was… interesting. Unlike most all-inclusives, where drinking is a major part of the equation, at Samabe being on the All Inclusive program does not get you afternoon cocktails by the pool. Beers, house wines, and standard spirits were available all day but included only from 5:00pm to midnight. For me this is the biggest downside of Samabe — personally I’d rather have a few fruity poolside mojitos during the day than drink at night, but for these prices I feel you shouldn’t have to choose.
Due to our short time at Samabe, we spent most of our time relaxing and exploring the grounds — and it seemed that is what most of our fellow hotel guests were up to as well. Those those feeling a bit more ambitious, however, had a large range of activities to choose from.
All hotel guests have access to complimentary yoga and tai chi classes. We tried out the former, and loved practicing by the sea, with monkeys prancing around behind us. There is also free access to catamarans, kayaks, and windsurfers by the beach, though when we tried to take out the kayaks we were told to come back when the conditions were better.
The truly impressive part of the All Inclusive program, however, are the Signature Activities. Every day, guests can choose from a different activity — options include an hour-long in-suite massage, an hour long treatment in the spa (still under construction at the time of our visit), VIP seats and a back of the house tour at the Devdan show (which we attended during our stay at the Grand Mirage), a private snorkeling tour, a guided bicycle village tour, the Balinese cooking class I mentioned above, and many more. As we had such limited time we chose to do the in-room massage both days, though had we stayed longer I would have enthusiastically signed on for any of the above!
Samabe has a private beach accessed via steep stairs from the main pool. I had read complaints online that the beach was difficult to access and a disappointment upon arrival. I disagreed. Granted we are fairly fit but we didn’t think much of the jaunt up and down the stairs, and we loved what we found at the bottom. The beach was totally secluded and very private — we only saw two other guests while we were there.
Anders went on a snorkeling mission and while he only found one fish, it was a good one — a curious pufferfish!
Room For Improvement
I think the largest area for improvement is the alcohol policy. If you state a program as “All Inclusive with Unlimited Privileges,” I think it’s a little silly to then tell your guests they can’t have a drink with lunch. Also, when we did have drinks, they were hit or miss. It seemed that both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks that came from the TE.JA.CO. Lounge & Bar (including those served at Rempah Rempah) were outstanding while those that came from Ring of Fire Pool Bar (including those served at Crystal Blue) varied in quality.
That, along with many minor complaints, could easily be chalked up to the resort’s barely-opened status. For example, room service was painfully slow and we had to call several times to ask for our laundry. The staff seemed sweet and eager to learn and I feel those issues will ease with time and experience.
Other minor improvements I feel the resort could make would be to expand the room service menu, provide a drink menu in the room, and put higher quality bath products in the bathroom. One major improvement I feel they must make is to heat the pools in the first floor suites, which receive no sun and are otherwise unusable. I think it’s important to remember that expectation levels rise with every notch of luxury — things that would go unnoticed at a hostel seem significant at a five-star resort.
The photos really say it all — Samabe is stunning, and I savored my two nights here. It was perfect for a romantic getaway and it would be just as lovely for a relaxed family holiday. For me the standouts were location, design, and food. I never tired of staring out at the turquoise ocean visible from anywhere in the resort, and aside from the occasional parasailer I felt we were the only resort for miles. The design of the resort was beautiful and modern and appealed very much to my own sense of style. And the food — well, you already know how I felt about that tastyness.
The All Inclusive program was truly indulgent and I loved that it included major gestures like Signature Activities as well as appreciated the minor inclusions like laundry and airport transfers.
It was a very special way to end my time in Indonesia.
Are you a luxury traveler? Would you splurge on Samabe?
Booking directly, rooms start at $305 per night for Limited Privileges and $545 per night for All Inclusive Privileges. Many thanks to Samabe for their hospitality. While I was a guest of the resort, as always all photographs, text, and opinions are my own.