What’s the difference between staying at a 5-star hotel that costs more than USD $500 a night and a 3-star hotel that costs $80 a night?
The saying is true – you get what you pay for. And sometimes, the experiences you’d get in a 5-star hotel can’t exactly be measured in monetary terms.
I am sure many of us have at least one example of an outstanding hotel service experience that we can still recall years after it happened.
As long as hotels will exist, service will not extinct, but what do we define as “normal” hotel service and what is service which truly touches our hearts ?
I have been told many heart-warming stories by hoteliers in Bali who will still go out of their way for their guests and it shows that its not just about the luxury or glamour, its about dedicated service, trust and putting the guest at the core of everything
Let me share 6 beautiful luxury hotel service stories with you.
1. Confidantes and friends till she gave birth at the Oberoi Bali
Imagine if you go into labour while on holiday, and the hotel staff nearly have to double up as midwives!
This is exactly what happened to one of the regular guests at the Oberoi, Bali, recalled by Ketut Mukajaya, Captain in charge for Food & Beverage at the Frangipani Restaurant
According to Ketut Mukajaya:
“For one of our most loyal repeat guests, whose name for confidential reasons I will not disclose, but who is a descent of Napoleon Bonaparte, the Oberoi Bali is like a second home and she became friends with many of the staff who have been here for many years.
On one of her many visits, while travelling with her mother, she was 4 months pregnant and was to return, after a short stay at our hotel to her home country to deliver the baby. But she felt so at home with us that she extended her stay several times and eventually even decided to deliver her baby in Bali!
Although her mother was with her and her husband joined closer to the birth as well, she and her family were naturally scared, being foreigners in Bali on their own during such an emotional time.
Several of our staff became the lady’s confidantes and ensured that she was never left alone. We accompanied her to the hospital, stayed with her and her family to make sure they were well taken care of.
We knew the family was to return to the hotel and 12 months later we welcomed them back right on time for her little “prince’s” birthday. We could not wait to surprise them with a decorated room, balloons and gathered some of the staff members in the garden in front of the room for the ultimate gift from us to them.
We decided to plant a palm tree in honor of her little son, right in front of the villa, where the guest always stayed at. This tree was planted and we adorned it with a blue signage which said:
Nicollo’s coconut tree – 22.03.2009
Nicollo’s coconut palm tree. With such a gracious gesture, it is no wonder so many guests attach sentimental value to this hotel and have been returning here for many years.
Six years later, the now grown-up palm tree is still in the garden for the guest and her son when she returns here with him. It’s also serves as a beautiful memory for all the staff who took care of her and who were involved in this exceptional beautiful and thoughtful gesture.”
Nicollo’s coconut palm tree is planted on the lawn right in front of this villa, where the guest always stays at.
Look at this beautiful scene – imagine how agonising it must be for a guest who is ill and has to be confined to the hotel room, instead of out enjoying the view.
Imagine the worst holiday scenario you can think of.
You are looking forward to your well deserved holiday with your partner and finally arrived at your dream destination. You see people enjoying themselves, experiencing everything that Bali has to offer but you are falling so ill that you cannot leave your hotel room to soak in the sun and the sea. It must be really agonising.
Photo via kacozi
Floating brunch @ The Villas – To be able to bounce around and enjoy all these in the pink of health is what the guest had hoped for.
A saying goes that “hope dies last” and when we reach a certain stage, sometimes all we can depend on are a few prayers, which would surely do no harm, and perhaps even increase the chances of being blessed.
That is probably also what the guest thought, but her prayers were answered by her villa butler, who had medical knowledge of traditional Balinese healing – definitely not what she had expected.
Never underestimate the power of miracles and a glass of “magic” herbal juice!
As recalled by Butler Rusti:
“Two of our loyal guests, a couple who was originally from America but lives in Switzerland, had vacationed at Ayana for several times and always stayed at the Villas.
On one of their more recent visits, the wife appeared noticeably different. I was concerned, and after interacting with her husband, I learnt that sadly his wife was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which made walking difficult for her, and she was inevitably confined to the villa for most of their stay.
I am not a doctor or healer, but I have some knowledge of traditional herbal and natural medicine, passed on from generation to generation in my family. In Bali, we believe in the power of natural healing. I had been given a herbal recipe by my grandmother and experienced in my own daily life that the Mengkudu fruit is very effective in treating high blood pressure and many illnesses, including that of our guest.
Health in a glass of Mengkudu. Listen to your grandmothers – they have lots of wisdom and knowledge up their sleeves and Rusti’s gorgeous smile surely would also do no harm to you! There is no escape from Butler Rusti and his mengkudu juice, it was served to the guest everywhere she went. Even if the juice would not cure the illness, Rusti’s gorgeous smile surely would!
I humbly mentioned it to the husband and asked if I was allowed to help his wife. The husband was very grateful that I wanted to help ease the suffering of his wife, and allowed me to prepare the special traditional herbal juice using local techniques. I presented the Mengkudu juice to the wife throughout her entire stay.
After having taken the juice for several days, she felt much better and was even able to walk!
She was so happy to be able to enjoy her holiday with less discomfort and was so impressed that she asked me to prepare some drinks for her to take back to Europe. I truly hope she is doing well now.
I cannot explain why the juice helps against illnesses, though. I’m not a professional healer, but I believe in using the natural ingredients and plants that grow on my island and passing this knowledge on to the next generations to come.
I felt very happy that I was able to help my guest feel so much better.”
3. A Balinese horse for the bride – The Ritz Carlton, Bali
Photo via yenyen_w, the_fragmen
A wedding reception set up at the Ritz Carlton. Who would not enjoy that view?
Hands up all you ladies currently planning your wedding or hoping to do so in the future.
Have you been fantasizing about the perfect wedding party, a dress fit for a princess and honeymoon long before you’ve actually met your Prince Charming?
Photo via Freddy Chandra
Who wouldn’t want to spend their wedding night in such luxury, walking from the bed straight into the pool?
Beautiful Sherry Ang from Singapore was such a girl and her dream was to ride on a horse along the beach with her gorgeous wedding dress floating in the wind.
But what do you do when you arrive at your wedding destination one day before the wedding and whisper into your husband’s ear that riding on a horse for the wedding photoshoot is something you desired for a long time, but no horse can be found at such a short notice?
You can only trust a passionate group of hotel staff to go on this “Mission impossible” to make your wish come true.
Here’s our story recalled by Gatot, Butler at the Ritz Carlton, Bali:
The wedding of Indonesian Hardie Widarma and Singaporean Sherry Ang earlier this year was the very first at our newly opened hotel and we were all buzzing with excitement.
One day before the big wedding day, the couple arranged for a photoshoot at the beach. During the photoshoot I overheard the couple’s conversation, that the bride wished to ride a horse during their photoshoot. Knowing how delighted the lady would be, I discreetly spoke to the groom without her knowledge, asking his permission to help make his bride’s wish come true.
I liaised with our Assistant Front Office Manager, Rizki, and together with my other colleagues Sarianta, Radika, Christine and Lia, we called all the horse riding companies in Bali, but to no avail. At such last minute notice, no one was able to help us, not to mention that the owners of the horses were too worried that their horse would be stressed by such a last minute movement.
Not wanting to give up, Rizki then remembered that Meiky from Guest Services lives in the local Sawangan area (where the hotel is located) and once told him that his neighbour owns a horse which is used as a traditional form of transport (dokar).
Since Meiky was on his day off on that day, Rizki and Sarianta decided to drop by his house, and once Meiky heard the story, the three of them rushed to the neighbour’s house to discuss with him directly.
The wedding couple Hardie and Sherry joined by their new furry friend Kerta (which means “carriage”)
After getting approval from the horse’s owner, Meiky brought the horse to the hotel together with its owner. At exactly 4pm (1 hour after the request was made), the small troop reached the beach where the couple was still doing their photoshoot – and gave them a huge surprise.
Sherry was over the moon that her dream of having a horse for her wedding photoshoot came true, and we were very proud of our team effort for making our very first wedding couple so happy.
This message was sent by the couple to the Ritz Carlton team after their stay. A beautiful appreciation for a job so well done!
4. Crossing countries for a USD 600 rare bottle of Californian wine for a wedding anniversary – Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay
Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every culinary moment an experience.
Any man who has outgrown the caveman shoes will put some thoughts into his marriage proposal.
What better way to celebrate the “yes” to the big question, than with a bottle of exquisite wine that his leading lady (and now fiancée) enjoys just as much as himself?
For one of the guests at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, a particular wine has thus forever been engraved in his memory, as it celebrates his engagement moment with his wife.
And naturally, no wedding anniversary would be complete without reviving this memory with a bottle of that same wine and looking forward to more wedded bliss.
But what do you do when you celebrate your wedding anniversary on a tropical island, far away from your home country, and getting the rarest wine is nearly impossible?
Put your trust into a man who can make rare bottles of wine move countries – A hotel Purchasing Manager.
Here’s the guest’s story, as recalled by Wayan Astama, Purchasing Director at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay:
Wayan Astama (who was at that time the Purchasing Manager and has since been promoted to Purchasing Director), a man who works behind the scenes and still moves heaven and earth to make a guest happy in such a dedicated way.
As the Purchasing Manager at that time at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay, I am usually working behind the scenes in the hotel operations and it was a very special moment for me to step onto the frontline to deliver a very memorably service to one of our guests.
A couple from the United States stayed at one of our Residence Villas and they wanted to celebrate their wedding anniversary at our hotel.
The day before the anniversary dinner, the husband wanted to pre-arrange a bottle of a rather rare and very expensive bottle of wine (which costs USD 600) called Silver Oak Nappa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon. He was unaware that getting this particular wine in Bali was nearly impossible.
Our Food & Beverage team explained to the guest that we did not have this wine in stock, but promised to find out what could be done and my colleagues approached me to make the miracle happen.
Liquid gold in a bottle! USD 600 for this precious Silver Oak Nappa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, which was flown in from Singapore for a wedding anniversary. As the saying goes, if you love you don’t count.
I immediately called my wine supplier contacts in Bali, but to no avail – this wine could not be found in Bali.
However, after hours of research, I finally found a supplier in Singapore who has this wine in stock, but how was I supposed to get it at such short notice from Singapore?
I again called my main suppliers in Bali to look for a solution and call it karma, the owner of that supplying company happened to be in Singapore at that time on a business trip. After much persuasion, I convinced her to return to Bali with that bottle of wine. I could not believe my luck when she agreed to fly this bottle over from Singapore to Bali and even personally deliver it to us!
The bottle made it just on time for the dinner that night, and seeing how delighted the couple was made me realize how touching it must be for my colleagues, who serve our guests on a daily basis, to make all these daily service miracles happen.
If the couple returns, we will for sure make sure we have some bottles of their wine in stock!
Romantic in-villa set-ups can all be arranged and a good bottle of wine might be accompanied by some homemade chocolate. It’s not every day you wake up in a Four Seasons hotel, so be seduced and embrace the moment!
Also read: Our Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay review: Where dreamy oceanfront romance meets traditional Balinese charm
5. A “Royal” 5-star service brought even to a local Bali hospital – The St. Regis Bali Resort, Nusa Dua
You may not have a “Royal” setting in a public hospital in Bali, but a private Butler can make you feel like Royalty anywhere.
Do you know the feeling of being in Bali for the very first time in your life, when you are embarking on a quest to discover the island’s treasures, such as the underwater world, all excited, but an unexpected accident occurs?
Imagine fighting for your life in a strange land far away from your home, in a hospital that doesn’t come with the standards of a private hospital (which is used to cater to foreigners, staffed with internationally trained doctors who understand your language).
A guest of St. Regis went through exactly that, but help came in the shape of his very own guardian angel called Carlos Constanzo, the private chief Butler at St. Regis in Bali, who made it his mission to deliver compassionate 5-star service fit for royalty to a guest in distress.
Carlos vividly recalls this moment:
”This lovely couple from the US came to Bali for the very first time, and wanted to do deep diving in the best dive spots on the island. They had pre-booked a dive package from home with a dive company in Bali.
But during their third and final day of diving, they were met with a terrible accident. In the middle of the ocean, one of them panicked and ascended way too fast, and it was impossible for the dive instructor to pull him down again for the safety stop.
The guest had to be revived 3 times before reaching the public RSUP Sanglah hospital, the only one with a decompression chamber on the island (if a decompression chamber could not be found in time, it could cost a person his life).
The public Sanglah Hospital in Bali, the only one with a decompression chamber for diving accidents.
The completely worried partner of the guest rang our hotel to explain what happened and that his partner is lying in the intensive care unit.
I tried to calm the guest down and immediately gathered and packed an overnight bag for both guests with extra pillows and blankets, should the need arise, since I knew that although this public hospital was of high standards in terms of medical care, it was far from being a hospital the guests were probably used to in their home country.
I also took some lunch from the hotel, which I knew they loved, with me to so that they don’t need to settle for the bland hospital food.
The accident occurred 2 hours from the shores of Nusa Penida, known for its amazing encounters with the gigantic fish Mola Mola
When I arrived at the hospital, I was worried to see my guest semiconscious and disoriented, but I did not let it show and continued to provide my services as though he was at the hotel and not in a public hospital.
I naturally slipped into the role of a personal assistant and also served as an interpreter for the guest, as we received the diagnosis and clarifications from the medical staff. I also helped the guest make clarifications on the incident report from the diving company.
Afterwards, I set up a table for lunch and gave my guest water to drink constantly when I was with him and his partner. We transformed the sofa to a portable bed and rearranged their space to make them as comfortable as possible.
I was told by the medical staff that it would be while before the guest could be discharged, so I reassured him and drove his partner back to the hotel in a 1 ½ car ride. Two hours later, we went back to the hospital to provide support, filled out the insurance papers and I arranged (through the hotel) a dinner for two.
Meanwhile, I purchased a local SIM card for the hospitalised guest, so he could give me a call anytime when he needed help.
At midnight before I went home, I arranged for our Executive Chef to prepare breakfast, which I picked up and personally served the guests at the hospital at 7 am the next morning.
The medical staff were surely surprised to see a butler dressed like in the movies in a hospital unit. Not a daily sight for them for sure!
St. Regis’s Chief Butler Carlos Constanzo, a Hospitality knight in shining armor. Not your usual sight in a public hospital in Bali
I was going to and fro the hospital for three days, until the guest was given the “all clear” sign by the doctors.
On the day of departure from the hotel, before taking the couple personally to the airport, I called the airport staff to ensure that they await the recovering guest, so as to make sure that he was well taken care of during his long and delicate journey.
The days and nights were long when I took care of the couple, but thought that I made their distress so much more bearable and soothed their fears was worth every minute of sacrificed sleep.
For me, hospitality does not stop at where I work. It is an attitude towards anyone I meet.”
Do you know St. Regis has one of the best pools in Bali?
Photo via elena.al.k, achmadsholeh
You can even have your breakfast on the water!
Photo via Faisal Alhumaid
6. A personal butler for the guest’s favorite animals at Alila Villas Uluwatu
Photo via Horakovamichaela
Many people would love a personal butler, but can you imagine if your butler is so dedicated to your favorite animals that he even brings it home while you are away?
A butler did just that.
In the words of Butler Ruruh:
“One of my special loyal guests loves animals, especially frogs and birds.
Our guest loves the songs of his birds in the garden and they always greet him when he returns to the hotel
Although he always travels alone, he stays in one of our largest villas, which we completely customize for him.
This single traveller and loyal repeat guest always books this villa, which is one of the largest at the resort.
As his personal butler during his every stay, my colleagues and I will customise the pond as he likes it – with fish, small turtles and frogs. We also have his favourite bird in a cage right outside his villa.
For every visit of the guest, we arrange his favorite fishes, frogs and small turtles in his villa pond.
But the day always comes when our guest has to leave, and as no one is allowed to bring animals in and out of Bali, what’s going to happen to his animals?
I want my guest to be happy and have his animals around him whenever he’s back, so when he has to leave, I’ll take them home and look after them for the rest of the year.”