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Saman Villas - Bentota, Sri Lanka | Resort Review

The best location in Bentota.


A deluxe boutique hotel, Saman Villas is located in the fishing village of Aturuwella, near Bentota, Sri Lanka. This hotel is located 57 miles from Colombo Bandaranaike International, the nearest airport. Started in 1995, this hotel has been selected as the ‘Best Boutique Hotel in Sri Lanka’ for three consecutive years. Trip Advisor has rated Saman Villas as the number one hotel in Bentota out of 21 properties. However, Saman Villas is the only 5 star hotel in this listing.

We were staying at The Villa Bentota and decided to leave early as they had a lot of shortcomings. As we had stayed at Saman Villas seven years earlier and had a bombastic experience, we decided to try our luck again. We tried booking a Deluxe Suite with Swimming Pool through the Saman Villas’ website (we found out later that it was their new website) but were not able to do so. We finally ended up booking our accommodation through Agoda.

Perched magnificently atop a hill that divides two surf-swept beaches, Saman Villas offers one of the best, if not the best views in Bentota. Recently refurbished, this enchanting property offers 26 suites and one duplex villa. All these suites face the sea and offer stunning views of the ocean.

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First Impression/Lobby: We e-mailed Saman Villas and asked for a complimentary pickup after the booking process was complete. As we were booking one of their best villas and we were less than five minutes away, we figured they would gladly do this for us. But this was not to be as we got a resounding “NO” about 12 hours later. They just would not provide a complimentary transfer. I mean, just 3 minutes away and they wouldn’t arrange a vehicle to pick us up. This was a disappointing start to our stay at Saman Villas.

Upon arrival, we found the same simple lobby as we had seen seven years earlier, with one desk on either side. Each desk had two chairs for guests in front of them. The lobby area had no view, so had I not known beforehand the view the resort offered, I would have been quite disappointed with what I saw.

Reception: We were offered cool drinks and wet towels to refresh ourselves. After a short conversation, we completed our registration process and were shown to our Deluxe Suite with Swimming Pool.

The Villa: Our Deluxe Suite with Swimming Pool was very similar to the 2nd floor villa we had occupied years earlier, except that it had been upgraded with wooden floors, new light fixtures and an updated new bathroom. The suite was equipped with a mini bar and complimentary Wi-Fi. In addition, we were supposed to receive a complimentary morning tea/coffee but for some reason that never happened. The best feature of our suite was the seven meter infinity lap pool that seemed to balance on the edge of the cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Our suite had a large bed on a raised sleeping platform as its center piece. Simple linens adorned the wooden bed. The living room furniture consisted of just two plain wooden chairs and a just as plain table. Across from this space was a basic work desk and chair. A small flat screen TV with about a dozen channels was perched on the wall above the desk. The glass doors of the living room opened out to a verandah and a private garden. The verandah was furnished with a daybed and a private dining facility. The private garden featured the gorgeous infinity lap pool.

Sometimes minimal décor can be chic and trendy or even elegant; however the suite’s furnishings seemed just too simple.

The dressing room offered adequate closet space and a safe. The open air bathroom featured a terrazzo bath and an outdoor rain shower. Bathrobes, slippers, hair dryers, a make-up mirror and complimentary toiletries were available. However, the upgraded bathroom had issues of its own which kept it from receiving our highest marks.

Our villa at Saman Villas really lacked that “wow” factor.

Room Service: Shortly after we arrived, a small bottle of sparkling wine was delivered to our suite. Sadly, room service forgot one important item and we ended up calling them for it before we could actually sit down and start enjoying the wine. The issues with Room Service at Saman Villas didn’t end there.

At the time of our arrival, we had ordered the Sri Lankan breakfast for the following day (many hotels request you to order the Sri Lankan breakfast the day before). Getting our breakfast proved to be a chore in itself. Even with an almost 24 hour notice, it took no less than four calls, including one to a manager, to get our order delivered to our villa. On top of this, as Sri Lankan breakfasts go, their chicken and fish curries were small portioned, average tasting and didn’t quite live up to our expectations. And, if that wasn’t enough, our was delivered incomplete.

Housekeeping: Since we were at Saman Villas for just one night, I can only report on the condition of the room when we arrived and the way turn down service was executed.

The room was spotless and well maintained upon our arrival. All things were in order and the villa was clean and neat. However, turn down service was a different story altogether. For a five-star property, the number of items missed or poorly executed during this service put them at a poor to average level.

Concierge: All inquiries were handled by the reception desk and were done quickly and properly. Aside from a recurring issue of not getting someone fluent in English we were completely satisfied with this service.

Restaurant: We dined at the main fine dining restaurant. This restaurant has been recently renovated and serves a four-course dinner along with an extensive à la carte menu consisting of European, Asian and Sri Lankan cuisine. The service was of good quality, though the food was not as impressive. Also, the food was presented in a very simple manner.

Pool/Spa/Activities: The spectacular infinity edge swimming pool overlooking the Indian Ocean is the best part of this hotel. The view is stunning and the pool area tends to be super quiet, a perfect place for relaxing.

The Sahana Spa was a let-down though. It lacked essential supplies in the bathroom and our free 15 minute foot massage we found out by accident never materialized. When you compare what you get here with a similar treatment at a place like Amangalla, the prices here are just too high.

A fully equipped gym, a well-stocked library and a snooker table were the other amenities present.

Check-Out: We called for our bags and they were retrieved quickly. We took our time getting to the reception, about 30 minutes. However, when we got there, our bill was not ready and it took another 5-10 minutes for our bill to be presented to us (a waste of time). All the charges in the bill were correct (bonus!). However, for some reason the reception agent said the first swipe of our card had declined. She then went to try it on a second machine. While she was gone we got an SMS text message saying our card was charged. A few minutes later we got a second message saying our card was charged again. I am not sure what happened with the first charge, but we ended up getting billed twice. Had we not had the SMS text service connected to our credit card account, we would have found out this mistake only days or weeks later.

Luckily for us, the General Manager was close by and assured us the charge would be voided and that he would let us know when it had been resolved. Sure enough, we received a call at our next hotel later that day to let us know that the issue had been resolved.

Overall Impression: Saman Villas was not the same as we remember it from years ago. Granted, we are looking at it through more experienced eyes and comparing it to other five-star and luxury hotels and resorts. Overall it just seemed to lack that wow factor that makes a hotel truly Bombastic.

Little details were overlooked on numerous occasions. Also, getting English speaking employees on the phone was difficult most of the time. For a five-star property, I must say, we expected a lot more. If I am just looking for a very relaxing place when I visit Sri Lanka the next time, I would go back to Saman Villas. However, I would be going with lower expectations than I would typically have when going to a five-star property. They may be the number one rated hotel on Trip Advisor, but we can only give them a rating of Between Bombastic and Not.

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