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W Resort & Spa Bali : I Guess the “W” Doesn’t Stand for “Writing”

by Susi, 22 August 2008

Welcome to Bali, W Hotels.

In case you hadn’t noticed, W Hotels is creating a huge luxury resort on the beach in Seminyak. It’s in Petitenget, to be precise, and the site entrance is directly next door to Bali Catering Company (best take-away gourmet shop in Bali). 

W Hotels is the hip luxury brand of the Starwood hotel group (which includes Sheraton, LeMeridien, Westin, and St Regis, all of which are also represented here in Bali). It makes perfect sense that they should put the W brand on the Seminyak property, as Seminyak is reputed to be the hippest and most luxurious district in Bali. The new W Retreat & Spa – Bali is slated to open just over one year from now on the site of the former Intan Hotel, which was a huge Soeharto-era carbuncle, that got very tatty in its last years of operation. I’m sure Starwood will transform it magnificently, and the fact that I now see three tall construction cranes standing on the site suggests they are busy doing just that.

Of course it is exciting to see such a prestigious brand arrive, thus raising the bar for hospitality development in Seminyak. The only dismay I feel about the project is caused by its paltry presence online. The W Hotels site includes only a few pages of content, so far, about the Bali resort. But who made these pages? Who wrote them? The welcome page starts off like this:

Why, Bali Hai

Escape hectic philosophies and plunge into the deepest wisdom of peace and tranquility at the W Retreat & Spa – Bali, where the usual everyday is a myth and lush tropics, sparkling waters and pure white sands are the utopian reality.

Gosh! I didn’t even know philosophies could be hectic? What philosophies might those be? Hermeneutics? And who would be drawn to a resort in order to escape a philosophy? Is this to be a hotel for academics on sabbatical?

Now, moving right along.

Let’s plunge into some deep wisdom, shall we? Just as W implores us to do, above. I guess wisdom is like an infinity-edge swimming pool then? No need to earn wisdom, just take the plunge. Sounds a bit like a Gestalt therapy session to me, or the “enlightenment” proposed by certain wildly popular Advaita gurus.

I, for one would be leery about booking into a resort “where the usual everyday is a myth.” I guess that means the whole experience is sort of virtual or imagined, more mythical than real. Or what? There is one aspect of the resort as described, that is irrefutably mythical – – its “pure white sands”. The only pure white sands near the W Bali are in the cat boxes of villa owners over the road at the Sentosa. The sand on the beach is grey-beige, medium dark, and not especially pure (especially during the storm season). It’s very nice sand, certainly, and the beach is a lovely, wide one, ideal for long, peaceful walks. But it’s not white by any means.

The W Bali web page certainly makes interesting reading. Plenty of buzzwords, but I’m guessing it was written in the Kuala Lumpur pre-opening office of the W Bali. There’s that kind of a ring to it. Buzzed-out buzz words.

Now, moving right along. To the next illuminating chunk of copy on the W Bali page.

Succumb to hours of luxurious pampering at our spa or mingle with a cocktail in our cozy Living Room. Let epicurean fantasies seduce your palate at our world-class restaurants. And our Whatever/Whenever® team will take care of everything else.

When I hear “luxurious pampering” I reach for my revolver. And no thank you, I don’t want to mingle with any cocktails. Cocktails are cold and mute. Terrible conversationalists, no matter how hip and luxurious those W cocktails are. I prefer to mingle with hip luxury people, who are holding hip luxury cocktails. Not with cocktails alone, no matter how many of them there are.

And, hold it right there! Are they calling their bar the Living Room?! How original. The nearest bar called the Living Room is right across the street, has been around for years, and is known as one of the most beautiful places for beautiful people in Seminyak. Why W thought it would be cool to plagiarise such a close neighbour is beyond me. The first electrical spark that arcs across my neural synapses now is this: Perhaps Daniel and Dada, owners of the real Living Room are going to be partners in the W story, relocating and restyling their Living Room inside the nearby resort. Now that would make sense. Worth investigating.

Moving right along. The thought of having “epicurean fantasies seduce your palate” is extremely nauseating. I hope that when you ask for an airsick bag, the “Whatever/Whenever®” team don’t just toss their rebonded locks, pop their gum and say, “whatever.” And then honour your request “whenever.” The nausea is urgent.

Now, moving right along.

Wishful Thinking

The fairy tale begins in 232 guestrooms and villas with spectacular views, where stylish designs meet traditional architecture and inspire lavish amenities. The signature W bed. Lush robes. State-of-the-art entertainment system. Wishes do come true.

An interesting equation (or is it a recipe?) appears in the above paragraph: 

1 Part Stylish Designs + 1 Part Traditional Architecture = Lush Robes

It doesn’t quite compute.

But “wishful thinking” is ok with the W Bali. The whole resort is starting to sound like some kind of simulacra. It seems to be all about “wishful thinking,” “fairy tales” and “epicurean fantasies,” not to mention that at the W Bali “everyday is a myth.”

I am certainly glad to reach the end of the online description of the new W Bali. Why do you think that is? Because it’s such painful reading? Wrong. I’m glad to reach the end, because all my fears that the resort is nothing but a mere figment, a puff of smoke, a bit of folklore, are put to rest. “Wishes do come true,” they inform us. Cue the “Close Encounters” soundtrack please. Or Jiminny Cricket. 

And send the writer of the above-quoted W drivel on a long vacation to escape her hectic philosophies. Please.

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