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September 9, 2013updated Jul 30, 2015

For the Love of Bali

By Chris Boyle

The Oberoi Bali Hotels & Resorts AsiaIn a period when Bali is getting a stream of new five star luxe and lavish resorts with plenty of bells and whistles, and others are adding oversize villas, The Oberoi is standing pat.  Set on 15 beachfront acres its 14 one-bedroom villas and 60 lanai rooms dot a park like landscape amidst perfectly groomed gardens.

Opened in 1978, the relaxed setting harkens back to a time when Asia wasn’t the booming, fast paced place it is today.  The villas are not named by a corporate code, but instead after various local flowers that become the theme for the décor.  Built at different times, size of private pools in the villas vary from large to very large and courtyard entrances include a wall inside the door to keep out spirits, good and bad.

Bostonian John Halpin who had a long stint at The Oberoi both in Bali and Lombok, then left, was thrilled when company chairman P.R.S. Oberoi asked him to return as General Manager.  “I think he knew my love for Bali and the Balinese culture.  When he called it was a no brainer.”

Being an Oberoi the resort is particularly focused on service and details, with a repeat rate of over 30 percent.  Perfect execution is the only level of service acceptable to the chairman, and employees have a strong bond not only to the hotel but repeat guests.  Like the clientele, staff includes fathers, mothers and their sons and daughters.  Halpin notes when he returned he was talking to one of his team, and it turned out the person’s grandfather had worked there during the GM’s first tenure.

And while Bali’s luxe end may be getting crowded, Halpin shrugs it off.  “The white cement and frosted glass won’t age well, and it simply makes us a bit more unique,” he says.  Plus in an era when global design firms thousands of miles away sketch layouts, Halpin notes much of his property’s plan was based on “consulting with local priests when the hotel was being built.”

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