After checking out of the Sheraton in Yogyakarta, we took the car in the direction of Borobudur with our assigned driver. I had booked a one-way trip to Plataran Borobudur at a cost of IDR450,000 (~$35) which includes the use of the driver to get us from the Sheraton to Prambanan Temple and back. It took about 2 hours for us to reach Plataran Resort from the Yogyakarta Airport or the Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta, and that was with a stop along the way to get some cash from the ATM since Borobudur is located in a small town and the Plataran resort in the highlands with small villages around it.
Plataran Borobudur resort is set on the base of the mountainside and there exists no developed commercial areas around. Guests might have to ensure their driver knows the area as the road passes through some small village roads. We were dropped off by the porch at the ground floor and although there was a small reception area on the ground floor, a female staff member sent us to the second floor. One thing she failed to do was to mention that there was an elevator at the end, instead she directed us to the stairs. Not the perfect welcome I was looking forward to after a tiring 2 hour car drive from Yogyakarta.
Since the resort comprises of villas, the reception is in an independent building with 3 storeys and a roof top deck to admire the surrounding valley view. The upper level comprises of a comfortable reading lounge with 2 reception desks and chairs for guests to be seated while they conduct the somewhat long check-in process. Along with the check-in, a male crew member explained to us the various activities that are charge-able, starting with the possibility for a sunrise tour of Borobudur. Prices are somewhat on the high-end of the scale here for Indonesia, and the sunrise tour costs around Rp 1.9 million (~$140) for 2 persons, while even their bicycles are for rent at Rp 25,000 (~$1.85). For a room rate that costs $330 per night, I was expecting a bicycle rental to be included. Fortunately, there was some activities that we could sign up for free like the yoga session in the morning.
In addition to providing us a list of activities, the check-in process details the inclusion during our stay such as breakfast and afternoon tea. There was also the usual welcome drink, but the process felt long and cumbersome. It also took a while because they needed to check the room, and I did not find the attitude of the staff member to be that pleasant in comparison to my past experiences in a hotel of this calibre. After getting my credit card details, we were ushered to the buggy and our luggages were also loaded into the same buggy.
Room No: 216 Category: Executive Villa
The drive to our Executive Villa took less than 3 minutes and it probably takes the same time to walk as well. The driver passed by various facilities and pointed them out to us. As we arrived at the villa, there is a set of stairs leading up to a private front yard. Our assigned villa is a stand-alone wooden construction overlooking the valleys in the south. Noting that Candi Borobudur is on the east of the resort, there was no view of the temple complex though this was not such a big deal since the surrounding highlands view was as impressive.
Outside on front yard, there was a bench and 2 deck chairs beside a small private plunge pool. There was sufficient hedge greenery around it to provide a private retreat for villa occupants. To access the villa, there was a huge padlock on the creaky wooden door that harks back to village-style living.
Inside, guests are greeted immediately by a king size bed in the centre of the villa surrounded by the 4 wooden beams that supports the pointed roof. Sure, there might not be marble or designer furniture but the villa’s interior does exude a certain rustic charm that fits well for the right mood.
On the left side of the villa there is a 2-seater sofa with a wooden coffee table and a flatscreen TV. DVDs are available for rental from the reception desk and they can entertain guests at night when there are not much else to do.
The other side of the villa one could find the minibar cabinet by the corner along with coffee making utensils and cups. Facing the window on the right side, a small wooden desk and chair creates a useful space to write your novel if you so wish to do so. The serene view out of this window is sure to provide the perfect ambience to pen your memoirs down!
Towards the other half of the villa at the back, there is an enclosed shower chamber with a stand-alone bathtub in the middle and a rainshower on the corner. The toilet is also located inside with a wooden towel rack, while the shampoo and shower gel were in large common canisters that is common in most boutique resorts. This was another huge space that is fitting in a resort of this calibre.
Also to be found at the rear end of the villa are dual vanity counters, which are open to the rest of the villa. This layout allows guests to prepare for the sunrise efficiently. They also did it right in providing a wide range of toiletries and plenty of bottled water wrapped up in a sleeve with the resort’s branding. Though I did not find this to be a particular appealing design since the open floor plan and visible plumbing makes the bathroom vanity an eye-sore. The least they could was maybe add in a screen panel between the vanity and the rest of the room. Across from the vanity counter, there was a large wardrobe space suitable for a week’s stay.
With numerous windows and the open layout, the villa was bright in the afternoon and has a nice space but I can’t help but feel it was cheaply furnished. There was too much empty space and aesthetically, it was not appealing; functionally, it was not that comfortable. I was expecting more considering this resort was one of the most expensive I paid during this trip and somehow it does not meet the standards I was looking for.
Thankfully though, some aspects of my stay was wonderful. There was the amazing housekeeping staff that came by in the evening to help in the turndown service as they cleared the dirty towels, closed the curtains (of which there were too numerous to count), made the bed and left some chocolates. There was also the buggy driver that helped us with luggage and ferried us from our villa to the main colonial building on our call from the in-villa telephone. And finally there was the private plunge pool that was great to relax in after touring Borobudur.
Included in our stay was an afternoon tea session every day served at the patio deck and open-air verandah beside the colonial building. The cool breeze and beautiful environment made the space work and coincidentally it was also where breakfast was served at. If there was more guests, I do believe the resort would open the restaurant as well. But during our short stay, there was a couple of cakes and treats laid out on the buffet table. Alongside it was a choice of tea and coffee with an assortment of nuts and crackers in glass canisters.
The setup reminded me of lesser club lounges and what made matters worse was the quality of the food seems stale and could not hold against the spread I had in the Sheraton Yogyakarta. When I compare the price of this resort with the Sheraton, it was more than 4 times, and that just did not seem good value. Even if there was a lack of guests, I figured, the resort could have done something that allowed guests to order from the menu instead of offering stale snacks. (In case you’re wondering, one such resort did that once for me as the only club lounge guest)
On the dining pavilion, there is a telescope setup for guests to look as far ahead towards Borobudur. There is a nice outdoor deck to stroll around and just observe the view. And it was possible due to the elevated position of this space. After all the main colonial-era building is located here. This building houses the main restaurant where dinner was served and along the porch, there are comfortable sofas and chairs to sit down in and read a book. Or guests could just relax here with the pool side just beside.
Aside from the pool, the resort has a separate pavilion a short walk away for the morning yoga session. This seems to be a more quiet area surrounded by trees. There is also a horseback riding compound visible from the main reception area. There was also the vast resort compound where guests could stroll around in and breathe in the fresh mountain air.
The next morning after catching the sunrise free of charge from the rooftop deck from the main reception building and touring Borobudur, I head for breakfast. In addition to the basic continental buffet setup on the main table, there was a menu where guests could order from. The menu comprises of additional stuff or guests could pick from 4 different sets. On the buffet itself, there was the usual danish and toast along with coffee and tea that is not different from what one could get at McDonalds’ (and that is not a compliment). There was also assorted cut fruits but this is where it gets bad since the table is out in the open, there could be flies to contaminate the cut fruits, so I skipped them for hygiene reasons.
I did order the Indonesian set that comes with a choice of Nasi Uduk (coconut rice) or Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and I picked the latter. As I was famished after the morning cycling tour to Borobudur, I enjoyed the nicely presented platter of Nasi Goreng and thought it was much better than the rest of what was on offer in the morning. It was honestly the best food I had for the last 12 hours of my stay in the resort. This is where I note that my last night order of room service was terrible since the gado-gado I ordered lacked fresh vegetables and had a terrible peanut sauce.
Before my stay here, I had envisioned a relaxing stay with a nice ambience. For the most part I got that, but there was something that just made the stay less than wonderful. There was the lack of a reception at the ground floor which would have made for a much more relaxing welcome. And the staff welcoming us were less proactive in their assistance such as not mentioning to us the use of an elevator. For the most part, the food served in the resort like the afternoon tea and the in-room dining was terrible, with the fried rice being the exception (not a difficult dish to make tasty!). While the resort did waive off my in-room dining bill after mentioning the less than satisfactory dish, I thought the resort would offer more to guests in terms of quality for the price they offered. And when they charged me a couple of dollars for the use of their bicycles when the room rate costs a couple of hundred of dollars, I thought that was just plain nickel-and-diming. To conclude, I might visit this place again when in the area to enjoy the ambience in the day but I might look elsewhere to stay for better food and prices.