Review: maoMeno Resort, Gili Meno, Indonesia

I was planning a last minute trip to Indonesia and booked a 3-night stay at maoMeno Resort in a rush. It looked beautiful on paper: rustic, bohemian and chic, with optional yoga classes twice a day and an appealing smoothie and whole foods bar. But the reviews on were mixed and rightly so, as it turns out.

Location: the resort is located in a beautiful setting inside the forest and it’s only a short five minute walk to the most beautiful beach on Gili Meno, as well as a host of bars, restaurants, supermarkets etc. It’s ideal if you’re minimalist and nature-oriented – and don’t mind bugs and little animals, such as gekos and lizards.You can hear the crickets and gekos singing at night and it’s so serene and beautiful. A grate place to decompress and enjoy nature.

Architecture/ Ambience: the architecture is traditional Balinese with a lot of wood and bamboo and it’s tastefully decorated with a bohemian flair. The larger bungalows have some nice accent furniture, like lamps and local artwork. Overall the feel is minimalist and clean with a lot of white, beige and light brown shades. If you like the aesthetic of exotic yogi retreats you will probably love this place. Also, the bathrooms are very open, which I personally loved but might not be everyone’s cup of tea (people can clearly see in, if they want to).

My bedroom

Cleanliness: sadly, that was one of their major problem-areas. The first thing I noticed when I entered my room was the mosquito net, which had quite a few spots and small holes in it. The sheet also had a large dead bug on it, which I pointed out to the manager and she begrudgingly removed. She also asked the staff to change my sheets, which I appreciated. I had a massage outside in their little massage pavilion and it was, simply put, gross. The floor had clearly not been cleaned in months and the massage table was old and broken. As a result it was on a slight incline, which made the whole affair rather uncomfortable. The masseuse (very talented lady) used a sheet to cover part of the table with the top area where your face is placed remaining uncovered. I am not one to get grossed out easily but, frankly, I don’t want to know how many oily faces have lied there before me.

Stained/ripped sheets

Amenities: the resort offers daily yoga and on-request massage, as well as bike rentals and some light food. I didn’t try the yoga but I had a massage twice because the masseuse was so great. I didn’t like that they only had a single bar of soap in the bathroom and no shampoo, conditioner or moisturizer. While I didn’t really mind because of the heat, I should mention that the water in the showers was cold. In addition, my room only had a single bath and face towel and they didn’t change either in the 4 days I was there. I also think they should offer lamps or flashlights to guests, as it’s really hard to find the resort after nightfall and the roads are tiny and bumpy. The manager warned me when I checked in, but I don’t typically travel with a flashlight unless I’m camping (I don’t know about you).

Open bathroom

Food: it was the usual healthy-hippie fair, a lot of smoothies and vegetarian options, as well as a special “coconut menu”. I tried the fruit salad with coconut flesh (from the coconut menu), a veggie omelette, a coconut water-blueberry drink and a smoothie with papaya and spirulina. While nothing was really bad, it was all rather underwhelming and the portions were very small. The omelette came with no side or garnishing and the fruit salad wasn’t more than a couple of spoonfuls. Moreover, there service was a little unreliable, which was unfortunate. I came back from a diving one afternoon desperate to have a snack and there was nobody there.

My bedroom
From their coconut menu: coconut flesh, pitaya, pineapple and frozen blueberries

Hospitality: unfortunately the manager, Mel, was snappy and not very helpful. Every time I asked for something, like a fresh towel, she acted as if it was such an inconvenience. She also made comments about her (local) staff, implying that they weren’t efficient, which I found unprofessional and, frankly, a little embarrassing. Overall, it was obvious that she didn’t care too much about keeping the resort in good shape (cleanliness, gardening etc.) or about making guests feel welcome. While I was there, she complained on multiple occasions about having to go “all the way to Lombok” to pick up flowers for a special guest. Then, on my last day, I overheard her talking to another expat, saying that her “job” was reiki and crystal healing, which I guess explains her attitude. It appears that she feels the management job is beneath her or whatever but, honey, if you don’t want to do the job then don’t. But you simply can’t manage a resort, where people come to relax, and have that kind of attitude.

Accessibility: much like the rest of Indonesia, the resort isn’t disabled-friendly but is accessible to people with mild to moderate mobility issues. You’ll have to hop into a (very unstable) horse-cart to get there, as it’s a 10-12 minute walk from the port on rough terrain, and climb three stairs to get into your bungalow.

Horse-cart parked outside the resort’s reception

Overall: This place has a lot going for it but it could seriously use some love and attention from the management. A few small things would go a long way here: a flashlight, a welcoming drink, and a big smile. Oh and some fresh towels/ room service would be nice!

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