Family Fun – Bali’s best resorts for all the family
By Lucy Jones More than 16,000 Australians board a plane to Bali every week and, judging by the makeup of the crowds on the beach and in the streets, a lot of them have their kids with them. I like to think of Bali as a kind of “Asia for beginners”, and it’s easy to see why it is such a popular destination for Australian families. First, proximity. There are few things worse than dealing with cranky babies and truculent toddlers in airports or on a long flight, so location is one of the biggest draw-cards for families (if you are a travelling family, you might want to read our flying with kids article for some great tips). The direct flight to Denpasar takes only six hours from the east coast and less than four from the west coast. Denpasar’s Ngurah Rai airport used to be (putting it politely) a nightmare, but a new airport opened last year and the infamous waiting times have been dramatically improved and an expanded range of services added. If you want to be guaranteed a smooth trip, there are a number of concierge services available that will meet you at the gate, escort you through immigration and arrange a car to take you to your hotel, all for around A$30 per person. Once you’re there, the Balinese are a really kid-friendly people. Everyone is very accommodating for families and toting a baby around will always get you some extra attention. If your kids are happy to spend time away from you plenty of resorts have fantastic kids’ clubs offering a huge range of activities like cooking classes, beach games, traditional cultural activities and local excursions. Reliable babysitters can be organised through most resorts at short notice and prices are extremely reasonable, generally less than A$10 per hour. And while the grown ups can eat traditional Balinese or Indonesian cuisine, it’s never hard to find Western-style basics to suit less adventurous palates. Here are five of the best Balinese accommodation options for every type of family.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran
Best for: families who love luxury If you’ve got some cash to splash, this is the place to do it. Families should choose one of the nine private Residence villas; the two-, three- and four-bedroom villas all have private pools, sun terraces, full kitchens (with private chefs available), expansive living areas and lush tropical gardens. There’s plenty of space to spread out but the kids will always be close by. When you arrive, you’ll find family-friendly extras like child-size bathrobes, cots and rollaway beds, and safety fences for the pool. The Jimba Club is open every day for children aged five to 12 (those under five can attend with a parent or guardian) and kids will build sandcastles, fly kits, make Balinese sweets and offerings, hunt for crabs, and learn traditional dances with local children. There are also plenty of group activities for the whole family like tennis competitions, beach games and sailing adventures.
Club Med Bali
Best for: families who want the whole package
Club Med has been famous for its all-inclusive, activity heavy packages since the 1950s. The resorts developed a somewhat uncool reputation in the 1990s, but the newer properties – like Bali – have changed all that and are a great option for families. Once you walk in the door of Club Med Bali, everything is taken care of; the resort is set up like a little village with plenty of friendly staff on hand at all times and all meals, drinks and snacks are included in the price (so older kids can take care of themselves). The kids’ programs are fantastic, with options for babies from four months old right up to 17 year olds. Older kids can try their hand at archery, flying trapeze and windsurfing, while the toddlers will enjoy craft, dress ups and plenty of nap time. There’s also an adults only “quiet pool”, so the rest of the family can escape the fun and relax with a cocktail.
Novotel Nusa Dua
Best for: budget conscious families One of the best things about Bali is that you can stay in four to five star quality for the price of a budget hotel in Sydney. The Novotel Nusa Dua is a perfect example. Three quarters of the resort’s 175 rooms are suitable for families, with interconnecting rooms and suites sleeping up to six people. The kids’ club has something for just about everyone, offering programs from the age of three up to teenagers, and a nanny service is available for babies. While the kids are entertained, there’s a golf course and huge shopping complex just next door for the parents to enjoy.
InterContinental Bali Resort
Best for: active families The InterContinental sits on Jimbaran Bay, a large sheltered bay with a gently graded sea floor and powdery white sand. The resort’s water sports centre is operated by the Rip Curl School of Surf and adults and kids can learn to surf, stand up paddleboard, sea kayak or body board. For younger children, the Little Rippers program offers one-hour group lessons or individual instruction, while more experienced surfers can be taken by boat to the outer reefs for more challenging waves. The two storey villas are perfect for families with private pools and direct beach access, or a range of interconnecting rooms are available.
Best for: independent families One of the most popular options for families in Bali is private villa accommodation. Villas generally come fully staffed with cleaners, chefs and security, and childcare staff can easily be arranged. You’ll have a private pool (or two), plenty of space, a full kitchen where the staff can make any meals you want (perfect for fussy eaters) and you won’t have to share it with other people. Pricing is usually around the same as you would pay in a hotel, though be prepared to do a little more organisation than you would have to normally. Many villas are also in more remote areas or small villages, giving families a chance to explore the local culture and interact with the people, something that is harder to do in a large resort complex.
Travel insurance for the family
Best for: All families to ensure peace of mind Of course, you don’t want your end of year trip ending in unnecessary medical bills or cancellation costs, so why not check out our family cover to Bali, kids included free*.