Is it better to book a resort or villa for a group holiday to popular family destination, Bali?
Our 2017 travel plans are starting to fall nicely into shape with our big “relaxing holiday” of the year booked in for Bali in August. It brings a great euphoric feeling at the start of the year knowing you have something to look forward to.
Firstly, why Bali?
When you suggest you’re planning to stay in Bali – particularly to a lot of Aussie friends – many will roll their eyes. “it’s too full of other Aussies”; “isn’t it just a cheap backpackers?”; “isn’t it just a big surf beach, we have them here”. None of these statements are entirely accurate. Perhaps if you’ve only ever visited Kuta and the areas near the airport and never searched beyond…
Bali makes one of the best family-friendly holiday options due to the huge range of accommodation, loads of activities, restaurant choices, beautiful temples, and for much of the year, fantastic beach weather. Oh, and the dollar to the rupee exchange rate is normally quite kind on the pocket.
For us on this occasion, it also made fantastic geographic sense. An Indonesian island, perched just north of Australia, it is within a 7-hour flight from most state capital cities (even less for those in the north or based around South East Asia).
With a family event on in Darwin the week prior, it is literally just an extra hop for us to travel onwards to Bali. To ultimately get back to the UAE we need to connect through one of the large Asian hubs like Singapore and the flight schedules from Bali made it a great option. Handily it’s also equidistance for the grandparents to fly home to Melbourne, enabling them to join us for this special adventure.
What are the family-friendly accommodation options in Bali
The question I respond with when people ask me “where should they stay in…” is what do you want to get out of your holiday?
Are long lazy days relaxing by the pool all you are after? Or do you like to get out and splash in the waves and take on some more sporty adventures too? Do you like snorkelling or diving and being around the water a lot, or do you prefer magnificent views and mountains? Would you like the convenience of shopping centres and bars nearby, or after a more authentic, local Balinese experience? Do you want to do lots of activities as a family, or explore and relax independently at times?
The main Bali accommodation options include:
- Apartments – privately owned and rented through the likes of Air BnB. Best for self-catering – may have access to some shared facilities.
- Private villas – usually come with their own yard and pool, plus staff; they can be booked through an agency, online booking company like Booking.Com or direct from owners.
- Hotels – usually fairly basic amenities, may include a pool but not much else.
- Resorts – include the full works; restaurants, pools, gyms, usually kids clubs and water activity programs included, some are all inclusive of meals and drinks. Some also offer private villa options in addition to hotel rooms.
While budget will likely play a part in your decision, choosing your desired location on the island and what amenities are included are probably your big deciding factors, along with how many people are travelling in your group.
Family areas to stay in
There are several areas in Bali considered popular with families within an hour of the airport including Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Jimbaran Bay, Sanur and Ubud. For more on best beach towns to stay in, there’s a great article here by Mum on the Move highlighting family-friendly Bali locations with their pros and cons.
Remember even though Bali doesn’t look huge on a map, traffic and road conditions can mean getting from A to B takes longer than you think. It’s recommended to stay near to the places you think you’ll be visiting most.
Some of the major attractions you might consider visiting in Bali with kids include The Waterbom Bali (voted #1 waterpark in Asia by TripAdvisor) near Kuta; the Bali Safari Marine Park, Gianyar; the Desa Taro Elephant Safari Park and the Monkey Forest – both near Ubud. These suggestions all come up pretty high on kids’ wish lists – along of course with playing at the beach and pool which are in plentiful supply!
If you are looking for something away from the hustle and bustle though, try heading away from the south-western corner of the island. Head north to areas such as Lovina, Munduk in the mountains or east to Amed – we describe these areas and what to expect away from the tourist traps in much more detail here.
Why choose a villa over a resort in Bali
Although normally a fan of resorts and the options they come with for entertainment and relaxation, for us choosing a villa makes sense on this occasion. We will have a larger group and need at least 3-4 bedrooms and prefer access to our own kitchen.
Staying as a multi-generation group, we will already have access to babysitting and other family members around to help; some of the bonuses that might otherwise attract us to a resort like kids club and large pool aren’t as essential. We can have many of the features of a resort but within our own private setting, and at a lower cost.
Having a villa allows you to work to your own timetable; whilst meals might be included at a resort, you are subject to their buffet opening times which don’t always fit childrens’ tummies!
Many villas also come with staff, so if it’s the dread of doing the cooking or dishes while you’re on holiday’s that puts you off booking a villa or self-catering accommodation in the past, fear not! We have found there are numerous family-friendly villas in Seminyak so this is where we are currently narrowing our search to.
Things to check in a Bali villa booking for families
- Pool safety. Make sure if you are travelling with young children there is either a pool fence installed or an option to lock doors to the pool.
- Distance to restaurant and shops. Don’t believe just what is advertised, jump on to Google maps and have a look! If you have strollers with you, can you easily walk on the street? Is there a convenience store in easy reach?
- Read previous reviews! Parents are the best critics when it comes to safety concerns and amenities; are there any dangerous balconies or potential sheer falls to be wary of? Are there items like playpens or high chairs available on site?
- There may be enough bedrooms, but are there enough living spaces? Enough chairs and leisure areas for everyone to not be on top of each other? Enough bathrooms?
We can’t wait to bring you our full Bali review after this trip! Our last visit to Bali was tainted by severe morning sickness and gastro, so a lot more exploring to be done on this occasion!!
Have you visited Bali with a group? What sort of accommodation did you decide on, and where?
Flying to Bali? We have a review on national carrier Garuda Indonesia as well as this reader review on her first family flying experience Melbourne to Bali.
This article has been written in partnership with Villa-Bali as part of our own holiday planning. All views expressed are our own.