A tropical island holiday with the fam was on the cards — would Club Med Bali deliver the perfect short getaway with kids?
A chance to check out Club Med Bali in Nusa Dua earned a resounding Yes! from our family of four. It was our first trip to Bali (and we’re Australian, can you believe it?!), and our first time staying at an all-inclusive Club Med resort, so we were excited to experience both.
Club Med is known for its all-inclusive approach (in theory you shouldn’t ever have to pull out your wallet to pay for food, or booze, or even activities) and for having an excellent kids’ club (although our kids have serious FOMO and will not be left in a kids club). Luckily for us, Club Med Bali have recently launched their new ‘Amazing Family‘ program in Bali, offering activities for the whole family to do together. Could this be the perfect all-inclusive family holiday?
Flights from Singapore to Bali operate at all times of day with all the usual budget airlines (plus Singapore Airlines, Garuda and KLM) and the flight is around 2 hours 40 minutes. Once you land, Nusa Dua is just a 20-minute drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport, which makes this a very decent option for a quick getaway from Singapore. We flew Scoot both ways, but plumped for Scoot Biz on the way back (well worth it if the price difference isn’t too big!) When you get to immigration in Bali, look for the separate queue for families with young children – you’ll get through SO much faster (it’s over to the right of the main queue).
For those who haven’t already earned your Club Med wristband, here’s a quick rundown on how it works. An all-inclusive resort with loads of activities for guests, Club Med employs “GOs” (Gentils Organisateurs — the company is headquartered in France) to look after guests, who are known as GM’s (Gentils Membres). The resort is the Village, and the resort manager is the Chef de Village. GO’s are responsible for the general ambiance of the resort, the wellbeing of the guests, and run many of the activities and the kids club. They dine with guests, and drink with guests (and discuss their hangovers with fellow hungover guests!), and come from a wide range of nationalities, ensuring that there will most likely be someone on staff who speaks the same language as you.
Every Friday night there is a white party – the dress code for dinner is white, and afterwards everyone gathers at the bar to celebrate, drink and dance. We felt like we missed the white party dress code memo when we packed (most guests were wearing all white) but managed to improvise!
This is one of the elements that makes Club Med so very appealing; your room rate includes pretty much EVERYTHING — food, drinks (both alcoholic and otherwise), activities and kids club. This makes is super easy to navigate your stay as there are no hidden costs once you arrive. It also made it easy as we were travelling with friends; no split bills required! Kids under 4 stay free, and there are special rates for kids aged 4 – 17 years. (Not included – top shelf drinks and certain food items from the a la carte menu, as well as some activities. We never found ourselves wanting anything that we had to pay for, though!)
There are two main restaurants, plus two bars that offer snacks, but for us (and no doubt most families with young kids!) The Agung, a buffet-style restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, won hands down. The kids had the option of using a bento tray (sample toddler meal pictured above), which made it super easy to collect all the bits and pieces I knew they’d eat in requisite small portions, and also make sure there were one or two veggies at each meal (olives count, right?). The food was different each day, but there was most definitely something for every taste and dietary requirement.
We ate at The Agung almost every meal, but if you happen to be hungry in between the dining hours, you can head to The Deck, which keeps different hours and ensures no one ever goes hungry! Here you can order off the menu, and dine indoors or outside in booths by the water. The Kintamani Bar brought out poolside snacks in between meal times, and Makan on Wheels, a food truck serving local fare, starts offering small plates of food in the late afternoon when the kids are getting peckish.
Three bars make getting a drink here a breeze! The Deck Bar has a more adult feel but the main bar, The Kintamani, is the site of many family activities during the day, and also has a cute kids’ section with built-in steps up to the bar so kids can do their own ordering. The Beach Bar has a fun relaxed vibe, with live music in the late afternoons. Almost every space at Club Med is kid-friendly (yes, even the bars!) so it’s actually possible to enjoy a cocktail while your kids play. The grass here is divine – soft and springy – and our kids went absolutely crazy running around barefoot, following squirrels and collecting seeds and leaves while we managed to score a drink and a prime view of the beach!
The Club Med Bali beach is reasonably nice, it’s clean and there is a small area where you can swim/frolic but for swimming we mainly stuck to the pool. My sand-hating toddler eventually agreed to walk on the beach and even helped build a sandcastle, so that was a small sensory win! The beach outside Club Med Bali is public, so there are some vendors selling kites and clothes, but it’s not overwhelming at all and in the evenings there were loads of people flying kites, which had the kids transfixed. We were told not to miss sunrise at the beach (around 6:20am), but unfortunately the day I dragged myself out of bed it was a little lacklustre!
We had two interconnecting Deluxe Rooms, which both opened out onto a little private terrace and then a large grassy space. Note that the “separate sleeping area” in these rooms is a daybed by the door, not a separate alcove bedroom. Our friends had a nearby Deluxe Room and the kids could run back and forth and play outside while we managed to relax a little on the sun loungers. The rooms were spacious, although the décor is a little loud! A cot was provided on request for our toddler along with a very cute kid-sized Club Med robe for our 6-year-old.
We’ve never used a babysitter on holiday before, and I have to confess it felt a bit weird leaving the kids with a complete stranger while we checked out the White Party. Club Med staff explained to us that all hotels are required to use the same babysitting service, which is provided and vetted by the Indonesian government. Most of the babysitters are women whose own children are grown and who are looking to supplement their income. Our babysitter, Darmin, was very communicative and made sure we could WhatsApp each other before I left.
Club Med Bali has a really great toddler pool – it’s a good size, knee-deep and almost completely covered by shade cloth. The main pool (which is connected to the toddler pool) is partly covered by shade cloth, and an adult won’t be out of their depth anywhere in the pool. We were amazed at the amount of water activities – Zumba, dance classes, water polo – but even more amazed at the amount of people who joined in; participation rates at Club Med are next level! If you get a chance to escape the kids, sneak over to the Zen Pool, which is strictly for adults and has a no noise policy. There are plenty of sun beds here, a jacuzzi, and sea views.
Mini Club Med, for ages 4 – 10, is included in the room rate, and kids can join in as much or as little as they want; you’ll just need to sign them in and out of the kids club. There are circus activities, sandcastle festivals, sports, archery, theatre programs, craft and free play in the kids club area. Baby Club Med (0-2 years) and Petit Club Med (2-3 years) are at an additional cost. The Kids Club activities are designed to as a drop-off program, so if you’re looking to do activities together, you’ll want to try the Amazing Family program.
This is a great option for families whose kids WILL NOT be left at the kids club, thanks very much. (Or, you know, families who just want to spend time together on holidays!) We did a paper cutting workshop, a kite making workshop, a sandcastle festival and a little bit of the kids trapeze. The GOs running these activities were chatty and easy going, and interacted really well with the kids. Each morning a list of the activities available that day is posted, so you can pick and choose what you want to do.
Honestly though? Despite being the kind of family this program is aimed at, we found the Amazing Family program unnecessary. Not because it doesn’t offer some great activities, but because Club Med is already so full of fun things to do we really didn’t need anything else. Give my kids a beach, a pool, access to an unlimited supply of food and the undivided attention of their parents, and they really couldn’t be happier. (Also, our kids are still pretty young, so bringing them to scheduled activities when they were having fun just hanging out seemed to defeat the purpose of being on a holiday!)
– Club Med has an app that allows you to see the resort’s schedule of activities for each day and save the things you’re interested in doing. I recommend downloading this before you go so you can hit the ground running. We got a bit distracted exploring and although this was fun, it would also have been fun to try out more of the activities!
– There are various dress codes (optional obviously, but when in Rome) so at the very least, pack something white for the white party if you’re visiting Club Med Bali over a weekend!
– This is a great place to go with a group of friends; the all-inclusive aspect really simplifies this and it was easy to request nearby rooms.
– It wouldn’t be a holiday without a trip to the doctor…. On our second last day at Club Med Bali a squirrel ran up my 6-year-old’s leg and scratched him, and Dr Google immediately made this mama freak out about rabies. So, you’ll be reassured to know that a) squirrels do not carry rabies, but b) you can see a doctor at Club Med (this, of course, is one of the things that is NOT all-inclusive!).
– Buy travel insurance! (This is not specific to Club Med Bali, just general advice.) Ours was around $40 and more than paid for itself with our little trip to the infirmary.
So would we recommend Club Med Bali? Absolutely. I can see it being an ideal holiday destination for families with slightly older kids than mine, so that they can really take advantage of all the activities on offer. The relatively short flight and the all-inclusive nature of the resort made everything so easy that if you just want to take a few days to chill out with your family – you probably couldn’t do better.
Club Med Bali, www.clubmed.com.sg
Prices start from $599 per adult, not including flights.