Earlier this year when Olympia was still taking swimming lessons, her swim school organised a holiday camp to Maldives. We couldn’t make it because it was scheduled right after Lenora’s delivery date. Besides, I also baulked at the high costs involved. Nevertheless, she was intrigued by the snorkelling videos that her coach showed to the class. Not wanting to dim her dreams, I proceeded to look for cheaper and nearer alternatives. In the end, we decided on Bali as it is a destination that I am familiar with (We have been there at least 5 times!). With a newborn this year, Bali seems to be a reasonable location compared to a far-flung destination. This blog article details my family’s holiday in Bali, a destination favoured by beach and nature lovers.
Let’s start with the kid-friendly activities that we did outside of hotel resorts that I would recommend.
1) Snorkelling at Nusa Penida
Not knowing how she would take to snorkelling, we took a leap of faith by booking a day tour package with Day Trip Bali via Viatour/Tripadvisor. It was a group tour with 8 other people to 4 snorkelling hotspots around the island of Nusa Penida. As part of the package, snorkelling gear, lunch and a land tour were included.
At the start, for someone with motion sickness, Olympia handled herself quite well and almost survived the hour-long boat ride to Nusa Penida. ALMOST because just as we reached Manta Point, she threw up her breakfast.
While she was just recovering from the episode, it was time to disembark and jump into the Indian Ocean. I hurried her to jump as the boat could not wait and had to leave the snorkelling spot for safety reasons. This was a grave mistake from us as the choppy waters at Manta Bay shattered her confidence in the water. To be fair, even the adults had a rude shock but we were rewarded with sighting of manta rays. My wife and I were shocked at how big the manta rays were – each of them was easily the size of our master bedroom!
Olympia skipped the 2nd snorkelling spot and the group continued with lunch and the land tour thereafter.
After lunch, her mojo returned and eventually her desire to see sea turtles proved too strong 😀 On the encouragement of us and the instructors, she jumped straight down at the 3rd snorkelling spot where the water was a lot calmer. The reaction of her seeing the ocean floor full of marine life was priceless and it will be a memory etched in my mind forever. The image of the turtle in Diagram 1 was exactly what we saw with the water so clear that it was unbelievable.
I hope this experience opened up her perspective of the world and how different the ocean is compared to the swimming pool that she is accustomed to. In addition, the instructors from Day Trip Bali deserved two thumbs up for being so patient and helping her conquer her fears! At the end of the holiday, she rated this her least favourite activity (not surprising given the trauma she went through). Despite this, I am still glad that we persevered even if she was not cognizant of the scale of her achievement that day.
If you are interested to learn more about the snorkelling tour by Day Trip Bali, you can head over here for more details. I think this activity is suitable for children 7 years and above but for those younger, they need to be very confident with their water abilities first to enjoy snorkelling.
2) Pony ride at Bali Equestrian Centre
At the first part of our holiday in Bali, we stayed in Seminyak. This made it easy to reach Bali Equestrian Centre which was in neighbouring Canggu. Judging from her choice of tee shirt, this was an activity that she was really looking forward to having already tried it in Brisbane. We paid $30 for a 30-minute ride with the pony. This was money well spent because the parents could chill at the café while the kid ride the pony with an instructor.
3) Devdan Show at Bali Nusa Dua Theatre
Over at Nusa Dua, we watched the much-acclaimed Devdan Show at Bali Nusa Dua Theatre. Olympia thoroughly enjoyed the performance and even danced along at certain parts. Personally, I like that this show highlighted the many facets of Indonesia through dance, which is one of the easiest ways for her to gain a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture.
Pro Tip: We bought the cheapest tickets (Category C) and were still seated at the front right row and it did not affect our viewing experience. Therefore, this theatre is built in such a way that there is no need to shell out for the top-tier tickets. We even managed to save on our Cat C tickets as we bought them when Klook was running some deals.
Family-friendly hotels in Bali
These days, the first reward programe that I will reach out to when booking my overseas accommodation is the GHA Discovery programme as I have attained the highest membership tier courtesy of some promotion during the Covid-19 pandemic. After enjoying the benefits for the last couple of years, I was hell-bent on retaining my Titanium status for 2024. Therefore, I stayed in 2 different hotels in Bali to ensure that I met the criteria of staying at 3 different brands in 2023. Since we had no plans to go on a long holiday this year, I decided to retain the same budget meant for a long holiday and splurged on the accommodation. #dadmath
The Apurva Kempinski Bali
I have seen so many jaw-dropping photos and heard outstanding reviews from my friends that I readily splashed the cash to book a stay The Apurva Kempinski Bali. When I first arrived at the lobby, I just gaped at the magnificent architecture on display. It’s no exaggeration that it took my breath away.
I paid for the 2nd cheapest room category (Grand Deluxe Ocean Court Room) and enjoyed a double category upgrade to a Cliff Private Pool Junior Suite. This is one of the benefits of Titanium status on GHA Discovery programme. Even though I paid for only the 2nd cheapest room category, it was still the most expensive room night I have ever paid in my life! Boy, it was every dollar well spent. Here are some of the highlights of this hotel, starting with the kids’ activities.
A) Kids introduction to Koral Restaurant
For those who baulked at the pricey set menus at the famous Koral restaurant, you are in luck if you have a kid in tow. Thanks to a tip from a friend, we managed to visit the Koral restaurant by participating in a complimentary “Funtasea” activity organised by the kids’ club. This was a 30-minute introduction to the marine life in the aquarium which was long enough for parents to snap photos of their little ones.
b) Jalak Family Club
During Covid-19 while hotel room rates were plummeting, I did a staycation at Shangri-la Singapore and went away very impressed with the kids’ club and outdoor pool facilities. Well, Apurva Kempinski took it up another notch with its offering – an indoor kids’ club, mega outdoor playground and swimming pools accompanied with 4 slides of varying speed.
The kids’ club was rated as her favourite activity, and it was so difficult to convince her to try other activities that we have planned. All she wanted to do was to hole herself there the entire time. This trip, we also ticked off another milestone as she was entirely comfortable with us dropping her off at the kids’ club.
The toddlers’ pool was a good place to expend her boundless energy. In just an hour, I recalled her racing down the slides at least 50 times. This secretly pleased me because it meant that she would sleep well and early for the day. All in, there were 6 pools to check out in this resort and we simply ran out of time.
c) Sea & Beach Activities
On the rare occasion that we managed to nick her out of the kids’ club, we convinced her to try the complimentary kayaking and stand-up paddling activities at the beach. We thought this was another family activity that she should experience for the first time. Unfortunately, Olympia offered no assistance to paddle but simply slump herself on the kayak to admire the ocean.
d) Hydro Jet pool
While Olympia was having incredible fun at the kids’ club, we managed to try the adults’ only hydro jet pool. This was designed exclusively for suite guests to relax and soothe their sore muscles. I was very impressed by this facility as it opened up my eyes to every bit of pressurised jets imaginable in hydromassage therapy.
e) Cliff Lounge
The Cliff Lounge is the dedicated dining area for Suites guests. Over there, we enjoyed extended breakfast (630am – 12pm), all-day free-flow refreshments, afternoon tea and light bites (3pm-5pm) and Hors d’Oeuvres & Cocktails (5-7pm). With so much complimentary culinary offerings, one would never go hungry at the Cliff Lounge. In fact, I never had lunch during the days I stayed there because I was simply too full.
Besides the extended dining hours, another benefit at the Cliff Lounge is the ala-carte menu available during breakfast. There were over 20 items on the ala-carte menu and we ordered different items every morning to sample as many of them as possible. While there were premium offerings such as langoustine omelette and foie gras porridge, they simply cannot beat this well-executed plain Jane, Masala Dosa.
f) Cliff Private Pool Junior Suite
The 1-bedroom suite room exceeded my expectations in every way. It was spacious at 100sqm and fitted out with his and her sinks. We also experienced smart toilet bowls for the first time in our lives. It came with an automatic bidet, seat warmer and dryer etc and these fixtures fascinated the heartlander in me. The photo in Diagram 16 probably doesn’t do it any justice because we were so excited to explore the room and forgot about taking nice photos.
I would say that The Apurva Kempinski Bali is a destination in itself. It is well worth spending 2 to 3 nights cooped up in this resort as there are so many facilities and offerings to try. Most importantly, I was most impressed by the hospitality shown by the service staff. Olympia formed bonds with many of them and had a very difficult time parting ways on our last day.
2) Avani Seminyak Bali Resort
A friend of mine was kind enough to recommend that we leave The Apurva Kempinski Bali to the last part of the holiday because everything else would just pale in comparison from this utopia. And I am glad we followed his advice because we started with 3 nights at Avani Seminyak Bali Resort upon arrival. To be fair, Avani Seminyak Bali is no small slouch and likewise exceeded my expectations for its price point. At less than half the price of The Apurva Kempinski, we were upgraded from a 1-bedroom apartment suite to a one bedroom pool villa. As a result, our hotel room tripled in size to 150sm and we now had a private pool, garden and separate living room.
Olympia also enjoyed herself thoroughly at the main pool as there were various inflatable buoys and toys on offer.
We felt that this holiday was well-timed because it coincided with the current theme of Olympia’s school term, marine life. We bought a kids camera for her 5th birthday and she was eagerly snapping photos to capture these precious moments to show her teachers and friends.
Finally, given that we tried some higher risk activities during this holiday, we bought comprehensive insurance. Good news that SingSaver is running a travel insurance promotion during this holiday season.
From now till 31 December 2023, SingSaver will be conducting weekly lucky draws for eligible participants with the following prizes on offer:
- Samsonite Volant Spinner 68/25 EXP worth $480 (12 winners)
- Full reimbursement of flight ticket (1 winner)
Eligible products for this lucky draw are:
- Great Eastern TravelSmart
- Singlife Travel
- AIG Travel Guard
- FWD Travel Insurance
- TIQ Travel Insurance
- Allianz Travel Insurance
- MSIG TravelEasy
- Starr TraveLead
- Allied World Travel Protector
This blog article is published on 7 November 2023.
P.S. You can show your appreciation for this blog post by purchasing the products from my referral links. Thank you in advance.
<WEBULL BEST EVER OFFER>
For those who missed the amazing Webull’s promotion back in May, you are in luck as it is back once again BUT bigger and better. Good things come for those who wait? Basically, new users can open and deposit as little as 1 cent to earn a minimum of USD 100 to a maximum of $5,000 (given in the form of US blue chip stocks)!
I did a review on Webull and it is something that I personally use for my investment portfolio as I like its user-friendly features. If you are looking to earn some easy money, you can open a Webull account with this referral link.