A trip to Bali is a right of passage for Australian families. Once you have done the obligatory trip to the Gold Coast theme parks the next progression is a family holiday to Bali.
Although not a regular destination on the Itchy Feet Family destination list, we have done a few trips and always like to try something different outside of the Kuta markets, Ubud day trip and visit to Waterbom Park.
On our most recent trip we decided to see the countryside on two-wheels on a cycling tour.
We chose Bali Hai Tours who collected us from our hotel in Kuta, the Hard Rock Hotel. Although we knew we were doing a tour, the one thing we forgot to prepare for was the almost two-hour car journey to Ubud to actually start the cycling tour!
Whilst the kids were excited at the prospect of cycling, when our driver gave us an estimate drive time to our tour we nearly had a riot on our hands from the kids! So be prepared.
Cycling tours are best when all family members are able to cycle, however even if your youngest is not quite at a stage to handle their own wheels, bikes with child seats are available. Our 5 year old could ride but not confidently enough so we opted for the child seat for her. Master 8 on the other hand was rearing to go.
The clever part of this tour is that the transportation takes you to the highest part of the journey and the route takes you downhill and along flats. So even for someone with only modest levels of fitness, there are no mountains to scale!
The challenge is not so much in activating your quads to cycle through terrain, but rather keeping cramp in your hand at bay as the steep descents require excessive usage of your hand break.
The route took us through rural villages, bamboo forests, rice fields and to the doorsteps of temples. Children waved and laughed at us as we cycled by and we saw a lovely side to this beautiful country away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta.
Not for the faint hearted, there were a number of stretches that took us along main roads and I must admit that as a mother with an 8 yo on a cycle I did have a few nervous moments when trucks and cars were passing.
We had a number of stops along the way where our guide would share with us stories and facts of the area and we were able to stretch our legs, rehydrate and take in the surrounds.
Master 8 was fascinated by the Durian and at a local village stop he was shown how to cut the fruit open. He was also offered a taste - however the smell was not one he (nor I) could quite handle. An acquired taste for sure!
So if you have done the obligatory tours in Bali and are after something a little different, a cycling tour is a fun family day out if you can drag yourself away from the pool, cocktails and massages!
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Having been to Bali a couple of times, I had always vowed that I would NEVER stay in Kuta……. but as you learn in life you should NEVER say NEVER!
Our last trip to Bali we got an amazing deal at the Hard Rock Hotel, right in the heart of Kuta. I was sceptical - but I have to say, I would actually stay there again. Here are my top four reasons why.
The pool area at the Hard Rock Hotel Bali is amazing. The largest free-form swimming pool in Bali, with an amazing sand bar, this pool is off the hook!
Not only does it have slides for the kids and the mandatory swim up bar for the big kids, but it also has a great vibe.
During the day it is easy to find a chill out space to read and soak up the sun, and for those that like a bit more going on the crew do a great job to keep people entertained. The kids loved the foam disco party, the beach volleyball and the biggest splash competition.
2. The Location
I know this hotel is right in the heart of Kuta and for a family Kuta is probably not the location that comes first of mind, however it really worked.
In the morning, after breakfast together as a family, the kids would head to kids club and we could take a five minute stroll and be in the thick of shopping and massages.
My children hate shopping and whilst they actually like to get massages in Asia and wanted to come with us, it was nice to be able to go on our own occasionally. There was no need for a taxi or any commute, we just walked out of the hotel and into a spa.
An hour (or maybe two) later, we could be back at the hotel - again no taxi required - to collect the kids for lunch.
In the evenings we had plenty of options for dining at our doorstep and we were also within walking distance of Waterbom Park..
3. Rock Royalty Lounge
I have to admit, having access to the Rock Royalty Lounge certainly put a shine on our stay here.
This is Hard Rock’s equivalent to a “Club” area and it really was a nice extra to include.
Instead of eating breakfast in the large buffet restaurant (which was in itself great), Rock Royalty allows a much quieter experience with personal table service in a more intimate, yet very funky, dining area.
In the afternoon snacks and soft drinks were available followed by early evening canapé’s and cocktails.
Admittedly Rock Royalty felt a bit indulgent - but we certainly loved it! The kids relished in the independence of being able to order mocktails and enjoyed happy hour as much as we did!
If you can get it included as part of a package for a reasonable price, I would say go for it. I would not pay top dollar for it as you want to get out and explore and not spend your whole time at the hotel trying to get the value from it.
4. Kids Club
There are two things we always require in a sun holiday, a swim-up bar and a great kids club! Hard Rock Hotel has two big ticks on this one.
The kids club had two quite large indoor spaces but the daily program quite often took them out of those rooms and into other areas of the resort to explore.
The kids would go rock climbing, out to the garden for a picnic, to the sandbar for soccer and much more. The daily program was entertaining and the staff were as you would expect - enthusiastic and nurturing.
The kids club, like the hotel, had a very funky vibe to it and the kids enjoyed playing with others and being entertained. They even performed on stage poolside one evening after spending a day in rehearsal.
Have you stayed at Hard Rock Hotel Bali? What did you think?
Penny - ITCHY FEET FAMILY
Penny, an avid Trip Advisor Reviewer, is the author of ITCHY FEET FAMILY. A family of 4 living in Adelaide, Australia, and taking every opportunity to travel and explore the world.