It’s an unfortunate fact of life that planning a holiday in Bali can, at times, get a bit stressful. Instead of drooling over pictures of tropical beaches and turquoise waters, or dreaming about technicolored sunsets, we find ourselves worrying over passports and tickets and making sure we have got the absolute best deal. One of the biggest decisions to make is the type of accommodation to stay in. Bali has a few choices on offer, but, if we rule out backpackers and hostels (lets not even get started with tents, glamping or otherwise!), great if you are young or travelling solo, but less appealing the older you get, then really there are only two main contenders: hotels or private villas.
For many people, a hotel is the obvious first choice, they are safe, reliable and we generally know what to expect. The idea of booking a villa though, can seem a little bit daunting for first timers - so why would you consider a villa over a hotel?
Pros and Cons
Of course both forms of accommodation have their pros and cons and it really is up to each individual to decide which will be the best option for them - we for example really enjoyed our stay in the Hard Rock Hotel. If you keep reading though you may decide that a private villa can, in many cases, be the way to go.
There are many benefits to staying in a hotel. They often have the best locations (i.e right on the beach), large pools, opportunities to socialise and onsite bars and restaurants. However, there are also downsides, most often involving either space or privacy. Suites can be expensive, standard rooms a little too small, especially for families, and you may have to keep the noise down in order to avoid becoming unpopular with your neighbours.
Villas, on the other hand avoid most of these issues. Perhaps their biggest selling point is the amount of privacy and freedom they can offer. If you want to get a feel for what it’s really like to live in Bali, a villa will give you a much closer approximation of this than a hotel. Imagine just popping out of your own private enclave, strolling just a couple of minutes down the road and finding yourself right in the heart of some of Bali’s best locations.
A villa can be your own home-away-from-home, you can cook whatever you like, whenever you like (or never if you like, as many villas come with a private chef!). You can stay up as late as you like, without worrying about the noise, and you can even take a skinny dip in the pool!
Maybe, best of all, there will be no more staring longingly at towel draped sun beds, the claimants of which are nowhere to be seen, because you will have your own private outdoor area.
How do costs compare?
Whilst there are plenty of villas designed as romantic getaways for couples, there are also many larger properties that are a great choice if you are travelling with friends, or relatives. In fact the more people you can bring along the better a deal you will be able to find.
As of writing, it is possible to find some amazing villas, available in high season for as little as $20 USD per person per night! These are villas with private gardens and pools, spacious bedrooms with ensuites, beautifully appointed kitchens, well designed living / dining areas and a permanent staff, available to cater to your every whim.
One major concern that many have about renting a villa is the cost. The idea of renting an entire building with facilities anywhere as nice as even a basic resort seems as though it should be prohibitively expensive. In Bali, however, this is really not the case. Of course, there are villas that were built to cater only for the super rich, but, there are also plenty of others, that are much more affordable, and would still easily be classified as luxury accommodation.
Where will I feel safe?
Another barrier many have about renting villas is the perception of the possible lack of security in a villa as opposed to that offered by a resort, however many offer 24h security guards on duty so be sure to check the details of the villa you are renting.
There are couple of options when it comes to finding your dream villa, you can try to do so privately, or, you can organise it through a dedicated villa company. I would recommend doing the latter.
There are plenty of these companies operating in Bali and a quick search through some of their websites will turn up tons of fantastic villas for you to compare. Bali’s private villa market has been booming in recent years and with so much competition, villa companies have to ensure a high operating standard in order to remain in the game. The best will have stringent quality control checks on all their listed properties and team of staff on the ground to provide you with advice or to assist you should any problems arise.
This guest post was contributed by Bali Villas.
With extensive experience in servicing Australian clients, Bali Villas knows what families are looking for in terms of location, style and pricing. Each of their family friendly villas situated on the beautiful island of Bali have been hand-picked by their ‘family expert’ – someone with children who knows exactly what families are looking for.
Contact Bali Villas on firstname.lastname@example.org for a short consultation, and they will be able to find you the perfect villa. Bali Villas aim to take the stress out of planning your holiday, so you can concentrate on creating lasting memories with your family.
Going to the dentist on a holiday might not be everyone’s first thought for a restful and fun break. But if you’re one of many who laments on the dentistry that was never done in your teens, then you might just find yourself considering it.
In Australia, my husband was looking at $35,000-$40,000 for the work that he knew inevitably would have to be done (or consider false teeth in the not too distant future – eek!).
When in Thailand some years ago, we met an Aussie nurse who worked in cosmetic hospitals and the stories that he shared on the professionalism and results that he saw daily really had us thinking. Maybe this overseas thing isn’t as mad as it sounds. A few years went by, but the idea was firmly in our mind.
ONE FLIGHT DESTINATION
Being from Adelaide, you really just want one flight to the destination and back home for a short holiday, so Bali was put on the list. A chance holiday to Legian at the last minute allowed my husband to seriously consider this idea. So, combined with hundreds of hours of internet research, he decided to go and meet two dentists on the shortlist and chat about the options.
Both were incredibly professional and suddenly this option was real. Estimates for the work were around $15,000 and the process was explained clearly with a map of visits, timeframes and what to expect.
Would we really consider this? Haven’t we watched any of those ‘Surgery that Destroyed My Life’ shows? Are we mad?
But sitting in the waiting room, in this modern surgery, with all the latest equipment and meeting the staff made us realise this is a genuine growing business in some countries – and they take it very seriously. Most surgeries have a head surgeon who is from a more medically advanced country. In this case, our choice was a German dentist (and his surgery runs with that precision) and his speciality is cosmetic dentistry and implants.
Finally deciding to go ahead with the process means a commitment of several visits, depending on what you are having done. We chose to do some extractions in Australia and then do the restorative and implants in Bali to save on having to do a third trip.
Of course there were some nerves about the procedures, but after several consultations, any concern over the competency, hygiene and professionalism had disappeared. So on day eight of an 11 day holiday, in my husband went for implant surgery.
I won’t go into details of the procedure, other than to say it was over extremely quickly and the panoramic x-ray was done prior and post-surgery to confirm exact location (very professional and reassuring). You certainly won’t be lining up for cocktails that evening, but my husband was shocked at how manageable the pain was and with some painkillers, he slept for most of the day following the procedure. The next day, much to my surprise, we still went out and he was managing to eat some soft food like pasta and rice without great challenge after we went back to the dentist for the 24 hour follow up visit.
Returning back home, we resumed daily life and there were no issues around pain or healing. Unfortunately, one implant didn’t take, but that related more to existing damage on the jaw and we knew that risk before surgery as it has been highlighted by the dentist. It was worth a shot and the other four took exactly as planned. We knew the day after surgery at the check up about this failure and it was managed quickly then.
Some months later, we returned to Bali to complete the process which involved creating the tooth component and having veneers on 13 teeth. This visit to the dentist was by far the longest and certainly the toughest, because of the process of building veneers. It’s fair to say my husband wasn’t that spritely the following day, but he knew that this was part of the process and he was relieved that it was over.
Around a week after that long day at the dentist, he was able to return to complete the veneers and implants. Upon walking out of the surgery, I have never seen him smile so much and he admitted to the dentist that when he saw the results he actually teared up knowing that the days of being able to eat simple things like apples and smile in photos had returned!
The results speak for themselves and my husband doesn’t regret it for a second. And the number of people that have asked him about is experience has blown me away. With the world becoming more connected, many people are choosing this option and certainly the waiting room at this clinic was always full of Aussies and New Zealanders. Even for a check up it’s about $60, so regulars to Bali (particularly without health insurance) make that hour part of their annual holiday. The clinic downstairs does injectables and minor cosmetic procedures and that place was flat out every time we visited too.
The total cost for us was around $14,000 at the dentist (the exchange rate will vary visit to visit) and the dental work was completed in two trips that we enjoyed as holidays too. Obviously though, the flights and accommodation are a cost you can’t ignore, but we invested no more than $4000 on both trips.
Our top tips:
So would we travel for procedures such as heart surgery, plastic surgery or laser eye treatment? I’m not sure being perfectly honest, but probably because we haven’t faced that health challenge (thankfully). If we did though, it’s certainly something we would consider and research again. And I’d not be surprised if we came to the same conclusion as we did on dental.
The VixenMixer was a patient of ARCDental on Sunset Road, Kuta - http://www.arcdentalbali.com/
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!
Other blogs you may be interested in:
Christmas Cruising: The Pros and Cons
Y’All Come Back Soon: Visit to a Texas Ranch
Getting Dirty in Vietnam: Nha Trang Mud Baths
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.