Winter and school holidays combined seemed like a great reason to take the family to Bali in search of some sun and warmth.
Neither my husband nor I had been to Bali in over 15 years and our memories weren’t really great but we were prepared to give it a go.
Having two boys under ten, our usual family holiday choice is a resort where there are lots of options to eat and entertain. On the recommendation of a friend, we decided to stay in a villa this time. The key selling point for me was that there was staff to assist us and cook breakfast every morning!
Once committing to the idea of a villa I searched for a really fab one – life is for living right?! Unfortunately my first few choices were unavailable – July is a peak time for Bali, especially in school holidays and people book way in advance (also as a side note, airlines almost double flight prices! So if you can plan ahead is a better way to go from a price perspective). Not being as organised, I was starting to think a hotel might be the only option. The team at Bali Villa Escapes (BVE) were really great, however (and patient!), in helping me select a villa, and before I knew it we were locked in and good to go.
My husband is a keen surfer, so he packed his surfboard and a mate of his decision to come along too as we had room in the villa. We were off!
BVE had organised transport to pick us up from the airport in Bali and our friendly driver battled the traffic to take us to the villa. Having the staff all come out to greet us made us feel like royalty. Touring the villa with a welcome drink in hand, I knew from the smiling faces of my family that we had made the right decision to stay in a villa.
Villa Ipanema is absolutely stunning. The huge seventeen-metre pool is the central focus point of the whole villa, with bedrooms and living space framing it in an L shape. The kids were entranced by the fact that the living area was open to the outdoors and that they had to walk “outside” to go from one bedroom to another. The indoor/outdoor bathroom with the huge stone bath was heaven on earth.
Huge bedrooms mean you have plenty of space to not be on top of each other and the day bed by the pool is a perfect place to unwind, lie by the pool and read a book whilst the kids swam and splash around. (I actually had time to read a whole book!!)
I couldn’t quite get used to having staff wait on me to bring me drinks or make breakfast, but they were all so lovely and caring that it was a really special part of the stay. As a mum, it was an ultimate holiday to not have to cook a meal or do any housework and feel so cared for.
Our days rolled by in easy relaxation. The big boys would leave early (5 am) on their scooters to go for a surf at nearby Echo Beach, Canggu. The small boys and I would wake up a (slightly) more civilised time of 6.30 am or so. They’d jump straight in the pool and frolic around until our breakfast was served for us at about 7.30 am. The big boys would return around 9.30 -10.00 am and after they’d eaten, we’d all head out for the day. For longer excursions, the villa staff booked us a car with a driver, who patiently drove us around in air-conditioned comfort, waiting for us whilst we explored, ate or shopped – all for a fixed fee. It’s quite hot in Bali, so we found that after being out for a few hours, all we wanted to do was return home to the villa and relax by the pool. Sometimes a holiday is about not doing too much and spending time together, so that’s exactly what we did. We had family games of Marco Polo in the pool and never-ending UNO championships. It was fantastic.
Having said that, we still did quite a lot. We went to Uluwatu and had a great lunch at the Single Finn restaurant on the top of the cliff before heading off to the Temple. The kids loved the monkeys running around and the thrill that one may steal your sunglasses and them giggling as they walked around finding the debris of stolen items. We went to the Canggu Club Splash Water Park for lunch and an afternoon of water sliding – an absolute must if you have smaller kids. They loved it!! The slides are big enough that dads (and mums can go too). There were no queues despite being quite busy and the variety of rides were great for all ages.
We surfed and swam at the black sands of Echo beach, shopped at Seminyak and rode the scooters to the quieter Canggu village for a fantastic lunch at Betelnut Café. The boys loved doubling on the scooters – something that initially seems quite confronting but is so much the norm in Bali that we decided to brave it – but only in the quieter areas.
Staying in Canggu was the right choice for us. It was quiet and peaceful and it was nice having that mental break from the busier areas. Around the corner from our villa were a little group of shops with a large supermarket (Pepito), an ice cream shop and a day spa for a massage. It was great to be able to grab some snacks and drinks for the kids to have at home at the villa.
Seminyak was close enough that it was a quick cab ride in for dinner or some shopping and there definitely is an amazing variety of options for places to eat. We were leaving early enough for dinner (because of the kids) that the traffic wasn’t too bad but in peak times it would definitely get a bit heavier.
We returned home from our holiday in Bali dreaming of how quickly we could get back there – that’s a pretty good indicator of a fab family villa holiday!