The giant complex allows you to disconnect

Sometimes all you really want to do on vacation is lay by a pool, right? And after the stresses of the past two years, a recent bout of COVID-19, a miserable summer and an even wetter start to winter, Bali’s tropical heat and the safety net of an all-inclusive resort seem incredibly appealing – especially since I will be traveling with my eight year old granddaughter.

“What would you like to do on our trip to Bali?” I ask Elijah.

“Swim in the pool,” she replies without hesitation. Alright, your wish is my command: on this five-day vacation, we’ll make the most of resort life, throwing ourselves into all the activities and facilities – including that much-desired swimming pool – with the challenge being, can- we still have a rewarding experience staying within the hotel grounds?

Of course, the fact that Club Med Bali, which sits on 500 meters of beachfront in Nusa Dua on Bali’s southeast peninsula, is enormous gives us a head start. In a single day, I walked over 14,000 steps, stooping between the main pool and returning to our room to retrieve forgotten glasses, charge my phone, and pick up my computer under the guise of working.

The statistics alone are exhausting: 391 rooms spread over 14 hectares of tropical gardens; four swimming pools, two restaurants, two bars, a theatre, a six-hole golf course, six tennis courts, squash, badminton, archery… take me back to my pool deck chair already, and yes, I I’ll have another pina colada.

But laziness is not in the Energizer Bunny Ellie lexicon. She wants to do everything, right away, without a break in the procedure. So after a healthy dose of action in the main pool – including a pool party with unicorn and flamingo floaties, a water aerobics lesson and an inflatable bridge challenge – I decide to enroll her in the Mini Club Med+ so she can play with kids her age and treat me to a spa treatment, yoga under the palm trees, and me time in the adults-only Zen pool.

This is where Club Med comes into its own. Its kids’ club is second to none, with more activities and dedicated space than I’ve ever seen. The participation of children from 4 to 10 years old – as well as teenagers from 11 to 17 years old – is included in the all-inclusive package (babies from 4 months and toddlers can be catered for at an additional cost), with activities ranging from circus skills to taking center stage in their own nightly spectacle.

Leading the organized mayhem with unrelenting enthusiasm and energy are Club Med’s legendary GOs, or Gentils Organiseurs, a term coined in 1950 when the first Club Med opened in the Balearic Islands off Spain. Seriously, these young men and women have unlimited talents. As well as being trained as babysitters, they also act as dancers and performers in evening entertainment and are on duty from breakfast until after the party. For young extroverts, it must be a dream job, if they can handle the relentless pace.

But the Mini Club Med+ program is not just a babysitting service. Revamped in July 2022, it was developed under the principles of positive parenting, developing soft skills such as adaptability, resilience and emotional intelligence. The idea is to encourage children to find their bearings, to be proud of learning new skills, to feel included and to leave fulfilled and bigger.

I see this in action during Ellie’s first attempts at the amazing circus school on site. Having already done several jumps on a bungee trampoline, she is not at all fazed by this; but with some encouragement from the circus crew, she not only jumps up and down, but manages to pull off not one, but two back flips and a forward flip, which leaves her grinning from ear to ear .

The flying trapeze, however, presents greater challenges – the first being getting up there. The ladder leading to the seven meter launch pad has the swings; and Ellie’s legs too, shaking with fear and a rush of adrenaline. Panicked, she gives up less than two meters from the ground, saying she can’t do it. Rather than push her, the team kindly suggests she watch the other kids, see if they’re safe, and come back the next day for another try. I also make a deal with her – if she takes a chance, I will too – an act of bravado I might regret.

The next day we are back to the trapeze rig; this time, she climbs the ranks like a squirrel, her fear miraculously overcome. I can’t help but feel a surge of grandma’s pride as she climbs onto the board, following directions as she reaches the dangling bar, the instructor clutching her harness tightly. Then, he literally kicks her under her, sending her swinging through the air, legs akimbo.

Despite her best efforts, she doesn’t quite have the basic strength or coordination to get her legs over the bar; but the joy on her face as she is gently lowered towards the net says it all. “I loved it,” she gushed, immediately asking for another round. “And now you have to do it too, Ju-ju,” she gloated as she rolled from the net onto solid ground. Thanks, kid.

The Mini Club Med+ offers other new and fun experiences that promote connection and trust. Ellie makes her first attempt at archery, goes on a scavenger hunt, dresses up and parades around the resort for the 14th of July celebrations, and rehearses for the evening show, which she ends up missing, because she sat for hours at the spa. braided hair (a rite of passage for every little girl under 12 who visits Bali).

Family time is also encouraged, with daily “Amazing Family” activities including sandcastle building, a Balinese cooking class, Balinese massage classes, arts and crafts, and gardening. afternoon parties with bouncy castles, slip ‘n’ slide, tie-dye t-shirt make kid-friendly snacks. For an eight-year-old, it’s heaven on a stick.

Meal times are also an adventure. This is my first time at an all-inclusive resort, and my fears of the food being bland and unappetizing are allayed at our first buffet breakfast, where cooking “corners” also include Indonesian selections, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Chinese. as egg stations, pastries and fresh fruit and juices. Ellie can barely contain her excitement, proudly returning to our table with a bowl of Milo cereal. So much for culinary experimentation.

Balinese BBQs by the pool are an easy lunch fix, as is the small Makan on Wheels food truck conveniently parked near our room, serving freshly prepared Balinese dishes including grilled satay sticks and Nasi Goreng . We also make a reservation for dinner one night at the resort’s “fancy” restaurant, The Deck, dressing up for the occasion to enjoy a three-course (for me) seafood and spaghetti menu. Bolognese.

A highlight for both of us is dinner under the stars during the resort’s 14th of July celebrations, with an amazing buffet (freshly cut tuna sashimi, local lobster, spit roast, hot pots, Indian curries and a delicious table of desserts with red, white and blue whips) followed by an air show by the circus team and fireworks over the ocean.

Everything is so easy, so pleasantly insane. There’s definitely something liberating about not having to think about dinner – where to go, make a reservation, how to get there and back; and with on-site options such as The Deck to up the ante, I don’t feel the need to venture beyond the resort in search of a decent meal.

In fact, on our five-day visit, we don’t leave the resort except to stroll along the Nusa Dua beachfront. On this walk, however, we pass several small temples (there are five in Club Med’s park alone), so Ellie gets a truncated lesson in Balinese beliefs while I explain the offerings left to the gods.

Temples, statues and satay sticks aside, could we have been anywhere in the world? Maybe. But did any of us feel like we were missing out by not taking an outdoor excursion, not seeing the sights, or checking off the Balinese “must sees”? Not one iota. What we had was a real vacation, a vacation that left us feeling relaxed, refreshed and closer as a family.

And in case you were wondering, I tried the trapeze, although it’s true that my heart isn’t what it used to be, and I, too, couldn’t get my legs above the bar. The eight-year-old girl and her grandmother are even on this point.

THE DETAILS

FLY

Qantas and Jetstar fly daily to Denpasar in Bali. See qantas.com jetstar.com/au

STAY

All-inclusive packages at Club Med Bali cost from $1595 per person, including full board, bar with cocktails and house wine, beer and spirits, all kids’ club activities (ages 4-17), sports and activities. See clubmed.com.au

Julie Miller traveled as a guest of Club Med.

Leave a Comment