Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bali: Bali Dynasty Resort, Kuta

Well, we did it. It was completely out of character, but on this trip we stayed at a resort. The Bali Dynasty. It was a bit of a shock to our systems . We normally stay in small hotels, so in comparison this was a bit like being at the door-opening of Myer at the start of a Boxing Day sale. A trillion people, a trillion rooms, a trillion towels reserving empty deck chairs for days on end, and a trillion starving, fork-wielding guests at the breakfast buffet ready to steal your kids toast and fiercely shove their little bodies out of the way in the quest to grab the last omelette. 

But overall it was a great place to stay. The facilities were terrific, especially for kids, and the service was pretty good.

It was packed to the brim with cheerful, bantering Aussies. Which would explain why it's the only place I'd been outside of Australia that had a truck load of Vegemite sachets available at breakfast time. This made hubby very, very happy. And happy hubby meant happy life. Which meant happy wife. Happy holidays! Yay for Vegemite. It's powerful stuff. The mere sight of that little black smudge of smelly goo while we're travelling excites my hubby.You can take the boy out of Australia. But you can't take that yeasty bit of Australia out of the boy. I'll pack some in the first aid kit next time. Filed as 'Daddy's little mood-enhancer'.
For this post I'll give you a quick run-down of some of Bali Dynasty's facilities, and of places of interest close by. 

- In terms of kid-friendliness, you could barely fault The Bali Dynasty. 
- There was a kid's club, although we did not use it so we don't know what it was like.

- For an adult break, there was also a day spa, with massages available in open-aired, covered over thingies (sorry, couldn't think of the word!) This service was pretty exposed to the general public, though. I received a complimentary massage with our room cost, and provided a bit of bare-skinned entertainment for the workmen maintaining a nearby section of the resort, and to guests walking to and from their rooms. Also check that you don't book your massage during activity time at the pool. My therapist kneaded my body whilst I listened to the diving and bombing competition, with a megaphone blaring, "1, 2, 3....JUMP!!!!" and commenting on the star quality of every diving and bombing contestant. I knew each participant so well by the end of my massage I felt like we were besties. The soothing sounds of the maintenance guys hammering and my therapist talking to another therapist for most of my massage were unexpected bonuses. But hey, I couldn't complain. It was still the most relaxed I'd felt in a long time...and was definitely way more pampering than I'd get at home!

- Rooms
There were family rooms  available, with partially separate sleeping areas for adults and kids. In the family room that we saw, a section of wall separated a queen-sized bed from a section with bunks and a trundle bed. If you missed out on a family room, you could also get inter-connecting rooms - a spacious option and great for a longer stay (be sure to throw a washer or towel over the top of each interconnecting door so that your kids don't lock you out of their room).
People with small children might want to request a room on the ground floor.  But not on the pool side as kids would have direct access to the water. Each room has a balcony with outdoor furniture - interconnecting rooms have two. On upper floors, it would be easy for kids to climb onto the furniture and fall over the edge of the balcony. Our five-year-old and three-year-old could both unlock and open the sliding doors to the verandahs. I was mighty glad that we were on the ground floor.
If you have difficulty walking you might also like to request a ground-floor room. There are no lifts at the hotel and you would have to negotiate flights of stairs. Actually, you would need to negotiate stairs no matter which level you stayed on. If you were in a wheelchair or had a lot of trouble walking, it might be an idea to look at alternative accommodation.
Prams would need to be carried up and down stairs. 
- Eating
There were a few places to eat on-site, including a good Indian restaurant. The breakfast buffet had a great selection of food catering to a lot of cultural tastes. And lots of Vegemite. And there were tonnes of restaurants along the road fairly close to the resort, and also along the beach close by.
- Pools
There were three pools. An adults only pool (we got nowhere near that one!), another with a fairly large, tubular waterslide (great for older kids), and another large, deep one with a pool bar and toddler pool. Be careful of the tiles around the pool (and throughout the whole resort). They were really slippery when wet.
- Tiny bees swarmed into any sweet drink that we left near the pool or on the grounds. Be careful if your child has a can of drink, as you cannot see the bees inside. If anyone tells you that the bees don't sting, DON'T BELIEVE THEM!! We were told that they do not sting. Just after I assured my three-year-old that the bees were harmless, the trusting soul stuck his fingers in his glass to scrape them out and was stung five times. Screams galore. No mother of the year award for me that day. Now he's scared shiteless of bees. 
 - Location
The resort was in a great location – walking distance to restaurants and shops. Directly across the road was a tasty Thai restaurant - and the cocktails there were half the price of those at the resort.

- If you head out  of the gate near the waterslide pool and turn right you will get to the beach, which is very close. You’ll walk through some market stalls on the way, where the owners will remember your name and ensure that you look at their stall the next time you wander through - keep an eye out for 'Jimmy Barnes'. There’s also a path that takes you around the stalls if you want to avoid the stalls and stall owners.

- Once you get to the beach, turn left and walk up the beach path a little way. There’s a great restaurant called Pantai. Top seafood. And an excellent spot to sit and have dinner or a few drinks watching the sun set over the ocean.

- It’s a bit of a walk from the resort to popular Legian street (which is filled with more shops than anyone could possibly need in life). Legian street is not very pram-friendly, and it's very looooong. Consider getting day-release from the little tykes if you want to go here, folks. 

- Waterbomb Park (full of waterslides and pools and a great family day out) is within short walking distance from The Bali Dynasty. Turn left out of the driveway and it is just up the road on the opposite side of the street to the resort.

- Be careful walking the streets in general. There's slippery tiles, holes and tripping hazards for kids, and the footpaths are not very pram-friendly. You might find yourself carrying your pram up and down gutters and stairs at times. There's a good path along the beach, which is great for prams.

- Safety standards on building sites are pretty low. I went to walk under some scaffolding and saw sparks flying down in front of me. A welder was working  in the scaffolding just above the pedestrian thoroughfare. I would have been burnt or had my hair singed if I’d continued. 

I hope that this information helps anyone planning a trip to The Bali Dynasty with their kids. Please feel free to comment if you have any other questions.

Selamat Tinggal (goodbye)! For now.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Thanks for your support!

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Sydney Writer's Centre's Best Australian Blogs 2011 People's Choice Award. I really appreciate your support! As a rookie blogger, it was great fun being in this competition.

Congratulations to the winner, Chris Hunter, for his blog Bike Exif . Chris received 2,583 votes - at least 1000 more votes than any other blog in the competition. Check it out if you're a bike fanatic!

Thanks a million.