The Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa.
HIGHLIGHT: The well-executed Kids' Club meant hours of fun for my seven-year-old daughter; and plenty of downtime for me.
LOWLIGHT: The kid's section of the breakfast buffet offered only high sugar selections, including jam sandwiches and doughnuts.
Offering a terrific beachfront location in Tanjung Benoa, Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa sits north of the Nusa Dua resort enclave in the southern part of Bali. It's far enough away from the hustle and bustle of Kuta and Seminyak, but within striking distance of cultural and historical attractions, shopping and great restaurants.
I incorrectly envisaged that the Holiday Inn chain was sterile and generic, but not so this brand-spanking new beachfront resort. Step inside a soaring lobby with views across a shaded atrium pool, to the beach. Water is definitely the star here, with four swimming pools (two of which have fun, swim-up bars). The overall feel is contemporary, fresh and relaxed with funky sun lounges and cane swings fronting the sea, pool beanbags to float on, and a fun, circus-themed kid's club. A flash new Tea Tree Spa, which has opened since my visit, offers a good selection of spa treatments.
The resort offers 171 contemporary rooms featuring wood from the owner's Surabaya factory, decorated in white with bursts of aqua and jade. The property's clever design means many rooms offer a full or partial view of the beach. There are two room types for families. The 81-square-metre Tanjung Family Adventure suite that my daughter and I stayed in offers two bedrooms and a separate living area. Kids have their own fun, sea-themed room with two single beds, their own TV with game console, and separate bathroom with rubber duck shower head and children's toiletries. Ella loved returning to the room and seeing the clever towel art left by the housekeeping staff – an elephant one day, Pluto pup another. The pick of the rooms are the Benoa Ocean View suites, although the pool access rooms are fun, too, with your own private terrace, chic lounge pod and direct access to the mosaic-tiled atrium pool.
The main restaurant, the Pasar Market offers everything from Balinese to modern Asian and European meals, while lighter snacks and cocktails are offered at Duke's, the pool bar and lounge. The resort has been designed with families, and in particular Australian families, in mind. Kids under 12 eat for free when parents are dining, and kids' meals always come out first. General manager Simon Morley has two young children of his own and has ensured everything from quality high chairs, a good kids' menu and a team that understand the needs of families is in place. In a clever move, the kids club is located right next to the restaurant, so once children have eaten, parents can dine in peace knowing their kids are in safe hands.
The resort also offers cooking classes where you can learn to make satay sticks and other Indonesian delicacies. The beachfront Nudi Bar, built in a two-storey, traditional style lumbung, meanwhile, is a terrific spot for sundowners.
Try the traditional Balinese rijsttafel (spiced rice dishes) at the renowned Bumbu Bali, and take in a Devdan Show, a 90-minute energetic dance and acrobatic journey through the Indonesian archipelago at the nearby Nusa Dua Theatre. The Bali Collection, a short taxi ride away, offers a selection of boutiques and specialty stores.
This is a fantastic, family-friendly hotel on a nice stretch of beach with warm, engaged staff that elevate the experience from good to excellent.
Rooms from $200 a night including daily buffet breakfast for two, kids club and Wi-Fi. Kids stay and eat free. See balibenoa.holidayinnresorts.com.
The writer was a guest of Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa.