Mar
14

The Ayana Resort and Spa, Jimbaran Bay Bali.

Ever had that thought on the way to the airport “I wish we could stay in paradise just another couple of days”

Well last night that was exactly my thought and thanks to the syncronicity of a Javanese volcano miles away, we’re staying a while longer. This time returning to an old favourite- the Ayana Hotel and Spa (formally the Ritz Carlton Resort) Jimbaran Bay Bali.

After a surprise notice at the airport, and a brief encounter with Jetstar’s complimentary “5 star hotel”, the Goodway Hotel in Nusa Dua– NOT!! Greatly in need of renovation this property is tired and well past it’s prime– our suite was spacious but mouldy, unclean (even the sheets were stained) and had insufficient beds (the absolute final straw). Given the onslaught of unexpected guests,we thought it quicker to move to another hotel than wait for another bed with tired and muddled children. And thanks to great travel insurance with our AMEX card, we had options.

The Ayana aptly named meaning ‘place of refuge’ in Sanskrit, is by contrast a very well maintained property with 8 swimming pools, various impressive restaurants and world class day spa and gym. Interconnecting Rooms are spacious and well appointed. This stay we are blessed with a palatial 2 bedroom villa ( 2001). This is heaven. It is huge, with several dining and enertainment areas, 2 rose petal filled baths, outdoor shower, its own sprawling lawn for the kids to run with day beds, and an infinity plunge pool. The villa is also close to the kids’ club, kids’ pool, restaurants and overlooks one of two the wedding chapels. This morning we awakened to singing birds, gently flowing water and a breathtaking views of the glistening Indian Ocean. I’m sitting by the kids pool watching the kids make friends and enjoy the supervised water slides, meanwhile the villas appointed butler is keeping us abreast of Jetstars latest news.

Breakfast served at Padi is sumptuous and vast- a feast that could last for hours! We ended up taking a “doggy bag” packed lovingly by the staff for the kids keeping them fed for hours. The Villa’s guests also have their own breakfast retreat at Dava which is also open for an elegant white table cloth dinner and live entertainment. There is no shortage of dining experiences at this resort. From cafe’s, Japanese Teppanyaki to dinner theatre experiences with a view, this resort has it all. The kids menus are particularly noteworthy with a vast choice and many healthy food options like homestyle chicken soup and grills with steamed vegetables.

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The kids club and children’s activity centre caters for 2-10 year olds and provides very flexible options at reasonable prices- check in for an hour, half or whole day or a short visit with a parent or babysitter. A wide range of activities to inspires all ages, and if nothing else the trampoline is a great hit. Children under 4 need to be accompanied by a parent of babysitter. We have used the baby sitting service and found the careers to be fun, kind, and responsible. In fact all the staff resort wide are wonderful with the children, paying them special attention and catering to their anticipated needs.

The Ayana’s spa complex is very impressive complete with cold plunge pool, steam and sauna rooms, aerobics and yoga studio, Aquatonic Seawater and HydroTherapy Pools, and an extensive range of treatments. The gym is excellent with onsite trainer to assist with weights and equipment. The only tip here is to bring cool training wear as the gym is warm.

Put simply, an outstanding family focused resort.


Ayana Resort and Spa at Google Maps:

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Feb
28

Life Lessons at Orchid Villa, Ubud.

orchid villa ubud bali

We’ve just spent an incredible few days learning about life and nature with Rick Pursel who runs a sanctuary for humans at his home-stay villas, Villa Orchid, outside Ubud in the lush hills of  Bali.

Rick’s a fascinating guy. One of the few individuals who really walks his talk when it comes to living with a spiritual focus. His motto- Cause No Harm. This applies firstly to yourself, then to other people, animals, equipment, and our environment.

We originally went visited Rick and Lita’s home-stay for lunch when staying in Bali by the beach last year. We actually hadn’t considered staying up thinking that the kids would enjoy the beach more. Wrong!! The short story is that they wouldn’t leave after lunch and we ended up spending a couple of nights at Orchid Villa. For this past year, the kids have been begging to return to Orchid Villa’s magical garden.

The property has several garden villas and two side by side rooms with open air bathrooms and beautiful views over the valley which is perfect for families. One of the highlights for the children was Rick’s guided walk through local traditional farms teaching the kids and adults about the food grown locally– essentially showcasing everything which had appeared on our breakfast menu that morning! – chocolate / cocco and coffee plants, pineapple, sago, snake fruit, pappya, rice padi’s, ducklings, fish swimming through the rice padi’s, piglets, cows, citrus, chickens. We saw how the local people live and work their land and store the food. Stunning and fascinating. The walk took us just under an hour and just the right amount of time to engage the kids. One of the locals delighted by our appearance invited us to sit and chat for a while in his homes reception area. With offers of tea and food, politely declined we were once again on our way back to Rick’s magical garden as our kids affectionately describe it.

The garden surrounding the Villa’s at Rick’s place this wonderful location is like a maze of orchid filled secret gardens for children with flowing streams, dancing dragonfly, coy ponds, frogs, orchids, lotus, and a multitude of intriguing daily events taking place in the plant and animal kingdom.

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Just when we thought our lessons about the food chain were complete, our youngest daughter came to us saying “come, come! There is a snake eating a frog,” and so it was.

Half way up the tall palm hiding in the orchids was a little padi snake, that had caught hold of its weekly meal by the foot. The kids and mums prayed and rooted for the frog to use its powerful legs to leap to safety out of the clutches of this ambitious, deluded snake whos mouth was clearly tiny, in comparison to the size of the frog. However, it was us deluded!

Nature is incredible, and despite our attempts to rescue the frog, with Rick Pursell’s guidance, we all had a first hand guided experience of the food chain and nature’s wonders.


Feb
21

Destination targeted. Now how best to get there?

Planes, trains, taxis, cars and boats. There are often many ways to get to any one place. But which is the best one for your family?

Here we will discuss and review a variety of  modes of transport to not only get to your destination, but enhance the whole experience along the way. After all, the gift of travel is not just in the destination, but the journey along the way.


Feb
14

Travelling With Kids a Waste of Time and Money?

We are passionate about travelling. We’ve always been avid travellers, having grown up in the early pioneering days of the travel and tourism industry, voyaging into far-reaching places of the world. Since having our own children we have travelled the world extensively as a family since they were infants.

It seems that many people tend to think that travelling with children is a waste, as they may not remember the trips. Other people are reluctant to venture too far from home with children, so they avoid challenges faced in travelling with children. Firstly, get your kids to write  about their travel experiences. Journaling not only helps kids keep the trip alive in their memories when they re-read, it provides a great downtime activity. We love this ‘kid’s travel journal’ by Mudpuppy Press. It is light to carry and well set out for kids, so they don’t feel like they have a huge page to fill. Kids under writing age, can draw pictures, collect tickets, photos and brochures along the way to make a scrapbook of their travels. Our experience of traveling with young kids has been quite different to what most people think and for us and many people we have spoken with who do travel with kids, we all concur that the overall benefits, far outweigh any challenges.

We have found travel to be a great catalyst for many desirable changes in childrens’ behaviour- one child stopped wetting the bed, and others gave up bottles, pacifiers, tantrums and favourite cuddly toys. We even had a three month old infant who stopped screaming 10 hours each an every day, thanks to the Fijian heat and wonderful Fijian women who sang her to sleep ( and Mommy too)- this, all during trips away. No wonder we have positive associations to travelling with kids!!

We believe that travelling with your family is not just a vacation or holiday. It is a great opportunity to relax, enjoy each other, learn and grow together, providing an integral component of your little person’s early experience and education. It broadens a child’s view of the world and there is nothing for parents quite like experiencingtravel through the eyes of your child. They see stuff that you would never notice. Travelling with your family is wonderful experience, it gets parents away from their usual distractions creating a space to spend quality time with your kids. I think most importantly, travel helps shape young children into who they will be as they grow and find their place in our awe inspiring world.


Jan
15

Our Best Tips for Travelling with Kids- Planning and preparation is key!

A great family holiday requires planning. Here is the first in a series hottest tips articles for traveling well with children. Kids do travel well!

1. Involve kids in planning trips and adventures. When children play even the smallest role in planning and organizing, the whole family’s enjoyment increases. Even little kids love to have their say and feel included. Older kids can research where to go and what to do, and share some responsibilities.

2.When planning activities, aim for balance between activity and rest, planned activities and free time. Co-ordinate travel during kids rest times, so they sleep at similar times to their normal routine within the new time zone. This is particularly beneficial to reduce the effects of jet lag, which can be hard on little kids. Balancing cultural, adult-orientated and kid orientated activities is also important. The key is to keep everyone happy. Mix museums in a day with other activities. Having said that, many cultural attractions like museums and galleries, and tours like The Big Bus tour in London, have specific activity packs that you can pickup, or download beforehand. My experience has been that if balanced appropriately, kids enjoy far more cultural experiences than adults dream possible.

3. Packing. Culling is key! Refine your packing list over the course of a week to identify what you will likely use, then go back over your list and remove everything you don’t absolutely need. Strike balance between what you think you need, free space in your bags, and tough airline weight restrictions. Pack your bags early – a couple of days before you leave is ideal time for a couple of culls reducing clothes and shoes. Handwashing and hotel laundering is invaluable. The less you take, the easier it is to find and manage the stuff, and more space you’ll have to collect treasures along the way. Pack toiletries in travel-size containers, and remember: you can usually pick up most things you will need along the way. Part of the fun of experiencing your destination from the feminine perspective is checking out what the locals use. Keep your list in your suitcase for the next family trip and modify as kids needs change.

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4. Get kids to make their own packing lists and have their own bags. It’s a great opportunity to teach children how to make decisions. A wheeling international carry-on size bag is perfect to keep all their belongings in, even for extended trips (we recently did 5 weeks, 3 kids and two climates). Keep space free for new treasures. It teaches kids responsibility, it’s easier to find things, and provides the perfect reason to refrain from buying everything they see. They quickly learn how to prioritize what they need in terms of the space required to carry it. Give the kids their own backpack to store their gear for travel on planes, cars, trains etc and during day trips. Carry water, snacks, toys, books and jackets. Less jobs for adults and life skills for kids.