This is a guest post by broadcast journalist and blogger Sharmeen Ziauddin. Sharmeen blogs at BritPakGirl and lives in Surrey with her husband and their three young children. You can find her tweeting as @sharm33n.
‘When you go from being a family of four to a family of five, things change dramatically in many ways. One of the downsides is not being able to stay in one room when on holiday. Very few hotels offer rooms for five people even if three of those are under ten.
So when we decided to go to Bali in October half-term with our brood (me, my husband, and our kids aged ten, eight and four) we needed to book somewhere that could accommodate us all comfortably. Bali is an Indonesian island in the southern hemisphere and is a 16-hour flight from London. It has a tropical climate with temperatures ranging from 25 to 35 degrees all year round. After a very stressful year we wanted quite simply to be spoilt rotten and to stay somewhere really luxurious.
Fairmont Sanur Beach
We decided on a two-bedroom villa at the luxurious Fairmont Sanur Beach. Having stayed at the Fairmont in Dubai some years ago, I knew that it would have all the bells and whistles that we wanted. And boy were we right!
The grounds are green and spacious with plants being maintained all the time. The resort is not so huge that it takes ages to get to your room. You can get anywhere in five minutes – or use a buggy if you’re really lazy!
The two-floor villa itself is beautiful and has everything you could need, including a private pool. The advantage of having your own pool, other than the obvious privacy, is that you can go for a swim at any time of night and the kids can make as much noise as they want to, without us parents having to yell at them and worry about what all the sunbathers are thinking.
The top floor has a large bedroom, dressing room and bathroom, and the ground floor has a living area, dining room and kitchen, one bedroom and bathroom and also one other WC. The bathrooms are magnificent, with a bathtub, two sinks, a shower and an enclosed toilet and totally lush toiletries. Not to mention the three TV’s (unnecessary – but nice to have!)
I must admit that we didn’t use the kitchen to cook, but the Nespresso machine was handy, especially as the Fairmont offers free capsules – you just have to ask your butler (fancy!). The fridge is stacked with many soft drinks (Coke, Sprite, local fizzy drinks, water, milk) which are completely free, and they also refill them every morning — result! The milk cartons were especially handy for my girls, who liked having them before bed. Chocolates left daily by our butler were also greatly appreciated!
We stayed in Villa 705 and the only annoying thing about it was that it’s on the edge of the hotel, so backs onto local homes, and somebody had a very, very loud bird that kept waking us up early in the morning. However, after the first two mornings we started sleeping through it. Luckily it didn’t wake the kids up! The other problem with staying in a 400 square foot villa is that you don’t actually want to leave and go anywhere!
One of the main things I like about the Fairmont is that the room service prices are the same as eating out in England, if not less. So, for example, a kids meal was the equivalent of £4, an adult burger about £10. When my son was ill one day we opted to stay in as the room service menu is so affordable. The next day the butler sent a ‘Get Well Soon’ fruit basket for my son. A really nice touch
Buffet breakfast was included and I’m so glad we had that option as it truly is magnificent. There’s everything from freshly made pancakes and waffles to Indonesian and Chinese food, an egg chef and freshly squeezed juices. There’s also the option of A la Carte breakfast, where you can order things like Eggs Royale with salmon, dim sum and special smoothies from the menu without an extra charge.
The pool side bar offers a good variety of food for lunch. Obviously after stuffing ourselves on a huge breakfast only the kids really needed lunch. The kids menu is substantial, offering the usual kids favourites like spaghetti bolognese, fish and chips, toasted sandwiches etc.
The Fairmont is located in Sanur which is in South East Bali and is about 20 minutes from the airport. Sometimes we could hear aeroplanes taking off, but it didn’t affect the holiday. Step outside the Fairmont and there are restaurants in abundance. The beachside restaurants and cafes are especially good for lunch or drinks. The restaurants by the front of the hotel and on the main road (a five-minute walk away) are ideal for dinner. The hotel runs a shuttle bus every day into Sanur town which is a five-minute drive and where there are many shops and restaurants.
There are three pools, two are shallow and the main pool is 1.2 metres deep. The kids really enjoyed the main pool as it meant that they had to tread water a lot and actually swim! My four year-old obviously had to wear arm bands the whole time. The pool is a stunning infinity pool with views of the beach and sea. The complimentary daily poolside concoctions also went down well!
The private beach is not that big or that clean. To snorkel we had to go on a snorkelling trip organised by a water sports company right next to the hotel. They took us on a ten-minute boat ride to get to the snorkelling area. It was a fantastic experience as there were more fish than I’ve seen elsewhere in the world (I’ve snorkelled in the Red Sea, Maldives and Mauritius). There are many water sports options on offer for all ages – my ten year-old son even went parasailing for the first time. There’s a great looking kids club but we never used it as all the kids wanted to do was swim! The Spa at the Fairmont is really pretty and offers many types of massages, facials and beauty treatments, a lot cheaper than England so it’s really worth a visit.