Trvlbees

Meet Carmen Bierens: Just back from Bali with the kids

Meet TRVLBEES member Carmen Bierens! She is here to make your family-travel plans easier and without any stress – she has done the research for you and will tell you everything you need to know about traveling to Bali with the kids. 

This Amsterdam mum is a real travel addict and she loves to travel to family-friendly, stylish, conscious places and show her kids the world. A big plus is that her husband travels around the world for his work and they can join him often. We’ll admit we’re a tiny bit jealous…

You visited so many countries in the last year, from Manhattan to Abu Dhabi, from South Africa to Indonesia. What’s your favorite travel memory with your family?  

It’s simply not possible to pick one favourite out of so many completely different experiences! We loved living and working in NYC for a few months, because only by doing that, you get to really know a city. 

Holiday wise, Morocco surprised us the most. It was incredibly child friendly, we visited Marrakech for a few days (oh, all the wonders for a child to see there!) and relaxed in a gorgeous luxury Kasbah in the Atlas Mountains. The weather was great in November. The food was to die for. We just had a perfect time; my only regret is not taking home more interior decorating accessories…. 

TRVLBEES focuses on family friendly, conscious and stylish hideaways- so let’s talk:

Family friendly: when searching for your own family holiday, what are you must haves on this feature? How and why?

I have to say I’m very picky (as well as a bit spoilt) when it comes to accommodations. I spend a lot of time looking for the right places to go and stay. What we look for in a hotel room as a family, is a separate bedroom and/or an outside space, so when the kids sleep or nap, someone can be with them without keeping the room all dark and quiet. 

Also, we look for a nice restaurant in the hotel itself, so we can go there using the baby monitor. Not a massive buffet restaurant, but something really atmospheric. My husband works in theatre, so we don’t get to spend many evenings together. The dinners we can have, need to be romantic! 

Last but not least: a pool, nowadays, is a must for the children.

Stylish stays: how does this category appeal to you? How would you describe ‘boutique’ in terms of stays? 

I’m an interior lover, so I really enjoy staying in an inspirational accommodation. If you google ‘design hotel’ you often get the standard white sleek massive hotels, that doesn’t do it for me. I love a local, traditional design with contemporary influences, blending in with the surroundings. These are usually small hotels, such as Mediterranean agritourism’s, but sometimes the big chain hotels can be stunning as well, like the Anantara Qasr al Sarab in the desert of Abu Dhabi, one of my favourites. 

Conscious traveling: is this important for you and your family while booking a hideaway?

We live in an energy neutral house in Amsterdam ourselves, and often book eco-friendly hotels. However, if you take a plane to get there, of course you can’t really pretend to be very conscious. One of the things we love about sustainable hotels, is that they often feel more authentic: for example, a restaurant serving local & organic food, hiring local staff, and the use of local building materials. 

You told us that Bali is one of your favorite destinations – reason why you stayed here for a whole month. Please let our other travelbees in on some handy tips for traveling around Bali with the kids:

What are the top things to do with kids and why?

We decided not to go to all the big famous places, but to take it easy and enjoy a bit of ‘slow living’. Bali is super child friendly, and safe as well. If it’s the first time for your kids in Indonesia, they won’t need big activities, because every street corner is a little miracle.

Canggu

We stayed in a villa with pool in Canggu first, which is a blend of upcoming tourism and hipster and local life. Taking your kids on a scooter is not done in Amsterdam, but in Canggu it’s the way to go and nobody will bat an eyelid (we did get helmets, though!) The kids loved every second of just getting around driving past the rice fields, having a foot massage, eating a smoothiebowl, looking at all the little temples with ‘scary’ or ‘funny’ statues of Balinese Hindu Gods, eating sateh at a Warung (local restaurant) at the beach, etcetera. 

Ubud

We wanted to visit Ubud as well, and we opted to stay in a gorgeous hotel in the middle of the jungle, 30 minutes outside town. Ubud can be very hot and busy, so this was the right decision for us. I loved the temples and shopping, the kids were more into the Monkey Forest 😉 A bicycle tour (child seats and electric bicycles possible) is nice to do as well, it really gets you off the beaten track. 

Gili Air

Our last destination was Gili Air, a very small tropical island, technically in Lombok but only 2 hours by boat from Bali. The beaches in Bali are golden, so if you want a white-sand turquoise-sea kind of holiday, this is your place. No cars, very laid-back. We spent our time at the beach playing with a SUP board and the drone, in old boats doing some snorkeling. And ended the day with early sunset dinners and our feet in the sand. We absolutely love visiting Bali with the kids.  

Which hotels/villas may not be skipped? What were the pros and cons?

Canggu Villas

This is one of the nicest villas we’ve ever stayed in. Very spacious with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, beautifully designed. It has a private pool, daily cleaning, on-demand taxi drivers, babysitters, located next to a great yoga school with vegan restaurant and organic food market and not too expensive. We highly recommend. 

This is the perfect luxury jungle resort. Completely secluded, a gorgeous infinity pool looking out over the jungle mist, sunset yoga with animal sounds in the background. A high quality spa and even a small but very professional kids club. This resort is very secluded and 30/40 minutes from Ubud and everything else, so only recommended if you don’t mind that. 

Gili Air: Scallywags Joglo

An Indonesian open-style villa with 3 bedrooms, private pool, great location, and daily breakfast delivered. The owners also have a beach club with free beds and umbrella’s a 10-minute walk away. 

Looking for more inspiration? Find all TRVLBEES properties in Bali below

2-12 persons | Canggu, Bali


2-5 persons | Buleleng, Bali


2-4 persons | Canggu, Bali


2-6 persons | Ubud, Bali


2-16 persons | Canggu, Bali


Wonderful restaurants enough in Bali – any tips for stylish-family friendly places (= read great for kids and heaven for parents), delicious (organic) food and sublime sunsets?

Everywhere we travelled, we found both really nice modern organic & vegan hotspots, as well as cheap & cheerful local Warungs with the best Indonesian food. Some of our favourites: La Brisa, Echo Beach, Canggu. Our favourite spot to go with or without kids. It’s everything you need in one place: beach club, pool, restaurant, cocktail bar and with breathtaking Balinese décor. The menu is fingerlicking good and organic. Kids can play on the beach or in the pool while you look at the surfers or the fabulous sunset. 

  • The Lawns, Canggu. If you want a more relaxed ‘clubbing & dj’ experience. Not really made for kids, but you sit picnic-style on the lawns, so they can run around freely, or play in the pool. 
  • Milk & Madu, Canggu. This all-day restaurant is tailored to families with small children and we loved it here. It’s fresh, modern and relaxed. It has great service, delicious food and a playground with sweet nannies to watch and entertain the kids (!). 
  • SizzleWraps, Canggu. Mexican food in Bali? Oh yeah. This little Mexican is super relaxed, romantic (you sit under the trees with little lights), cheap and very tasty. 
  • Mama Pizza, Gili Air. Wood fired pizza, and a few tables in the sand, plenty of space for the kids, watching the pink sunset. Love it. 
  • Mowies, Gili Air. Hip and cozy ambience, with large bean bags placed on the beach, soft music, overlooking the bluest ocean. Lots of vegan options.

What not to miss if you have ‘only’ a couple of days in Bali with the kids?

I would visit Canggu for the laid-back surf & yoga vibe, and Ubud for culture – while staying a little out of town for nature. And if you prefer it super easy with the kids: Sanur is close to the airport, has some nice 5-star hotels (we stayed in the Maya for 2 nights) and golden beaches. It’s touristy, but nothing like the mass tourism you’ll find in places like Kuta. 

Last travel tip for Bali with the kids  : we flew with Qatar Airways, and were able to have a 4-day stopover in Doha, Qatar on the way back. Doha only has a 3-hour time difference with the Netherlands, so this was a great way for all of us to beat the jet lag while still being on holiday.