Bali offers great options for all-inclusive family holidays

By on August 6, 2015

Like many expats, my husband and I don’t have family nearby who can watch our child if we want to take a vacation on our own. So when we decided to take our first holiday to Bali this summer, we knew it would be a trip for three. I wanted an enjoyable vacation for our 5-year-old son, but also wanted the grown-ups to feel as if we got a break, too.

Our solution? An all-inclusive resort.


Fortunately, that’s not a hard style of accommodation to find in Bali. If anything, it took me a while to narrow down my choice to just one. In the end, we decided on Grand Mirage Resort and Thalasso Bali in the Nusa Dua resort area. We liked the location: Close to Ngurah Rai International Airport. The price: Children ages 5 and under stay for free. And the variety: More than one restaurant and a number of activities are included in the all-inclusive rate. Our trip was brief – only four nights – but our holiday was a relaxing one and well-worth the seven hour flights to-and-from Tokyo.

I’m not alone in finding all-inclusive to be a good choice for my family. “When we want to relax and have a holiday rather than do a lot of exploring then we find all-inclusive best,” said Sharon Gourlay, whose blog,, offers tips for travelling with kids. “For me, the best part about an all-inclusive resort is not having to worry about the little things – namely buying and carrying around snacks and drinks. With two young kids that are always hungry, it can be quite stressful always being prepared for the next snack or meal.”

Grand Mirage Bali
Grand Mirage Bali

Our Grand Mirage package included unlimited meals and drinks, including alcohol, with just a few minor restrictions. We have a picky eater so knowing his meals were already paid for took some of the pressure off of introducing him to new foods. The resort had four restaurants to choose from as well as room service. The latter came in handy for our son’s dinner the night we hired a staff babysitter to watch him so my husband and I could enjoy an evening out. The price also included an outdoor buffet which features entertainment several nights a week. All of us really enjoyed watching a fire dance show under the stars one evening.

Erin Bender and her husband have spent the past three years globetrotting with their young family. She shares tips and stories on her blog, “If you are looking for a real vacation where you lay on the beach and don’t need to ever leave, then the all-inclusive is a winner,” Bender said. “For families it has added bonus, because they usually include a kids club and poolside activities to keep the kids amused while you sneak off for a massage.”

IMG_8139The Grand Mirage’s Bamboo Kid’s Fun Club – for children ages 3-12 – was certainly a huge hit with my five-year-old. His only complaint was that he wanted more kids to be there to play with. The bright, cheerful space with friendly staff had a wide selection of toys, computers equipped with games, and space to nap or watch videos. While he played, my husband and I enjoyed some time at the pool and its swim-up bar. Win-win.

Resort room balcony

All-inclusive also meant we had access to non-motorized water sports, including sea kayaking, wind surfing and catamaran sailing. We also had a voucher for one motorized activity, either on a jet ski, banana boat, or a speed boat, or a Seawalker excursion, which allows guests to wear a special helmet for an underwater walk.

“We have actually found all-inclusive resorts a great way to try something new,” Gourlay said. “We are far more likely to give something a go that we may not have done otherwise when we don’t have to pay for it.”

Especially in a popular tourist destination like Bali, families have a lot of options. Financially, all-inclusive may not always be worth the cost. “If you are not a drinker it might set you back more than heading out of the hotel to eat. You also want to make sure you find one with multiple restaurants, otherwise that one place you head to eat everyday might start to become tiresome,” Bender cautioned.

Bigger families, larger groups and those staying for a week or more also may find the cost and convenience of renting a villa to be a savvier option. A hotel may be a smarter choice for a brief stay.

All that relaxing is great, but all-inclusive can mean missing out on getting to know the local culture.

“I think the biggest downside is that I find it takes more discipline to get out and about when we stay in an all-inclusive. It’s just so tempting to relax and enjoy all the facilities,” Gourlay said.

Grand Mirage Beach Resort
Grand Mirage Beach Resort

My husband, son and I spent almost all of our time at or very near the resort during our stay, but after check-out, we hired a driver for a 10-hour whirlwind tour of the island before catching a midnight flight home. I’m glad we had the chance to see a bit more of Bali than just our beach and swimming pool. That said, our all-inclusive package meant all three of us had a memorable and enjoyable vacation.

For us, for this trip, it was definitely the right choice.


About Susan Dalzell

Susan Dalzell is an American freelance journalist living in Tokyo. Follow her Japanese adventures on Twitter, @susandalzell, or on her blog: