Along the same lines as Family-Friendly Flying, it is hoped that this post will help visitors travelling with children make an informed choice for where to stay.
Here is a guide to suitable features when choosing an Indonesian hotel for your family:
It might seem simple enough to know which hotels have rooms with a suitable maximum occupancy - you just go to the hotel booking webpage and type in that you want a room for two adults and two children, right?
Two adults only, price $119
With two children, price $281
At some hotels, only the most expensive suites can house more than two people, and it would actually be cheaper to book two standard rooms.
So it is definitely worth comparing room rates first for two and four people.
But how to know which hotels allow more than two people in the one room? There are two ways:
1. On the hotel booking webpage, put the number of adults and children in the one room. This then filters the results down significantly, in this case from 34 to 1. (Please click on image for full-size).
2. Or if you are looking at one hotel in particular, you can view the hotel and then see the maximum occupancy for each room by either:
a) Clicking on "Show more available room types" at the bottom of the price list to see if there are any rooms for 3+ people, or
b) Varying the number of people before clicking "Update".
Here is a table listing how many hotels have rooms for 3 or 4 people for Indonesia's Top 10 most popular tourist destinations2011 International Arrivals By Port of Entry, Indonesian Central Statistics Agency (BPS):
Some hotels just say they are family-friendly, others have some facilities but no idea about safety - which hotels actually know what they're doing in this area?
A lot of hotels - see right - claim to be family/child-friendly, but often when guests see their facilities they wonder how the hotel can seriously claim to be suitable for children. Unfortunately, there is no standard imposed to be family-friendly; when judging the the Best Family Resort, the ITTA Awards seek a hotel which:
provides a multitude of options, so that parents can entertain their children, relax with their spouses, and enjoy the resort.
Some hotels have good intentions in this area, but fall down in the execution. For example:
The swings at the Borobudur Hotel (a five-star hotel in Central Jakarta) have no covering above them for hot or wet weather, and asphalt underneath them - not good for a wipeout, let alone a crash landing on the nearby slide.
So you will need to view each hotel's detailed description (under "Hotel Features") to see what it has. Some of the features you may wish to use that are often listed are: pool (kids), babysitter, kids club. Curiously, an unsupervised outdoor playground - like those described above - seems to also qualify as a "kids club". If in doubt, check the photos in the hotel description; those with decent kids club/child care facilities will most likely have a picture of them.
A real kids club:
Rascals Kids Club @ Holiday Inn Resort Baruna, Bali
1. Bed and Breakfast Age Policy
When viewing a hotel description, a small but important section (highlighted with red below) is under the hotel's list of facilities: the Hotel Policies.
Hotels have different ages at which guests need to pay extra for their child's bed and buffet breakfast. A quick survey of Nusa Dua hotels (an area known for family-friendly resorts) gave ages ranging from 4 to 13 years. Unfortunately, hotels do not then say how much that extra bed and breakfast costs, so that guests can make an informed choice; if there are no rooms that allow 3 or 4 guests, then it is a mystery.
2. Police Check of Hotel Employees
Australia's travel advice for Indonesia is often accused of being too negative and excessively alarmist, often with some justification. One section near the end, however, is based on a sad but true story:
If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments.www.smarttraveller.gov.au
Ideally, all hotel employees (especially those working with children) have had background checks - known locally as "police check" - done before they started work. However, in Indonesia there is no legal requirement to do so. This came to light a few years ago, when a young child was allegedly abused in a hotel child-care centre in Bali, contracting gonorrhoea.ABC News
It is best to ask first, even at more expensive places; the accused hotel was a 5-star resort.
3. Kids Menu at Hotel Restaurants
Many hotel restaurants tend to the more fine-dining end of the hotel spectrum with large all-you-can eat buffets or expensive meals. A truly family-friendly establishment will have a choice of meals and a portion size suitable for the young.
What do you look for when choosing a place to stay with your family?
Recommendations for family-friendly hotels are also welcome. Please share also what made the stay enjoyable for you and the children.