Family-Friendly Hotels

Feb 3rd, 2012, in Travel, by

Child Sitting on Komodo DragonWhere could/should you stay for a family holiday in Indonesia?

Indonesian culture stresses the importance of the family, marriage and children. So, it is a little surprising that Indonesia’s hotels so rarely cater for families with suitable facilities, such as:

  • Rooms for more than two people.
  • Kids playground or kiddie pools with adequate (not just parent) supervision.
  • Menu items suitable for children in hotel restaurants.

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:

Room Maximum Occupancy | Facilities for Children | Other Considerations

Room Maximum Occupancy

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?

Yes and no. I will explain with an example: the recently-reviewed Holiday Inn Resort Baruna, a 4½ star hotel located in Tuban, Bali.

Baruna Quote - 2 adults
Two adults only, price $119
Baruna Quote - 2 adults & 2 children
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:

Choosing a Family Hotel Choosing a Family Hotel - Search Results
Wanted: 1 room for 2 adults and 2 children in Medan

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:

Displaying Extra Room Types

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

Hotel Tip - Vary Maximum Occupancy

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):

City/Region Maximum 3 Guests Maximum 4 Occupants
1. Bali 711 (53%) 172 (13%)
2. Jakarta 62 (38%) 7 (4%)
3. Batam 25 (52%) 7 (15%)
4. Medan 12 (35%) 1 (3%)
5. Surabaya 35 (48%) 6 (8%)
City/Region Maximum 3 Guests Maximum 4 Occupants
6. Bandung 37 (31%) 5 (4%)
7. Yogyakarta 29 (25%) 7 (6%)
8. Padang 5 (23%) 0 (0%)
9. Pekanbaru 3 (20%) 0 (0%)
10. Solo 6 (21%) 1 (4%)

Facilities For Children

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?

Hotel FacilitiesA 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:

Hotel Borobudur Playground

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.

Kids Playground, Sheraton Bandara Hotel, Jakarta

The large playground at the Sheraton Bandara Hotel near Jakarta Airport looks quite impressive at first glance… but any child who falls off the rope bridge will land on very unforgiving concrete.

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.

Rascals Kids Club @ Holiday Inn Resort Baruna, Tuban, Bali
A real kids club:
Rascals Kids Club @ Holiday Inn Resort Baruna, Bali

Other Considerations

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.

Family-Friendly Hotels - Bedding Policy

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

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.

Feedback Welcome

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.

9 Comments on “Family-Friendly Hotels”

  1. David says:

    I think it would be worthwhile to make a list of hotels that cater for families and that make the booking process clear and easy when you are specifying your details like how many children etc. We could eventually do a map to show those hotels, rate them, etc, just an idea.

  2. Oigal says:

    Indeed, sorry Chris, lets name names 🙂 and it does not just have to be hotels, Destinations and places outside of Bali…?

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys,

    Those are good ideas, but who has time to check e.g. all the hotels to see if they are truly family-friendly?

  4. Oigal says:

    Indeed Chris, however perhaps some of the regulars could recommend or review their favourite tho? Of course, we would need to wary of the Timdog “Tea with the Tribesmen” review not so sure they would be considered family friendly in the decadent way I like.

  5. Chris says:

    Good idea,

    And we already have a space at the bottom of each hotel for people to leave suitable comments, but for whatever reason guests seem to be not motivated to leave one. So far this year, we have only received one. In December, the only two were written by yours truly. Any suggestion how to get more comments?

  6. Oigal says:

    At the risk of offending someone, I usually use Agoda and leave comments there. Although to be fair they harass you later by email to comment and promise points for leaving comments.

    For what it is worth, I travel a heck of lot primarily internally but a reasonable amount external and where I stay is based on what I read in the comments unless I know the area very well.

  7. Chris says:

    On a slight tangent, there aren’t many restaurants with playgrounds or kids menus either, except for Western fast-food joints (which I don’t usually go to). Maybe the local attitude is the nanny can look after the children at home, or entertain the children on site. A few more restaurants have high-chairs.

    Actually, one exception in Surabaya is Boncafe; each branch has a small playground with at least a slide and a swing.

  8. ET says:

    Agoda is a nuisance. Once you have visited their site they keep popping up everywhere.

  9. Chris says:

    I think it would be worthwhile to make a list of hotels that cater for families and that make the booking process clear and easy when you are specifying your details like how many children etc. We could eventually do a map to show those hotels, rate them, etc, just an idea

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    Here is the first step: a guide to the few Indonesian hotels that offer rooms for 5+ guests.

    Guides to rooms for 4 and 3 guests will follow.

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