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Eat.. Pray.. Bali.. Review of Villa Sawah with a 9 mth old

My friend Llinos took gorgeous baby Astrid to Bali when she was 9 mths old.  Here’s her villa review:

Who:  Llinos, husband Christian, Astrid (9 mths) & nanny
Where:  Bali, Indonesia
Staying:  Villa Sawah
When:  June 2012
Baby Friendly Rating: 3 out of 5

Flight Booking
We used Fannie at Sun Travel in Hong Kong.  We flew Cathay and got the bassinet both ways.

Villa Booking
We booked through www.chilloutbali.com
A friend had recommended the villa as she had stayed with her 2 toddlers

The villa price included a chef (we would pay for ingredients), daily maid service and transfers from the airport.  We also got a 20% discount without even asking due to the time of year.  As a result, I opted for a 3 bed villa instead of 2 bed and so we all had our own bedrooms.

The Villa
Villa Sawah is a 3 bed villa, part of a complex of 5 villas called Tepi Laut Villas.  It is a beautiful, modern Balinese style villa, almost brand new so everything is in perfect condition.  All 3 bedrooms had huge ensuite bathrooms with separate bath and shower.  One bedroom on the ground floor and two upstairs.  There are 2 living spaces, one downstairs and one upstairs.  The living space was open plan with a couple of steps leading down to the pool area.

There is a separate kitchen with microwave, fridge, freezer etc which we could use whenever we wanted to prepare stuff for Astrid.  I didn’t ask for a sterilizer, I just boiled water in a saucepan whenever we needed to sterilise.  I think they had a blender but we didn’t need to use it – we were at mashing/chopping food stage by then.

Baby / Kid Facilities
They provided a travel cot and high chair for our 9 month old.  There are no other facilities in the complex.  Babysitting is available but we had our nanny with us so didn’t need to use the service.

Pool
The villa came with a private pool.  In my  opinion, fine for a couple with a small child but with a bigger family / older children it would have been a bit small.  Particularly as the beach is not massively suitable for swimming – see more on this Bali, common in Bali of course.

SONY DSC

Villa Staff
There was a chef, villa manager and daily maid service.  The chef was willing to cook both Balinese and Western food and also bought additional vegetables etc which I requested for Astrid who was at a tricky weaning stage.  You could also request a driver through the villa at additional cost and there were never any problems with availability.  They also had laundry baskets in each room and included in the cost was laundry of everyday items.  The company also owns other villa complexes so they had plenty of staff/drivers on hand.

Location
Quiet – surrounded by paddy fields which we had views of from upstairs and almost right on the beach (but our villa didn’t have a view of the beach – website says ‘ocean glimpse’ which I think was from the upstairs living area.

View from sitting area 2

It’s a volcanic sand surf beach so not suitable for children to swim there, only strong swimmers.  Quite a local feel to the area which has pluses and minuses.  It was very relaxed but one of the minuses was stray dogs which is quite a common problem in Bali.

This villa is for those looking to get away from the main tourist areas of Bali, but still be able to access them on occasion.  No restaurants close by – needed to drive 10 minutes to the casual restaurants at Echo Beach or could walk there along the beach in about 20 minutes.  Seminyak is about 30/40 minute drive away so we went there a couple of times for lunch / dinner / shopping.  We have been to Bali before so we didn’t do any touristy stuff.

Any downsides?
Layout not ideal for babies on the move / toddlers due to stone steps leading to pool area.   Also, there was 24 hour security but the rooms could all be accessed from the open plan living areas so I was initially a bit nervous about having Astrid in her own room.  We had a baby monitor and locked Astrid’s room every night when she was sleeping but still not ideal.  But probably pretty common problem with villas as the layout tends to be open air.

Nearby restaurant recommendations

Echo Beach restaurant is good.  Casual overlooking surf beach and great for drinks / lunch / dinner.   Surf /hippy / Bali vibe, atmosphere is definitely child friendly though I am not sure if they had high chairs as we actually only went there for dinner without Astrid.

Would you stay here again?
Yes, but perhaps wait until the children are a little older due to layout.  Or would be fine for a young baby not yet on the move.  I thought it was v good value compared to a hotel and much more convenient to have proper kitchen facilities for a young baby.

I would definitely use http://chilloutbali.com again.  I also recommended to a colleague of mine and she went with her husband (no kids) and they had a lovely time.

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