School holidays are coming up – how about sending the kids to summer camp in Bali?

The curriculum is a step up from the typical resort kids’ club – and not just because of the immense variety of activities. File picture: Brenton Geach/ANA

The curriculum is a step up from the typical resort kids’ club – and not just because of the immense variety of activities. File picture: Brenton Geach/ANA

Published Jun 14, 2023


By Xinyi Luo

On a typical day at Green Camp, groups of up to 20 children can try their hand at bamboo architecture or take a survival skills course led by a naturalist along jungle trails – returning home to a thatched-roof, cliff-top villa with its own private plunge pool.

This isn't your typical day camp. For one thing, the campus is a five-star resort in Bali.

Beginning on July 4, Ayana Estate in Bali will be offering the first destination camp of its kind in South-east Asia, with options that stretch for up to four weeks without repeating an activity.

The programming is divided into two age groups: Week-long, themed units for children aged 2 – 6 are designed in conjunction with Guidepost Montessori, the global preschool provider, while activities for children aged 7 – 12 are organised by Green School Bali, a renowned private school and expat haven.

Pricing varies. Entry-level rooms with balcony views of the forest canopy for a family of four start from around $235 (about R4 700), while a two-bedroom villa with ocean view runs about $1 000 per night during the summer.

Some rooms have patios abutting a lagoon-style pool that wraps around the property. (It's one of 14 places to swim, not counting the beach.) All have access to a stunning cliff-top spa.

Camp tuition is an additional cost. Ayana's offerings all cost less than $600 per week, with extended hours coverage.

Unlike in conventional camps, though, the days are divided into morning and afternoon sessions, with a break from 11.45am to 2pm. And, unlike conventional camps, Ayana accepts children as young as 2, without requiring toddlers to be potty trained.

The best value comes with package deals; a five-night stay in a Jimbaran Bay View Room would ordinarily cost $1 668, but guests can add five half-days of camp programming, a 50-minute massage at the spa for two people and round-trip airport transfers for just $282.

The curriculum is a step up from the typical resort children’s club – and not just because of the immense variety of activities.

Guidepost at Ayana, for instance, is meant to offer a seamless transition for children aged 2 – 6 who are already in a Montessori school anywhere in the world; the week-long units focus on local nature, culture, food, and ocean life.

“If you live in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Bangkok or Rome and your children are following a preschool Montessori curriculum, this will feel familiar for them,” says Giordano Faggioli, Ayana's general manager.

“The biggest benefit that I can provide to our guest families is the peace of mind that comes with continuing their at-home routine.”

Montessori in Bali certainly doesn't mean playing in a classroom with fancy wooden toys.

Guidepost campers – up to 15 children at a time – can harvest and taste produce (spinach, mangoes, makrut lime leaves) on a five-acre farm, learn about local farming techniques, and interact with local culture by seeing and touching traditional masks that are worn during Indonesian celebrations.

At Green Camp – the programme run through Green School Bali – children aged 7 – 12 can learn to climb coconut trees or take Indonesian cooking classes. All activities will be carried out in English and Mandarin.

Faggioli says most families are booking for one-week stays, rather than for a full month.

The largest share of guests, he adds, come from mainland China and Hong Kong. Before Covid-19 struck, Chinese tourists accounted for one-fifth of foreign visits to Bali, and they're rushing back after an extended border closure that ended only this year.

Faggioli expects they'll be joined by travellers from Japan and Australia, countries that also favour Bali as a tourist destination – and where Montessori schools thrive. (Americans, he says, are less inclined to make such long-haul trips with children.)

For parents, the “work from anywhere” situation is as good as it gets. The hotel has expanded electrical outlet-equipped seating at its rooftop bar (plus high-speed wi-fi) so guests can tackle their inboxes with a view of Jimbaran Bay.

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