WORDS: Steve Hunt PHOTOGRAPHY Brian Usher - plus Supplied

What a find! A resort where every member of the family will feel right at home.

Yoan Changeux greets us warmly in the tropical heat at the entrance to Club Med Bali, a large all-inclusive resort at Nusa Dua on the southern part of the pristine island of Bali.

“Welcome home,” says the vibrant 33-year-old Chief de Village of the resort in well-spoken English with a strong French accent.

“Welcome to the family,” he adds.

The words ‘home’ and ‘family’ pique my interest – it is hardly the vernacular of a resort brand. But I guess Club Med is not your average resort brand.

Club Med Bali is one of the only all-inclusive resorts in Bali, and by all-inclusive, it means just that!

Cuisine and cocktails as part of your package whenever you want – where everything is laid on thick; the parties, festivities, and activities start early morning for young and old and continue into the night.

Wake up! Rip in! Eat! Drink. Sleep! Re-boot!

Where the kids disappear into a myriad of children’s activities organised by Club Med’s famous “Kids Club”; parents don’t have to cook and can laze around the multitude of pools with a book and a cocktail, sneak out for a game of golf or surf the range of well-known reef breaks just outside the resort.

Where you can mingle with people from all over the world – many are return guests who have come to understand the laissez-faire that has made Club Med one of the best-known resort brands in the world.

Having travelled through more than 35 countries – much as a poor backpacker in my 20s and early 30s – the idea of a structured all-inclusive resort holiday has never really been part of my DNA.

In the times I have visited Bali, I’ve favoured self-contained villas, where you are as free to interact, or not, with locals and visitors; to ride mopeds through the villages of Bali and surf the reef breaks blessed by the islands around her – like you’re an early explorer.

But Club Med does offer all the irresistible trimmings that make it, well, easy to say yes to the alternative!

“That’s what we mean by family,” says Yoan. “When people come to understand the Club Med experience, they understand we are part of one big family.”

“In fact, we have families and individuals who come back regularly because they feel at home. They feel relaxed and comfortable. And that’s what Club Med is all about.

“We are committed to giving the fullest experience to our customers. Many don’t leave the resort the whole time they are in Bali, while others leave for the day and immerse themselves in everything it has to offer and then return for the food and festivities that Club Med, and only Club Med, provides.

“They don’t need to leave if they don’t want to because everything is here for them that they could possibly need.”

Yoan says the philosophy of Club Med is to ‘disconnect from real life and reconnect with each other as a family’.

“It’s great because you can totally unwind. Instead of having to cook, you can try the mystery of the international dining specialities that permeate through the resort,” says Yoan.

“We have Indonesian cuisine, Italian, Indian, Japanese, Korean, you name it. There is something here for everyone.

“We have an executive chef from Mauritius Island who oversees the wide variations of food types that really are designed to complement the exquisite experience for which Club Med is renowned.

“Food is a very big part of the holiday experience.”

Club Med is famous for its gourmet food, taking pride in its authentic cuisines. With two restaurants and three bars, there is something for everybody’s taste. Whether it’s Balinese delights at the Agung Restaurant or seafood snacks at Le Deck Gourmet Lounge, an unforgettable dining experience is just a mouthful away.

Or if street food is more up your alley, visit Makan on Wheels on the perimeter of the resort.

Club Med Bali is located on the southern peninsula of Bali grouped in with other international resorts in Nusa Dua, the home of the G20 Group of Nations summit held in November.

The spacious 391-room hotel is poised on a sprawling beachfront site overlooking the eastern side of the peninsula.

Its paths and walkways weave through lush tropical flora interconnecting Club Med’s countless facilities including beach bars and restaurants, sporting and recreation facilities, the Kids Club, and an ultra-exclusive adults-only Zen Pool where jetlagged newcomers or regular sun worshippers can rest, recuperate, and relax in an environment free from distractions and noises.

The Zen Pool also features a fully catered bar where guests can sip a beer, cocktail, or glass of champagne while enjoying the divine climate for which Bali is renowned.

While adults enjoy the serenity of the Zen experience, kids can escape to Kids Club for the day where they can take part in the flying trapeze, archery, inflatable obstacles in the wide range of resort pools, and other activities to keep themselves entertained.

Daily yoga classes and aqua aerobics add to the combination of fun and revitalisation that are hallmarks of the Club Med experience – basically, there’s something to do from dawn until well after dusk.

For Yoan, being the Chief de Village at Club Med is more of a lifestyle than a job, and this is reflected in the warm service provided by the 400 or so staff servicing the hundreds of clients who arrive at Club Med on a weekly basis.

This is evident by the fact that Yoan’s senior corporate responsibilities do not preclude him from a starring role in one of the many night stage productions that are a feature of the Club Med Bali experience.

As soon as dinner is over, guests are guided to the theatre for one of many nightly live performances, from the classic Magic Mary live stage show (a version of Mary Poppins) to traditional Indonesian cultural shows that showcase the universally loved Balinese culture, fire shows, tropical parties and much more.

The performances are predominantly staged by some of the many 100 or so staff members from more than 20 countries employed by Club Med and residing in staff quarters within the resort precinct.

At their conclusion, guests are ushered into a large outdoor, undercover bar precinct where performers – mostly well-trained, multi-tasking staff members – light up the dance floor with a live dance party.

And even if the candle burns late, Yoan and his steely staff are there to personally greet customers with a smile each morning as they embark on the luscious buffet dining experience.

“It’s a lifestyle for sure, and you have a huge responsibility to manage 400-plus clients every day,” he says.

“Interacting with the guests the way we do is unique to the Club Med experience, and it is appreciated by our clientele. We’re all about creating happiness and making guests truly feel welcome, which makes the experience more intimate and personalised.”

Club Med, like Bali itself, has not had everything its own way in recent years.

Earlier this year Yoan – who has worked for 11 years at Club Med beginning in France and moving to locations such as Portugal and Senegal – was tasked with helping Club Med play its part in re-building the decimated Balinese tourism industry caused by the Covid pandemic.

“It was a very difficult period for the Indonesian people because they are so reliant on tourism,” says Yoan.

“Many of them went back to the rice fields or seaweed farms because they no longer had the means to support themselves.

“Now more than ever we have Balinese who are very motivated and willing to get back to work and to please the guests and we accommodate that.

“Club Med has a deliberate strategy to make sure that we employ a certain number of Balinese, and it was a big part of our HR plan to keep some of our employees on 50 per cent of their wages when the island and the resort were closed.

“We felt it was very important for Club Med to make this contribution to our local employees during this very difficult time.

“Club Med’s philosophy has and always will be about people, and even though our resorts were closed all over the world we felt a moral responsibility to look after our people.”

While the French are, naturally, a large percentage of the occupants of its resorts, Yoan says the Australasian market is very important.

The proximity to Bali makes the Australian market a strong one, with flights from Perth (3 hours, 45 minutes) Darwin  (2 hours, 35 minutes), Brisbane  (6 hours, 10 minutes), Sydney (6 hours, 25 minutes), and Melbourne  (6 hours, 5 minutes).

“We love having the Australians coming to Club Med and they have been a very big part of the fabric of the resort for many years,” says Yoan.

“They understand Bali, they like to have a good time and they identify with the philosophy of Club Med. Aussies generally have longer stays of around one week whereas some others are less. The French, because they travel so far average around 10 days.

“It’s only now that we are seeing the French and the Europeans venturing to Bali, and hopefully the Chinese market will be next when they open up the international borders again.

“Either way we will continually evolve to meet existing, new and emerging markets as the tides of travel change in the post-Covid world.

As Yoan said when we were greeted by him and his team, he wants all guests to feel like they have been welcomed forever into the family which makes Club Med stand out from the rest.

Returning ‘home’ again, if you like – perhaps your home away from home where the rigours of modern life are quickly replaced by fun in the sun.