It takes a village to raise a child, a wise person once said. It took until my child was 17 for me to find the village I wish I'd let raise her from the beginning.
For a whole week we were villagers in Club Med Bali, where she was fed and entertained – and safe - in a country foreign enough to be full of danger (in my eyes) and fabulous shopping (in her eyes). It was probably the last holiday we would take together before she stretches her own wings and flies to even more distant lands. Alone.
I was able to lie back on my sunlounger, pretending to read a book but in fact people-watching as the muscular coach lead an aquarobics class in front of us, and rising occasionally only for a fresh cocktail. She sprawled nearby and googled shopping options.
Every now and then one of us would dip in the pool to cool down and feel active, weaving between children on inflatable unicorns or lined up like ducklings behind the kids' club carer as they returned to their own designated play area.
Much here is geared towards families, with Bugaboo pushchairs available onsite, rooms set up especially to cater for children and age-specific kids clubs that offered water play, chances to explore and learn and quiet times.
Club Med pioneered the kids' club concept and is now taking it to a new level with its "Amazing family" programme, which encourages parents to actively reconnect with their kids in cooking classes, yoga, bubble parties and other memory-making activities. It took no effort from Club Med's "Gentil Organisateurs" (GOs) to jolly Miss 17 into a game of inflatable soccer, where we strapped ourselves into plastic orbs and lined up with the other families to score goals without being knocked off our feet. We were unsuccessful at both. I hadn't seen her laugh with such innocent abandon since she discovered Daddy could steal her nose when she was 8 months old.
We walked arm in arm to the beach on the edge of the Java Sea for the kite-flying competitions, which is part of Club Med's "time to move" programme. The kids' excitement when their colourful scrap of fabric and bamboo caught a gust and soared on a warm air current was outweighed only by the whoops and cheers from the fathers - who were clearly having as much fun as the kids.
When we needed a break from our day's schedule of sunbathing and eating, we joined in the "time to play" over-sized games such as Connect Five and Twister. The latter was a staple of my teenage years, but skipped hers – and I certainly never had to reach blue left hand and red right foot on a mat big enough for roughly the entire village.
A bubble party by the pool was a great way to meet other villagers – known as GMs or Gentle Members – as the suds coated everyone and led to the inevitable fights and dunkings. And we explored the village via a clever digital treasure hunt quest, feeding our phone addiction while discovering hidden nooks and unexpected surprises within the village's sprawling grounds. Particularly interesting were the remains of old temples, protected by heritage orders and adding mystique to the careful resort landscaping. We whiled away our time waiting to go paddleboarding one morning watching the locals take part in a ceremony involving bells and chanting at the beachside temple.
This being Club Med, everything was included. As well as the Amazing Family programme, also on offer were a trapeze, archery, tennis, kayaking and other water sports. And of course, the food.
Most of Southeast Asia was represented in the elegant buffet dining area and we sampled Indonesian, Korean, Japanese, Chinese at every meal. It might have been possible to not be carried away when faced with platter after dish of fresh tropical fruit, nasi goreng, sushi, bibimbap – even beer on tap and pizza – but we didn't even try. The Deck Restaurant offers an la carte experience, where we indulged in a late lunch of beef rendang and burger.
When we felt like peace and quiet – and needed to digest our lunch - we made our way to the adults-only Zen pool, where parents lazed in the sun while their children frolicked in the kids' club. There we lay on a gently rocking swing bed, snoozing, reading, bonding in the shade, and accepting a chilled beer from the quietly circling waiter.
In the evenings, Club Med comes even more lively. The GOs put on an acrobatic show for us as the sun set and then we partied under the stars of the tropical night, fuelled by cocktails and dance music. Then it was time to take our weary selves back to our room, tiptoeing so as not to wake the water monitors and herons that stalked the lily ponds below the walkways.
Naturally the siren call of the shopping lured young madam to the nearby mall (within walking distance) and Kuta markets (a short taxi-ride away), where the prices ensured we reached our baggage allowance.
But a week of flying kites, stumbling on ancient temples and throwing bubbles at The Precious came with an unexpected side effect: active alone time with the offspring loosens lips and you might just find yourself learning a little too much about what really went on at the party the other Saturday night.
Air New Zealand flies direct from Auckland to Bali up to five times a week between June and October. Emirates flies direct four times a week, all year round.