The main reason is as you enter Kota Baru you'll pass the Mason Pine Hotel. Here you can pay for a day ticket to use its facilities. Although I'm sure most hotels will do this, not all hotels have such a toddler-friendly pool area, large pool with stunning views and good facilities. When you arrive, you'll be issued with a parking ticket – be sure to keep this as you'll need to hand it in when you leave. Feel free to drive if you fancy as there are lots of park spaces for cars and mopeds.
As you enter the hotel, of course, you can ask at reception, but basically, you need to walk past it and turn to the left to find the sports and recreation centre. In this little office, you can pay by card or cash for the stamp to allow you entrance. The hotel really covers all the basics to a high standard like changing rooms and lockers. For the locker keys, you only need to ask the friendly poolside staff, normally in green, for help. But as this is a good quality hotel, they even provide towels and soap in the showers. Not to mention on the towel table you'll find a bottle of suntan lotion you can use to top up from, an antiseptic hand wipe if needed and plastic bags for your wet clothes. Another nice feature they have is together with the run of the mill male and female changing area, there's also a girls and boys changing room. This is great for those children that like a little more independence (or need smaller toilets and lower sinks). They really have thought of everything to make your day as easy as possible.
Make your way down the stairs, passing the restaurant and you'll find the main pool. It's a large pool for proper end to end fitness swimming with an impressive backdrop, sunbeds dotted around either end and 4 or 5 gazebos. There's even a small shallow area also for less confident swimmers but the maximum depth in the main pool is 1.2 metres.
The highlight for us has to be on the lower level. Take the steps on either side of the big pool down to the lower tier. Here you'll find not only a splash area with water canyons and lots of spray and play features, but also a small waterpark tower. I say small as it's only really suitable for younger children. Over 10-year olds may not find it as entertaining for as long as the younger children, but they will enjoy the top pool.
There are two slides, a fill and spill bucket type thing and a maximum depth of 70 cm. For me, it's deep enough for my toddler to jump in to but not deep enough that I feel it's unsafe. There's also a kid's club which you can use and a nice garden area behind the waterslide side. Around the pool are a few areas to sit and relax – no sun beds.
For food, you have a few options. They have poolside snacks like pasta, chips, sandwiches and smaller kids options, priced around 50,000 IDR. In the restaurant, they have a full menu from western items to local Indonesian food and much more. For example, Nasi Goreng (fried rice) is priced around 80,000 IDR and pizzas around 90,000 IDR. Or you could bring your own small snack. If you have a party or special event they do offer a package, but it has been known that you can pay a 'corkage fee' if you wish to bring a large amount of food in or birthday cake. I would say to talk to the hotel management as they're very approachable.
Just don't forget about the fill and spill bucket!
So, now for a few honest truths. There are no lifeguards on duty at either pool. Only very small parts of the pool are shaded, I would say that the top pool has no shade at all. And sadly, the hotel is not very accessible for guests that cannot manage steps. Remember that you need to go down around 3 levels to get to the splash park. Just a side note, you'll see a family karaoke room near the pool. This isn't included in the day ticket, just in case you fancied it.
Oh and the other reason my toddler and love Kota Baru is the fact it's one of the only places where we can find outdoor parks. I mean proper manicured grass and trees, not near any of cars, kind of park. With good quality swings, slides, tree houses and paved areas etc. If you're in the area they are well worth a visit too.
If you've been to Kota Baru – am I right? What do your family think of this small waterpark?