The Bali Travel Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BaliTravelForum/) is one of the fastest growing and most active travel forums about Bali. Not only does this group deliver useful information for newbies about the island, but even a Bali villa owner like me eagerly reads the posts on this forum.
For instance, when flights in and out of Bali were being massively cancelled due to the ash cloud spewed from Lombok’s volcanoes, I relied on the Bali Travel Group to remain updated on the local situation. I was away in Thailand, and I needed to share vital airport information with my Australian guests due to arrive at the villas and with my local staff waiting for them. Believe or not, but the information in this Facebook forum was more accurate than anything on the official Bali airport website!
So, what makes an online forum successful? I believe that a big reason for it is Clare McAlaney. She’s the heart and soul behind this active group. She’s a Bali expert / forum moderator / travel reporter / real person. I asked Baron, my local villa manager, to ask her a few questions to help you get to know her better.
Clare, what made you start the Bali Travel Group on Facebook?
Why did this group grow so fast?
What are your 3 favourite places in Bali and why?
- Day trip or over night stay to Ubud. We stay at a gorgeous guesthouse called Kano Sari. They are spacious guest rooms but stunning, overlooking a ravine. It is just so peaceful. I go for a walk through rice fields in the morning and there are loads of wonderful restaurants, such as Murni’s Warung, The Bridge and Alila Ubud. We often go up for the day and pretend we are on holidays!
- Lake Tamblingan up past Bedugul. It is part of the caldera (a volcano that collapsed inwards, rather than erupting outwards). Ironic, I know! There is a very old water temple there. It is a little eerie. I write of it in my children’s fantasy novel The Bootongs of Bali – it is the gateway to the second realm as ducks seek a lost manuscript in the fallen Kingdom of Ducktopia! I have spent quite a bit of time there, visualising my ducks. When I tell the story to locals, I must tell it convincingly, because they want to know how to get there!
- Alila in Seminyak. This is my luxury splurge! And, the home of our eClub so we spend quite a bit of time there. The original temple is in the grounds still and families who own the temple still live on the property. It is not busy or crowded, expansive views of the beach and at night, you hear the waves crashing in. Food is incredible and service possibly the best in Bali. It’s a great place to hang out for sunset too.
Could you also tell us about your venture called Creatavision Publishing?
I founded it three years ago (prior to that it was Creatavision – a marketing and branding company), because I wanted to publish, but not within constraints of the industry, which takes too long. I am a brand expert and experienced marketer, as well as being a writer, photographer and designer, so felt I could pull it all together and do it myself.
I now have a wonderful stable of books, have worked with gifted artists, authors and photographers, and don’t feel like I am working at all! We sell online and in Australia, and all the books are bestsellers in Indonesia. We have a lot of plans to expand into the Australian market next year. I run workshops on branding and publishing in Australia and come back to Bali to relax and find more favourite spots!
I am an advocate for Conscious Travel, and that is the basis for the essence of the company. We are authentic and strive to help people step up to their potential without stepping on others on the way up! The philosophy is based on having a voice that makes a difference in the world.