We board a Bintan Resort Ferry from Singapore's Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal at 9am in the morning. As guests of The Banyan Tree Bintan, our ferry tickets (usually priced between S$56-S$64) for a return ticket), were included under the cost of the resort. After close to an hour of being out at sea, our ferry docked at Bintan's Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal, and we lazily got off onto Bintan island, and were ready to join the rest of the passengers at the immigration lines to go through customs. Suddenly, we spotted a cheery man waving a placard with our names printed on it, so we left the snaking queue and headed over to him.
He promptly took our luggage, and candidly told us that being guests of the Banyan Tree Bintan, we did not have to queue to pass through customs, and we could go through the VIP check-in at the resort's private immigration lounge, where we could savour some light snacks and drinks while waiting for our documents to be processed. All that was done within minutes, and before we know it, we were on our way to the Banyan Tree Bintan. Located just a short 10-minute drive away from the ferry terminal, the Banyan Tree Bintan is Bintan's only all-villa establishment comprising 64 exclusive villas perched on a cliffside.
Inspired by both Balinese and traditional fishing villages, the architecture of the resort features elements to reflect the essence of the archipelago's native culture – the villas are decorated in traditional Balinese style, with each raised with stilts and set on hillsides, while Indonesian batik and tropical leaf motifs are also textured across the resort decor to draw guests even more deeply into the eye of local life.
The villas, which were refurbished in 2013 to include new relaxation pools, are categorised into the following categories: There are a total of 52 pool villas (Seaview Villa, Seafront Villa or the Villa-On-The-Rocks), and 6 exclusive One-Bedroom and 6 Two-Bedroom Banyan Pool Villas. Regardless of which one guests pick, they can be assured of sweeping views of the South China Sea.
For our stay, we picked the Oceanview Infinity Pool Villa, which faces the mesmerising ocean. Perched atop a secluded hill surrounded by lush rainforest, our tranquil abode, which consists of a spacious living area, two bedrooms, and personal dining quarters, was the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate.
After freshening up, we headed to the Treetops for some authentic Indonesian food – we ordered an array of dishes such as nasi goreng and beef rendang to fill our rumbling stomachs, and we were thoroughly impressed by how well balanced the flavours were.
With stomachs somewhat satiated, we were ready for some fun and action. Despite being a small island, there are plenty of exhilarating activities that one can indulge in – both on land and on water. We decided to try out the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) wide through the forest, and it proved to be quite an adventure. We each got on one of the doorless motorised buggies and followed our guide through the rough jungle tracks and rugged mountain terrain. We highly recommend this for those who thrive on more challenging activities. The ride concluded after about 1 and a half hours, and we headed back to our villas to rest.
We decided to have an early dinner at Saffron, the resort's signature restaurant where we enjoyed contemporary renditions of Thai favourites like papaya salad with shrimp, steam fillet of snapper wrapped in banana leaves, turmeric and chilli paste, stir fried crabmeat with curry cream sauce, and mango sticky rice – all prepared by the restaurant's resident chef Pimswat Pairote who uses fresh ingredients that are mostly sourced locally from dedicated growers.
We started our day early as we had a long, activity filled day planned ahead. For breakfast, we headed back to the Treetops for a which offers a tantilising spread of local and international dishes. The buffet table offers a spread of Asian items, baked goods, mueslis, homemade jams, and cereals. The a la carte menu, too, is substantial, offering a variety of hot egg dishes like scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, eggs Benedict, omelette, and more.
After breakfast, we decided to embark on a jet ski adventure. For those who have no prior experience, fret not, as the tour also caters to first-time jet ski riders. Our guide started off the session by giving us a detailed briefing on shore, thereafter, we proceeded to the jet skis where we were shown how to ride. We could practice by riding around the beachside course to get comfortable, and to familiarise ourselves with the controls. Next, our guide led the way in a single file past all the resort beaches. Adrenaline junkies are bound to love this activity, as they will get to race across the water at exhilarating speeds.
After an action-packed morning, we were famished and looking forward to lunch. We headed to The Cove, where we indulged in Mediterranean food and fine wines. We ordered a couple of starters such as the beef tartare and scallops salad to share, and had delicious pastas for our mains. The smoked salmon linguine and stone crab spaghetti were our favourites – the seafood was really fish, and the pastas were cooked to al dente perfection.
After a nice long leisurely lunch, we were ready to be pampered at the Banyan Tree Spa Bintan. We picked the 60-minute Balinese style massage, where our aching muscles are soothed and skin restored to its natural balance. The deep tissue massage is deeply relaxing and not only smoothed out all knots, but I was told that it also improves blood circulation.
Being on an island, we had to have local seafood. For our last night in Bintan, we had the opportunity of having dinner on board a traditional Kelong – a local fisherman's abode set on stilts that extend out to into the sea, tucked just a few metres away from the beach. As we arrived at the beach early, we managed to catch a glimpse of the lovely sunset before boarding a local pompong boat that took us to the rustic dining location. Here, we feasted on an array of culinary delights including a tantalising range of Indonesian barbecue items, Middle Eastern cuisine, and seafood dishes, such as Mezze platter with hummus, moutabel, tabbouleh and fatoush salad, as well as coral fish, tiger prawns, and lobsters.
The Kelong can accomodate a large group of up to 16 guests.
On our final morning in Bintan, the team of chefs at the Treetops prepared a stunning room service breakfast spread of fresh fruit, granola with fruit compote and yogurt, brie and prosciutto, salmon egg benedict, pastries and toast, which we enjoyed on our balcony.
After breakfast, we proceeded to check out at the resort's lobby, where we were offered tea and a few slices of traditional Indonesian cake – a sweet ending to a truly lavish weekend.
For reservations at Banyan Tree Bintan, call 62/770-693-100 or email email@example.com.