Bintan Lagoon Resort remains one of the most popular accommodations in Bintan despite its sixteen years, as Gwen Pew discovers.
3 Jul 2013: When it opened its doors in 1997, Bintan Lagoon Resort was only the second hotel complex on this sunny Indonesian island. But while it’s admittedly no longer as modern or shiny as its younger neighbours, its features have improved over the years. One of its selling points is its own ferry terminal – the 75-minute boat trip from Tanah Merah takes you directly to its doorstep and, at the time that we went, away from the worst of the haze.
Stretched out across 300ha of tropical landscape, the resort makes for an ideal weekend getaway without breaking the bank. You may choose to stay in one of their their newly renovated deluxe rooms, which faces the gardens or the South China Sea; their themed suites if you’re looking for something more extravagant; or their three-, four- or five- bedroom villas that come with a free use of a buggy.
We got a sea-facing deluxe room equipped with a cosy balcony, stylish Indonesian teak furniture, king-size bed, raised cushioned platform that doubled as a huge sofa, and a comfortably-sized bathtub.
Wi-Fi is available for a fee if you can’t detach yourself from the outside world, although we highly recommend staying offline. There is, after all, a huge amount to do. Riding the jetski, kayak and the super-intense banana boat (it’s great fun but your limbs will get a proper work out from this, trust us) is great for thrill-seekers. There’s also a snorkelling tour twice daily (10am and 2pm) if you’d like to get up close and personal with the colourful inhabitants of the oceans; the water was slightly murky when we went, but it’s nonetheless fascinating to get a glimpse of what goes on under the sea.
For those who’d rather stay dry, we’d recommend giving the ATV (All-Terrain Vehicles – aka quad bikes) a go. Otherwise, a host of sports facilities are also available, from archery to tennis. Golfers will find paradise here in the resort’s two signature 18-hole courses – the Ian Baker-Finch Woodlands Course and the Jack Nicklaus Sea View course – which offer spectacular views.
Mind you, these activities are pretty pricey – as are the services at Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa, but there are cheaper options. We suggest going for a beach massage in the hut located under palm trees by the sea instead: their Javanese Massage ($30 for 30 minutes) untied all the knots that we had. Do be prepared to become the target for people watchers, but overall it’s relaxing and it’s lovely to have the breeze in our hair.
We also enjoyed being spoilt for food choices. With 12 restaurants and bars on offer, we especially loved the surprisingly authentic Miyako Japanese Restaurant, Orzo Italian and Mediterranean Restaurant (though we’d recommend skipping the mediocre desserts) and their latest addition, Rice Beachfront Bar and Dining. Sipping cocktails while watching the sunset at Rice was certainly an experience we’d remember for a long time, although we were unfortunately forced to move indoors when the food arrived due to the swarms of flies that were too eager to join in the party; it’d have been nice if there were insect lamps installed around the terrace.
The drinks menu at their nightclub/bar, Silk, was impressive and all very well made, but we found their crowd rather seedy on the night that we went. Instead, we much preferred taking a stroll along the pristine Pasir Panjang Beach under the bright moonlight – plus it’s free! Just make sure you bring insect repellent – the sand flies and mosquitoes are merciless.
Apart from families and friends, Bintan Lagon Resort is also ideal for companies looking to do a corporate holiday – their brand new, 1300-persons capacity conference centre, the Great Hall, is due to be completed by the end of July.