Long-time readers will know ‘luxury’ is not a word that gets used often around here. Because we’d rather travel more often than travel expensively, we tend to stay in budget-friendly accommodations everywhere we go. But what happens when the place you’re going doesn’t actually have any budget choices? (The answer is live it up for a weekend and then eat nothing but packaged noodles for the next month!)
If we’d gone pretty much anywhere else in Indonesia, we wouldn’t have come across such a “problem”, but Bintan is a bit of an irregularity. Some might disagree, but I think of Bintan more as an extension of Singapore than a part of Indonesia. Geographically, it is definitely Indonesia, but culturally and cost-wise, it feels a heck of a lot more like Singapore – not a huge surprise seeing as Bintan’s target clientele are Singaporeans and expats living in Singapore. At just an hour away by ferry, Bintan has the beaches closest to Singapore, making it the perfect getaway for long weekends. Or in our case, the Hari Raya holiday last September.
So, how did we manage a luxury holiday on a not-so-luxurious budget? We stayed at the most affordable, although no less beautiful, luxury resort on the island – Bintan Lagoon Resort.
BINTAN LAGOON RESORT: HOTEL & RESTAURANTS
First of all, I should mention that this is the easiest of all the Bintan resorts to get to. Bintan Lagoon Resort has its own ferry terminal, so when you get off the boat, you are literally already at the resort. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
Walking into the resort’s imposing lobby area, we were greeted with a fruity welcome drink and treated to dance and music performances while we waited to check in. The downside to a direct ferry service was that everyone on the ferry with us was checking into the same hotel, so it was quite a long wait. My tip for you is to get off the ferry and RUN. Kidding! (But only a little.) From the lobby, there is a gorgeous view of the resort’s main pool area and the South China Sea, so if you are one of the unlucky ones who has to wait an hour for your room to be ready, this is a good place to sit and wait.
With 470 guest rooms, a dozen restaurants, and two golf courses spread out over 750+ acres, Bintan Lagoon Resort is enormous. Luckily, most of the resort’s amenities and restaurants are in close proximity to each other, so unless you plan to walk the length of both golf courses, you won’t be breaking a sweat getting from place to place. If golfing isn’t your thing, the resort also has two swimming pools, a shopping center, a nightclub, a gym, water sports, and loads of activities for kids like indoor jungle gyms, air hockey, and arts and crafts. Oh, and because it’s probably what you’re actually coming for, there’s also a gorgeous, mile-long private beach in addition to quite a few miniature beaches scattered around the resort. Basically, you won’t have to leave the resort during your entire stay if you don’t want to.
Besides the actual accommodations, which I’ll get to next, probably the most important thing for you to know before booking your stay at Bintan Lagoon Resort is that the food is expensive. I mean, if you’re used to Singapore prices, these prices won’t come as a shock, but if not, you’ll probably do a double take at the menu before wondering whether the resort seasons their dishes with flakes of gold. But no, sadly, this is just extremely pricey, normal food. For a cheap(er) to-go lunch, the Mojo Cafe is a good choice, especially if you filled up at breakfast. For lunch or dinner, our more affordable favorites were the Terrace Sports Bar and Mangia. On our last night we splurged and had dinner at Nelayan, the resort’s beach-side restaurant, and if you do nothing else while you’re here, make sure you book a table here at sunset because it is perfection.
DELUXE SEA-FACING ROOM
From basic, double rooms to private beach-side villas, there are all sorts of accommodations to choose from at Bintan Lagoon Resort. We chose to stay in a Deluxe Sea-Facing Room and had an extra bed brought in for Lexie, although there are suites available for families if you prefer a little more privacy.
We requested our room be in the quietest area of the resort, so we had a beautiful view overlooking one of the golf courses and the ocean, but there are rooms closer to the pools and restaurants if you prefer to be near to the action. I am the world’s worst insomniac so silence is my primary objective when we travel, and besides the first night when the resort had a huge, all-night beach bash, it was pretty quiet in our area of the resort. (The night of the beach party, we had a lost, drunk guy knock on our door at 3am. I was still up because the whole resort was noisy that night, but I answered the door and pretended to be absolutely livid anyway just to mess with him. It was hilarious! At least for me, probably not him.)
After traveling through Europe for three years, the first thing I noticed about our room was how big it was. Like, we actually had room to walk on the floor after we brought our suitcases in – amazing! We had plenty of space, and the furnishings and design of our room were lovely. We had free WiFi, comfortable beds, a big bathroom, and as much free tea and coffee as we could drink, but my absolute favorite part of our room was the patio balcony. Nothing beats drinking your morning tea or coffee with a view of the ocean!
BREAKFAST AT BINTAN LAGOON RESORT
The one saving grace of the food situation at Bintan Lagoon Resort is that breakfast is included in the price of your stay, so for at least one meal of the day, you don’t have to fork over your life’s savings just to eat. And the breakfast here is delicious. It’s served in the Fiesta Restaurant, which is a beautiful, open-air restaurant with a glass ceiling and a direct view of the ocean. What a way to wake up, right?
Breakfast is served buffet-style and there’s no limit to the amount of times you can go back for more. There were so many choices that I never had the same thing on my plate twice. At least four or five different stations were serving all sorts of different western and Asian cuisines. I don’t know about you guys, but I totally dig my pancakes with dumplings on the side! This was, by far, my favorite meal every day.
POOLS & PRIVATE BEACHES
The biggest selling point for me at Bintan Lagoon Resort was their main pool area. I could not get over how gorgeous this area was! While kids are welcome at this pool, too, there is a pool specifically for families with small children in another area of the resort, but I stayed far, far away from that one. (I do not miss the kid-pool stage of our family life one bit! Ha!) The resort’s main pool has a swim-up bar, plenty of sun-loungers with umbrellas for shade, and a covered area to eat a meal by the pool if you prefer. And if you’re lucky, a miniature dinosaur will enter the pool and clear the whole place out so you (and the dinosaur) can have the pool all to yourselves! :)
Despite the attractiveness of the pool, the whole point of our coming to Bintan was to spend some time by the ocean, so that is where we spent most of our time. The beach is so long that it never feels crowded, even on a busy holiday weekend. Getting to the beach early is key, though, if you want to secure one of the huts and loungers, otherwise it’s a beach towel on the sand for you! Even though there were plenty of beach sports and water sports we could have signed up for, we chose to spend our weekend here just relaxing by the sea – sleeping, reading, and repeating.
A true beach (not the man-made kind) is the one thing I feel like Singapore is missing, so I highly doubt this will be our last time in Bintan, and we’ll be returning to Bintan Lagoon Resort when we do!
Bintan Lagoon Resort: Check Rates & Availability
Address: Jalan Indera Segara Site A12, Lagoi, Bintan, 29155
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