The Residence Bintan is a new family-friendly luxury resort on the east coast of the island that needs to go onto your vacation radar now, right now.
Stealing off for a weekend getaway to The Residence Bintan smack in the middle of the year-end exams rattles my Tiger Mum bones. But what the heck. This sneak vay-cay may (hopefully) revitalise the kids and get them in the mood for full-on studying when we return (insert a million prayer hands emoji).
We arrive like thieves in the dark of night after taking the last ferry of the day (8.15pm from Singapore). Exhausted from the one-hour ferry trip and the 1.5-hour ride from Bintan’s Bandar Bentan Telani (BBT) Ferry Terminal, we’re in bed and comatose minutes after arriving at our Deluxe Beachfront Villa.
Luxury Beachfront Living at The Residence Bintan
Upon waking the next morning we realise that our villa has prime position — right on the sands, and positioned so perfectly that we have sweeping vistas of the South China Sea right between two towering coconut trees. At 125-280 sqm (including deck and pool), our one-bedroom Deluxe Beachfront Villa sleeps a family of four comfortably. The resort-style decor, with dark wood tones, is stylish and relaxing.
Two sliding doors separate living and sleeping areas, so younger ones can nap while mum and dad catch up on couple time. A wooden deck with two deck chairs straddles both rooms, and our very own private infinity pool!
What we love: Kids get a fantastic welcome here. There are colourful fondant confections and a tote bag filled with beach holiday essentials such as sunscreen, aloe vera gel, and mosquito repellant bands. In addition, there’s a basket with even more snacks, a colouring book, crayons, and a timetable for activities at the Kakatu Kids Club.
Breakfast at The Dining Room
It’s a 10-minute walk to breakfast but the resort’s 24-7 buggy service brings us there in less than half the time. With winding paths and up to 10 of these vehicles on the ‘roads’ at any one time, it’s no mean feat to drive them. We learn that the resort’s buggy drivers have to go through a course and pass a ‘driving’ test before they are allowed to transport guests so rest assured, you and your little ones are in safe hands.
Breakfast is at The Dining Room just off reception, with a view of the resort’s main pool. Here we discover Soto Betawi, an aromatic traditional Indonesian soup beef soup in coconut milk. It warms us up from top to toe and inside out, a perfect complement to the wet weather we’re having. Apart from this magical brew, there’s local and western hot food, a wide selection of breads (including gluten-free loaves), salads, pastries, and the ubiquitous egg man wielding his saucepans of yolks and whites.
What we love: Meals are served at kid-friendly timings. Breakfast starts from 6.30am so early risers (read: babies and toddlers) don’t have to wait long to get their tummies filled = no grouchiness = less stress for mums = win! In addition, lunch starts from 11.30am, and dinner, from 6pm, making it easy to maintain early bedtime routines.
Meandering Mangroves and Mischievous Monkeys
As the skies clear we set off on a Mangroves and Monkeys tour, one of many activities for families that The Residence Bintan offers. After a 30-minute bus ride we arrive at Kawal, where the cutest gang of four usher us down wooden planks towards our boat. Kawal is a fishing village on the water. Fishermen here bring in catch from the seas – swordfish, sharks, crabs, and more – to sell in nearby markets. Until recent years, there was no electricity and babies (perhaps these children too) were born in stilt houses on the water!
As we glide along the waters, we see monkeys, snakes, a kingfisher… and quite a fair bit of debris. Possibly because of pollution, the mangroves here are not as lush or as verdant as those that we’ve seen in other parts of Asia. The fireflies are not put off though. Our guide assures us that thousands of them appear at night “like Christmas lights!”.
What we love: Everyone has to wear a lifejacket (child-sized ones provided), so this is safe even for young children. Also, kids love looking out for animals, making this a great game of “I Spy” in nature.
Family- and Kid-Friendly Activities at The Residence Bintan
Chilling out and doing nothing is one of life’s greatest pleasures and this can be achieved easily at The Residence Bintan. However, if you’re with the kids, scupper those plans and enjoy time with them instead. First, introduce water babies to splashing fun at your villa’s private pool or at the main infinity pool (sunset drinks here not mandatory but highly recommended!).
Then, if they’re not tired out yet (or after a nap), go to the Kakatu Kids Club. This haven for little ones has a playground, oversized chess and Jenga blocks, a Reading Room, and a Movie Room. Activities include lessons in Bahasa Language, local dance, batik painting, kids yoga, treasure hunts, and more. There’s also a substantial collection of games and toys for all ages. Rain or shine, young ones will definitely have a fab time here.
The kids are treated to a special session of Wobbel Yoga by Tiny Movements Co. and they enjoy it tremendously. In fact, my Younger One is still humming the sun salutation song that he learnt that morning.
A short buggy ride away is the Sports Complex. Here adventurous ones can test their mettle on high and low-element obstacle courses, ATV rides, paintball, and archery tug-of-war, among others. Finally, head down to the beach for kayaking, volleyball, and lazing out on a hammock or two. If the tide is low, try wading out to the sea swings for that perfect Instagram shot.
What we love: The incredible staff at Kakatu Kids Club. They entertain my guys with card games, board games, games of Monkey (cue delighted screaming) and more. Kids can also do tie-dye, batik, tote bag, and bird house painting, with 30 per cent of the cost going to charity.
Me time for Mums
Most resorts offer a yoga class in the morning, but who wants to wake up early while on holiday? Here at The Residence Bintan there are free yoga (stretch) sessions for adults twice a day. Hence if you can’t get out of bed early enough for the morning one, don’t fret. Just attend the late afternoon class instead.
But as a “permanently exhausted pigeon” kind of mum, it’s the Spa by award-winning British brand ila (named after the Hindu Goddess of Truth and the Sanskrit word for Earth ) that calls my name. Here, indigenous and organic ingredients combine with local Ayurvedic rituals for ultimate body and soul pampering.
The Stillness Blessing has purifying smoke and singing bowl rituals. With the Chakra Well Being treatment, your therapist will blend the oils according to your personal chakra balance. There’s even a couples treatment which includes a Prana vitality massage and a “couple connect ritual ceremony” — great for mums and dads who need a reminder of those pre-baby days. Private treatment villas dotted around the spa compound offer privacy in serenity, lulling us into relaxation even before treatment begins. My therapist Benny has magic hands and her touch soon soothes me into blissful slumber.
All too soon the massage (and our runaway weekend getaway) is over and it’s time to return to reality. But we’re letting you experience this piece of paradise as well…
(See also: 5 Amazingly Kid-Friendly Villas in Bali)
:: GIVEAWAY ::
We’re giving away a 3D2N stay in a Beachfront Villa at The Residence Bintan for four – perfect for mum, dad, and two children!
Open in February 2018, The Residence Bintan is a tropical hideaway nestled amid greenery on the east coast of the island. We had a fab time here and would love for you and your family to experience it too!
Your stay includes:
• A 3D2N stay in a Beachfront Villa for four persons
• Daily buffet breakfast at The Dining Room for all guests
• Return shared transfer between ferry terminal and the resort
• Beachfront Villa with one rollaway bed
• Extension of stay is chargeable at best available rates
Terms and conditions:
• Valid from 1 November 2018 to 31 October 2019, subject to availability
• Blackout dates: 23 December 2018 to 3 January 2019, and 4-6 February 2019
• Other terms and conditions apply
How to win:
1. Like and share this article on Facebook (make sure it’s public so we can see it)
2. Tag a friend who deserves a fab vacation too
3. Sit back and relax. We’ll be in touch if you’ve won
Closing date: 12 noon, 9 November 2018
Featured image: The Residence Bintan