Move over Bali, Indonesia has a new must-visit destination. With a larger surface area than Singapore but with a fraction of the population (a mere 335, 000 compared to Singapore’s 5.7 million) Bintan Island is a short boat ride from Singapore’s hustle and bustle yet feels like a million miles away. It feels like a million miles from anywhere.
Bintan’s gem is its jungle and wildlife and Banyan Tree is the perfect way to experience it. The secluded villas and their private pools are nestled in the trees on the hillside with a perfect view of the sea and not much else. We arrived in the night and waking to the view was breath-taking.
The view from my bathroom
The villas added to the authenticity of the stay. Decorated with local décor and of course a thatched roof, Banyan Tree does not spoil the hillside of the island, it only adds to it. Blinds whilst available are not necessary, no one can see your villa from the resort and why would you shower with the blind down when your view is the South China Sea through the cracks in the trees? Exactly. And if that wasn’t authentic enough, it wasn’t unusual to have a visitor on your balcony, whether it be a monkey, possum, toad or bat – you are in the jungle after all.
For those wanting a more family-friendly stay, Angsana Bintan is a short distance from Banyan Tree and sits on the edge of its own private beach. With fun-filled activities for children, the family resort has its own pool and the hotel rooms have views of the South China Sea or the 18-hole golf course.
The hotel's exclusive beach
Banyan Tree and Angsana are proud of their Wildlife Conservation work, and rightly so. Numerous nature activities are available for guests – perfect if you’re travelling with children. A highlight of the trip was a turtle conservation talk and we were lucky enough to be there to help release 49 baby turtles into the wild. The conservation workers collect the turtle eggs after they have been laid to ensure they are not taken – they are still a local delicacy in Bintan – and wait until they have hatched. Guests are then invited to help release them into the sea, something everyone was more than happy to help with (adults included!).
Whilst Banyan Tree and Angsana are rife with options, from the award-winning spa (a full body massage overlooking the sea is highly recommended), golf course and infinity pools going out of the resort for the Mangrove River tour is a must. Just minutes from the resort, the Mangrove river is like a scene from the jungle book. As the river thins to become little more than the width of the small 10-person boat, you’re in the heart of the tropical forest, the blue sky barely visible through the trees. A family of monkeys danced above our heads whilst snakes balanced on branches - there was only Mowgli and Baloo missing from our jungle experience!
Morning yoga on the Island's edge
Your trip to Bintan doesn’t have to be this adventurous. A full body massage overlooking the sea or yoga on the island edge as the sun rises are perfect for those looking for some rest and relaxation in their jungle hideaway. If lying by an infinity pool is your idea of a holiday, Banyan Tree is your heaven. With several pools to choose from in the resort (villas include their own private pool too) and metres from the beach, it’s the perfect luxury escape to wind down and refresh.
With Singapore’s culture and character (not to mention it’s skyline) only an hour away, a stop off before or after your trip to Bintan will add so much to your trip. Singapore is on the rise and it’s easy to see why. From its surprisingly stunning skyline to its tropical gardens, its character is endless.
Singapore skyline from the Garden of the Bay
A visit to the Gardens of the Bay nature park is the perfect family day out. With numerous species of trees and flora and each greenhouse having its own theme, the gardens are not only visually stunning but interesting to learn about (not to mention very eco-friendly!) The famous Supertrees, eleven of which have environmentally sustainable features, give the best view of the gardens and the city’s skyline – getting the lift to the top is a must!
Singapore’s skyline is unexpected. It’s towering skyscrapers aren’t dissimilar to New York City with the Marina Bay Sands hotel and the Gardens of the Bay adding to its personality. Get the perfect view from the Fairmont Hotel. Right next door to Raffles (the creator of the Singapore Sling) the Fairmont shows off the city from different viewing points. It’s top floor bar and restaurant at level 70, Equinox, not only offers signature creations from the kitchen but gives a stunning view of the skyline and marina.
Destinology, the experts in luxury travel, offer a multi-centre trip including one night at the Fairmont Singapore (Deluxe room, room only), three nights at Angsana Bintan (Island Chill Room, B&B) and three nights at the Banyan Tree Bintan (Rainforest Seaview, B&B) from just £1535 per person, based on two sharing. This includes return British Airways flights from London Heathrow direct to Singapore.
For further information or to book visit www.Destinology.co.uk or call 01204 824619.