THE Lat­est PRIVATE ISLAND Get­aways YOU NEED

Cempedak Island is par­adise, and it’s just a cou­ple of hours away from su­per-busy Sin­ga­pore. The main dif­fer­ence? No young kids are al­lowed, there’s no tech (time to dis­con­nect), and you al­most feel you’ve got the whole place to your­self. Ac­count di­rec­tor

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Par­adise is just a cou­ple of hours away.

My hus­band and I were look­ing for a quiet week­end get­away to cel­e­brate our ninth an­niver­sary ear­lier this year, and Cempedak Island (which I’d read about on­line) seemed like the place for a dream va­ca­tion.

Get­ting to the island, which opened in late 2017, is a charm­ingly quaint process. You don’t go by plane – water is the mode of trans­port. I re­mem­ber the day was per­fect, with cloud­less blue skies and pris­tine waters. The leisurely pace also meant we could wave at the lo­cals in a fish­ing vil­lage that was set on stilts. As we ap­proached land, we could make out the roofs of the vil­las, sur­rounded by rich green­ery. There to greet us at a rus­tic wooden pier was the re­sort’s res­i­den­tial team, who led us to the main res­tau­rant for a wel­come drink and guided us through a swift check-in.

Cempedak Island ex­tends across 17ha of rain­for­est, and it de­liv­ers both pri­vacy and peace – this was one of the first things we no­ticed when we got there. We were one of 15 cou­ples staying on the island, but it al­most felt like we had the island to our­selves. Be­cause the vil­las are 15m apart and sur­rounded by thick veg­e­ta­tion, we didn’t see or hear our fel­low guests. Those look­ing for peace and quiet will be happy to know that kids un­der the age of 16 aren’t al­lowed on the island

– so you won’t en­counter them in the din­ing area or other shared spa­ces. Our villa was on a steep hill, just five min­utes from the main build­ing, but we had the op­tion of call­ing for a buggy ride when­ever we wanted to head out. We pre­ferred to walk, though.

If you’re into sus­tain­able travel, the re­sort’s eco-luxe phi­los­o­phy will def­i­nitely ap­peal to you. The first thing you ob­serve is how the island is in­cor­po­rated into the re­sort – the vil­las have thatched roofs made from lalang leaves, and lo­cally-sourced bam­boo serves as pil­lars. Since the point of com­ing to Cempedak Island is to be im­mersed in nature, it has no air-con­di­tion­ing. In­stead, you get ceil­ing fans and mos­quito nets over the beds to keep out un­wanted guests. That didn’t bother us too much as the nights were cool, thanks to the high ceil­ings of the vil­las and the con­stant sea breeze (our villa faced the glis­ten­ing South China Sea). Wak­ing up every morn­ing to the sound of bird­song and the bus­tle of fish­ing boats on the sea was idyl­lic.

But es­cap­ing city life doesn’t have to mean just ly­ing hor­i­zon­tal. The re­sort has a spa, a ten­nis court, kayaks and guides to show you around the island. We did an easy trek through the for­est, where we kept an eye out for rare na­tive species like horn­bills, ot­ters and pan­golins. We weren’t so lucky, and they proved elu­sive. If hikes aren’t your thing, go for a stroll in­stead in the re­sort’s gar­den, which has fruits and veg­eta­bles grown and tended by the re­sort staff.

Some of the fresh pro­duce we saw while ex­plor­ing the place ac­tu­ally ended up on our din­ner plates. The re­sort res­tau­rant gen­er­ally does things omakas­es­tyle, but you can re­quest cer­tain items. On our first night, we were served a de­li­cious steak din­ner, but once we told the chef that we wanted au­then­tic lo­cal flavours, we were treated to an In­done­sian feast of cur­ries, beef ren­dang and soto ayam.

At Cempedak Island, we got qual­ity time with­out dis­trac­tions, and a brief respite – dur­ing which we traded our cor­po­rate at­tire for some bare­foot lux­ury.

Rates at the re­sort be­gin at $450 a night. Book a ferry ride to Bin­tan from Sin­ga­pore, and get the re­sort to ar­range a private boat ride from there. Go to www.cempedak.com

4 1. The vil­las are set against lush green for­est.2. Bam­boo is used in many of the struc­tures.3. Mos­quito nets keep bugs at bay – you’ll need them as the vil­las are not air-con­di­tioned.4. El­iza hangs out at her villa’s private pool, with amaz­ing views of the South China Sea.5. You can also en­joy a shared pool, just a short walk from the beach.6. All daily meals – made us­ing lo­cally-sourced pro­duce – are in­cluded in the pack­age.

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