Rustic meets luxury in The Residence Bintan
THE RESIDENCE BINTAN Portfolio took a ferry to Bintan to get reacquainted with the island and sample The Residence Bintan’s bespoke indulgences
Some people don’t see the appeal of Bintan beyond its run-of-themill resorts and spas. Nobody can blame them, really, because what else is there to do on the island besides lounging by the pool and getting a massage? Well, nothing and everything, apparently. Precisely the charm of the island — it offers a bucolic, no-brainer getaway that lets you have a lazy, foot-massage-kind-of-day, or enjoy yourself silly on a mini-island adventure. A proper beach destination that’s only 55-minute ferry ride away from Singapore, the island still retains its rustic and kampong appeal, offering a refreshing respite from the city’s hustle and bustle. The largest among the 3,200 islands of Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago, Bintan used to be a trading port between the China and India routes in the 3rd century. Nowadays, it is home to many beach resorts promising to rejuvenate the weary souls.
Your Own Little Sanctuary
As if we needed another reason to set foot on the island, The Residence Bintan — a secluded luxury resort tucked along the southeastern shores of the island, recently opened its doors to the public, vying to make its mark as yet another place to be ‘to escape and indulge’. But what exactly sets it apart from other resorts promising the same tagline? Well, it starts with the wifi onboard the bus that takes you on a scenic ride from the Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal to the resort. Put your feet up, snooze comfortably, or watch a movie to keep you entertained along the way. A whiff of pandan leaves and the unmistakable sweet aroma of a freshly squeezed fruit in your welcome drink promises to unknot all the tight muscles you didn’t know you have in your body. And a session at The Spa by Ila, one of the reasons you should visit the resort, would easily accomplish that and more. Bespoke treatments with a touch of local Ayurvedic rituals in the hands of expert therapists will leave you feeling rejuvenated, long after you have showered off all the delightfully-smelling essential oils. Space is such a luxury in Singapore that when you go out of town you sometimes get taken aback when presented with all the space you deserve. It was exactly how I felt when I stepped into my one-bedroom beachfront accommodation for the weekend. The 125sqm villa opens to an outdoor deck with an infinity pool and an uninterrupted view of the beach; each one is tucked away in its own little garden lush enough for extra privacy. One of the 127 terraces and villas in the resort, my room, like the rest of the property, is tastefully decorated in a distinct Javanese design with a clean, contemporary touch.
To Chill or Not to Chill
If, like me, you always want to be on the safe side when it comes to food, you would want to have something familiar on the menu just in case local offerings don’t cut it. Well, at The Residence Bintan, you can happily scratch that thought. Although serving Indonesian cuisine, the resort’s signature restaurant, Rica Rica, comes up with its own modern versions of the local dishes, which seem to appeal to everyone. So, what is there to do on the island beyond the comforts of your private pool? It depends on how active you want to be for the day. A challenging ATV course at The Residence Bintan is ready to be conquered, for example. A mangrove tour is another option for a leisurely way to explore the Sebung River, or a snorkeling day trip to Pulau Mapur, where pristine white sand beaches and crystal clear waters await. The resort also offers cultural experiences, like a visit to nearby rural villages, or a trip to Senggerang, a rustic fishermen’s village where stilt houses still line along the coasts. Island hopping, jet skiing, batik painting, and other family-friendly activities are also available, giving guests the option to customize their itinerary during their stay. As for me, just like the majority who troops to the island for a quick escape, my favorite activity still consists of the beach, a book, and a bottle of sunscreen. For more information on The Residence Bintan, please visit www.cenizaro.com/theresidence/bintan.