Banyan Tree Bintan: Tropical sanctuary by the sea
Dangling over the shoreline surrounded by tall trees, my Banyan Tree Bintan villa feels one with nature and the curious squirrel that darts past the windows certainly agrees.
Only the sounds of soft waves languidly lapping the deserted rocky beach and tiny bird chirps break the silence until soft gurgles from my private jet pool join the chorus as I relax in comfort.
This is a space designed for pleasure with the large, white net shrouded canopy bed perfectly positioned so guests can admire a wide stretch of the blue-hazed South China Sea. Each night the villa’s blinds are magically drawn when I return after dinner, but I pull them high, so I can enjoy the sunrise’s beauty.
There’s no escaping the view in the bathroom with almost the entire shower wall turned into a giant window over the sea. For the modest there are blinds, but I’m sure the squirrels don’t care what I’m wearing.
The grounds at Banyan Tree Bintan are dotted with similar villas perched on stilts set into the steep hillside between the tropical splendour of old growth trees in traditional Balinese style. All have their own jet pools, sun lounges and private sanctuary views.
While there are buggies available to take guests anywhere on the resort, it is easy to walk along the small roads and enjoy the outlook along the way.
Breakfast is served each morning at Treetops which is indeed among the treetops. The buffet ranges from traditional western style breakfast options to a tempting array of Asian and Indonesian foods. There’s a steamy bowl of sticky black rice pudding, local snake fruit with its textured diamond-shaped skin and sweet, apple crisp segmented interior, brightly coloured dragon fruit or papaya compote.
Positioned next to one of the resort’s two pools, Treetops is open for lunch and dinner as well and serves a slice of the real Indonesia.
A spa treatment is a highlight of a stay at any Banyan Tree property, but especially at Bintan where the picturesque views heighten the experience pleasure. With therapists trained at their award-winning academy, Banyan Tree sets a standard few other spas match when it comes to exceeding expectations. From the welcome drink to the finishing bowl of freshly cut fruit, the therapists here focus on inducing a state of blissful relaxation via a myriad of beautiful elements.
Afterwards, my travel companion Jane says, “That was one of the best massages I’ve had,” and I can only agree.
Plenty to do
While you might find it hard to leave the enticing sanctuary of your room, Banyan Tree Bintan offers a wide range of free activities from guided walks and yoga. There’s also a selection of themed dinners which would certainly mark a special occasion.
For golf players, the lush greens of the 60-hectare Laguna Bintan Golf Club 18-hole championship golf course designed by Greg Norman would hold strong appeal.
Michelin starred dinner for Banyan Tree Bintan guests
Once a year, Banyan Tree Bintan Island offers guests an exceptional dining experience by importing acclaimed international chefs to create a week of special dining.
This year, Le Duo Suisse from the three-stared Michelin restaurant B.Violier – Restaurant de l’Hôtel de ville de Crissier in Switzerland flew to Indonesia especially for a four-day food festival in Banyan Tree’s The Cove restaurant. L’Hôtel de Ville stands high amongst the best restaurants in the world with four generations of Head Chef, none from the same family, earning three Michelin stars and a Gault-Millau score of 19 out of 20. It is an achievement that has not been surpassed throughout the culinary world.
Together with The Cove restaurant’s culinary talents at Banyan Tree Bintan, Chefs Jeremy Desbraux and Josselin Jacquet, the “Le Duo Suisse”, presented their signature creations showcasing the essence and timelessness of French gastronomy. The dinners were available to guests as a four-course set menu for $80 or a degustation for $120.
How to get to Bintan Island
The resort is located on the western side of Bintan Island which is a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore. There’s a shuttle bus that can take you directly from Changi International airport, but it’s as easy to catch a taxi to the ferry terminal. From Singapore’s CBD, a taxi will cost around $25.
Don’t get there too early, as apart from a few essential shops, the terminal does not have a lot of options unless you are planning a golfing holiday.
The island is in Indonesia, so there is Immigration to process at the terminal. It is very low key on the way out but can be a bottleneck on return so allow plenty of time, up to an hour, for processing if you are going straight to the airport.
On Bintan Island, there is a Banyan Tree shuttle bus to take you to and from the ferry terminal.