A whirlwind weekend of fun activities at the idyllic resort left us rejuvenated and fueled for the days ahead.
The resort stood on the southeastern shores of the Indonesian island, where lapping waves and palm trees create the rural charm of a traditional Asian villageâ€”but not without modern comforts. Situated about an hourâ€™s bus ride from the cluster of resorts located on the islandâ€™s Lagoi area and Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal, the property brims with a sense of peace and tranquility.
2p.m. We settled down for a sumptuous welcome lunch of local delights such as nasi goreng and satay at The Dining Room before checking into our villas. My not-so-humble abode for the next two nights would be a charming deluxe beachfront villa, one of the resortâ€™s 127 terrace rooms and villas. Designed to have a residential feel, the villa had a separate bedroom and living room. But what left me thrilled was the spacious bathroom, which came with a luxurious bathtub and a separate shower area. The cherry on top had to be the private infinity pool, an inviting respite after a day out in the sun.
4p.m. A short ride on the resortâ€™s buggy took me to the resortâ€™s Spa by ila, where Iâ€™d spend the rest of the afternoon luxuriating in bliss. Exclusively crafted for the resort, the British spa brandâ€™s wellness programs combine organic ingredients and local Ayurvedic rituals with modern techniques. I opted for the hour-long harmony treatment, which involved hot oil massage and tapping techniques to help me achieve deep muscle relaxation.
7p.m. As the sun disappeared from the horizon, we enjoyed cocktails by the poolside. Just for the evening, Julian Serna of Singaporeâ€™s Panamericana held court with a special pop-up bar, serving a unique piĂ±a colada made with coconut rum. Afterwards, dinner was a feast at the resortâ€™s Rica Rica restaurant where authentic Indonesian cuisine took center stage; from soto ayam made with organic chicken to local lobster cooked with fresh mangoes.
7a.m. The next day began bright and early with an outdoor yoga session led by Anabel Chew of Singaporeâ€™s Webarre, a studio specializing in a workout combining techniques from ballet, yoga, Pilates, and even strength training. As luck would have it, the weather was pleasantly sunny yet windyâ€”the perfect setting for an invigorating yoga session at the resort’s semi-outdoor foyer.
12p.m. Our activity-filled afternoon was unfortunately met with a thunderstorm, which stopped in time for the mangrove forest tour and ATV ride. I chose the former and enjoyed an hour-long cruise along the meandering Sebung River. The lush mangrove forest was filled with surprises in the form of wild monkeys, snakes, and monitor lizards, hiding cheekily from our prying eyes.
2p.m. Half-soaked from the rainy mangrove tour, we embarked on an hour-long speedboat ride to Mapur Island for some snorkeling. As the biggest offshore island in Bintan, Mapur boasts sculpted rock formations, colorful coral reefs, and rich marine life. The boat men enthusiastically regaled us with stories of white-tip reef shark and blue-spotted ray sightings, leaving me excited to return again for a dive trip.
4.p.m. After an afternoon of outdoor activities, I was glad to be all cozied up indoors for a botanical art workshop hosted by artist Lucinda Law from Singapore. Accompanied by afternoon tea treats like local kueh and satay, we were schooled on the intricacies of watercolor painting as we attempted to render our own impressions of various plants.
7p.m. By evening, the relentless rain had returned and we had to forgo the planned beach barbecue dinner. Nonetheless, a dinner of barbecued seafood at The Dining Room was equally delightful. Fresh, locally-caught seafood charred to a golden brown was served alongside fine wines for a memorable night.
10a.m. On our final morning at The Residence Bintan, we were treated to a champagne brunch featuring a varied mix of local and Western dishes. For good measure, some of us decided to order a plate of the resortâ€™s signature nasi goreng to share. After all, whatâ€™s a trip to Indonesia without savoring its local staples?
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*While the activities by Panamericana, Anabel Chew (Webarre) and Lucinda Law were organized exclusively for the press trip, the resort is looking into organising similar activities for guests over the coming months.