Lagoi Bay: Bintan’s Newest Playground
Desperate for a quick getaway this September school holidays but just can’t stand flying miles with the kiddos? Bintan has two new kids on the block worth checking out – and just a boat ride away.
You may have been here countless times before, and frankly, it’s not somewhere you saw yourself ever setting foot again. But with two stylish new offerings where families can relax and recharge, Bintan, with its white, sandy, coconut-fringed beaches, has renewed appeal.
Choose between The Sanchaya ultraluxe hotel and the upscale Swiss-Belhotel Lagoi. Both properties are located within the verdant and pristine confines of Lagoi Bay, a brand-new premier resort that’s set to revive Bintan’s status as a high-end destination.
If you’re a mum looking for some time out to reconnect with your tween or teen while being pampered from head to toe, The Sanchaya is the place to go. If you have younger kids, there is no kids’ club at this hotel but The Sanchaya does provide in-room children’s menus, cots, highchairs and child-friendly eating utensils.
The quality of service and attention to detail at The Sanchaya are simply impeccable. Waitstaff whisk you away to a private lounge area the minute you step off the ferry – perfect when you have restless kids in tow. When you arrive at the hotel, your personal butler (who trained with the prestigious British Butler Institute) will lead you to your room, leaving you to unwind in your resplendent suite.
At this exclusive beach retreat, landscaped gardens surround grand whitewashed two-storey buildings, evoking the splendour of the 19th-century colonial plantation houses that once dotted the region.
Its 21 private villas and nine suites offer a bold mix of old and new. Classic bamboo furnishings, black and white blinds and a stunning collection of Asian knick-knacks, art and antiques blend perfectly to create a chic and sumptuous effect.
A word of warning. Don’t give in to the temptation to gorge on the snacks and beverages from the in-suite complimentary minibar. Instead, save yourself for the epicurean delights that await you at the resort’s fine dining establishments.
The elegant Dining Room serves breakfast daily and features a small buffet setup aimed at not wasting food. Here, you’ll find cereals, terrines, cold-pressed juices, homemade yogurt, freshly baked bread, jams and a daily pastry, plus a rotating live cooking station dishing out South-East Asian specialties. Keep your eyes peeled for the kebaya-clad Jamu Gendong lady, who makes her rounds during breakfast, offering guests refreshing traditional Indonesian medicinal elixirs of local spices and root vegetables – a healthy and virtuous way to kickstart the day.
You can also have lunch and dinner in the Dining Room. The lunch menu caters to all palates, including local dishes and such Western comfort-food staples as burgers and club sandwiches. For dinner, traditional fine-dining options, such as Lobster Thermidor and beef tenderloin with foie gras, dominate.
If you prefer a more laid-back ambience, try some Bangkok street food at the Tasanee Grill poolside restaurant.
Or order room service and entertain the kids with a few flicks; rooms come with an iPad loaded with a movie collection to watch on your state-of-the-art Bang & Olufsen flat-screen TV.
Things to do There
There’s so much to see and do at The Sanchaya.
Start the day with complimentary morning yoga sessions on the beach. Check out the 24-hour gym or the various on-site activities, such as beachside croquet, Pétanque, golf and archery.
For something a little more adventurous, explore the waters surrounding Bintan on The Sanchaya yacht while indulging in a gourmet picnic onboard or at a neighbouring islet.
At the end of a long and active day, laze by the gorgeous 50-metre infinity pool and order a bespoke cocktail before catching up on your reading.
Turn Down for…Chocolate
The Sanchaya’s turn-down service is also a cut above the standard-issue chocolate mints on your pillow. In its place, you’ll find the elaborate Chocolate Experience, which consists of a warm chocolate beverage and an array of artisanal chocolate pastries served in your suite.
If you need even more pampering, reserve a slot at the spa. Massage treatments range from Balinese, Thai and Swedish options to The Sanchaya’s signature Java Volcanic Stone Massage.
Uncompromising and with a penchant for refinement and detail, The Sanchaya makes for a luxurious escape from all the stresses of modern life.
Though not as swish as its neighbour, the four-star Swiss-Belhotel makes for a comfortable stay, offering families good value for money and an ideal strategic base from which to explore the sights of Bintan.
There is a kids’ club here, and guests can enjoy a cool dip in the dainty rooftop infinity swimming pool or a massage at the Asmara Spa. There is also a gym, although this is still being built.
The 196 well-appointed rooms exude a warm and inviting aura, and are accented in bright colours set against soothing natural shades of green and brown. When making a reservation, do request for the rooms at the back to enjoy pleasant vistas of the crystal-clear Lagoi Bay lake and the immaculate beach.
Currently, only one food and beverage outlet – The Swiss Café – is open, and this is where the breakfast buffet is served. Expect quite a spread, including Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Western items. Watch that waistline (or don’t!) as you indulge in the breads, pastries, waffles, noodles and rice dishes, as well as local desserts.
The lunch and dinner menus are also unpretentious affairs, with steak and burgers making an appearance alongside local specialties. Another restaurant and a sports bar are currently in the works.
If you need a change of scenery, hop on the shuttle buses that will take you to The Sanchaya, or take a five-minute stroll to FlyBoyz, a retro-themed beach bar.
Another advantage to staying here is the hotel’s proximity to Plaza Lagoi, which features a small range of food, entertainment and retail options for the whole family.
Activities in Bintan
You’ve sorted your accommodation, but what else is there to keep the kids happy while visiting Bintan? Here’s a rundown of our top picks.
Air Adventures Flying Club – take to the skies in a seaplane!
Lagoi Turtle Hatchery – witness turtle eggs hatching; September is a great time to catch the action.
Bintan Usahatama – go go-karting along 375-metre tracks.
Mangrove Discovery Night Tour – take an enchanting twilight tour through the mangroves down the Sebung River. Watch for fireflies!
Trail of the Sea Gypsies – experience what life on floating villages is like for Bintan’s native sea gypsies.
Don’t wait for Green Day to wake you up when September ends. Wake up your idea now and make the most of the month!