In need of some R&R or looking for a romantic getaway that doesn’t require flights? Our lucky contributor Beate checks out Bintan’s newest luxury resort and spills all the indulgent details. You’ll definitely want to leave the kiddos at home for this one, mamas!
If you are looking for an exclusive, VIP beach retreat only a short hop away from Singapore, then The Sanchaya could be just your thing.
Completed at the end of 2014, The Sanchaya has re-piqued interest in Bintan as a high-end travel destination. Merely a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore, it’s a great option for a luxurious weekend or golf getaway. Once you disembark the ferry, your feet will have barely touched the ground before ‘The Sanchaya Experience’ begins, sweeping you into their private lounge away from the hustle and bustle of the ferry terminal.
The Sanchaya staff queue for visas on your behalf while you sip coffee (specially blended for The Sanchaya of course) and munch on slivers of dried mango and cranberries. This level of bespoke detail is evident throughout the resort.
After you’re whisked away to the hotel in just under 15 minutes, your personal butler (trained by the British Butler Institute) will take you straight to your room and the necessary admin is taken care of behind the scenes — no waiting around at the check-in desk. Which leaves you free to get down to the serious business of admiring the stunning pool overlooking the beach.
There are 21 private villas and nine suites, starting from the 1-Bedroom Suites featuring bedrooms with verandas and a living area, all the way up to villas with two storeys, three bedrooms and a sea view.
The style is a handsome blend of colonial and Southeast Asian — from the black and white blinds to the beautiful black bamboo furniture. Asian artifacts, antique maps and art adorn every wall and tastefully furnish every shelf, and the the result is a stunning feast for the eyes.
Refreshingly, rooms come complete with a complimentary mini bar that’s replenished daily. This includes beer – the local Bintang and delicious American brew Magic Hat, plus veggie crisps, nuts, popcorn, chocolate, juices and sodas. Even the turn–down service is a cut above; no standard issue chocolate mints on your pillow here! Instead, beautifully carved wooden games and brain teaser puzzles are left together with a special sweet treat; some cherries one night, macaroons the next. The attention to detail is quite something.
Breakfasts are tastefully done in the elegant dining room. As you’re on an island, there’s a conscious choice not to waste food so there is a compact-yet-classy buffet set-up with freshly squeezed juices, cereals, homemade yogurts, fresh bread, house jams and a daily fresh pastry, plus a rotating live cooking station for a those who would like to try a traditional Southeast Asian breakfast.
You’ve also got a la carte choices like the Eggs Benedict with Truffle Hollandaise (with smoked salmon and sautéed kale), Wholemeal Waffles or Croissant French Toast with Bacon and Goats Cheese, plus there’s a selection of regional breakfasts like Bubur Ayam (Indonesian rice congee).
One of our favourite rituals was the “Jamu lady” who comes to your table and offers you a delicious Indonesian medicinal drink made from local spices and root vegetables — a perfect start to your day and another lovely touch.
Lunches can be ordered from the main dining room; the menu consists of Western comfort food staples like the Club Sandwich, burgers and salads with various local dishes thrown in. For dinner, the menu offers beautifully presented fine dining options like Grilled Beef Tenderloin with cured foie gras or Rock Lobster Thermidor. Mix things up with a dinner at the Bangkok “street food” restaurant Tasanee Grill set up beside the pool. Or order room service and catch up on a few flicks; rooms come with an iPad loaded with a movie collection to watch on your Bang & Olufsen flat-screen.
Now if you’re there for a short weekend you may be satisfied with pool lounging, beach strolling, feasting and long lie-ins. Or maybe you’d rather kick back and relax in the beautiful bar or well-stocked library, both decked out with a host of art and memorabilia which help transport you back to times gone by – true colonial chic.
For those in search of more pampering, the spa is on hand. Treatments range from Balinese massages to the signature Java volcanic stone massage, to Thai massage, the latter done in charming outdoor pavilions.
Then there are the complimentary morning yoga sessions overlooking the beach. If you’re here for longer or need to move, you can check out the gym or try activities ranging from golf to archery, indulge in gourmet picnics on The Sanchaya’s yacht, or go for a game of beachside Croquet or Petanque with a pitcher of your favourite tipple. Or you could just sit by the pool and soak it all in, as a hamper of complimentary chilled sparkling and still water arrives beside you to keep you cool. They have literally thought of everything!
The famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) once said, “God is in the details”, a phrase certainly befitting The Sanchaya, which could easily be described as “heavenly”.
45 min ferry operated by Bintan Resorts Ferries from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. www.brf.com.sg. Tickets start from $58 return for an adult.
On arrival from US$15
On board the ferry if travelling Emerald Class
There is no kids club and the scene is very much more on the demure adult side, so we would class this place as (well behaved) “kid-tolerant”. Cots, eating utensils and high chairs are available.
Pay on card or bring Indonesia Rupiah rather than U.S dollars.
Bring mozzie repellent – especially for the sand flies.
As is common in the region, beware the traces of oil on the beach. The staff do their best to clear the beaches of debris, plastic and rubbish but as the tides comes in and out there is always the sad reminder of our careless human impact.
Check the season before you go to understand what weather you are in for.
Bintan time is one hour behind Singapore.