I had an unexpected moment of absolute Zen during my stay at The Residence Bintan. It was on a bumpy speedboat ride to Mapur Island, a pristine, isolated, relatively untouched island just off the Bintan mainland. But as I got used to the admittedly vigorous, bobbing motion of the boat, I found myself embracing where I was at. I was surrounded by a vast expanse of ocean, stretching as far as the eye can see, a view intermittently broken by Bintan’s mangrove swamps and satellite islands. But it wasn’t an experience borne only from where I was at that moment – it was a culmination of where I was, and where I would be going.
And where I was – The Residence Bintan – is a spectacular place. Where I was going – Mapur Island – was pretty awesome, too.
The Residence Bintan is on the eastern end of the island, far away from the northen end of the island, which are dotted by resorts such as Club Med, Cassia and Nirwana, and the west end, where bustling towns such as Tanjung Pinang and Tanjung Uban are situated. It therefore provides some much needed seclusion and tranquility, without having to go off the island to the off-mainland resorts such as Cempedak Island.
The Residence Bintan is special because of its unique amalgam of creature comforts, unique experiences and natural beauty, a calming mix that provides the perfect platform for guests to retreat and find themselves. The resort is not just about rejuvenation. It is also about rediscovery, getting in touch with the self. As a writer, I thought it was a great place to pen that novel or short story we’ve all wanted to work on. As a traveler, it was the perfect place to calm the mind and soul. It makes me think about the idea of the Self – who we are at the core of our being.
Travel can sometimes be too much about the ‘gram – which, fortunately for those who travel for that reason, The Residence Bintan provides some truly beautiful backdrops for. But travel is truly about rediscovering your self, as you place yourself in new locales, new ways of experiencing existence. Travel takes us out from our familiar places – those within and those outside of the self – so we can rediscover who we are underneath the grime of day-to-day life. The Residence Bintan was designed with this in mind.
The resort is sprawling, covering over 70 hectares of land and 127 keys of suites and villas.
The most basic villa is the 125sqm-large beachfront villa, with an option for a deluxe villa (slightly larger at 135sqm) or a two-bedroom beachfront villa great for families (the largest of the three at 280sqm), which sit by The Residence Bintan’s private stretch of beaches, offering breathtaking views of the sea. The Sea View villas, elevated on stilts also offer great panoramas of the eastern coastline, but from further inland, and from a heightened vantage. All villas include a private deck and pool each.
The furniture in these villas use a mix of wood, rattan and elegant fabrics – simple in their elegance, yet lending a sophistication rooted in nature and respect for Bintan’s natural environment. And they provide the best in creature comforts – the beds, with their plush mattresses and amazingly comfortable pillows and fabrics, instantly lull you to sleep.
Dining at The Residence Bintan
As with any world-class resort, there is tremendous quality in the dining options available at The Residence Bintan.
There’s Rica-Rica, which serves elevated Indonesian cuisine, the flavour profiles of its generous dishes defined by the spices that Indonesia is famed for, but given a modern twist. The food is truly authentic, and is exemplified in the Aromatic Beef Rendang (slow-cooked, deliciously tender Angus beef with aromatic spices and coconut cream), Bebek Bette (Balinese oven baked duck infused with Betutu spices) and what I deemed to be the star of the menu, the Javanese Ayam Bakar (spice-marinated grilled chicken with condiments and rempeyek crackers). You can also get lamb, chicken or beef satay. For those who love your food spicy, you have to try the restaurant’s four signature sambals: Sambal Kecombrang (torch ginger), Sambal Belacan, Sambal Colo-Colo (a sweet-spicy sambal that uses soy sauce) and Sambal Dabu-Dabu (a local variant of basil).
Alternatively, there’s The Dining Room, which offers Asian-influenced international cuisine. The Dining Room is the location of The Residence Bintan’s intercontinental buffet breakfast, but is a great place for dining as well, with spectacular views of the property and the sea.
We mentioned that The Residence Bintan was a great place to rediscover yourself. For some, that means activities that get the blood pumping. For some of us, rejuvenation requires exercise, the rush of adrenaline – a reminder of the vital faculties that move and power our bodies. The Residence Bintan has that in loads, with options such ATV rides through Bintan’s verdant natural landscape, obstacle courses, hiking. Water-based activities, such as jetskiing and catamaran rides, are also available
There are activities for those looking for a different skill-based challenge as well. The dining options mentioned above might inspire some guests to pick up some cooking tips from the Indonesian chefs. For them, there are cooking classes available, led by The Residence Bintan’s resident chefs. Guests will be given a selection of ingredients to experiment with, as the chef guides them in cooking up Indonesian dishes.
And of course, among the many activities, you can also visit Mapur Island, whose gorgeous corals and pristine coastlines make it an ideal spot for snorkelling. The Residence Bintan provides a small boat to get you there – the very same boat I was in at the beginning of this article.
The Spa is one of the features that give The Residence Bintan its status as a world class resort. It is designed for privacy, and is central to the rejuvenation journey of its guests. If you’re travelling to recharge and reset, to find peace of mind and to retreat into the self, you cannot miss out on the spa.
It features a menu of highly rejuvenating and relaxing treatments. The signature massage (1 million rupiah for 60 minutes, 1.4 million rupiah for 90 minutes) is a combination of soothing, rhythmic strokes to increase circulation. There are Thai and Hot Stone massages as well (1.5 million and 1.6 million rupiah respectively for 90 minutes). It also provides other basics – feet reflexology, facials as well as manicures and pedicures for the missus (or hey, get it for yourself as well, no judgment here).
There are also fantastic spa packages – the most appealing is perhaps The Royal Package (1.9 million rupiah for 150 minutes). This package is inspired by a beauty ritual dates back to the 17th century and the Royal Palaces of Central Java (Yogyakarta). It is the ultimate treat for tired skin. It begins with a personalized foot ritual, followed by a relaxing full body massage, enhanced by the Lulur body scrub with an aromatic blend of spices to exfoliate the skin. It continues with an application of cooling yogurt to soothe and nurture, and concludes with a floral and herbal bath.
Treatments are performed in satellite hut-like small villas, each one designed for couples. Of course, those visiting alone will have the spa villa all to themselves. It’s a nifty architectural decision that allows privacy, as well as bespoke treatment specific to your needs and wellness goals.
The Residence Bintan ticks all the boxes you would want from a resort such as this – great amenities and creature comforts, impeccable service, a wide array of activities (should you feel inclined to take part) and world-class facilities. It has all you need to hit the reset button, and is worth the visit whether you’re a solo traveler or if you’re going with a group of friends or family.