As I write to you from paradise on Bintan Island, I’ve come to the realization that there is a certain type of place I want to share. As I travel the world, it can be said that uniqueness is the common thread that holds the cities, towns and villages together – and diversifies at the same time. Many places are enjoyable, but only few are unforgettable. It is the detail of such utopias I want to share with you through The Last Travel Guide.
Generally, accommodation is rated by system of stars, the stars are in relation to the services and amenities a hotel offers. Now, after experiencing my fair share, it seems there are 5 star hotels, and there are those that exceed 5 star rating – places that go above and beyond all expectations. In my experience, these places are few and far between, but they do exist – The Sanchaya, Bintan Island is one such place.
The Bintan Island Experience
The white sandy beach on your doorstep, colonial architecture and Olympic-sized swimming pool are only the beginning. From the architectural layout of the property, to the polite and respectful manner the staff, an attention to detail is everywhere. And, just like any great friendship, the longer you stay, the more comfortable you feel with Magnus and his team, who cater to your every need. If you mention you’re a fan of a particular food or drink, don’t be surprised if it turns up within minutes – and I must add here, the food will not disappoint.
In your room you will find a minibar stocked with snacks (surprisingly complimentary), some high-end bathroom utilities, and even insect repellant, beach bag and sandals for your relaxing day ahead on the beach. You don’t even need to bring clothes, as the onsite shop is on point with resort wear fashion in comfortable linen fabrics and a colour palette. There’s swimwear, accessories, and even a dedicated evening-wear section that had some amazing black sequin pants, which could easily transition into the hottest of Singapore’s nightlife.
This place is a one-stop-shop for your personal paradise, where you can check in and forget the rest of the world. On one day, I surprised myself when I found myself quoting Bad Boy as a response to his frown to my 11am cocktail, “I’m a grown woman – I can do whatever I want.”
We discovered The Sanchaya’s resort on Bintan Island through our stay at Banyan Tree, a long-standing member of Bintan Island resort community. Once a grand establishment, the latter was getting a bit run down and tired, with the place was in need of maintenance. We had to request to change rooms when we first arrived, as the room we were given was nauseatingly musty.
We were upgraded to a villa, with pool, for our trouble, which was beautiful. But, by that time, I had already started shopping around for our remaining two nights on the island. Bad Boy was upset that I’d decided to change location after our win on the upgrade, but when The Sanchaya staff collected us in a beautiful air-conditioned luxury van, he kept quiet with a look of wonder on his face of what was to come for the rest of our stay on Bintan Island.
The minute we stepped out of the van and into the care of The Sanchaya’s team we didn’t want to leave. It felt like a home away from home. One point of difference that really makes it stand out for the discreet, discerning guest is the privacy of the facility; guards stand at each end of the private beach, ensuring non-residents cannot come onto the grounds or just stop in for any reason (not even a drink or lunch), enabling staff and guests to exist harmoniously in a bubble of ease and tranquility.
Oh, speaking of tranquility, the massage therapy experience goes hand-in-hand with the overall experience. A care and attentiveness to your needs is of the utmost importance. One thing I haven’t encountered before was having a safe at your disposal in the massage room, should you be wearing jewelry, or carrying valuables. It’s as if every thought you ever have about privacy, security, care and attentiveness becomes a reality.
If staying put in one spot is not your thing, and you like to explore your surroundings, take a car outside of the resort area to the local villages and towns to enhance your gratitude for all of these things we can sometimes take for granted.
Bintan is a simple place with a slow – think snail – paced lifestyle. The simple supermarket shopping, inexpensive clothing, and few banks made up the major development of the township. Don’t get me wrong, a simple life is not a bad one.
However, it was interesting to hear the point of view of locals, the way they think is so disconnected and sheltered from the world outside. It needn’t be this way, since the Internet connects us all. However, it didn’t seem to be as big a part of the lives of the locals as it does for us. Instead, they rely on trade, labour, farming and fishing for their livelihood. A simple island life, the perfect place for an array of resorts. Now, don’t count on tourism outside of the resort for action and adventure, but a meal outside of the hotel it is an experiential contrast.
We ventured out to the fishing village of Kawal. At first glance, the shacks built on the sea are basic, and the plastic chairs and table cloths made me hesitant. I selected the famous chili crab dish from the menu; and four live crabs were bought straight from the sea to the table for me to select from. I was impressed. Bad Boy ordered the fish. The portion sizes were huge, and needless to say, we couldn’t eat it all. It was delicious, fresh, and a great experience outside of the resort. If for only gaining perspective on how frivolous our first world problems really are, and enjoying the simple, natural wonders of life. It all makes it worth it, too, upon returning to the luxury and comfort of The Sanchaya.
The end of our stay came all to soon as our transfer service headed to the hectic ferry terminal. We needn’t have worried, though, as The Sanchaya has their own private waiting area where the luxury continued just a bit longer. The private bathrooms, along with complimentary snacks and drinks being served, gave us access to the service we had come accustomed to during our short stay. It’s impossible to leave this place feeling anything but pure relaxation and a sense of longing to return, asap – no amount of time could ever be enough at this island paradise.
For a secluded getaway, less than an hour away from Singapore, you cannot beat The Sanchaya’s luxury, attention to detail, impeccable service and a touch of romance. I would highly recommend as a honeymoon destination, as you really don’t need to pack anything but your credit card.