The Residence Bintan is the newest arrival on the island, and we’ve found just the spot to stay for your next minibreak…
Here’s what we know to be true: living the good life in Singapore involves regular quick breaks away, preferably to a nearby island. We’ve also realised that Bintan is a ridiculously easy escape: just an hour away by ferry and you’re in an amazing part of Indonesia. So, you already hop over to the island like it’s your holiday home? The Residence Bintan is incredibly tempting if you’re into feasting and unwinding for the weekend (or longer – you know you deserve it). Here’s why we’ll be claiming a particular villa here as our regular…
If you’re looking for an island hideaway..
What’s the vibe here? Think of where the jungle meets the sea and you’re just about there. The Residence Bintan is about an hour’s drive from the ferry terminal: the idea here is a peaceful escape, and it’s just where you need to be when you need that restorative weekend away from the city. You know what we mean.
So, you can go for a garden villa, or stay right by the sand for a garden-meets-beach feel. Then there are the estate villas, that are all about private nooks for reading by a window, chilling on your deck with a view of the sea, or dipping into your private pool, made even more private by lush greenery.
No fighting, people, but there’s one particular estate villa designed for couples that stands out amongst the rest: flanked by mangroves and with its infinity pool that gives you a surreal view of the changing tide, this is the best place to catch those stunning Bintan sunsets.
It’s an expansive property, so the bikes that belong with each villa come in handy, and we hear a jogging trail is in the works. While The Residence Bintan is just a few months old and still growing in terms of its landscape, we imagine this is going to be one particularly lush resort. Watch this space.
We have to talk about the food at Rica Rica
Specialising in Indonesian dishes, the food here is sublime. They had me the moment they brought out prawn crackers with a sambal buffet, but after I asked about a particular sambal I’d enjoyed in Ubud, the team whipped it up for me. It gets even better from there: the soto medan, an enormous serving of chicken soup in a coconut broth with perkedel, knocked our socks off. The pork satay, caramelised and deliciously fatty, is perfection. The wagyu beef rendang is so tender you can scoop it with a spoon. We came to indulge in Indonesian food all weekend, and Rica Rica delivered.
Protip: Ask for a cooking lesson if you want to find out the secret to that soto medan. You’ll also pick up a killer recipe for sambal matah and satay lilit (pork on lemongrass skewers) and see how cendol is made before adding coconut cream and gula Melaka for a salty-sweet and crazily good dessert.
No Bintan stay is complete without the spa
The Spa by ila is just as you’d expect: tucked away in a peaceful corner of the resort, with a particularly pretty aspect at sunset. They do know how to do golden hour here.
But the difference? The therapists treated us to one of the most amazing massages we’ve had. So good in fact, that I may have slipped into such a state of relaxation that I fell asleep for a few moments.
When you can tear yourself away from that pool…
Yes, you can do it. Go for the evening boat ride to explore the mangroves and fireflies, hit the waters in a kayak or even take on a quad bike if that’s your jam. But the highlight on this trip was the snorkelling trip to Mapur Island, 20 mins away by boat. We’d been told that the rock formations on that isle were beautiful, but when you whizz past them by speedboat as you approach the prime snorkelling spot, it’s stunning stuff.
The waters here are refreshingly clear, and it may have been the time and tide, or just the patch we found, but we explored a coral garden populated by baby fish, so everything – from technicolour parrot fish to the clown fish darting in and out of sea anemone – was in miniature.
Getting to The Residence Bintan
Ferries to Bintan depart from Tanah Merah terminal, which we’ve got to say is less modern than Harbourfront, but far less hectic. Each time we’ve gone to Bintan it’s a much more pleasant experience. Book your ferry from Singapore to either Bandar Bentan Telani or Tanjung Pinang terminal.
And getting home
You saw on the way in the ferry terminal isn’t heaving with options for cafes and shopping, so if you’re prone to getting hangry, make sure you’ve got supplies to keep you going if there’s a wait for the ferry home. As you head back to reality, our tip is to just keep thinking of how easy it is to get back for another round at The Residence…
Like this story? Check these out:
Love this resort? Wait till you see its sister property in The Maldives
Can’t get enough of Bintan? Get our guide to more minibreaks
Want a weekend away with the girls? Here’s what we did in Bangkok
Where to next? Our fave escapes in Southeast Asia