The two-day, one-night stay at Bintan Lagoon Resort is something I look forward to every year.
It is not just the weekend break I enjoy. I just love the resort’s environs, the facilities, food and drinks and, most importantly, the hospitality.
The big plus is that the ferry docks directly at the resort’s terminal. So, it is only a three-minute walk up a gentle hill to reach the resort’s lobby. The waiting time at the Indonesian immigration is nil. For, your passport is collected by the resort’s friendly staff on landing and they do all the formalities for you.
The check-in is smooth even though there are about 200 people arriving at the same time.
After my arrival around 12.30pm I have a buffet lunch at Fiesta, which serves “good mood food”. I head for Little India, a corner where you can pick delicious Indian fare.
I dig into rogan josh (Rp 160,000), lamb cooked in spicy tomato gravy, which is yummy. It comes with a choice of freshly-baked nan and biryani rice. Chef Ghulam also makes a mean chicken tikka masala (Rp 140,000), chicken leg marinated with Indian herbs.
I already had a couple of beers during the ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. So, I stuck to plain water.
It was a hot and humid day to venture out. But the resort’s staff were intent on taking me to Rumah Imaji and Safari Lagoi. I decided to check out these attractions.
The drive to Plaza Lagoi took me about 20 minutes. The mall is still new with several outlets selling handicraft, clothes and food items. But it is Rumah Imaji (Imagination House) which is the crowd-puller. You get to interact with more than 50 different 3D and inverted settings, including hand-painted mural illusions done up by talented artists of Yogyakarta.
The first stop is an intriguing topsy-turvy experience in a traditional Malay house. You can then get enthralled by the twinkling lights of fireflies as you stroll into Bintan’s beautiful mangrove forest. There is also the chance to immerse yourself in the culture of the Riau islands and learn about Malay heritage.
Entrance Fee: Rp 100,000 (adult), Rp 50,000 (child)
Operation hours: Monday – Sunday 10am – 9pm
Address: Plaza Lagoi Block A, 2nd Floor, West Wing
Tel: +62 (770) 692 917 / +62 (770) 692 918
For special deals and advance bookings, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or +65 6389 3710 / +65 6389 3278
After about an hour at Plaza Lagoi, I take another 15 minutes to reach Safari Lagoi. It is a zoo and Eco Farm that gives you an enriching chance to meet rescued endangered animals and birds up close.
The safari houses sun bears, Sumatran elephants, Komodo dragons, estuarine crocodiles and more. You can wave to an orangutan from just metres away and experience close encounters with rare birds such as lories, eagles and vultures.
A stroll around the Eco Farm will provide you insights into the cultivation of a variety of tropical crops such as rice, peanut, corn, papaya, banana and dragon fruit. Sunflower and lavender are also abundant.
Later, after an educational tour, I was treated to ginger or Rosella tea, as well as rojak, a refreshing salad made from fruits and ingredients harvested from the farm, and a sweet and savoury thick sauce.
The aim of Safari Lagoi and Eco Farm is noble: To inform and educate the public on the need to protect and conserve the immense biodiversity and natural heritage of Indonesia. The animals and birds are mainly rescued from illegal pet traders and exotic meat markets. Some others were found sick or injured and subsequently nursed back to health.
Located within Bintan Resorts, Safari Lagoi and Eco Farm is ideal for a half-day tour.
Entrance Fee: Rp 100,000 (adult), Rp 50,000 (child)
Operation hours: Monday – Sunday 8am – 4pm
Address: Baru City, Teluk Sebong, Bintan Regency, Riau Islands 29152, Indonesia
Tel: +62 (823) 8663 9665
Guided tours are available.For special deals and advance tour bookings, please contact email@example.com or +65 6389 3710 / +65 6389 3278
By 5pm, I was back at Bintal Lagoon Resort. In good time to enjoy a traditional Indonesian massage in my room before I headed for cocktails at the BLU Bar.
The masseuse was skilful as I enjoyed the soothing massage for 60 minutes (Rp 345,000). The in-room massage service is available 24 hours.
There was wine and beer and an assortment of snacks on offer at the BLU Bar. I got to meet and make friends during the 45 minutes I spent there. But clearly the highlight was the fireworks. For some 10 minutes, the sky overlooking the beach area lit up with crackers of different splendour. The sound and the colours gave a sparkling start to the dinner and party that lay in store.
A troop of kompang drummers then led all the guests out to the The Great Hall, a 20,000 square feet column-free banquet hall that can seat up to 1,300 people. A great evening of Batik Soiree awaited us.
For three hours, there were songs from the resident band, traditional dances and music from performers brought in from Jakarta and popular dance numbers dished out by the DJ. These were interspersed with a traditional dance performed by the resort’s staff, an uplifting speech by the general manager Gerald Hendrick and a lucky draw which had several attractive prizes. Thoughout emcee Alfred George Pillay kept everyone engrossed in the proceedings with his clever and witty lines.
For the first time I got to hear the sasando, a harp-like traditional string instrument native to Rote island of East Nusa Tengarra in Indonesia.
The dinner itself was magnificent. To start, I was served braised fish’s lip along with crab meat and mashed pumpkin. It was followed by grilled butterfly prawn, clam spaghetti, oven-roasted pipa duckling, grilled red snapper, chicken tandoori and fillet mignon. The highlight was the Carvery of Persian Roast Bobby Lamb. The meat was tender and succulent and went well with the tomato rice, grilled vegetables, spiced mango chutney and mint raita. It ended with a srikaya lava cake topped with apple, peanut butter, maple sauce and chantilly cream.
I did not win a lucky-draw prize but I enjoyed the party thoroughly.
The night did not end there. A few of us hit the Silk Nightclub & KTV right across The Great Hall. Till 2am we swigged beer, wine, rum and whiskey as the resident band peppered us with popular numbers. Some hit the dance floor, gyrating to the invigorating music.
I was tired after my 18-hour outing, so I hit the bed with a thud. I managed some sleep. But was up again at 8.30am. After a quick beakfast at Fiesta, I decided to get another massage. Room service was not available, so I walked down to Kedaton Spa. There I indulged in another 60-minute massage session.
Relaxed, comfortable and happy, I took the 1pm ferry back home.
There is much more to see and experience at Bintan Lagoon Resort. My first day was rather hectic and action-packed. The second was more relaxing. That is what I like: To do things at my own lesisurely pace. There will always be opportunities to spend more days at Bintan Lagoon Resort. That is something I am looking forward to.