If you’re harbouring dreams of a luxury beach getaway but can’t afford the time to jet-set to a far-off destination, then head to Bintan for a pampering stay at The Residence Bintan, a premium beach property by Cenizaro Hotels & Resorts.
An international hospitality group that manages Sheraton Towers Singapore, Cenizaro handles a wide portfolio of bespoke luxury hotels around the world, including The Residence properties. The company’s first venture, The Residence Tunis, opened in 1996, followed in 1998 by The Residence Mauritius. In 2011 and 2012, The Residence Zanzibar and The Residence Maldives at Falhumaafushi in the south of the archipelago joined the brand. It opened its first Asian resort, The Residence Bintan, in 2018, and a second Maldives resort, The Residence Maldives, at Dhigurah in 2019.
Further expansion is planned with three hotels in Tunisia, including the group’s first city and desert properties — The Residence Douz, The Medina of Tunis and Djerba Island — alongside The Residence Mapur and The Residence Ubud in Indonesia.
Each resort reflects a distinct individual personality drawing from its scenic location and local culture, with a sense of place that marries bespoke service and lavish accommodation. A Tripadvisor 2022 Travelers’ Choice winner, its Bintan property, located in the southeastern part of the island, is a one-hour drive from the ferry terminal and the only five-star resort in the vicinity.
An idyllic retreat that combines the rural charm of a traditional Asian village with a luxurious modern twist, the property has 127 suites and villas set within 70ha of verdant landscape, giving guests the luxury of space and privacy. In fact, the place is so expansive, you may need to call a buggy or hop on any one of their complimentary bicycles to get from place to place.
For large groups, we recommend booking a two-bedroom beachfront villa with an attached pool — the most popular rooms on the property. The rooms can also be fitted with spacious teepees, at an additional cost, equipped with plush toys, crayons and colouring paper to keep the kids busy.
Whether you crave me time, couple time or family time, there’s plenty for guests to do at this family-friendly resort other than soak in the very large infinity pool overlooking the South China Sea. When the tide is high around mid-afternoon to early evening, we highly recommend taking out the kayaks or paddle boards; or indulging in a game of badminton or beach volleyball.
You can also practise your sun salutations and downward dogs over morning and evening yoga sessions, catch a movie at the outdoor cinema, or partake in a game of pool or mahjong in the recreation room. For a little extra, you can ride jetskis or sail out to sea on a catamaran, explore the neighbourhood on all-terrain vehicles, or book a day trip to nearby snorkelling spots at the White Sand Island or Mapur Island.
One thing parents will appreciate is the chock-a-block calendar of activities offered at the Kakatu Kids Club, catered for children aged 3 to 12. They include garden and beach exploration, chicken and rabbit feeding, cooking classes, yoga sessions, treasure hunts, local dance lessons, as well as arts and crafts like fabric painting and tie dye. It’s perfectly safe to leave your kids at the kids’ club while mummy and daddy step away to indulge in a relaxing couple’s massage at the spa next door.
The Spa, created by the renowned British spa brand ila, offers only eight luxurious huts for two, surrounded by verdant foliage, equipped with massage beds, a bathtub, shower and reflexology corner. The treatments are inspired by natural indigenous spa therapies that combine modern techniques with ancient Ayuverda and Indonesian traditions for holistic rejuvenation.
In terms of culinary offerings, dining is currently limited to mostly Indonesian or Asian fare whether in The Dining Room, where buffet breakfast is offered, or Rica Rica, dedicated to Indonesian surf and turf. We found ourselves ordering kid-approved food such as fish and chips and pizzas at the Pool Bar. However, the general manager assures us that they are working on improving menu offerings to suit a wider range of palates.
If the weather permits, we highly recommend booking a romantic private barbecue dinner that offers a tasting menu unlike what is served at the main dining establishments. Not only is the dinner held at a secret spot along the beach or in the privacy of your own villa, you will enjoy your very own personal butler and chef, with a soothing Spotify playlist to boot. To make breakfasts more interesting, your butler can arrange for your meal to be served in the pool on a floating tray.
At affordable rates from $200++ a night, a stay at The Residence Bintan is definitely a deal we can’t say no to. The best time to visit is between June and August, when the weather is mostly dry.