Bintan Resorts is a brand name for what is essentially a gated tourist colony on the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Bintan, similar to Denarau in Fiji. Nearly all visitors come from nearby Singapore, many of the resorts are owned by Singaporean companies, and the area is largely built and maintained to Singaporean standards. Alas, the pricing is also Singaporean, making it far higher than the rest of the island.
Very much a family-oriented destination, there are ten or so independently owned and operated beach resorts, four designer golf courses and a range of recreational facilities and attractions. Most tourists come for its serenity: you can laze by the beach, enjoy a spa, play golf and dabble in water sports. The area is separated from the rest of Bintan by thick forests and checkpoints.
Bintan Resorts sprawls across some 15 km (9.3 mi) of Bintan's northern coastline. Near the ferry terminal to the west is 1 Treasure Bay, centred around a large artificial lagoon. In the middle is 2 Lagoi Bay, which faces Lagoi Beach and hosts a large cluster of hotels.
Access from the rest of the island is gated by checkpoints, the main one at 3 Simpang Lagoi on the road south towards Tanjung Pinang. The only bit of "real" Indonesia within resort boundaries is the town of 4 Kota Sebung, which has a cheap food court (Pujasera), dormitories and other facilities for resort workers.
Indonesian and English are widely understood. However, if you plan to rent a car to visit towns outside the resort area, bring along your Indonesian phrasebook because the drivers' command of English can be limited.
Most visitors to Lagoi will arrive at its dedicated ferry terminal:
- 1 Bandar Bentan Telani (BBT, Teluk Sebong). 3-5 services daily from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT) in Singapore. The trip takes about 1 hour and ticket can be booked at Bintan Resort Ferries or as part of a room package. TMFT is a short drive away from Singapore's Changi Airport, and shuttle buses ply regularly between the two locations. Consider paying a bit extra for "Emerald Class", which gets you first in line on the way to Bintan, and gives you access to a rather basic executive lounge that handles your immigration paperwork for you on the way out.
Visitors from other parts of Indonesia may either fly to Hang Nadim airport in Batam and take 25-minute boat ride to BBT or fly direct to Raja Haji Fisabillilah in Kijang and drive for 1½ hours. The travel time will be shortened with the new Bintan International Airport, a 30-minute drive from Bintan Resorts, that is scheduled to open in 2023.
Most hotels offer complimentary shuttle services to the ferry terminal and back, and it's wise to make use of them.
Free buses normally shuttle from the hotels to the Plaza Lagoi shopping mall and back, but as of August 2022, they all remain suspended. Bintan Resorts are technically within Grab's coverage area, but availability is very spotty. If you can swing one, though, this is the cheapest way to get around.
- Global Bintan, ☏ . The only official taxi service in the Lagoi area. Short hops from Rp 150k, travel all the way to Tanjung Pinang from Rp 500k.
- Indorent Bintan (at Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Car rental with or without a driver.
As a destination, Bintan Resorts is rather artificial with its manicured landscape. Still, the beaches are beautiful with white sands and most of the resorts are built to a high standard. Hotels and various travel agencies offer packaged tours of the nearby mangroves, including firefly tours at night, and half or full day tours to points of interest elsewhere on the island.
Watersports of all sorts are popular, although the scuba diving here is lacklustre due to the poor visibility. During the northeast monsoon (November until March), there is usually quite a bit of wave action on the beach. This is good for surfing and bodyboarding, but not good for most anything else. The north facing beach break at the resort Mayang Sari, even with fresh onshore winds in April, does not generate more than 30- to 45-cm (1- to 1½-foot) waves. The waves tend to close out, however it is a good beach for children on boogie boards or surfmats. Small jellyfish may be found.
- 1 Treasure Bay. 09:00-18:00. Treasure Bay houses Bintan's top attraction, the 800-meter-long Crystal Lagoon, which pumps filtered seawater into a blindingly turquoise artificial lake surfaced with concrete and plastic. The entrance fee gets you access only to the shallow beaches, where kids can splash around under a lifeguard's beady eyes. To access the rest of the lagoon, you'll need to pony up extra for the various water sports available, ranging from water slides and kayaks to cable skiing and underwater scooters. Rp 120000/90000 adult/child.
The Marine Discovery Park at Treasure Bay, which let you snorkel about in a controlled environment, closed down during COVID.
Golf is popular, with several excellent golf courses charging much lower prices than in neighboring Singapore.
- 2 Laguna Golf Bintan. Bintan's best-known golf course that regularly shows up in lists of Indonesia's best. Offers promotional rates and packages for staying at nearby hotels. Weekday rates from Rp780,000/1,280,000 for 9/18 holes.
Most hotels have spas offering various treatments at or slightly below Singapore prices. Head to the Plaza Lagoi mall for cheaper options.
In Bintan Resorts, Singapore dollars (S$) and Indonesian rupiah (Rp) are accepted, though prices are usually quoted in rupiah. At most F&B establishments, you'll need to tack on 10% tax and 10% service charge to the listed prices.
Prices in Bintan Resorts are generally expensive compared to Singapore, and very expensive compared to almost anywhere else in Indonesia. If staying for a significant amount of time, it is advisable to rent a car and head out to Tanjung Pinang to do your shopping, where the prices are a lot lower.
- 1 Plaza Lagoi. Plaza Lagoi is Bintan Resorts's shiny new open-air shopping mall, replacing the old Pasar Oleh-Oleh. Unfortunately it opened in 2019, just in time for COVID to kick it in the guts, and as of 2022 only a few massage/spa shops are open in the main area. Head towards the beach to find some restaurants still hanging on and a rather comatose night market.
Most hotels offer near-identical menus of mediocre Western food and bland Indonesian favorites at prices that would be high even in Singapore: don't expect to get much change from Rp. 200,000 for a simple nasi goreng (fried rice). Particularly if you're in a larger group, it may well be worth paying the taxi cartel to explore other options.
- 1 Pujasera Lagoi (Kota Sebong). The only place in Bintan that could reasonably be characterized as budget-friendly is this lackluster foodcourt offering local favorites, with nasi padang stall Lamak Basamo the best known of the bunch. Just don't expect frills like air-con or much attention to hygiene.
- 2 Warung Yeah! (off beach near Plaza Lagoi). 12:00-20:00. Don't be put off by the exclation mark, Yeah! serves tasty and reasonably priced Javanese classics: Madura-style sate ayam (chicken satay), many styles of nasi goreng and excellent ikan bakar (grilled fish). Even the enormous coconuts are fresh and tasty. Beware: the food here is geared towards local palates and can be very spicy! Head to the second floor Yeah! Lounge afterwards to recover with a cocktail. Rp 50,000.
- 3 Kelong (Nirwana Gardens). A kelong is a Malay-style fishing platform on stilts, so true to the name, Kelong is an open-air seafood restaurant suspended on stilts above the sea. The food here is Chinese style, with local favorites including black pepper mud crab (tasty but pricey) and gong-gong (sea snails) prepared to order.
- 4 The Patio (Natra Bintan, Treasure Bay). The menu at the Patio is exactly what you'd expect from a Marriott chain hotel, but the Indonesian dishes here are a cut above the norm and, most importantly, it's the only restaurant in the Treasure Bay area to offer air-conditioning.
- 5 Treetops (Banyan Tree). The Banyan Tree's long-running all-day dining restaurant distinguishes itself at dinnertime with excellent Indonesian-style degustation courses from Rp. 510,000/person.
Bintan Resorts' nightlife is limited to hotel bars.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||Under Rp. 3,000,000|
|Splurge||Over Rp. 3,000,000|
True to the name, Bintan Resorts is all resorts: there are no budget options to be found, only more expensive and less expensive options, and even the less expensive ones are pricey by Indonesian standards. Prices go up on weekends and during Singaporean school holidays. A buffet breakfast and transfers to/from the ferry terminal are almost always included in the price.
- 1 Angsana Bintan. Banyan Tree's lower-priced sister operation, with queen rooms, 1- and 2-bed suites. From US$117 for a basic room.
- 2 Anmon Resort. A "desert glamping experience" with Native American style tipis scattered on a sandy plain complete with cactuses. The tents sleep up to 4 people, are air-conditioned and have separate, private bathroom blocks attached. Guests get free access to Crystal Lagoon, which is right next to the resort. From Rp 2.2 million.
- 3 Nirwana Gardens, ☏ . One of the older resorts in Bintan and starting to show its age. Offers hotel rooms, beach cabanas and 2/3-bedroom villas with various brands and price points. The resort complex includes an indoor bowling alley and offers paid outdoor activities such as paintball, archery and rifle-shooting, ATV park, dune buggies, horse-riding, and Elephant rides and shows.
- 4 Banyan Tree Bintan. Villa-only development with an eco-friendly, granola-crunchy vibe. From US$232 for a 'Valley Villa', more with sea views. Private pool villas at US$668.
- 5 Club Med Bintan. Expensive all-inclusive resort squarely geared at families with young children. From S$680/night including all meals and drinks.
Bintan Resorts' serious violent crime rate is zero, though petty crime is still somewhat common. The Tourism Police and Navy of Indonesia have an office at Kota Sebung. Tap water is drinkable - with source from its huge reservoir processed by water treatment plant to achieve WHO standards.
The capital of Riau Islands Province, Tanjung Pinang, is about 1½ hours away by road. Cheapest way there is to rent a car and driver (a good price would be in the range of S$80–100 for six hours of his time).