After six weeks of school, we finally arrived at our first
break, a three day weekend at the end of September. Since the hectic pace
of school saw our birthdays come and go without much notice or fanfare,
we decided early in our stay in Singapore to do something special on the
first break. The Banyan Tree Bintan is a five star resort listed in the
Small Luxury Hotels of the World Guide. We had previously stayed in such
a hotel during our millennium trip to the Lighthouse Hotel in Sri Lanka.
The Banyan tree is a positively idyllic and private setting, worlds away
from the hustle and bustle of Singapore and SAS.
is an island off the coast of Indonesia, about a one hour ferry ride from
Singapore. The island itself is larger than Singapore, and the Banyan Tree
Resort is located on Bintan's coast, in the midst of a tropical rain forest.
One of the draws, of course, are the beautiful unspoiled beaches at the
resort. Even on a Saturday with full occupancy, you can see (at right)
how relatively uncrowded it is! This is in part because the resort also
has several pools to accommodate the 100 or so guests that stay here when
the resort is fully occupied--as it is nearly every weekend. In addition
to sun, sand, snorkeling, there are every description of boat rides (including
being towed on the monstrosity you see to the left), sailing, kayaking,
and, for landlubbers, golf.
To the left is the entrance to the Banyan Tree. Guests are picked up at
the ferry in a private car and driven 10 minutes to the resort, on the
northwest corner of Bintan. The guest center is on a hill which overlooks
the canopy of the rainforest, and contains a guest library, video center,
e-mail and business center. After a welcome drink of fruit and ginger,
guests are whisked off to their villas. The villas are located slightly
below the guest center, at roughly the tops of the rainforest trees. Access
is by a one-lane road, and guests are transported everywhere on golf carts
Each of the villas is located on stilts, so that the deck and bay window
look out over the canopy of the tropical rain forest onto the South China
Sea. The surrounding foliage also ensures privacy, so that one never sees
nor hears the neighbors. Our particular villa was at the end of a row,
so that we had a corner view, the ocean on both sides of the deck. Guests
move to and fro in the resort on golf carts, dispatched at your request.
The two primary areas are the beach area (the first picture, above) which
also has a pool and two restaurants, one serving Thai food and one serving
Mediterranean fare. We lunched on pasta and sandwiches at the latter for
lunch, and dined on superb Asian food at the former that evening.
A central location in the Banyan Tree Resort is the area shown to the left.
It includes a pool/sun deck area. To the right is the continental restaurant
the Crosswinds, where a splendid complimentary breakfast was served each
morning. We also had a spectacular lobster dinner there the following evening.
To the left of the pool is are two small shops, one a gallery for resort
products and one that contains massage oils and paraphernalia. Below the
pool area is a full spa, where Tracy went for a facial and massage as part
of her birthday present. Dining can also be arranged on the seaside balcony,
pictured to the right of the pool.
The beach is not the only draw to the Banyan Tree Resort. Next to the beach
is a bar/pool with a sun deck area for those who don't fancy the hot sand.
The picture to the right shows the view coming down from the welcome center,
and captures the pool and beach areas. The picture to the right highlights
the sun deck area. Above the umbrellas you can make out the top of the
restaurant building which houses both the Saffron Restaurant (Asian food)
and The Cove (Mediterranean
food). Both offered excellent fare, although we preferred the Saffron--prawn
rolls to die for. Below Tracy prays to the god of seafood for a
good meal at Saffron. We found that prayer followed by Singapore dollars
was the talisman that worked best.
Our Jacuzzi Villa at the Banyan Tree
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