The fruit "platter" at the beach buffet | Photo: Celine Asril
We were skeptical: can families with children really have a relaxing time during a weekend getaway?
Yes, posited Angsana Bintan resort. So we took a 55-minute ferry ride with an energetic two-year-old to the Bintan resort to test the theory.
We emerged as believers.
We arrived on the ‘Live for Family Fun’ package intended for two adults and two children, and so were expecting plenty of planned family activities. But Angsana Bintan took it a step further: families have the option of doing activities together, or parents could leave their children to experienced activity planners-slash-babysitters who've been trained to interact children between the ages of three to ten.
Kayak, body board, snorkel or balance on the surf boards together, or – as we did – leave the little humans to build sandcastles and to make kites from scratch, among other activities, on their own with their peers.
We had been encouraged by the "sitters" to do the latter, so we could enjoy the 90-minute spa session for two adults that came with the package; we, of course, needed little persuasion to let tranquility take over till we both snored.
Activities only last so long and the adults eventually have to take over; Angsana Bintan's swimming pools were perfect to laze around and within, with the wading pool situated next to the adult pool, the former kitted out with fountains that could entertain young children for hours on end. We kept a watchful eye from the private confines of the sheltered rattan lounge furniture that lined the pools, with (more than one) cocktail in hand.
Angsana Bintan is also big on eco-friendliness and has a turtle hatchery on site, which makes for a great learning experience for all in the family. Turtles are incubated and hatched here, and kept until they are big and strong enough before they are released into the South China Sea. Having not visited during the period between mid-May and end-June, and early August and end-September, we missed the turtle releasing process, but managed to watch the turtles get fed kangkong (water spinach).
Angsana Bintan's kelong dining program started in June 2015 | Photo: Angsana Bintan
Also depending on the season you’re at Angsana Bintan, activities like dining on the beach, dining on one of their kelongs (offshore fishing platform) in the South China Sea (available for bookings of up to 16 persons until December 2015), and dance entertainment during mealtimes can and might also be arranged.
During our stay, part of the 1.5km sandy white beach had been transformed to hold a buffet spread that saw a whole swordfish being carved on the spot, an entire lamb being grilled, ending with a crowd-pleasing fireworks show. Indoors, a marketplace-themed line-up of live food stations were set up, while dancers performed traditional Indonesian dances. While all the activities took place on different nights, the pleasant memory of the dancers stuck.
The best part of our experience at this 113-roomed resort girdled by tranquil greenery, however, were the people who made our stay a truly relaxing one: the professional and friendly staff looked after the children like they were their own, rushing around more than we did when our little one was unexpectedly struck with fever. We felt safe in Angsana Bintan's good hands, especially during the 2am trip to the clinic. That was more than we could ask for.
Daily breakfast for two adults and up to two children included in Angsana Bintan's ‘Live for Family Fun’ package. The package is priced around $547 to $574 per night, and is inclusive of land transfers on Bintan Island. Ferry tickets for departure from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal must be purchased separately at $54 to $114 return per person.
The writer stayed as a guest of Angsana Bintan.