Angie and I are busy working parents with 2 young kids. Holidays are especially precious to us because our time together is limited. With kids growing up so fast and we growing old even faster (!!), family holidays are moments that we truly look forward and treasure.
Yet when we go on a vacations, we occasionally face the the dilemma of balancing couple time versus time with kids and time as a family. When it comes to a short getaway that meets all our needs, none can compare to that of Club Med Bintan.
Paradise…less then an hour away:
Club Med Bintan is less then an hour’s ferry ride away from mainland Singapore. It’s sometimes difficult to imagine that an island of pristine beaches with a world-class family resort is but a mere short ferry ride away.
We first visited Club Med Bintan 5 years ago. Being our first visit to a Club Med Resort then, it left such an indelible impression on us, especially since we saw our eldest, then 3 going on 4, being taken care by their staff (termed as ‘GO’s), learning new skills, making new friends and attempting new sports (including her very first trapeze ‘flight’ in her life). So, 5 years on. How’s our repeat visit? Here’s sharing 7 highlights of our recent trip plus tips on how to maximize your Club Med Bintan holidays:
1. Kids Club: Club Med is known world-wide for its Kids’ Club that offers a comprehensive structured program that enriches the kids. Here at Club Med Bintan, the Kids Club caters for kids as young as 4 to teenagers (differentiated into different age groups). Everyday from 8:30am to 8:30pm, the GOs would accompany the kids and guide them to a variety of age-appropriate activities ranging from tennis, archery, ball games, swimming and yes, the iconic flying trapeze. It’s evident that all the kids in the Kids Club were happily engaged, so much so it was quite difficult to pry them off from their GOs! These 12-hour days are inclusive of lunch, snack and dinner. After water sports and games, the GOs will ensure that kids wash-up and change.
For younger kids like Buddy (3 to 4 years old), they can join the Petit Club which includes a different set of age-appropriate activities to keep them happy! This includes morning walks around the resort, bubble play at the coconut grove, waterplay, sing-alongs, storytelling and more. We had our reservations initially about leaving Buddy in the care of the unfamiliar GOs but our cares were unfounded. He enjoyed the Petit Club so much he asked to go again the next morning! Through the level of care and patience the GOs demonstrated for each kid, we can tell that the Petit Club GOs really have the love for the little ones. Although there is an extra charge for kids younger then 4 to join Petit Club, it was the best ‘investment’ we’ve made throughout our stay – to see our toddler happy and enjoying himself, while we can sneak off for a couple massage and stroll along the beach. Do note that to enrol your kids in Petit Club, parents are required to produce a copy of the kids’ vaccination cert for health reasons.
2. Couple Time: With the kids meaningfully occupied, Mommy and Daddy can finally spend uninterrupted couple time together with a peace of mind. With virtually the entire day to ourselves to roam the resort, swim in the pool, snorkel in the sea and join the myriad of activities lined up for the day! These include yoga, archery, tennis, aqua–aerobics and a variety of non-motorized water sports. All inclusive! What we have to do is to check the time-table of activities outside the main restaurant every morning and for the next day to plan our schedule.
If you choose to do nothing, you can to! Vacations need not always be filled with activities. One of the afternoons, we found ourselves with nothing to do and decided to try their in-house Indonesian Massage operated by Aramsa Spa which offers a variety of packages for relaxation. Our massage was done in a private couple room set amidst the natural mangrove forest of Bintan. With the soothing sounds of cicadas and lapping waves in the distant, the ambience alone made time stand still. The massage session rejuvenated us. We’ve never found any better massage experience back home in Singapore. What bliss!
3. Family Time: At any time we wished to have the kids back, we can just pop by the Kids Club and Petit Club to sign them out. From soaking in their pools (there’s two! – one for the kids too!) to playing a game of table tennis or family archery to feeding the myriad of colourful reef fishes in the sea. There is so much to do as a family. We only wish our stay was long so we can create many unique memories and moments there!
4. The GOs (Staff): The staff members are the ones who really make the difference. The beauty of Club Med is that wherever we go, it’s the same high standard of commitment, dedication and energy exhibited by the team of GOs. Led by the Village Chief (the General Manager of the Resort), the GOs danced, coached in sports, performed acrobats, put up comedy shows and ensured every guest is cared for. From welcoming us when the bus turned into the driveway to escorting us personally to our rooms to looking after the needs of even the littlest ones, the GOs epitomize such service and dedication.
5. Evening Performances and Crazy Sign Sessions: Every evening (yes, every single night!), the GOs would put up a themed performance…and they are VERY good. They got us laughing in stitches with their slapstick comedy acts, wowed us with their vocals and acrobatic acts (oh wow!) and have us end every evening on a high with their ‘Crazy Sign’ dances which never fail to get the entire resort dancing in the theatre and even out at the pool side. We have not experienced anything like this anywhere in the world! Except right here in Club Med Bintan.
6. Kids’ Performances: The Kids Club program is truly exceptional. One of them includes training the kids to perform simple acrobatic moves, execute a new sport or our favorite, is the dance show – where every kid is taught simple dance moves and perform as a team for the entire resort! They are all dressed in proper costumes to give that ‘professional’ touch. Excellent! Buddy gave his first LIVE performance there during our recent visit, a legacy left by his elder sis…5 years ago!
7. All Day Food and Beverage: True to its concept of a all-inclusive resort, there are plenty of food and drinks virtually all day. Apart from the 3 main meals served at their newly renovated Waterfall Restaurant, a selection of canapé and drinks are available at the bars too. Food served was surprisingly good for a full-board resort. Though it was buffet style, every dish was cooked and styled with pride. Every main dish during lunch and dinner, is like a fine-dining dish! Coupled with free-flow alcohol that includes beer and wines, Club Med Bintan knows how to pamper and spoil every guest.
Balanced Meal for Kids:
The kids’ trays have well-designated compartments for meats, veggies, rice etc… to encourage kids to have a balanced meal. It’s surprisingly effective – no need for parents to nag. And the GOs ensure that the kids stick to the balanced meal plans as much as possible.
10 Tips to Maximize your Club Med Bintan Stay:
1. Pre-Trip: As Club Med Bintan is situated in a natural forested landscape which includes small hills and a private beach, there are many steps to negotiate. Do inform the resort if you need help with mobility and they will be glad to arrange for a room which does not require much walking up and down steps…and even provide buggy services to bring you to the spa etc.
2. Repellent: We did not encounter any mozzie issues but as the resort is situated in a beautiful natural forest, its best to bring some mozzie repellents for the kids just in case. If you need extra, there are repellent wipes available from the resort, free. On the same note, if any one in the family is highly allergic to insect bites, such as young children or people with sensitive skin, its best to bring along allergy medication such as Zyrtec.
3. Motion-sickness Pills: You need to take a 45min ferry to Bintan. If anyone in your family is prone to sea-sickness, bring along the right medication as the seas can be choppy especially when in rainy season.
4. Block and Tan: Do bring along sun block (or sun tan lotion) for the family. You’re going to be needing it as many of the exciting activities are outdoors!
5. Bag and Bottle: If you plan to send the kids to Kids Club, do bring along an extra sling bag (best if waterproof) for each child. Your children will be spending virtually the entire day there, so you can put in their swimming gear, sun block, water bottle, hat, towel and change of clothes. This includes extra diapers and milk powder, milk bottles for your toddlers too! Based on our own experience, the GOs really take care of the kids very well.
6. Be Adventurous: Yes, be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and try the activities here at Club Med Bintan to maximize your stay…and that goes for the kids too! One of my personal ‘practice’ is to try every cocktail on their list during my stay! They are not too bad.
7. Bring a Camera: Yes, needless to say…there will be loads of memories to capture. In fact, bring extra memory card too!
8. Bring a Swim Suit (and Goggles): Club Med Bintan has a newly renovated pool and its own pristine private beach (something you don’t want to miss). This trip, we brought the kids swimming daily after picking them from Kids’ Club at 530pm and were able to see shoals of reef fishes not far from shore. What a treat it was!
9. Easy Card for Easy Pay: Get your Easy Card – their resort’s in-house payment card, for any extra purchases within the resort. This is so that your credit card and cash can be kept safe and secure. You can use the Easy Card to pay for spa services, Petit Club fees, photos taken by the resort’s official photographers and merchandise from the in-house boutique, among others.
10. Don’t be a Stranger: We’re constantly amazed by our kids’ abilities to make friends and we should learn from them. Ditch our self-consciousness and inhibitions. Strike up conversations with fellow guests and get to know the GOs who may come around to join you when you dine. The conversations and company can make your day!
More about Club Med Bintan:
Club Med, The Resort:
Club Med Bintanis less then an hour’s ferry ride away from Singapore’s Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and a short 20 mins shuttle ride from Bintan’s jetty. This means that within 2 short hours, you’re at setting foot on a stretch of pristine private beach in Bintan and staying in a resort that epitomizes what a full-board, full-service resort should be. This is something we truly appreciate and in our regular travels, we have not found any resort that can rival this concept that is Club Med’s. Having Club Med Bintan just a ‘stone’s throw’ away, is truly a gem!
A world class Kids’ Club is synonymous with Club Med worldwide. One that many accommodation worldwide seeks to emulate but none come close and you can expect the same level of experience with Club Med Bintan. Club Med Bintan’s Kids’ Club accommodates children from as young as 3 to teens. As with all Club Med, all activities, meals, performances etc… are all inclusive. Kids of all ages are guided and followed by Club Med’s team of GOs wherever they go, whatever they do so that parents can truly be at ease letting our kids cared fore, virtually whole day, by Club Med.
The rooms in Club Med Bintan are rustic in feel and have basic amenities enough to make the family feel comfortable. Nothing too advanced that you don’t know how to turn on/off or open/close. However, the personal touch is there. There was a hand-written note by the General Manager that is personally addressed to us, welcoming us back to Club Med – something that not even the most luxurious hotels may not do. Fresh fruits from the local orchard adds to that personal touch, welcoming us to the village. Everything in the rooms is simple yet sufficient enough for anyone to settle in for a comfy night’s rest then get on out to enjoy what Club Med has to offer, which is outside of the room!
Rooms come in a variety of layouts to suit guests’ needs. Ours was a Deluxe Seaview Balcony room which came complete with a Queen-sized bed, a large bay window settee big enough as a child’s single bed (which our 9 year-old quickly colonized as her own)! Our room was also large enough to accommodate a baby cot just nice for our 3 year-old Buddy. Even after all that, there was still room for us to maneuver our luggage. There was ample closet space and we appreciated the fact that the bathroom and the toilet are separated for the family’s convenience.
As the kids are cared for by the wonderful GOs of Kids’ Club, Mommy and Daddy are free to indulge in either some couple time or any of the myriad of activities around the resort. Go ahead and learn a new sport like tennis or even archery with guidance from their talented GOs. Or perhaps stay fit with aqua-aerobics or perhaps get on a kayak and head on out from the shore a little to appreciate the view from afar. These activities come included as part of the resort’s package.
If kicking off your heels and laying back is in the plan, then feel free to laze around the pool side or take a quiet walk along the pristine shoreline of the private beach here. Lie in one of the many large hammocks, kick back and take on a ‘different perspective’ as you look-up at the swaying coconut trees. Ah….bliss.
New Additions to Club Med Bintan:
Club Med Bintan has refreshed and added the following facilities to enhance their guests’ experience:
– Healthy Juice Bar: Situated at the beach front, here the bar tenders serve various concoction of fresh cold press juices. Select your favorite and sip away while relaxing by the beach.
– Taste of the World Gourmet Corner: Situated in the Waterfall restaurant, here the islet within the restaurant serves a collection of international dishes (e.g. Japanese, Chinese, European etc) during lunch and dinner times. This is in addition to the local cuisine served. Go ahead and savor them all…the dishes are rather exquisitely done!
– Flying Trapeze at Twilight: Care for a night flight? For guests who want to experience the trapeze without the heat and glare of the day, here’s a unique and unforgettable experience not to be missed! Needless to say, the daughter loved it!
– Theatre: The Panggung Theatre has been refurbished to include air conditioning , comfortable seats with some really cool light and sounds effect to take the nightly performances another notch higher then what it is now! Excellent!
– Waterfall Restaurant: The dining area has been refurbished. With a fresh colour scheme of green and white, it fits seamlessly with the scenery outside, making guests feel like they are dining out there under the shade of the swaying coconut trees…and in air-con comfort. Quite an experience!
Twice All Over:
Can one fall in love with the same place twice? Yes…and we just did – with Club Med Bintan. Not only does it have the signature programs and activities of any Club Med around the world but it does it with a consistently high international standard, making guests feel absolutely welcomed and involved.
One of the main key factor that makes the difference is the GOs. Although this time in Bintan, we noticed there seem to be less of an international mix of GOs (more of the local Indonesian GOs), they were still warm, inviting and obliging. Right from the start as they waved to welcome us till the end when they waved to send us off, the GOs truly made Club Med Bintan one of the most unforgettable resorts we’ve ever experienced.
Find out more about Club Med here: https://www.clubmed.com.sg/
Also read our reviews of Club Med Bali here:
Disclaimer: Our Club Med Bintan holiday was sponsored by Club Med for the purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions, photos and videos are, as usual, ours.