Club Med Bintan - All-inclusive, unplanned holiday

Jes , 2 Comments

This was quite an interesting idea for me - All-inclusive resort where all the food, accommodation and facilities are added in the price. I heard it first from a few friends but I never thought I would want to try it. After all, shouldn't a holiday be full of sight seeing, shopping and walking?

Not if you just want to relax and not have to plan any itinerary or follow some boring tours.

Price is not so prohibitive too. At $825 per person for 4 nights, and free for any children below 4 years old, it was an enticing offer to bring along my daughter in her first family trip. Comparing that against cruises where you have to pay the full price even for a baby, Club Med turns out to be much cheaper.

For kids 2 to 4 years old, you have the option to deposit your child at their Petite Club, which is basically a baby sitting program while the parents go have fun. They cost around $40 for half day and $80 for full day.

For toddlers above 4 years old, they count as adult fees as they assume you will use their Mini Club, which has programs and activities for the kids. That will mean price is not as cheap anymore.
It's just straight ahead from the entrance
All-inclusive means the ferry trip from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminla to Bintan, which cost around $58 per adult (off-peak) is also included in the final cost of $825. Once you reach there, head towards the counter beside the baggage deposit called Bintan Resort Ferries to collect your boarding pass with your passports and printed confirmation.

After which, onwards to holiday!

It takes around 1 hour of ferry duration and 20 minutes of shuttle bus to reach the Club Med Resort. Once you exit the immigration, the staff will be there to greet and welcome you and guide you up to their bus. Pretty easy and fuss free.

You will definitely see them before you exit the airport
The scenery upon arrival was breath taking! Totally post card worthy and makes me just want to dive straight into the sea. Now this finally feels like the holiday without all the travelling. The best time to take the ferry from Singapore would be 11:10 because you will reach the resort at around 13:00 Singapore time or 12:00 Indonesia time, just nice for lunch!

Post card perfect!
I was really wowed away by the buffet meals all time round, provided you eat at regular hours at Waterfall Restaurant. The other restaurant, La Terrace is more a 3 course meal kind of restaurant, more for people who woke up late or just want some hi-tea. You will also have to reserve places in the morning for dinners by the sea at La Terrace because it has limited capacity.

Candlelight dinner by the sea complete with steak at La terrace
However, I still prefer buffet at the Waterfall Restaurant at level 2. The variety is huge, with Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Indonesia and Western food always included in their selection. There is also more variety for kids' meal and more for screaming kids and a place to run around. I like most of their food and we were really spoiled by the variety of desserts and fruits too. Particularly the mangosteens and longans, super sweet!

If weather permits, they also have pool side dinners and garden BBQ lunches which luckily I got to attend both. I love their grilled steaks, chicken wings and lamb chops. Exactly what I liked to indulge for holidays!

Alfresco dining, now this feels like a holiday!
For parents with kids, Club Med puts you at ease with their family-friendly dining and also supplies. As my daughter is 2 years old, they supply the cot, baby shower items and also the shower tub, although my daughter would rather sleep on my bed and bathe like the adults. I guess at this age, they want to grow up faster and do the same things as us.

Only Johnson & Johnson's brand of shower supplies there

All-inclusive also means most of the activities are included for free, except golf and spa. I went for the daily morning meditative yoga. Sailing and snorkelling sounds fun too but you will have to check with them on the season and if the sea condition permits you to do so. For spa, you can bring along the kids to the room and each parent can take turns to do the massage. They sometimes have vacancies and special rates but the cheapest is still around $55 per person for 1 hour. You can also book outdoor excursions to see fireflies or take a cruise to explore Bintan island through them.

Looking at the sea and hearing the waves is really therapeutic and enough of a holiday for me.

I could only take the pictures of Taichi at the same spot where we do yoga
I know many people have an idea of the holiday to be sight seeing, shopping, walking and dashing for attractions to attractions. With a toddler in hand, things are not going to be so easy. They tire easily, have to take naps everyday and don't really appreciate attractions at all. What they want is really simple, some sand to play with and a swimming pool. Those kept my daughter busy for the whole trip and we were able to get some peace and tranquillity, exactly the holiday I have in mind.

The sea is only what I need... Holidays baby!

So, do adjust your expectations accordingly.

Club Med is suitable for a few friends with families or even extended families where the parents can play sports and enjoy together, while the kids go play. It is also good for pregnant mums to relax and indulge while the rest have fun. Just take note that the spa can only give you a massage if you are at least 6 months' pregnant. I would think it's also ideal for corporate retreat thanks to the unlimited booze and food while you have training or meetings the whole day.

For teenagers and singles, I don't really think it's that great because there are not many activities besides sports such as mahjong, basketball, tennis, badminton and squash. Moreover, they will not serve the free-flow alcohol to you if you are below 21 years old. With such restless energy, I don't think Bintan is that suitable as a holiday. You can probably just go for a chalet at much cheaper price.

Some peace time reading books in the hotel room while baby takes a nap
Every night at 20:45, there are night performances from the crew. We watched some acrobatics and juggling by the pool side on the first night, and live comedy staged by the Club Med team for the other 2 nights. It was pretty funny and at the end of the show, it was always sing and dance together with the children. At 22:00, it's only adults and lots of alcohol to dance and mingle.

Alas, all holidays have to come to an end but to stay there for more than 3 nights will get pretty dreary I think. The repetition of buffet meals and activities will no longer be fun after which.

So, packing up! Check out time is at 11:00 for all guests so with lunch, our ferry at 14:35 means we have to leave the resort at 13:00. Which gives us around last 2 hours to have lunch, take pictures and get ready to go back to reality and we reached Singapore at around 16:30, Singapore time. Don't forget to book Uber/Grab taxis beforehand because there will not be many taxis waiting around at Tanah Merah ferry terminal.

Bye bye Club Med Bintan, thank you for the relaxing trip even with a toddler around!

This review is not sponsored by Club Med although I wouldn't mind if they do so. Follow me to be updated on more family travels. 


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