Thursday, 12 June 2014

Club Med Bintan: A one-of-a-kind holiday

An All-Inclusive One-of-a-Kind Holiday!

Our first Club Med vacation took place in March 2012 when our daughter, Dana, was one month shy of turning 4. As a family, we have gone on many resort holidays but Club Med takes the cake.  A Club Med holiday is ideal for families who want to have a relaxing and hassle free vacation because the needs of every member in your troop (regardless how young or old) will be well taken care of.  We picked Club Med Bintan for its proximity (only 45 minutes on a fast ferry from Tanah Merah).

Reception and Welcome:

The Club Med experience started right upon arrival at Bintan Ferry Terminal where our luggage was collected and sent directly to the resort. We boarded the Club Med coach which brought us to the resort 15mins away. Teams of smiling G.O.s (Genteel Organizers or Club Med Staff) lined the main lobby waving their hands and danced to the Club Med theme song as the coach pulls into the resort driveway, offering a warm, exuberant welcome. After a brief welcome speech by the Chief De Village (Mike),  each family was personally escorted to our hotel room by our G.O.

Resort Room: 

It is a habit for us to research on Trip Advisor to check out what fellow travellers say about the accommodation. Since the reviews were mixed, we lowered our expectations before the trip. To our pleasant surprise, the rooms turned out to be above average - similar to those you would normally get in a 3-4 star regional beach resort.  It was spacious, clean, warmly lit and comes with a large attached bathroom (pity no bathtub though). The balcony opens up to a lush coconut grove with the ocean beyond. We loved it that we could hear the sea waves lapping onto the shore, very therapeutic. The Queen bed could have been more comfortable as it was actually 2 single beds joined together but we could make do with it as we were out enjoying the resort facilities and participating in the activities most of the time.

The Queen Bed
The Balcony
View from the Balcony
The bathroom
The daily surprise from the Housekeeping crew!
Resort Ground:

The resort is set in a lush tropical forest with a clean private beach. Its compound is well-kept with beautiful coconut trees swaying in the sea breeze and beautiful flora (such as orchids and ferns) and fauna (squirrels!). We found beetles and other insects on the resort grounds at night and in the early mornings (esp. after rain the night before) but they are part and parcel of holidaying in the tropics. The beach is clean and suitable for swimming except during the monsoon seasons.

The sprawling, well-manicured lawn...
The private beach...
Tranquility abounds...
The main pool...
Thumbs up after checking out the pool!
Resort Meals: 

In true Club Med style, all food and beverages are served free-flow all day. The main "Waterfall" restaurant serves a great variety of dishes from Japanese sushi, Korean Ramen, Indonesian Prata, Chinese Porridge to a whole array of Western soups, pastas, pizzas and salads and desserts. Menu items were slightly different everyday. The dining experience at Club Med was very unique as the friendly G.O.s would come around to dine with us. Initially this took a little getting used to but by the second day, we were looking forward to these casual conversations with new G.Os at each meal! We dined at the Ala Carte "Terrace" Restaurant thrice. The hubs ordered Grilled Tenderloin steak, Dana had Salmon Steak and I opted for the Grilled Indonesian Ayam Pengat. The food at the Terrace is much better than the buffets. We would love to dine more often there if not for the slightly tardy service staff.

Resort Booze:

We love the free flow of beers, wines, cocktails, mocktails, fruit juices and smoothies at the bars located at prominent locations within the resort. The hubs joked that, each time he stretches out his hand, he'll get a new drink in seconds. The Santai Bar even has a dedicated Kids' Corner where little guests like Dana can order their own beverages! At certain times of the day, there will be a small selection of canapes and board games placed next to the bar for guests' enjoyment. Very thoughtful!

Lost count of the cocktails we tried...
Mojitos or Juices - which do you prefer?
Booze by the good can life get?

Resort Activities - Kids' Club:

What truly made our vacation at Club Med Bintan exceptional is the excellent Kids' Club Programme. We've travelled a fair bit but we've never seen such a comprehensive, well-organised Kids' Club Programme anywhere in the world. From Day 1, we knew our daughter was in good hands. She was engaged in both outdoor sports (e.g. kite making and flying, swimming, sand-castle building, flying trapeze) and indoor fun games (e.g. limbo rock, kids bingo). During our short stay, there was even a mass Garden Tea Party for the kids and a Big Fun Fair (complete with an Elephant Ride) on the Coconut Grove! What incredible coordination and ingenuity by the Kids' Club G.O.s!

Carnival on the Lawn!
All decked out for the party...
Chefs at hand to serve the kids...
Free Elly Rides right on the compound!
Her first DIY Tye-Dye Tee...
Kids doing the Crazy Signs!

Something memorable took place at this Club Med vacation - Dana performed her first Flying Trapeze stunt - an act that would make even adults go weak in the knees! Our hearts literally skipped a beat as we watched her ascend the tall ladder to take the leap of faith.  After she made the jump successfully, our trepidation was replaced by a strong overwhelming pride.  That's our girl!

One of the anchor highlights of Club Med's Kids Programme!
The sense of accomplishment after she completed her first Trapeze!
Cruising on the low element rope balance
She likes it so much she did it again on the second day!

Dana made so many good friends with the other kids at the Mini Club. We commended the Kids' Club G.O.s for their boundless energy, charming charisma, attention to details, patience and genuine concern for the kids. They made the holiday so memorable for the little children and the smiles on their faces were simply priceless!

Dana with some of her favourite G.O.s - Here's Sonny...
Lee and Clayton...
Gita and Melody...
With Dr. Olivia, the friendly resident doctor in Club Med Bintan.

Resort Entertainment: 

Another outstanding trademark of a Club Med vacation is its nightly performances put up by the G.O. team. They sang, danced, acted, trapezed, boogied and practically spared no efforts in putting up incredible shows night after night. We thoroughly enjoyed the 'MJ' night, 'Glee' night and 'Circus' night but our favourite was the surprise 'Stand-Up Comedy' Night by the Poolside which was super hilarious and utterly entertaining. The nightly Crazy Sign Dances were infectious and fun too. We liked it that everyone joined in the dance without any inhibitions, regardless of how old you are or which country you are from.

Resort Spa:

Since Dana was well-taken care on at the Kids' Club, we rewarded ourselves with a heavenly two hour spa treatment at the Aspara Spa. The spa therapy room overlooking the ocean was built on cement pillars rising above the mangrove swamps. It was soothing to hear the sound of the lapping waves as we enjoyed the bodyscrubs and massages.We highly recommend that you don't miss this little spa indulgence while you're at Club Med!

The couple spa treatment room
The Spa Lounge...
Little touch of Nature...

Resort Farewell:

On the day of our departure, the G.O.s congregated at the main lobby to bid us a warm farewell. Plenty of photographs were taken, and hi-5s and hugs exchanged. As a final surprise, the little kids were each given a certificate from the Kids' Club! This was a sincere and heartwarming touch which no other resort has replicated. It truly made us feel like family.

We went to Club Med Bintan seeking for a short respite from our hectic lives back in Singapore and were not disappointed.  It's not just because of the all inclusive F&B (or even the booze) neither was it purely the fantastic Kids' Club Programme. It's the whole Club Med experience which makes one rethink the idea of a holiday.  Our first vacation with Club Med has been so totally awesome and we'll love to return in a heartbeat the next time a good promotion comes along!

Can't help but give Club Med the thumbs up!

This article was contributed by Angie.S of Princess Dana Diaries.

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