In need of a quick, easy escape from Singapore we opted for Club Med in Bintan. Here’s how we got on…
As a family we’ve never been that attracted to the idea of holidays with kids’ clubs and organized activities. Our kids, aged 10 and eight, said they couldn’t be bothered with all those new kids they’d have to make friends with and all those tedious craft activities… and who could blame them.
So we set off for Club Med in Bintan a little sceptical that this holiday would work for us.
The ferry crossing was easy enough, especially as we opted for the $20 or so upgrade to Emerald Class. Seating is not much different to the regular-priced ticket but you don’t have to queue and they whizz you through Indonesian immigration, which as most Singapore-based families know, can be a real hassle.
After that it’s a quick 20 minutes coach ride through an uninspiring but nevertheless green landscape to reach the resort.
The welcome we received from staff members, they call them Guest Officers or GOs, was quite overwhelming with lots of whoops and claps, making us feel like minor celebrities.
So little time, so much to do
A copy of the activities’ schedule was thrust into our hands, and determined to enter into the spirit of it, we all traipsed off for a spot of archery. Reluctantly the kids said they’d give it a go. As there wasn’t another parent in sight our own kids shooed us away in no time. Three hours later they were still going strong. During that time, they’d been trapeezing (yes, it’s very high up and yes it looks quite daunting), golfing and swimming in the sea. We had to beg them to have dinner with us. They wanted to stay with the group and their new BFFs (Best Friends Forever). We were at a loss… so used to entertaining the kids ourselves we didn’t know what to do apart from head back to the beach for some more R&R. We’ve been on most beaches in Bintan but this has to be the best. It’s kept exceptionally clean and the nearby jungle and rocky outcrops make it interesting enough. It feels safe too as it’s a sheltered bay with no unexpected shelving.
If you’re swimming, just steer clear of the kayakers and wind surfers, activities which incidentally the kids loved along with snorkeling in the neighbouring bay.
At night we took in all the shows, which are pitched just right at all the family.
All food comes buffet-style and we were pleasantly surprised at the quality of what was on offer and the variety, which was maintained throughout our five nights stay. The problem of course is trying not to over-indulge. And as Club Med is all-inclusive, it’s easy to be more adventurous with your F&B options, which can be dangerous. We tried not to pig-out too much though, especially since our daughter whispered into her Dad’s ear, “You’d better get back to the gym,” whilst pointing out the bare-chested GOs with toned torsos posing by the pool, a bonus of course for the Mums.
Having said that, you can only laze on the beach for so long which meant we did in fact spend a lot of time in many of the classes on offer such as yoga, pilates and aerobics, all good ways to shed the days’ excesses.
As for the accommodation, we were warned that it was tired and in need of upgrading. Our rooms, (we had adjoining rooms with the kids) were more than adequate and many rooms we noted have in fact been recently renovated.
Many of the guests are, like us, Singapore Expats hailing from all over the world including Japan, Korea and China, and there does seem to be a large European, especially French contingent. Of course, the French have long since discovered the benefits of holidaying with their country’s branded resort.
Time to leave and what a departure. The GOs, who it has to be said, work exceptionally hard at spreading the joy, chased our coach out of the resort enthusiastically waving and saying their goodbyes. It made for a great, feel-good send-off and had the kids planning their next visit before we’d even reached the ferry.
Although we spent a lot of time ‘sans’ children this was truly a holiday that gave my husband and me a real break whilst the kids had the time of their lives. There’s no room for ‘helicopter’ parenting here and that in itself is a welcome change. We’ll definitely be back to enjoy some more of that French joie de vivre.
- Upgrade to Emerald Class – the extra $20 or so is definitely worth it – they whizz you through immigration when you arrive and you’re never in a queue. Our journey was very easy and laid-back. So it’s well worth it.
- Get involved. Try out all the activities on offer.
- Make sure your room isn’t too close to the main clubhouse. Apparently word has it that it gets very noisy, especially at night.
- Don’t over-indulge. It’s easy to drink and eat as much as possible but don’t let too much excess spoil your holiday.
- Don’t feel guilty about not being with the kids all the time. They’ll have a ball whilst you relax and kick back.
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Find out more: ClubMed Bintan website
Find out more: Bintan Island on Wikitravel