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Bintan break: Our villa holiday on the Indonesian island

By: Rebecca Bisset

With most of us living in limited space in Singapore, having visitors stay can be a bit of a strain – especially if they’re here for a reasonable length of time. You do eventually need to escape for a while, even if it’s together as a group!

My mum comes every year for two months. Yes, I know I should appreciate it, and I’m very grateful that she’s still able to do the trip at the age of 85; it’s also much cheaper than paying for all of us to go to the UK. But when you know someone is here for a while, you do tend to slack off a bit and perhaps not do as much as you should do with them.

It’s nice to give visitors who’ve made the effort of coming all this way a taste of something outside Singapore. One problem, though, is that older visitors usually don’t feel like getting on another plane.

An easy solution is Bintan or Batam. We’ve taken quite a few guests to both places in the past. For my in-laws who hadn’t travelled much and didn’t want to venture off on their own, we once hired one of the Indra Maya Villas on Bintan. It was a large three-bedroomed villa with it’s own pool overlooking the sea. They were thrilled with it; they were still together with us as a family, not in a hotel room, and it was something tropical and slightly exotic, with a few sights and activities that were different from Singapore. It was also another country to tick off the list and talk about to folks back home. See more on things to do during your stay in Bintan in this handy article.

With nice memories of it from that time, I hired two for my daughter’s 18th birthday and she invited some friends. Each villa had its own kitchen, with separate living and dining rooms; there’s also a larger four-bedroom villa called the Nirwana Villa but I didn’t see inside that one.

My daughter and here friends were kind of independent, though I was a few minutes away down the road in another villa. The accompanying golf buggies for getting around the property also made them feel grown-up and were a huge novelty – luckily none of the buggies ended up in the sea!

The three-bedroom villa can sleep seven with an extra mattress, so it can work out fairly economically. The rack rate is S$1,000 a night for the three-bedroom one, but there’s usually a deal on offer. Check on the website; recently there was an offer of $590 including buffet breakfast, transfers from the ferry terminal, WiFi and golf buggy.

We hired a barbecue for the night; you can cook the food yourself or get someone to cook for you. The catering – we had satay and fried rice – was Singapore prices, but that’s Bintan for you.

As with most places in the region do consider the seasons when you book. We sent friends to Bintan for their honeymoon while they were visiting us and it rained for the whole four days. “No problem!” you might be thinking, but they had the eight-year-old stepson with them…  There were lots of games of table tennis and cards played to keep him occupied.

One of two of the villas needed updating, but the space is good and if you get the sea-view ones it really is a spectacular place on a sunny day – you forget you are so close to the metropolis!

Indra Maya Villas is an easy option for a Singapore break; you can choose to cook in or eat out – whatever suits. You can send the others off to explore the mangroves or try the water sports while you lie by the pool or do whatever gives you your switch-off time. I think it’s a great alternative for when you have visitors staying.

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