11 July, 2014

Banyan Tree Bintan Part 1

I recently had a nice stay at Banyan Tree, so here's a review for those considering it.

A bit about the resort: unlike conventional hotels, which are usually big buildings with many rooms, each "room" in Banyan Tree Bintan is an individual structure. Since the rooms are so spread out, the resort occupies a relatively large area and has fewer rooms than most hotels. Here's something useful I couldn't find elsewhere: a map of the resort!
This is useful because for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what the difference between the types of rooms were. I stayed in their "Pool Villa Seaview" room (light blue on the map), which was the cheapest, and also furthest from the sea. From the map, the Seafront and On The Rocks rooms were closest to the sea, but it's not clear if they're directly connected to the beach.

Ok, first, "if the buildings are so far apart, isn't it a pain getting around?" No, because there's a 24/7 complimentary buggy service available!
So, from anywhere within the resort, you can make a telephone call for a buggy, and within minutes, there'll be one to drive you around. You can even ask the staff e.g. at a restaurant to make the call for you. They can drive you all the way to Angsana, which is their sister resort, but can't reach the market (I forgot the name) or ferry terminal.


I was impressed right from the check-in. Other hotels, even 5-star ones, require you to queue and check-in at a counter. Here, you are invited to wait on a couch at the reception and served with a cold drink and towel:
They even partially tear the straw's wrapper so it's still clean for you! The drink was either ginger or lemongrass, or both, I can't remember.

Since we arrived before check-in time, we went to eat first, leaving our luggage at the reception. We tried their Treetops restaurant, which I think of as the "main" restaurant, because it serves the buffet breakfast. At other times it serves Indonesian food. We tried a 2-person sampler, which came with meat:
And 2 servings of rice:
I think the bottom-right was an appetiser. The food was good and portions were quite big. I think this item is quite good value for money. We also tried a dessert:
But weren't too impressed (I'm not a fan of grated coconut). This is an honest review - before the food came, a tiny centipede fell from the (straw? attap?) roof onto our table. The staff cleaned it up, but it made us a bit uncomfortable, since every building, including our room, had the same kind of roof!


After lunch, we were able to have our luggage delivered to our villa and didn't need to return to the reception. As a bonus, we were able to check-in slightly early. The villa was AMAZING and we promptly managed to lock ourselves out in our excitement. The outer door locks by itself! The air-conditioning was already on when we got there and the villa was delightfully cool.
Behind this door is a tiny courtyard, then the actual door to your villa:
Once you enter, to your left and right are smaller rooms. On the left is the toilet:
And shower/bath:
A sunken bath, no less. Their bath gel etc. came in cute ceramic pots, which you can buy from their store.  On the right is the sink/vanity:
With lots of amenities:
And straight ahead is the bed, in the middle of the room, facing the sea (this is the back of the bed):
In front of the bed is a balcony with your personal jacuzzi and sea view:
Now the villa is designed so that from your balcony, it's like you're alone in the forest. You can't see other villas or people (maybe corners of villas). There's this sense of serenity and privacy. It's not like there's someone living on the other side of the fence.
Well-stocked minibar:

In the evening, they'll come and turn down your room, laying flowers and folding a towel swan, and lighting incense. Oh and leaving some cookies.
Other important things about the room: yes, it has free Wi-Fi (this should be a standard in hotels now). It's really dark at night if you switch off everything. There were no mosquitoes, but lots of insects. We didn't get to eat the cookies because there were ants on it the next morning. And something ate the fruit in our room!
One problem with this stay is it as too close to nature. Mosquito repellent is freely available and should be used. You might see ants, lizards and cockroaches. It's a bit uncomfortable but this is what happened.

Ok I'd better split this review before I mess up the formatting.

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