10 reasons to watch BintanBy Sanjay Surana
01 Jul 2016
Popular with Singaporeans as a weekend getaway—it’s only 45 minutes from the Lion City by ferry—the Indonesian island of Bintan is quietly emerging as a viable and cost-effective meetings and incentives destination.
The island, more than 80 times the size of Singapore and where plenty of new construction is boosting capacity and creating fresh activities and attractions, can be roughly split into two sections. The first, an area of the north coast leased to an Indonesian-Singaporean consortium and branded as Bintan Resorts, is chock-full of carefully tended resorts, golf courses, shopping, conference facilities, and adventures squarely aimed at the Singapore market. The rest of the island is classic, gloriously unfettered Indonesia. Here are 10 reasons to consider it:
1. Treasure Bay: The 338-hectare Treasure Bay unveiled its first components late last year with the opening of The Canopi, a resort with tented, air-conditioned suites firmly in the glamping vein. The property’s meeting room can hold up to 80 people and activities primed for corporate or incentive groups at the neighbouring Crystal Lagoon include kayaking, wakeboarding, and other water-based team-building options.
2. The Sanchaya: Opened in December 2014, The Sanchaya, which means collection in Sanskrit, is the island’s most polished resort, with 21 villas in addition to suites in its main building, the Great House. It offers buy-outs for corporate groups and is suitable for top management or board meetings—the sleek Dahlia room can house up to 75 people.
3. Bintan flying club: Get an overview, literally, of Bintan Resorts with Air Adventure Asia. Operating for the past two years from Lake Lagoi, the flying club’s light sport seaplanes take tourists on scenic flights above the north coast of Bintan, and welcomes groups and team events.
4. Greater accessibility: Ease of access from the Lion City (Bintan Resorts has its own ferry terminal on the island) makes getting here a breeze. Since March 2016, citizens of 169 countries can enter the island for tourist purposes for up to 30 days without a visa. And an international airport in Bintan is planned to open in 2018.
5. Swiss-Belhotel Lagoi Bay: Opened in March 2015, Swiss-Belhotel Lagoi Bay has seven meetings room with the latest technology and audio-visual equipment and the ability to host up to 400 people. The resort also offers a number of team-building packages (some inspired by the German team-building TV series Telematch), corporate dinners by the pool, and one-hour complimentary fishing at Lake Lagoi.
6. Bintan Lagoon Resort—which has a dedicated ferry service from Singapore straight to the resort—unveiled the Great Hall, a meetings and conference centre, in 2013. The three-story building has a combined space of more than 1,800 sqm, a column-free banquet hall that can accommodate up to 1,300 guests, and an outdoor roof terrace that can handle 200 guests.
7. Wellness: The offer of a wellness retreat can certainly help motivate attendees to come to an event. Spas are plentiful on Bintan; resorts with fine wellness centres include the Banyan Tree, Angsana, Bintan Lagoon Resort, Ria Bintan Golf Club and Nirwana Gardens.
8. Refreshed golfing options: Laguna Golf Bintan and Ria Bintan Golf Club’s Ocean Course are re-launching this month (July) following a complete redesign and renovation. Spread across 60 hectares and with views of the South China Sea, Laguna's par-72, 18-hole course hugs the shoreline on the front and back nine. Guests of the Banyan Tree and Angsana can take advantage of special Stay & Play packages until 30 September 2016. For incentive groups, RBGC offers team-building activities (even for non-golfers) and facilities suited to business retreats.
9. Shop till you drop: New, novel venues on the island include the shopping centre Plaza Lagoi (opened in March 2015) and the concert and bazaar venue at Lagoi Bay Mall. Bintan Marketplace (pictured), a cluster of 41 shophouses with restaurants, bars, and entertainment outlets, will join the list next year.
10. CSR activities at Eco Farm: Bookable through BRC Tours, the tour arm of Bintan Resorts, a trip to the 17-hectare Eco Farm includes hands-on experiences like planting, ploughing, and harvesting, team-bonding, and a treasure hunt for groups of up to 50 people.