About two weeks ago, Tdy and I were itching to go somewhere over the 1 July weekend. As tickets to Bangkok were astronomical, we settled on Bintan which was a mere 45min ferry ride away. We booked the cheapest room at Angsana Bintan, and counted down the days to our trip.
While we booked our stay at the Angsana, it was the Banyan Tree (sister property of Angsana) which captured our hearts, and we ended up spending most of our time there. Angsana feels like a holiday chalet where parents would take their kids to, while Banyan Tree seems to cater more to couples looking for some eat, pray, love and quiet moments with each other. Rooms in Angsana are corridor-style and are within one gigantic block while Banyan Tree comprises individual villas, most overlooking the sea.
At this juncture I’m going to come clean and admit I didn’t take any pictures of the Angsana because it was kind of uninspiring and was more like a family chalet.
We arrived at around 10ish on a Saturday morning and the transfer to Angsana was seamless. On arrival we were presented with cold towels and a ginger-lemongrass shot. As our rooms weren’t ready, we deposited our luggages with the concierge and went off to explore the property.
..and we found ourselves at Banyan Tree. The pool was gorgeous and loads quieter than the Angsana, and the deck chairs all thoughtfully laid out in corners and in tiers (as opposed to simply being laid around the Angsana pool). Btw, guests in Banyan Tree travel everywhere by buggies!
At 12pm, we caught the free shuttle to Plaza Lagoi for lunch. As Angsana does not provide full board for meals, you are generally trapped in the resort and are limited to the restaurants in the two resorts unless you venture out of the resorts. (Edit: Angsana does provide full board at S$110 per person, but it does not include the beach BBQ below.) We had lunch at Warung Yeah!, which would be the most economic meal that we would have that weekend. (A quick review of Warung Yeah! to follow later if not this post would be longer than it already is).
We decided to go for the Saturday night beach BBQ even though it was incredibly pricey. Gotta admit that we both didn’t regret it though. Here’s why:
We got an incredible seat right beside the water so no complaints. The food, while not mind blowing, was good. I mean, who doesn’t love a barbecue when someone does the barbecuing for you?! The grilled crayfish and prawns were excellent, with a nice char and great smokiness. I liked the snapper satay a lot – never had grilled cubed fish on a stick which only needed some lime as a condiment.
We were absolutely stuffed by the end of the meal. While we didn’t get the alcohol upgrade, we did think the bottomless alcohol could possibly have been quite good value at the cost of an extra sgd 30.
The morning breakfast buffet at the Angsana’s Lotus Cafe was so insipid and uninspiring – nothing worth taking a photo of. The poached eggs came fully cooked through, the noodle soup, extremely tasteless. My favourite item was the multigrain toast with peanut butter.
Our breakfast sorted, and after haggling for a late check out (which we got only after calling the manager – story below) we set off for banyan tree!
This was the gorgeous infinity pool beside tree tops where we went our morning lounging – in the pool on our borrowed donut float (thanks Sarah/Davin) and on the deck chairs. Okay, gotta admit right here that we weren’t explicitly told that we could not use Banyan Tree’s facilities (you do have free access to it though) and we didn’t bother asking I guess, just walked in and used it. So… at your own risk really!
Lunch at tree tops – the above cost us S$80 in total, and we were completely stuffed after. While it is very pricey, it was a great meal. Prawn and fish crackers with 6 different types of chilli was served as a complimentary starter with an amuse bouche of mini deep fried prawn rolls – I LOVED IT. The mango chilli was more refreshing than spicy and went brilliant with prawn crackers! We also had BBQ fish with chilli and deep fried chicken, their signature dishes (the fish wasn’t very spicy, it’s scarier than it looks! so good.) and struggled to finish it. We carried food babies all the way back to the Angsana.
The reception (temporary I think) at the Banyan Tree – with an infinity pool overlooking the beach. So, so gorgeous.
So yes, the story why we won’t go back to Angsana in the future – throughout the trip, we couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from the Angsana. Don’t get me wrong: the service is good; everyone is incredibly friendly and helpful. It’s just that I expect more from a resort which prides itself on its service as we were made to wait until the official check in time of 3pm despite them telling us that our room would be ready before 3pm and they would inform us immediately when the room was ready (they did not until we went to find them at 3pm). We were also flat out denied a late check out at the reception as they ‘needed the room back’. It was only after a call to the manager and 20 minutes later that we were granted the check out of 3pm. Rolling my eyes right here.
This trip was a really great break from the city but it’s more expensive than I imagined and being trapped in the resorts really does limit the food options. I may return to Bintan for a quick getaway in the future, but having calculated the costs, a staycation at a good hotel in Singapore is probably cheaper. Though I have to admit the idea of escaping the city is such a draw, it is really at a premium.