Jay and I celebrated 8 years of marriage last month.
We *were* going to celebrate with a Singapore Staycation either downtown in the CBD area or on Sentosa.
After lots of number crunching, we found it was actually cheaper to go to a different country and celebrate there! I'm still going to call this a "staycation" since it was less than 2 hours away.
There were some major factors that we took into account:
must be super close to Singapore (travel time is 3 hours or less) because it’s a kid-free vacation and I’m a little psycho about being far from the kids.
must be affordable (because we have a trillion kids and they eat an infinite amount)
must have adventurous things to do - i.e. surfing, scuba diving, hiking, etc.
must be close to yummy food with some plant based options
luxury accommodation would be nice but not necessary
LO AND BEHOLD - NATRA BINTAN.
Natra Bintan is a Tribute Portfolio Resort under the JW Marriott umbrella. We went for three days and two nights. We got there on a Thursday Night and got home on Saturday early evening.
The Natra Bintan is a Glamping Resort (glamping = glamorous camping) which means we stayed in a dope tent with air con, a proper floor, a flat screen TV, electricity, a gorgeous open air bathroom with a jacuzzi, and a king sized bed.
It ticked every. single. one. of our boxes. and MORE.
1. close to home. Bintan, Indonesia is a 1.5 hour ferry ride away from Singapore. It took us 30 mins to get from our house to the Singapore Ferry Terminal. It was a 1.5 hour ferry ride to Indonesia. We took the Bintan Resort Ferries. It was a choppy ride because it was raining in Singapore and the seas were rough. After we docked and went through customs, it was less than a 10 minute drive from the Bintan Ferry Terminal to our resort. We were checked in and unpacked in less than 3 hours from when we left our front door. Unreal.
2. must be affordable. Natra Bintan is incredibly affordable. Remember what I said about HOW IT WAS CHEAPER to literally leave the country of Singapore and travel to a different country? yes. The food was cheaper. The lodging and travel tickets were cheaper. It was just SO MUCH CHEAPER. I don’t know what else to say other than yes - staying at Natra is incredibly affordable and you don’t need to be making a high six-figure salary in order to stay here.
3. have cool things to do. Natra Bintan is right by Treasure Bay Bintan/Chill Cove. Treasure Bay is a resort and Chill Cove is in Treasure Bay. Chill Cove is South East Asia’s first man-made salt water lagoon. For a reasonable price there are a bunch of activities to choose from like cable ski boarding, ATVing, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, kayaking through the mangroves, sea scooters, a giant inflatable obstacle course, massive waster slides, and so much more. We had ambitious plans to do LOTS of adventurous things but we got really lazy and only went ATVing.
ATVing was cool. It was my first time ever! If you’re intermediate or a pro, this course might not be for you. But it was perfect for beginners. We went through the back of some resorts and on the street, then we went through the jungle where there were lots of puddles and steep hills and mud, and then we stopped at this ATV/motocross course where you can go around and jump on mud ramps and go as fast or as slow as you want!
4. close to or must have yummy food. We stayed entirely on property because we were too lazy to leave. There is a complimentary shuttle service that will take you into the city if you prefer. Every morning there is a Breakfast Buffet with a lot of options. For lunch and dinner I was pleasantly surprised to see a good amount of vegetarian options on the menu! They can make a couple of dishes gluten free as well. The price of the food was expensive for Indonesia standards but comparable to Singapore prices. We paid about $30 for lunch/dinner for two people each meal.
5. luxury accommodation would be cool. I was SHOCKED to find out that Natra Bintan was a three star resort. After a quick Google search, I found out that 5 stars are rewarded if you meet the requirements: “gourmet restaurants, on-site entertainment, state-of-the-art fitness center, spa…and golf course access”
Okay, so Natra Bintan is a three star resort - It does not have a gym, it does not have drink and food service by the pool. It also doesn't have access to a golf course or tennis court. BUT EVERYTHING ELSE -- the decor, the service, the accommodation, the staff, the EVERYTHING was easily that of a five-star resort. Natra Bintan is a five-star resort with a three-star price point. You don’t need a gym when you have a massive man made, crystal clear, salt water lagoon to run a few laps around. You don’t need pool service when less than 50m away from the pool is a restaurant and bar. You don’t need things like a golf course or a tennis court because you have this body of water and a BUNCH of activities that will keep you busy and active! This whole hotel rating thing is arbitrary, TBH.
Natra Bintan has a complimentary shuttle service. They can take you into town, up the street to the spa, to the ferry terminal, or wherever you want to go.
We booked a massage off property at D’Bintan Salon Day Spa and our hotel was able to shuttle us there. The service at D’Bintan Salon Day Spa was excellent! It is a standalone establishment and not attached to a resort or hotel. The ambiance of D’Bintan Salon Day Spa, the customer service, decoration of spa, and service was perfect. My husband got a Hot Stone Massage while I got a Tropical Massage which was a mix of Swedish, Hawaiian, and Indonesian massage techniques. It was delicious. Can you describe a massage as so? Okay, well I just did. We were going to go with just a 60 min massage since we didn’t bring enough cash, but were able to get 120min treatments! The Front Desk Attendant assured us that they will shuttle us back to Natra and someone will be able to go back to the hotel with us and get our card information for payment which was VERY convenient!
Natra Bintan is a Tribute Portfolio hotel which means it’s an independent boutique resort but is still part of the Marriott Family of Hotels. I love that the hotel maintains its individuality but still adopts the exceptional service AND SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES of The Marriott Brand!
According to The Marriott Report, by 2025 they hope to reduce their water intensity by 15%, carbon intensity by 30%, reduce landfill waste by 45%, and reduce food waste by 50%. All Marriott Properties are aiming to achieve minimum of 30% renewable electricity use!
As of 2018, Marriott Hotels have phased out all plastic straws and stirrers, have already reduced their carbon intensity, 36% of Marriott properties are certified to a recognized sustainability standard, and 225 hotels are LEED Certified. LEED Certified stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design which means these hotels provide numerous benefits for the environment!
While we didn’t go here with our kids, this resort is INCREDIBLY family friendly. The restaurant and room service has an extensive kids menu. Natra Bintan offers a campfire dinner that truly rounds out the Glamping Experience. They bring a campfire to your tent and the veggies and meat to grill over the fire. It comes with a How To Cook guide so you don’t have to worry about eating burned veggies or under cooked meats. It’s basically all the fun elements of camping but without the annoying clean up! They have kids tables with toys, shallow waters, and so many kid-friendly activities around Chill Cove.
On our last day we killed time after we checked out by getting massages at the V Pop Up Spa. It was. SO AMAZING.
The massage therapists did a full health assessment upon arrival. I had NO IDEA there were activities and events that the spa offers like group meditation, yoga, and sound baths… just to name a few! They do cabana massages and they come to your room if you prefer.
V Spa only uses product that are sustainably made with eco friendly materials, that comply with fair trade rules and regulations, and are cruelty free, natural, and certified organic goods. Which makes my heart sing since I have to be *EXTRA* careful with ingredients now.
The spa tent smelled amazing and was SUPER clean and the service and massage was to die for. At the end of the massage they give you traditional Indonesian Jamu, an anti-inflammatory health drink. If I died and went to heaven, I think that it’d be a lot like the V Pop Up Spa at Natra Bintan, TBH.
We didn’t do Bintan with our kids, but we loved Natra Bintan SO MUCH we’re going to have to take another trip out there with our boys soon. We loved the resort, we loved the accommodations, we loved the service, and we are definitely going to come back!