These villas are built beneath the canopy of the Rain Forest. As such some wild animals like monkeys, squirrels, birds and insects could be your frequent visitors. Please do not leave your doors and windows open as these animals may disturb your peaceful stay in your villa.”
As I read these words on a sticker on my villa door I smile. I have the same reaction to monkeys and squirrels as some other travellers have to kangaroos and koalas when they come to Australia. Sure, there are those who consider them a pest but I’m still firmly in the excited to see them camp and love knowing that they could be in the trees around me.
As it turns out, the only visitors I spot in my villa at Banyan Tree Bintan are geckos who politely stay outside in my private spa area, although I’d be happy to welcome these mosquito slayers indoors.
Perhaps they’ve decided that I don’t need them watching over me at night as I have the beautifully draped mosquito netting around my four poster bed? Not being a lizard whisperer it’s hard to say, but all I do know is it’s nice to see them around, and to spot the squirrels, monkeys and larger monitor lizards as I move around the resort.
This is my first trip to Bintain Island and my first Banyan Tree experience, and now that I’m here I’m wondering why on earth I never hopped on the catamaran and came across from Singapore before.
The Indonesian island is just 45 minutes by catamaran from Singapore, and while at 2,402 square kilometres it’s more than three times the size of Singapore it only has a population of around 300,000 people.
I’ll Take My Luxury Villa On the Rocks
After crossing the Singapore Straight the catamaran arrives in the northwest of the island, which is where you find the beach front international resorts, including the beautiful Banyan Tree which has 64 luxury villas built over a secluded bay.
Each villa is named after a tree or flower, just as Banyan Tree and its sister properties Angsana and Cassia are. There are five types of villas to choose between, the Seaview, Seafront, Villa on the Rock and One or Two Bedroom Banyan Pool villas.
I’m staying in a Villa On the Rocks and while every villa at Banyan Tree Bintan has sea views in On The Rocks you are closest to the water, and I fall asleep and wake to the gentle sounds of waves meeting the shore below.
That king sized four poster bed with its gently draping net is wildly romantic, and the private relaxation spa pool and twin sunbeds on my terrace, matching robes and slippers and dual sinks make it clear this would be a rather special spot to spend time with a special someone.
It’s a Travel Writer Problem that while we may get to stay in wonderfully romantic settings we’re almost always travelling alone. Funnily enough it’s a problem we get very little sympathy for, but Banyan Tree Bintan is one of those places I have vowed to go back for a much longer stay with a lover some day.
When I walk in to find a lovely man creating kissing swan towel animals and a love heart made of petals it’s really rubbing my solo status in, but I don’t have the heart to ask him if he could whip me up a monkey or a squirrel instead.
I have a feeling the swans would be appropriate for most guests, and laugh when I’m told that there’s a saying that people honeymoon in Banyan Tree and years later return with the children for a family holiday at their sister property, Angsana, next door.
Of course you can stay very happily at either resort whether you’re single, travelling with friends or a partner or have the next generation in tow. And you can also move between the two properties to enjoy dining at the various restaurants or cocktails in their bars, with the tab being put back on your room wherever it may be.
Dinner Destinations with a twist and Spa Villa Pampering
If you fancy something really special, treat yourself to one of the resort’s Destination Dining options. If there’s just the two of you, you can have Dinner on the Rocks, where your table is set up above rock boulders and you dine surrounded by waves.
Dinner at 8 is a rare opportunity to have a personal chef and waiter take care of you as you sit at a table on the 8th hole of an 18 hole golf course designed by Greg Norman (chosen for its view of the South China Sea in case you were wondering why you would want to eat on a golf course).
Meanwhile I was lucky enough to experience their Dinner of the Legend, which included a dozen Indonesian dishes served in a beautiful tent on the beach where we dined with the sound of the sea in our ears and the sand between our toes.
There’s even a Massage of the Senses dining option which includes a massage in an exclusive cabana on the beach followed by healthy Asian dishes.
While I’ve yet to try that one (it’s going on the list for that romantic getaway) I did enjoy one of their massage treatments in a villa set up specifically for spa treatments. I love visiting a spa, but stepping into a villa that was all about pampering one person (or two if it’s a couples treatment) was a real treat.
I also love the way Banyan Tree factor in relaxing pampering time around your treatment, so my 60 minute Balinese massage was actually 90 minutes, and included a foot scrub, refreshingly sweet lemongrass and honey cold tea and fresh fruit.
Because that’s the thing when you’re staying at a luxury resort in the tropical jungle, you don’t want to rush around. This is the perfect spot to unwind, relax and give yourself that ultimate luxury, time out to just breathe and look at the view. It’s not just for squirrels and monkeys.
You can also check out an interview with Anders Ho Groenholm, executive chef for the sister resort, Banyan Tree Lang Co.