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Club Med Bintan Island
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Reviewed March 14, 2012

cMy family was in Club Med Ria Bintan for our very 1st Club Med vacation from 10 to 14 March 2012. My husband and I are avid travellers and we always say that wherever we go in the world, we're glad to be back home...until we experienced Club Med Bintan.

Reception and Check-in: Teams of smiling G.Os lined the main lobby waving their hands as the coach pulls into the driveway, giving us a very warm and upbeat welcome. The CM theme song was playing upon our arrival, giving us a hint of a spectacular vacation in store! The new Chief De Village (Mike) gave a brief welcome speech and each family was personally led by a G.O to our rooms. Hassle-free and speedy!

Room: Read reviews that rooms were a bit tired so was a bit concerned before we went but hey, the rooms are above average that similar class rooms which you would normally get in a beach resort! Intitially, we were given a room at Blk A which was right next to the main pool with the Aqua Aerobics and other activities going on. We found it a tad too loud and requested for a room change which was promptly attended to. After a quick lunch at the restaurant, our new room was ready. We liked the location of our reassigned room at Blk B (Balau). It was spacious, clean, warmly lit and comes with a spacious attached bathroom (no bathtub though). The balcony opens up to a lush Coconut grove with the ocean beyond. We loved it that we could hear the sea waves lapping onto the shore during our stay there - very relaxing. The Queen bed could have been more comfortable as it was actually 2 single beds joined as one but we can make do with it as we are not in the room most of the time.

Environment: The resort is set in a lush tropical forest with a clean private beach. Resort compound is well-kept with beautiful cocout trees swaying in the sea breeze and beautiful flora (such as orchids and ferns) and fauna (squirrels!). We found beetles and other insects on the resort grounds at night and in the early morning (esp. after raining) but they are part of the eco-system. The beach is very clean and good for swimming except for the last 2 days the waves were too strong so the black flag was raised.

Meals: In true CM style, all food and beverages are served free-flow all day. The main buffet restaurant "Waterfall" offers great variety of dishes from Japanese sushi, Korean Ramen, Indonesian Prata, Chinese Porridge to a whole array of Western soups, pastas, pizzas and salads, appetizers and desserts. Menu items were slightly different everyday (except for breakfast). Quality of food was average. There were few meals where we dined a bit later (e.g late lunch at 1.30pm) and the food was overcooked and unpalatable (prob. left in the serving dish for too long). Perhaps the chefs can monitor the quality and replenish the food once past a certain timeline. What made up for the lack lustre food was the company of the enthusiatics G.Os as they approach us GMs to politely ask for permission to dine with us. Initially this took a little getting used to but by the 2nd day, we were enjoying the friendly conversations with them at the lunch/dinner tables!

We dined at the Ala Carte "Terrace" Restaurant thrice (once for late lunch and twice for dinner). The late lunch items were served buffet style and again were cold and hard. The main courses for dinner was ordered ala carte from a menu and this tasted better (at least it was warm and not overcooked!). Hubby had Grilled Tenderloin steak, Daughter had Salmon Steak and I opted for the Grilled Indonesian Ayam Pengat. We would love to dine more often at the Terrace except that the service staff was a tad tardy (birds were happily feeding on the fruit buffet and no one noticed) and there isn't any air conditioning which can be a tad humid in the evenings.

Beverages: Love the free flow of Beers, Wines, Cocktails, Mocktails, Fruit Juices and Smoothies at the bars located at prominent locations in the resort. The Santai Bar, though extremely popular with GMs, never took more than a minute to serve us the drinks. It even has a dedicated Kids' Corner where kids like our daughter can climb up the little stairs to order their own refreshments! At certain times of the day, there will be a small selection of finger food and board games placed next to the bar for guests' use. How thoughtful!

Kids' Club: What truly takes the cake is the excellent management and running of the Kids' Club Programme at Club Med Ria Bintan. We've travelled a great deal but never seen such a wonderful and comprehensive Kids' Programme anywhere in the world. From Day 1, we knew our daughter was in good hands. She was meaningfully engaged in both outdoor sports (e.g. Kite making and flying, swimming, Flying Trapeze) and indoor fun games (e.g. Limbo Rock contest, Kids Bingo) and not forgetting the many sessions of impromptu Crazy Sign dances! During our stay, there was even a mass garden tea party on the lawn and a Big Fun Fair (complete with an Elephant Ride) on the Coconut Grove! Amazing planning and execution by the Kids' Club team. Bravo!

Our daughter Dana made so many good friends with the other children at the Mini Club and especially with the G.Os! We'll like to commend the Kids' Club G.Os for their boundless energy, charming charisma, your attention to details, your patience and genuine concern for the kids - Diego, Gita, Sunny, Leanor, Jen, Kenny, Melody, Benjamin and Clayton - You guys made the holidays so memorable for the little ones and the smiles on their faces are simply priceless! If we had to pick one reason why we would return to Club Med Bintan, it would be to bring our daughter back to the Kids' Club! :)

Entertainment - Another outstanding trademark of a CM vacation is its nightly entertainment performances put up by the entire G.O team. They sang, danced, acted, trapezed, boogied and practically spared no efforts in putting up incredible shows night after night. We thoroughly enjoyed the 'MJ' night, 'Glee' night and 'Circus' night but our fav was the surprise Stand-Up Comedy Night by the Poolside which was super hilarious and witty. The nightly Crazy Sign dancing was infectious and so much fun too! We liked it that everyone joined in the dance without any inhibitions and regardless of which corners of the world you come from. It felt like one big happy family at CM! Special commendation goes to Shun (the G.O from Yokohama Japan), Ben (from Thailand), Charles (From Korea) and Eva (from Indonesia) for being exceptional entertainers. You guys rock the stage and gave the GMs a unique CM experience to bring home with! A small feedback to enhance the experience: Perhaps we G.M.s can have information on your themed night dress codes before we depart for our vacation so we can pack accordingly.

Service: I developed an allergic reaction on the skin unexpectedly on the 2nd day of our vacation and went to the Infirmary to seek medical advice. Dr. Olivia was very knowledgable and attended to me lovingly. She prescribed medication to keep the itch at bay and offered to get housekeeping to replace our bed linen and fresh towels to eliminate the possiblity of any contact triggers. For the next few days, she would ask if I was feeling better each time our paths crossed. Thumbs up for personalised service from this great lady doctor in the house!

Spa: We enjoyed a heavenly 2hr spa treatment at the Aspara Spa on our 2nd day of stay (thanks to the Kids' Club!). The spa therapy room was built on cement pillars rising above the mangrove swamps overlooking the ocean. It's so therapeutic to hear the sound of the lapping waves as we enjoyed the traditional bodyscrubs and massages. There's on going promotions at the Spa for guests. We highly recommend that you don't miss this little spa indulgence while you're at CM!

Sending Off: On the day of our departure, the G.O.s once again congregated at the main lobby to bade us a warm farewell. Plenty of photographs were taken, and hi-5s and hugs exchanged. As a final surprise, the little kids were each given a certificate from the Kids' Club! When it's time for the coach to leave, the G.Os lined the driveway and waved to us. This was a sincere and heartwarming touch which no other resort has replicated. It truly made us feel like family.

Conclusion: We went to Club Med ria Bintan with high expectations after reading rave reviews on TA but they have all been surpassed. Seriously, it's not about the all inclusive F&B (or even the booze) neither was it purely the fantastic Kids' Club Program. It's the entire team of exceptional G.O.s who dined with us, boogied with us, served and attended to our needs all day and all night long. The experience has been more than awesome and we'll love to return in a heartbeat!

To Mike, Minho, Lee, Aaron and the many G.Os whose names we did not manage to mention in this review, keep up your good work and we hope you'll keep this little piece of Heaven (i.e. Club Med Ria Bintan) as the preferred CM resort in Asia Pacific! :)

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank bb-blues
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 14, 2012

During 3 weeks in February/March 2012 we spent our 54th vacation in a Club Med resort, the first, however, in Club Med Bintan Island / Indonesia.
In summary, it was an unforgettable stay in a fabulous environment with abundant sports and entertainment activities, delicious international buffets, unique events and above all: with the most friendly, enthusiastic and communicative international GO-team, we have met so far.
Site: Club Med Bintan Island is reached by a 45 min ferry tour from Singapore.
It is situated in a remote jungle area with a most beautiful white beach and a picturesque landscape.
Climate (February/March 2012): days 30-32°C, mostly sunny, mostly tolerable humidity, nights 25°C.
Facilities: About 300 nicely designed rooms, two restaurants (one of them open air, directly above the coast for special romantic evening dinners or for late lunches). Four bars, including a beach bar, care for you and avoiding dehydration, even if you are dreaming in the sun. Pool.
Sports: One of the few places where ocean swimming is optimally possible. Great fun! Abundant choice of yoga and fitness classes, tennis, golf, archery, boxing, dancing, circus (trapeze), sailing, kayaking, water aerobic, volleyball and many kinds of further land and water sports, nature and power walks etc.etc. Individual and adequate instruction, no crowds.
Entertainment: Great variety of active and passive entertainment during the whole day, fabulous evening shows by an enthusiastic team. Sufficient quiet places in the resort area.
Meals: Mostly in form of international buffets, ingeniously decorated and incomparably delicious, experienced cooks prepare every kind of speciality for you.
Special events: pool dinner, gala dinner, beach barbecue and party, disco parties etc. etc.
GO-Team: The “chief of village” General Manager Merlin (Singapore) excels with friendliness, warm-heartedness, hospitality, omni-presence, greatest efficiency, skill and experience. She has induced an incredibly amount of enthusiasm and initiative into a superb team from all continents and about 20 countries. She left the resort together with us for preparing the birth of her first baby. We are sure she will return to her beloved Club Med in a few months. Meanwhile her congenial colleague Mike (Australia), already present and active during an overlapping period, has taken over her duties, obviously fitting perfectly into the great shoes she has left. The managers and assistants, hotel (manager Julio from Brasil, a masterpiece of kindness and efficiency), restaurant (Ramses, Sam, Tisna, Sharif from Indonesia: extremely competent, polite and coping with everything), reception and administration (Lee from Japan, Gazzo and Hafiz from Indonesia, Paola from Mexico, Anne-Julie from Mauritius and many more: examples of charm, knowledge and helpfulness), sports (real champions in their field: Laureen from California, sports manager, fitness and circus instruction, Zumba Queen; Love from Thailand, yoga and pilates instructor, a unique experience!; Eric from Mauritius, a didactic wonder for step, dance and landsports; Kori and Pierre from Indonesia, experts in tennis, land sports, dancing and flirt; great sports talents and instructors: Jonathan and Gid from South Africa, Alicia from Korea, Andy from Australia, Gregory from Arizona, furthermore a really great circus artist from Korea (we apologize for our inability to reconstruct his name, so sorry!); leisure responsibility for great ideas and events: Shun from Japan, Chawki from Tunesia; Ben from Thailand, a mostly talented and ingenious choreographer; the charming, entertaining, prompt and skillful bar team, Emilie from Taiwan, Rina from Polynesia, Eva and Stanley from Indonesia, Rajeh from India, Sophie from Korea and others.
We have to mention a team whose assistance we luckily did not need, but who in spite of the difficult job, in the evenings had time for very fruitful exchanges of ideas and knowledge and for very memorable communication about Indonesian and Malaysian culture and way of thinking and living, the charming doctor and nurse team: thank you and see you, Olivia, Evelda and Joanne!
Many many others (thanks to you and excuse our limited capacity to recall all names) do a great job, care for everything promptly and friendly in the Kids’ Club (Clayton et al.), housekeeping (manager Cindy from Philippines, and many more), economics, administration, technical maintenance, kitchen, restaurant, boutique, sports and events. In addition they take time for nice talks providing any information about the resort, Indonesia or their own, often very far home country. Thank you so much, terima kasih. See you again, jumpa lagi!

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Juergen W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 9, 2012

We had a fantastic trip. Everything from meeting the staff off of the ferry on our arrival, to our special good bye departure from the resort on the last day was wonderful. We were there for the beginning of March 2012, a family of four (kids aged 2 & 4).

Kids Club - there isn't enough words to say what a wonderful job they all did. The GO's were wonderful. Fanny, Coco, Leonor and all the other staff (too many to name) from the kids club were completely perfect for our kids. They were accommodating and we really felt like we were welcome and were taken care of. Fanny was great for looking after my daughter, who had a little separation issues when we arrived.

Fitness Center - at the resort was really well laid out, we spent our mornings playing squash while the kids were in the kids club and we even had a chance to play with Kori (which was the best challenge for my husband, who never won a game against her). The trapeze and sailing were lots of fun, and there was really not more that I had time for. The GO's we met in the sports area were really perfect for the job; Craig, Andy, Kori, Greg and Jen.

Food - very well planned and a nice spread with lots of options. Staff in the restaurant were super friendly, and we enjoyed getting to share meals and meeting with the GO's personally at meal times. It was nice to feel so comfortable around them. Plus they were able to help us with the kids at meal time.

Entertainment - wow, I have to say were were really surprised to meet a group of such talented people. The GO's that worked all day, then put on a show at night was really something. When do they have time to train?? I have a lot of respect for the work and effort they make to do this. It was completely different to see them out during the day, then change into showtime for the evening. Even the village “chief” Merlin, and the new Mike did a great job with all the guests.

Staff - there isn't enough good things I could say about them. We really enjoyed meeting them all. We will miss them!

I would recommend this trip to any of our friends.

Thanks to all the staff for making our vacation so relaxing!

Room Tip: We had a great room on the ground level, but I'm sure anywhere would be just as nice. Some of the ground floors have stairs to exit off their patios, but I think it's just first come basis. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal to use the "back door" to get into the room.
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with family
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Thank jatkins79
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2012

We come to the bintan club med a lot of times because it is simply amazing! The relaxing atmosphere is so special that we always come back to the club med. We miss the activities already so much and for the teens club, thanks so much to benjamin and diego for the fantastic stay in the club med it waas always fun and i have a lot of souvenirs! For the mini club, thank you to everyone and to Geril for the fun :) thanks to all the GO's that have brought to us the perfect holidays! We miss you very much!!
Diego, benjamin, geril, gid, ervin: I MISS YOU!!

  • Stayed: February 2012
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1  Thank Bigmac7171
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2012

The "Club Med formula" - we continue to be impressed by it!

The activities, the nightly entertainment, the unlimited food and drinks available every waking hour - you never need your wallet (except on check-out if you've purchased extras), and of course... the friendly GOs (in our case: Sam, Olivia, Jocel, Andy, Shaun, Jen, Sylvia, "Rainbow" - again) Thanks, in particular, to Craig and Leonor for their calm and quick-thinking when our little girl fell and cut herself above the eye one night.

This time (our third) we learnt about some unexpected benefits of a Club Med holiday:
1. The medical facilities -
We needed to visit the "Infirmary" several times and were very impressed with the bedside manner and expertise of Nr Evelda and Dr Olivia. This team will even attend after hours, if it's an emergency. And guess what? - it's all part of the Club Med service. No surprise "medical fees" on our final invoice.

2. Alternatives to the main restaurant and bar -
In general, at a Club Med village, look around (or simply ask a GO) for the alternative bars or eateries - they are often less-crowded and it's easier to get to the great food and drinks.

At CM Ria Bintan, do book for an `a-la-carte meal at the Terrace Restaurant and get there early for a seat with a view. In our case, the beef and the salmon dishes were great, as was the wine (It's a different standard to the wine served in the main restaurant). You can also go to the Terrace Restaurant in the afternoon (no booking needed) for a substantial snack and a quiet sit-down, complete with sea breezes and a view of the beach!

The Panorama Bar on the 4th floor of the main building (to the left as you face the reception desk) is a superb, spacious, breezy area in a quiet location to sit and mellow out, while having a juice, a coffee, or something stronger.

3. The professionalism -
In a freak accident, the lower part of our window in one room was smashed. We received genuine apologies and concern from the workers on-site, then their manager (David), and then the amazing Ms Merlin - the general manager or "chief" of the resort - all within an hour or so of the incident. We were offered re-location to other rooms, but we chose instead to have the window "patched up" for the rest of our stay - it was done instantly. Merlin even arranged (personally) to treat two of our adults to a free massage at the spa, as compensation for the shock and inconvenience of the incident.

(By the way, we highly recommend spoiling yourselves to any of the "treatments" at the Spa. But make sure you convert the price in Rupiah to your own currency so you are not in for any nasty surprises on check-out!)

The only downside of Club Med Ria Bintan - it is in Indonesia!
Therefore, many of us have to pay for visas to enter Indonesia (despite the fact that we are there to put money into their economy). Bear in mind that the good immigrations officers consider a 7 night stay to be 8 days... and the jump in visa price from <8 days to 8-days-or-more is sizeable.

There was an oil spill in the ocean while we were there-> tar all over our feet when we approached the wet sand at ocean's edge. Took a few days to clear away from the beach, despite Club Med's best efforts to move clean sand onto the beach every day.

Overall - another enjoyable holiday at Club Med. Personally, we like one-week stays (perhaps 6 nights rather than 7!) - in order to really get into the Club Med experience. For shorter stays, there are so many other resorts on Bintan that will give you palm trees, sandy beaches, nice swimming pools and the usual resort food and drinks. But if you go somewhere else, please don't develop any problems that require medical assistance!

Room Tip: When booking, you can ask for a specific location (e.g. near the main building where all the action is, or away from it - for peace and quiet - and less traffic outside the back door). Need to decide between ground floor (less of a view) versus 2nd or 3rd floor - with a view, but no lifts: Challenging with kids, bags, strollers etc!. In our case, we booked a Terrace Room and were delighted with the extra space to spread beach gear and other toys, and also to have the kids draw or read at the little round tables in the extra space.
  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank TheSAfam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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