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“A very special place - best suited to families”
Review of Nikoi Island

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Nikoi Island
Ranked #1 of 35 Hotels in Bintan Island
Certificate of Excellence
Singapore
Level Contributor
42 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“A very special place - best suited to families”
Reviewed April 23, 2013

Nikoi Island is a very special place. It's clearly the realisation of a great deal of hard work and visionary design. The staff are wonderful and they go to great lengths to personalise your stay and make it extra special. The food is tasty and well prepared and the location is exquisite. As with any eco project, you are asked to accept a few compromises and this includes a lack of privacy (and in our case, sleep!). I want to state upfront that any disappointment reflected in this review was due to my lack of homework and not a reflection on Nikoi's service. Take the matter of tranquility for example. The island epitomises the romantic notion of a tranquil escape for the weary executive but much of this experience depends on who occupies the cabins either side of you and the ratio of adults to children on the island.

There were a large number of children on the island when we arrived and there really was no way to find a peaceful place to sit comfortably (especially by the pool, beach or bars). The cabins are beautifully designed but their open-air structure means that it's not just the sea breeze that blows through your room at 2am. Above the soothing sounds of the waves gently lapping on the beach, you hear every word of your neighbors arguments and every scream of their 18-month old baby. The staff do their best to keep couples and families at a companionable distance but this wasn't possible during our stay (as they apologetically explained) due to the large number of families in residence. At meal times, we were told that separate dining areas are usually reserved for guests without children, but sadly this wasn't possible when we arrived. To their credit, the staff did offer to serve our dinner in our cabin but we declined this option due to the large number of mosquitoes after a heavy rainstorm. The other deal breaker for us was the noise of the local fishing boats starting their boat engines between 3.30 and 4am. I realise the owners have very little influence over this but it really had a major impact on sleep quality!

The cabins themselves are stunningly designed but very basically equipped. We really didn't miss the aircon or TV and we can live without a bathrobe, hair dryer and mini-bar. But it would have been nice to have a face cloth or hand towel and I wish I'd brought some basic amenities like hand soap, tissues, cotton buds and body lotion. Perhaps this is all part of the eco compromise. I guess it's easy to bring your own.

We would also respectfully suggest providing a few clothes pegs to keep the mosquito net closed. The nets over the bed aren't quite big enough and the gusts from the fan create frustrating openings for pesky mosquitoes and other flying bugs to sneak in and feast on unsuspecting flesh!

The one 'unnecessary' luxury in the cabins is the iPod docking station and speakers. In our case, this meant we were obliged to listen to our neighbour's choice of music (namely children's songs on repeat at 6am) due to the lack of walls and windows. We joked that the whole place felt (and sounded) like a glamorous campsite. This was exacerbated by the fixed menus and inflexible dining times. We certainly didn't go hungry but when we tried to ask for orange juice for breakfast we were politely told that "it's only water melon juice on Mondays"! The whole communal dining experience wasn't quite what we expected but it looked like the families with children were having an awesome time! The desserts were particularly delicious.

Despite these grumbles, we were sincerely impressed with the integrity and passion of the whole team at Nikoi and the house reef made for some wonderful snorkeling. It is a rare treat to visit a luxury resort (sorry, 'eco lodge') that is entirely staffed by a local team. It proves that with visionary management and a great team spirit, you can achieve five star service and save the planet. Perhaps we'll come back some day when a good night's sleep is lower down our priority list!

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank WorkRestPlay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, April 23, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to review Nikoi. It is great to read your appreciation of the efforts we have made to make Nikoi a responsible and sustainable operation in terms of our impact on the environment and in terms of the support we provide to the local community by providing employment and buying local goods and services.

I am sorry to hear that you had noisy neighbours during your stay. We do remind guests of this in our room literature and it is disappointing when fellow guests are not so appreciative but then it is not always to quell a 18 month old. In designing the island we grouped the houses so that couples and families are apart but this is not always possible. Thanks for the feedback it is much appreciated and I do hope that one day you might return. We do recommend that if avoiding children is important then that guests should come mid week when there are less children on the island particularly if there are no Singapore school holidays.

Thanks again.
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English first
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed April 21, 2013

We spent three days on Nikoi Island in March. Everything, absolutely everything about Nikoi is perfect! From start to finish, everything amazed! Perfect location, flawless weather, sandy beach, crystal clear water, beautiful airy beach houses, excellent and plentiful food!, friendly and gracious staff, plenty of peace and quiet, just right! We can't wait to be there again in June!

Peter and Adrienne

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank PeterandAdrienne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, April 22, 2013
Thank you for taking the time to write your very kind review. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay so much. We look forward to welcoming you back in June. Thanks again.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed April 13, 2013

The staff at Nikoi are so attentive and welcoming. You have very special people welcoming your guests that take a genuine interest and make conversation fun. Special thanks to the very intelligent and fun Salena and #7 on BLD running a tight ship at the dining room. Go team!

Room Tip: Check the tides before you book. You want the high tide to be during the day for swimming. High ti...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank LelaS279
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, April 13, 2013
Thanks for your very kind review and your particularly kind comments about our staff. Sorry about the noise from the fishing boats. It is unusual that they would run their engines at night so not sure why this was the case. We do ask them to be quiet but there is not a lot we can do. They will occasionally start their engines early in the morning to go off to the fishing grounds but this usually doesn't last long. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay and thanks again for your review.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
97 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
Reviewed April 12, 2013

We spent three wonderful nights on Nikoi Island and thoroughly enjoyed the quiet and relaxing atmosphere. It was heaven.
If you read the other reviews they will tell you about the great rooms, wonderful food and super staff. We would definitely recommend it to people to go and stay and would love to come back ourselves. I was surprised to see how much the children enjoyed themselves and thought the activities offered by the staff were brilliant. One day, Yogi made them a bow and arrow set and we saw very happy children playing with them. I thought having separate dining facilities for families with children was a good idea so dining was very peaceful. My only negative comment is that since there are limited tables for two so you end up sitting at a long table. This is wide and makes having a conversation difficult unless you want everyone to overhear.
I thought I would just point out a few things (which they also say in their blurb) so that you do know what you are getting/ not getting. This may not suit everyone, especially if you like a good night life and shopping malls.

• The huts are lovely but there is no air con although there are fans and we were fine. Because the hut is open you get a decent sea breeze.
• There are ants around but they do supply bug spray which I used in the upstairs bathroom. We did not suffer from mosquitoes or sand flies though we did see a monitor lizard around the hut but it was more scared of us than we of it. This may not be the place to visit if you hate ants or lizards!
• There is no fridge but they provide bottled water and a cool box filled with ice. If you want an early morning tea or coffee you have to walk to the bar and walk back with one. If we went again, I would take a vacuum flask and a mug and get them to fill it up the night before. I really like a cuppa when I wake up!
• The food is fine and if you do not like what is on offer they can suggest other options. The food is Asian in style but of a very good quality.
• The island is very quiet and relaxed. You really do just need a swim suit, shorts and a t-shirt (and a few books).
• If you want to snorkel or swim in the sea I would take some cheap plastic shoes as there is a lot of coral and rocks underfoot.
• We took the ferry from Singapore to Bintan and I would recommend considering paying the extra for Emerald class (not much more if you are a small party). You get a nice lounge both ways and can get your visa on the ferry for 10 US dollars. A Nikoi representative meets you, gets your luggage through customs and sees you to your taxi. The service from Nikoi island staff is top notch.

Lovely tropical island retreat.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Heather B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, April 16, 2013
Thanks for your kind review and very detailed feedback. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay. I am sure others will find your detailed description helpful. We look forward to hopefully welcoming you and your family back some day. Thanks again.
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Houston
Level Contributor
179 reviews
177 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 173 helpful votes
Reviewed April 2, 2013

Of the dozens of hotels I have reviewed I rarely ever give a perfect score. This time is an exception. I purchased the room months in advance and was not disappointed. OK, there is no a/c, no frig, and no flat screen TV or phone. But here, who needs them. If you buy the meal package everything is basically covered except for drinks. The food is local and excellent, well prepared. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly. No slackers here. The hotel has been open for 6 years and they have perfected making a happy guest stay. So well, in fact, they are going to create a second version on an adjacent island.

Nikoi is 15 hectares of natural land. From Singapore it is a 45 minute ferry ride, 1 hour taxi ride and another 20 minute speed boat ride until you have traveled the 50+ miles to Nikoi. In March the seas are flat so there is no discomfort getting to the destination. The connections all work wonderfully. There are 15 bungalows on the island. We had #1, a two story structure with two bathrooms featuring real flush toilets. The bedroom had an ocean front view with our own beach. The bed had mosquito netting, though we did not encounter any mosquitoes.

There are fans on both levels and electric lighting in all the right places. We either went barefoot or used flip flops. Our bungalow included a massage area, hammock, chairs and sofa, adjacent sink that could be used to support wine or drinks. A pool was located well away from the bungalows limiting noise from that area. The restaurant is divided into family, non family areas. Perhaps one suggestion is for the staff to enforce keeping families from eating in the non family part. That can be annoying. One other suggestion: if you plan to shave, the mirror in the bathroom is too far away with minimal lighting. A better mirror is needed. Otherwise, I have no issues. The buildings are all wood construction and the nails appear to be wood also, not metal. There is a room safe, towels in bathrooms, soap, shampoo, conditioner. The room also has roll down shades and foldable glass doors that can be used under storm conditions--we never had the need.

You can do nothing, or scuba or snorkel. Scuba is not that great and the depth is a max of 15 to 20m. You can see coral and various fish varieits but no large ones. We ran along the trails inside the forested area. It was hot and sweltery on any day with temperatures between the high 70s and mid 90s. There are two bars on the property. All charges can be easily settled via credit card so there is no need for cash. The bills are in Singapore dollars converted to Indonesian rupees. Housekeeping services are excellent.

From our room we had great views of rock outcroppings and the effects of high and low tide were easily visible. The white sand beaches were perfect and great to walk on. A battery powered flashlight is constantly charging in the room. At night it comes in quite handy when walking about. The staff rigorously and continually maintains the leave that seem to constantly drop from the trees. At night and even during the day the bulk of the background noise is from waves lapping at the shore. Three days and two nights of this was not nearly enough and I felt the had to drag me away from this wonderful place. It is a good thing they limit the number of guests as I heard a max of 60 were due after we left. The property is owned by expats but the people doing the work and making the decisions appear to be locals. This property is nearly 30 hours away by flight from Texas where I live, but I vow to return for a more extended visit!

Room Tip: There is no such thing as a bad room here.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank PDM77059
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, April 4, 2013
Thanks very much for your very generous review. We are flattered by your comments and praise for our staff. I am sure others will find your very detailed review helpful. We have noted your suggestions and will look at how we can address these. We look forward to hopefully welcoming you back some day. Thanks again for taking the time to review Nikoi.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
72 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2013

I visited Nikoi with 3 globetrotting girlfriends - among the 4 of us, we've been pretty much everywhere - all of us agreed that it was one of the most spectacular places we had ever been. The natural beauty is really stunning and the elegant simplicity of the 'huts' as we called them is so relaxing. We originally had booked a two bedroom bungalow but we were given the 3 bedroom one instead - it was like having our own village. The staff is phenomenal; in addition to being so attentive and accommodating, you can tell that they really love working there, which is always the sign of good management. We loved the pace of the place - it was wonderful to unwind on the veranda or the beach but having the ability to snorkel or kayak at a moment's notice was lovely - and we really appreciated the ethos of being attuned to the setting - the low level of night lighting means turtles can nest but it also meant that for the first time in months I saw stars in the night sky. The food is fantastic and abundant (the four of us are still dreaming of the avocado mousse dessert) and while there is a set menu, they can easily adapt to your needs - one of us is a complete vegetarian and another doesn't eat meat and that was no problem. Certainly Nikoi is not for everyone as some of the Trip Advisor comments indicate but for those who share the conception of luxury embodied in this resort, it is a perfect place and worth every penny. Just one suggestion for the management: if it doesn't already exist, have an email list for people who would like to be notified of last minute weekend (or other holiday) availability when there are cancellations.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank extrapagespassport
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, March 28, 2013
Thanks for your very kind review of Nikoi. It is always very pleasing to such reviews from people who are so well travelled. Also very pleasing to read that our kitchen was able to meet your particular requests on the food side of things. I am sure our staff will also take great pleasure in reading about your praise. We will look at how we can introduce your suggestion of having an email list for last minute cancellations. To be honest though we dont get a lot of cancellations and if we ever do we post it on our FB page.
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London
Level Contributor
33 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 50 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2013

First, we had a wonderful 3 days/2 nights on Nikoi and will most definitely return. It is a special place and we felt very welcomed by the friendly staff. We thoroughly enjoyed doing nothing as well as being active when we wanted to. Lots of time was spent relaxing by the pool, on a beach sun lounger and in our villa. We paddle boarded, swam and snorkelled too. A great combination of activities. We particularly enjoyed the Indonesian meals and the service in the dining pavilions.

A few other comments to share - as a couple we were definitely disturbed by the families with small children in the villas on either side of us. The separate couples and family dining pavilions are great allowing us to enjoy our meals without the interruptions of so many kids. We suggested at check out that Nikoi endeavour to separate couples from families in the assignment of villas to the best of their ability. We have nothing against children and in fact enjoyed watching the kids on the beach, by the bonfire, etc. - it was only the noise from the villas that we found irritating.

We found it odd that the GM never made himself known to us or as far as I'm aware, any of the other guests. As said previously, all of the staff with whom we interacted were excellent but I think it would have been nice for the GM to greet guests either on arrival, at the bar, in the dining pavilions, on departure, etc. For a small, private island, the presence of the 'boss' would have been a nice touch.

Finally, the reservation system was not faultless. As Nikoi knows, our confirmed on-line booking proved to be problematic as for reasons unknown, no villa was in fact available. We were shocked to receive an e-mail informing us that due to an error no room was available. In two subsequent phone conversations I was less than impressed by the customer service attitude of the reservation staff. Due to a late cancellation a room became available so the original booking was in fact honoured but apparently only due to good luck. I would encourage Nikoi to review the procedures and response etiquette when a problem such as the one we experienced occurs.

To repeat, we loved our mini-break and hope to return with family and friends in the future.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank JJMinUK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, March 25, 2013
Thanks for your very kind review. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay despite the noisy children next door. We do try and separate couples from families but it is not always possible. With regard to your problems with making your booking this is indeed unusual but we are reviewing our systems to make sure this cannot happen again. Unfortunately this was an error on the part of our reservations team caused by a cancellation that had not been properly completed. Again my apologies for this but it was an unusual set of circumstances that led to this occurring.

Our GM does endeavour to meet all guests when they arrive but this is not always possible as he may have commitments on Bintan or in Singapore and does need to take leave from time to time. In his absence his deputy is tasked with being the host. I have taken this up with the GM and AGM and so hopefully we can improve on this aspect. I do hope you will return and that we can improve on your experience. Thanks again for taking the time to give us your feedback it is greatly appreciated.
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Additional Information about Nikoi Island

Property: Nikoi Island
Address: Riau Islands Province, Indonesia
Location: Indonesia > Riau Islands Province > Riau Archipelago > Bintan Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 Spa Hotel in Bintan Island
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Bintan Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nikoi Island is a 15 hectare private island just 85 kms from Singapore and has long been regarded as one of the most stunning islands on this unspoiled coast. Ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs of spectacular color and diversity, Nikoi is for those seeking a true private island experience and the comfort of a destination dedicated to responsible tourism practices. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Nikoi Island Bintan Island, Riau Islands
Nikoi Island Hotel Bintan

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