Just spent 2 nights at the resort, my second visit. Overall, if you can get a good room rate, and don't need to buy too much in the resort, then it's value for money. I paid SGD 169 (USD 135) per night for the room, including service, tax and breakfast.
For those who have never visited a tropical island resort, they will probably be massively impressed; for those who can make comparisons, they might find this resort no more than average, and in some areas disappointing.
As many other reviewers have noted, the hotel has a "penny-pinching" approach and will charge for everything it possibly can once you are at the resort. Because there is nowhere else to go, you are trapped inside and basically have to pay. It's definitely best to stock up on duty-free and even soft-drinks and snacks before you get on the ferry from Singapore.
For example, SGD 20 extra if you arrive before the official check-in time, and want your room, even if it is ready and waiting for you. SGD 20 per hour extra if your ferry is late afternoon and you want to check out a bit later, even if the room is not needed by an arriving guest (I managed to negotiate one free hour, so checked out at 1 instead of 12). No free wifi or internet connection anywhere at the resort, and steep charges if you do want to sign-on. And the famous SGD 8 (?) charge just to use the table tennis table for an hour!
All that said, I think some reviews here are a bit unfair, in that the individual amounts charged are often not excessive, by international standards, for a resort like this. So, SGD 5.50 (USD 4.50) for a can of coke from the mini-bar is high, but not unexpected. Same for the SGD 21 (including service and tax) (USD 17) bill for a club sandwich at the pool. The hotel's shuttle bus to Pasar Oleh Oleh local market (not really worth visiting unless you want to stock up on cheap drinks and see an almost authentic kampong village nearby) is SGD 6 per person for a return ticket (a private taxi is much more expensive).
The resort itself is quite old but they do seem to be spending some money to improve and maintain it. The rooms have been refurbished and are what one would expect in a beach resort like this. As others have noted, the raised platform with dirty floor-cushion on it is a waste of space and, for most guests, will probably remain completely unused. A straight-forward table and chairs would be a far better use of the space, would be easier to keep clean, and would look far more elegant.
The main problem area is the bath-tub / shower area. Again, as others have noted, the fixed screen makes access to the taps difficult and, when using the shower, water gets trapped around the bath tub, and no doubt some seeps down the side of the bath. The black ridge of gunge between the tub and the wall, which is too narrow to access for cleaning, was not a pleasant sight.
The accommodation blocks have been repainted recently, and this looks good. Inevitably in a tropical seaside location like this, there will be some dirt and dust around, and it's silly to complain that there is. Likewise, if you don't like the idea of the odd insect or lizard creeping around your room, don't come to a tropical island resort hotel.
The grounds and gardens are well maintained and the two pools, though a bit old-looking, are clean and well kept. New sun-beds and tables around one pool, and plenty of them, were noted. The beach was fantastic on this visit - perfectly clean sand (no oil at all), the sea was clean and very warm - much better than places like Bali, Langkawi, Boracay, Tioman, Redang - seriously!
Breakfast in the main restaurant area was normal buffet stuff. Quite cheap quality ingredients, but good enough to fill you up. The room is split over three levels, with steep steps between the buffet itself and most of the dining tables. And overall the place is dark and gloomy, even in the mornings. It would be interesting to see how the whole hotel could be improved and modernised if it had the management skills of a Starwood, Marriott or Hilton behind it, and a bit more money thrown at it to properly upgrade and modernise, not just paint over, the public areas. That said, the new bar/restaurant at the beach front was quite impressive - good food (but of course expensive) and reasonable service.
One final, important point. The hotel's prices are all quoted in SGD (why they don't quote in IDR, I do not know). But, on check-out, they convert the bill into IDR. On both my trips, and as others here have noted here, the exchange rate seems biased in the hotel's favour. This visit I checked in detail what had happened. The conversion rate they use is exactly 2% different, in the hotel's favour, from the day's published market rate (bid). Add onto that the margin that your credit card will charge you (for me, 2.5%) and you might find that, like me, the eventual SGDs that you pay (if your card bill is in SGD) will be a full 4.5% more than the SGD amount shown on your bill. The hotel has a carefully rehearsed explanation for why they use the rate that maximises the IDR that they can bill the customer ("we have to sell IDR to buy SGD" - even though no actual foreign exchange transaction takes place!), and they seem to do nothing to point out that if you actually pay the bill with SGD notes and coins, you only have to pay the original total SGD charge, not the eventual SGD + 2% + your credit card company's exchange rate margin. So, take plenty SGD cash with you, and make it clear on check-in that you will be paying in SGD cash.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Bintan Lagoon Resort an Indonesian style resort with 470 rooms, villas and suites. A tropical paradise, only 75 minutes by our own private high speed ferry from Singapore direct to the resort. The resort has its own immigration terminal and fast track service. Sitting on the magnificent Pasir Panjang Beach, overlooking the South China Sea the 1.5Km beach is tranquil and unspoilt. Bintan Lagoon Resort is a tropical haven with over 300 hectares (766 acres)and includes 2 stunning championship golf course designed by Jack Nicholas, and Ian Baker Finch. The resort provides excellent meeting, incentive and team building facilities catering to groups from 10 to 1,000 people. Whether it is a family holiday, weekend break, romantic spa indulged getaway, a golfing break, or a company event in Paradise we are waiting to assist you. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Bintan Lagoon Hotel Lagoi
- Bintan Lagoon Resort Bintan Island, Riau Islands