“Vacation is about fun & food. When food is not a good enough option, look out for fun, most out of all!”
Revisiting Club Med Bintan Ria was my wish, and I just did, after 8 years. It was done with my two children, this time. I had something to say… Yea, once lauded Club Med Bintan in my old posts (year 2008) as one of the best all-inclusive resorts that served plentiful great food, I felt the obligation to pen down the latest experience of my most recent visit there.
As a foodie alike, my emphasis was always on the food. Food? Yes, food. There were only two restaurants serving their guests now. First, the main buffet restaurant, The Waterfall, was where we had all 3 meals a day throughout the stay, it had nothing much for me to shout about.
Yes, to my unpleasant surprise, the taste of the food served was no longer impressive. The wide spread of international cuisines was simply, nondescript. Ar… Why was I comparing between 8 years ago and now? No, I shouldn’t……. It was doubtful, and pretty disappointed huh.
Perhaps, by looking at the photos, these deceptively good looking dishes might make their way in the emulation of some posh and delicate choices, but what’s the use of having beautifully plated food when the taste was just… so forgettable, literally.
Oh between, do not expect whole bottle of wine to be served all yours on your table, like they used to (see previous post). You wouldn’t get to enjoy such priviledge anymore. They practiced serving by glass, now. Still free flow though… As for other beverages, other than the coffee machine, drinks on dispenser were coincidentally diluted to almost water-like. Yes, just like the soup or gravy served at the food counters, were in its diluted consistency.
From 3 restaurant choices cut down to 2, they no longer had the Indonesian restaurant serving ala-carte menu of their local cuisine. Yes, their best satay and Indonesian fried rice were gone! I did not once get to try the satay as the only time they served satay in the buffet restaurant was beef satay (I don’t eat beef). I thought I was lucky that they still served the Indo fried rice in the Le Terrace restaurant as in-between meals. Supposed to be ala-carte order, food was served in ‘buffet’ style, for whatever reason. But, happy? Oh not….. The taste of the fried rice now was, uh hmm…. lack standard. It wasn’t anywhere close to how it used to taste! So, my advice is, forget it, save your calories. And, one more thing, please go eat there with a strong stomach as you would be sharing the open food trays with… the flies.
For only two restaurants left now, Club Med Bintan still served sit-down dinner in their Western restaurant, Le Terrace, the same place they served the in-between meals. Since it is the only alternative to the main buffet restaurant, all tables would just booked up in a mere 15 minutes upon the opening of registration at 7am, everyday. Yes, you are required to make your reservation first thing in the morning at the entrance of the buffet restaurant. So, go there as early as before 7am to make your reservation, if you are keen to have a romantic sit-down dinner by the beach….. But wait a second, I would also like to remind you that its popularity didn’t equate to its food standard. Yes, again, the food quality and taste were not there. With the circumstantial purpose, you might even get the same grilled fish you had there in the afternoon, now serving you in a nicer plating as a main course by the evening. Yes, it happened.
Well, go ahead to book the dinner as you might be bored to death for having buffet on every meal. Just take its good enough dining ambience as a compensation, then. For what you know, it’s by the sea (beach)!
Actually, if you ain’t too fussy about food, or should it be your first visit there, I guess it is still worth a visit, especially if you are a sporty person. Look at the big picture, all meals were provided for. All the sea and land activities were also provided for. What’s better than having unlimited serving of alcohol and non-alcohol beverages at the bars all day long!
As for the sea sports, snorkeling was one of the most popular activities there. With only max 16 spots available, you have to be there earlier to register your name. Sailing & wind surfing (if weather is windy enough), kayaking, standing paddle, flying trapeze, golf, archery, tennis, squash, mountain biking, aqua aerobics, yoga, and etc, are the many you should try out. I would not also deny the effort they put in for some little pleasant surprises eg an afternoon BBQ party at the beach, fresh coconut juice given out at the beach bar in a hot afternoon, super humorous and entertaining live show performing on stage nightly, as well as the Body & Soul healthy week where Tarot cards and Crystal reading were complimentary to the guests (and this event was the most favorable and beneficial to me personally).
Most of all, the budget was friendly enough to make a fun family-oriented vacation. Teenage kids from 11-16yo may choose to join Teen club while children from 4-10yo may join Mini club. Your children would be taken care by the ^G.O. in charge in the day, and it’s included in your package. As for 2-3yo toddlers, a rate of about S$80 per day (8:30am-5pm) is required to join their Petit club, if you wished to have some time for yourself without the kid around. If so, remember to bring the child’s vaccination record along for the first day joining. Advance booking for the petit club is advisable, esp during holiday season. They only take in 10-15 children a day (by 2-3 G.O.s).
Yes, the rate charges hadn’t changed much, even after 8 years of economic inflation. We paid about S$800 per person for 4 days 3 nights package (excluding charges of petit club and spa) during school holiday season.
P/S: First of all, I would like to clarify that I loved Club Med. I wished to visit all Club Meds, in fact. As for Bintan’s, though I still loved the activities as well as most of the crews and service staff there, I had to reserve my supportive view, for now. You might not agree with my view, and I do hope you don’t, but to fully enjoy your stay with them. I, too, hope to get to see the return of its once-glorified standard someday, for the benefit of future visitors!
^G.O. = Gentils Organisateurs (Gracious/Nice Organisers). In simpler term, Club Med staff.