EASY DOES IT
WORDS SHARMEEN HUSSAIN
PHOTOGRAPHS HASHIM BADANI
GREAT FROM India
GREAT FOR Water sports and lazing by the beach
If you don’t mind returning from your holiday feeling somewhat grumpy, this is just the destination for you. Don’t get us wrong – you won’t be grumpy because the place was terrible, you’ll be grumpy because you had to leave. Place in question: Club Med Bintan Island. Situated on the northern end of Indonesia’s Bintan Island, a gorgeous blob of land in the South China Sea’s Riau Archipelago, this sprawling resort is all about you, or seems like it, anyway.
A great family resort, Club Med Bintan has every station of life covered, from diaper-clad babies to grandpas and grandmas. Specially-trained GOs (Gentil Organisateurs, but more on them later) will baby-sit your little grubs while you kick back and relax. The coolest thing about holidaying here, though, is that the deal you pay for is all-inclusive. This means you can safely ditch your wallet as soon as you enter. All meals and most activities are included in your prepaid package, so you can happily waddle about in your swimmers without worrying about where to stash your cash. There are a few things that do require payment within the resort, though, like treatments at the beach-facing spa, out-of-resort excursions, and items from the souvenir shop (for obvious reasons). The smorgasbord of activities that are on offer is quite extensive and many of them are pretty cool. If you can tear yourself away from lazing around by the aquamarine waters of the spotless beach that’s spitting-distance from your room, sign up for a golf lesson or a mountain-bike ride to work off the calories from the scrumptious buffet. But, if be in the water you must (and if the weather permits), try your hand at sailing, kayaking or windsurfing. If you like to fling yourself off things, check out the flying trapeze. Strap yourself into the harness and make like a circus performer as your audience oohs and aahs below you. The thrill of doing a back-flip (it’s easier than it looks) is quite gratifying.
Activities aside, another unique feature of the resort (and a major reason for said grumpiness when you return home) is the GO – employees who dine with you, give you company during your activities and pop in from time to time, albeit unobtrusively, to make sure you’re doing all right. Friendly, smiling companions by day, they turn into performing artistes by night, dressing up in outrageous costumes and busting a move at the resort’s nightly theme parties. They’re so darned nice to you, you’ll want to take one home.
So, when you return home and try smiling at your cantankerous neighbour expecting him to smile back as you have grown accustomed to people doing over the past few days, or when you throw open your curtains expecting to see the beach but instead behold said neighbour’s dog peeing on your car, try not to burst into tears, and remind yourself that such luxuries as you experienced are only reserved for a special kind of holiday.