The Club Med Bintan Experience
Club Méditerranée was founded in 1950 by Gérard Blitz, a former Belgian water polo champion. It started as a non-profit organization aimed at providing cash-strapped European war veterans the world’s first all-inclusive vacation.
Today Club Med has 80 resorts worldwide in Asia, Europe, USA and Australia.
Central to their philosophy is the all-inclusive package that covers:
- Two-way transport
- Superior accommodation
- Full-board dining & free flow of alcohol
- All day open bar & snacking
- Sports & leisure activities
- Nightly entertainment & disco
- Babysitting and childcare facilities
The standard two-way economy ferry ticket from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal cost SGD 52.20 (off-peak) and SGD 63.20 (peak) and is shared among all visitors to the Bintan Resorts establishments. The transfer to and from the Club Med village takes about 20 minutes in an air-conditioned 40-seater coach.
Rooms are categorized into Superior and Deluxe class, with those offering sea views commanding a premium. Rooms that are located further from the main block are compensated by proximity to the sea sports facilities.
The rooms are well furnished and spacious; equipped with its own hotpot and cable TV viewed on a 20″ LCD. Both room service and wi-fi are not available although Internet terminals are at your disposal in the main block.
The bathroom is separated into two units, one equipped with shower and wash basin and another with just a toilet. The design intent is probably to facilitate twin sharing but it overlooked the need to wash hands after using the WC. The beds are comfortably supplied with pillows and afforded a good night’s rest.
Dining & Snacking
Three buffet meals are offered daily featuring an array of International cuisines. As the choices are rich in flavor, those looking for blander food will be disappointed. Several dishes had obviously been sitting on display for too long and were either overcooked or had lost its freshness. The range of soups and desserts was surprisingly dismal.
The late breakfast, lunch and dinner option for those less time conscious is found at the open air La Terrasse. While selection is smaller, it does provide a cozy ambience and is a popular dinner venue.
The open bar and snacking is an innovative concept providing the illusion that one is right at home raiding the refrigerator. The best part is not having to clean up afterwards.
Private dinner functions can be organised in Zentika Restaurant or by the pool/beach at an additional charge. The menu can be designed to suit your needs or selected from the main restaurant’s buffet offerings.
Leisure, sports and nightly entertainment
If all day dining or free flow of alcohol is not your cup of tea, Club Med’s range of leisure and sports activities will surely cater to you. The GOs are commendable for making an effort to display warmth and friendly informality that make members feel comfortably at home.
- Sea sports – kayaking, wind surfing and sailing is readily available if you don’t need professional guidance. Snorkeling boat trips are limited to two trips of 20 slots each per day and subject to weather.
- Land sports – aerobics (land and water), yoga, basketball, squash, tennis and archery just to name a few. There is also a mini golf course to practise your shots and a flying trapeze for the circus enthusiast.
- Leisure – arts and crafts workshop and cooking lessons for those who prefer a more sedentary activity.
- Nightly entertainment – mass dances, ingenious performances put together by GOs and disco.
- Large groups – Focus Adventure can be commissioned to plan various adventure or challenge activities to encourage team building or leadership skills. An example is an ‘Amazing Race’ like game called Geocaching. A 4-hour session cost about SGD 100 per pax.
So whether Club Med’s all-inclusive package commands the hefty premium twice that of an average resort is really left to one’s preference. I would rather convert my monies into real mileage than splurging it on creature comforts.