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Natra Bintan, A Tribute Portfolio Resort, Indonesia [Master Thread]

Natra Bintan, A Tribute Portfolio Resort, Indonesia [Master Thread]

Old Aug 8, 19, 3:34 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Shenzhen
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Natra Bintan, A Tribute Portfolio Resort, Indonesia [Master Thread]

Let’s start by saying that we must be grateful to be members of a hotel loyalty scheme that has such breadth and variety of properties around the world. The Natra Bintan is a new member of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio and perfectly exemplifies the quirkiness of these types of groupings of independent hotels (see Design Hotels, Autograph Collection, The Luxury Collection). It’s been open for about three years and was originally called The Canopi Bintan but it joined Marriott earlier this year and a rebrand took place early August.

It’s Marriott’s first Glamping camping site resort (their claim, not mine so don’t howl at me if it’s not) and we had a thoroughly enjoyable three-night stay in a luxury tent complete with air-conditioning, jacuzzi, and four-poster bed. It’s not without its issues and you wouldn’t want to spend much more than three nights there but I can recommend it for anyone wanting somewhere a bit different if you’re passing through Singapore.

First, the island is in Indonesia and you get to it on a one-hour ferry ride from near Changi Airport. Immigration is trivial between SG and ID on this route and they meet you at the ferry terminal so within a few minutes of landing we were checking in at the resort. As a Titanium I got the most royal welcome I’ve ever had at any SPG/Bonvoy hotel or resort over the last eight years. The entire senior management team up to the GM came out to welcome me.

I’d paid for the basic Garden Tent and was upgraded to the maximum Glamping Deluxe Tent with its own jacuzzi. The rate included breakfast anyway so I chose a bottle of white wine rather than the 1000 welcome points which saved me about US$30 on a bottle from the restaurant. We’d also bought duty free leaving the SG ferry terminal and I’d advise you to do the same otherwise your booze bill could end up quite high. The tent is exactly what it looks like in the pictures. The bathroom is covered but outdoors and you can call them to turn the jacuzzi into a foam bath which took them a while to fill but became like the great porridge pot when it gets going. Each evening they brought ice and made us a bubble bath.

The first night, we ordered their signature experience: the barbecue that is set up outside your tent and you cook yourself. This was a very nice way to spend the evening in private. The single restaurant on site was fine with a mix of international and local dishes but you would get bored of it after a few days, twice a day, so the barbecue is a good alternative. Breakfast had no surprises but was a fine buffet that met expectations. You're not coming here for a gastronomic experience.

A few observations about the place. The resort is in what’s clearly a massive new development in the middle of nowhere around a large man-made lagoon but all the water activities in the lagoon are run by a third-party and they’re priced a la carte which put me off doing anything because they didn’t seem good value and I was happy enough soaking up the sun.

We escaped on the free shuttle one evening to a nearby place that turned out to be another under-developed new development apparently by the same group. We wandered round the few tourist shops and wildly over-priced restaurants for 20 minutes before deciding we’d rather go back. At this point I got the most amazing service recovery I’ve ever experienced. Faced with waiting 2.5 more hours for the next scheduled shuttle, I got on the Marriott app’s chat and asked them how we could get back. While I was waiting for a reply, literally three to four minutes later one of the hotel’s cars pulled up and the driver took us back for free. He must have been nearby but the speed of response was brilliantly impressive.

Sadly, that evening the restaurant was having supply chain issues and first they ran out of beer and then the wine we were drinking and then the nachos. They were very apologetic and I imagine that despite being so close to Singapore their supplies come through Indonesia which can create shortages. We’re not complaining types so accepted it all and half an hour later at the tent we had a visit from the F&B manager hand delivering a letter of apology and some cakes. Throughout the service level was great and the things that went a bit wrong were not really due to the staff or the resort itself.

This whole part of Bintan island seems to be being developed into resorts (possibly by the same developer) and there’s nothing else around. We hired a car and driver for the day and did an itinerary around the island which was a good thing to do because otherwise there’s nothing in walking distance or even short driving distance. We were shown a local hawker centre for local food but it turned out to be where the resort dormitories are for all the staff. There is, really, nothing else around. So, I would go again for three days but not longer and I would take my own duty free as a backup. If you go then manage your expectations and be thankful that Marriott has such quirky places to earn points and nights.
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ftrichard is offline  
Old Aug 8, 19, 12:16 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: OR
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Thanks for the report!

If you don't mind, few questions:

Is the ferry ride high speed? Does it run on schedule?
Is the lagoon water blue and clear?
Food cost?

Thank you in advance!
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Old Aug 8, 19, 6:38 pm
  #3  
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Originally Posted by neuro0 View Post
Thanks for the report!

If you don't mind, few questions:

Is the ferry ride high speed? Does it run on schedule?
Is the lagoon water blue and clear?
Food cost?

Thank you in advance!
Ferries are bookable online and operate on a schedule. It takes an hour. Here's the web site with all the details:
https://www.brf.com.sg

Lagoon is blue, clear, and in pristine condition. I hope they keep it that way. There seems to be an army of cleaners working every day to keep it that way.

Food is resort prices and there's very little opportunity to reduce this cost because there's nothing walkable and the only free shuttle takes you to another tourist development where there's extortionate Indonesian food aimed at rich tourists. A main course at the restaurant will typically cost ~US$15. Some more, some less. A bottle of wine is ~US$35. That's why I suggest you buy some duty free at the ferry terminal. Budget accordingly. We ended up spending ~US$25-28 a head on food and drink for each meal.
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