Friday, March 8, 2013

Weekend Getaway | Holiday Inn Resort, Batam Indonesia

For our 10th anniversary celebrations, we went away to Holiday Inn Resort in Batam, Indonesia. Honestly, Batam has never been on my radar for holiday destinations because of stories of dirty old men that go there for *ahem* dirty dark activities... however, Jayson's friend who works in a travel mag company recommended the resort there so we decided to give it a try.

Batam is an island in the Riau Islands Province of Indonesia and is actually one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Indonesia with several luxurious tourist resorts and hotels. It is only a 1 hour ferry-ride away from Singapore, which was perfect since I didn't want to waste too much time of our weekend getaway on traveling. We came back from Japan not long ago, and will be having long trips in June again, so I was looking forward to something short, sweet and not too expensive. 

It was Lil Pumpkin's first time on a ferry and I was very thankful that she didn't get sea-sick! I sat in one maybe 20 years ago so I was quite surprised that the ferries are air-conditioned and actually very sturdy against the big waves!

We passed by this Chinese junkboat and Lil Pumpkin excitedly shouted, " it's a Chinese pirate ship!!" haha

So happy to have the boy as my wacky companion for life! ;p

Look at the clear blue skies and water! Such amazing weather and we were so blessed that it was like this the whole weekend we were in Batam. I heard that it was raining last weekend in Singapore, eeks!

Batam has 5 ferry terminals and we landed at Waterfront Ferry Terminal, which is just 5 mins car ride away from Holiday Inn Resort, Batam. There's a free shuttle service between the ferry terminal and the resort.

The resort was not overly-crowded during our stay, probably because it was off-peak season. The facilities were a little dated, but still well-maintained. I was impressed with all the friendly service staff, who always greeted us with a smile and made our stay very comfortable. I wouldn't say this was due to Batam's culture but more because of the hotel's service quality, because the service stuff we saw at Nagoya Hills, one of the major shopping centres in Batam, were mostly grumpy and unhelpful.

We booked for a single-bedroom suite but was given a free upgrade to a 2-bedroom suite! Very spacious and lots of room for Lil Pumpkin to run around :) This is the beautiful view from our verandah.

One gripe about the resort though is that the food was not really up to 4-star hotel standard that it was. The food was clean and palatable, but not very delicious. For example, meat from the ayam penyet {smashed fried chicken, shown above} and the chicken rice were dry, and rice was served cold. There was a great variety on the menu and we ate at the resort for most of our meals, but it was all very unsatisfying. Such a shame because I was looking forward to eating good authentic Indonesian cuisine!

Lil Pumpkin absolutely loved the outdoor pool and spent most of her happy time there {which is probably why she's down with a cold & fever now - from playing too hard!}. You can have a better view of the pool and her splashing good time from my Vine video.

The resort also has a big indoor kids playground {Panda Kid's Club} for children aged 4-12 years old that's open daily from 9am-6pm. There's usually a hotel staff there to supervise the kids so if you don't mind, you can leave your kids there while you relax in the resort. If Lil Pumpkin wasn't at the pool, this was the other place that she liked to hang out in with the other little ones.

Our favourite place in the resort was the award-winning Tea Tree Spa where you can sooth your mind and body in one of the 14 spacious Balinese-styled couple villas or treatment rooms.

The boy and I each had a 120mins body scrub and massage to relax and unwind. Simply bliss!

Holiday Inn Resort is far from Batam's city centre, but they do offer free daily shuttle services to major attractions like Nagoya Hills. A journey to Nagoya Hills takes about 1 hour ride. Go there for cheap food, entertainment, massage and shopping. Seats on the shuttle are limited though, and you need to book with the concierge in advance.

There's an A&W restaurant at Nagoya Hills!! If you remember slurping on A&W root-beers and munching on curly fries as a kid in Singapore, you are from an awesome era.

Bring A&W back to Singapore!!! Seriously, there's even an online petition from many hungry Singaporeans longing for the good ol' taste of A&W and tired of travelling to M'sia or Batam for their fix haha.

I remember thinking to myself on our last night, as the boy brought Lil Pumpkin down for a night swim and I sat by the pool enjoying the cool night breeze, this is the life. This is the beauty of family life and I should never forget this moment of simple joy. The feeling of happiness just watching my husband play with my child, and hearing her bubbling laughter as they whiz down the water slide. The feeling of satisfaction just being there with them, and not caring about life's rat race... my family is the most important thing to me now and what matters the most.

Our weekend getaway gave me the rest and relaxation I was hoping to get from our Japan trip, but didn't really. In Japan we were busy visiting places and exploring exciting Tokyo, and when I came back  there was so much work, blog and family commitments to attend to that I felt swamped all over again. It felt like the rush from 2012 didn't actually end.

Now, my mind is clearer and my body is rejuvenated. And I'm ready to start my 2013... yes, in March :)

I think we might be doing more of these little weekend getaways.


Mommy Chuck said...

What a nice weekend getaway :) And A&W can be found there...? Great!

Unknown said...

Lol at "if you remember these, you are from an awesome era". Batam has never been on my radar ithe, but it oes look fun! Are there other food options near the hotline though?

Adrine said...

Super like your last sentence. haha!

Didn't know A&W is not available in SG. Was scratching my head a bit when I saw your FB posting recently ;-)

Theresa Mahoney said...

That definitely looks like a rejuvenating and relaxing vacation. The waters and sky were so clear and pretty. It's a shame about the food though! I always look forward to the food when we are vacationing, and it's disappointing when it's not up to expectations.

Glad you had a lovely little holiday with the family :)

Unknown said...

Oh wow...what a beautiful getaway!! And how awesome that you were able to enjoy it as a family :) I love how goofy you and your hubby cute hehe!! A&W...YUM!!! ;)

EssentiallyJess said...

It sounds absolutely beautiful! I wish it was so close to do that kind of thing here; mind you Bali is only a short plane ride, so I shouldn't complain too much :)
I have never tasted root beer, but would dearly love to one day

Emily @ Have a laugh on me said...

Oh Ai it sounds just perfect. And that, I have to say, is the beauty of having one perfect pumpkin, you can both have time to relax and enjoy life. I ADORE the cheeky photo of you and 'the boy'. Am very happy you had fun, you deserve it! Em

Grace said...

I love, love, LOVE A&W! My cousin's would take me there every time I went to Indo!
Such a shame the food wasn't up to scratch...cause we all know how delicious authentic Indonesian cuisine is!!!
And that spa!!! Oh. My. Goodness! :)

Ai Sakura said...

Mommy Chuck: yup, great to have A&W there indeed!

Adora: There's actually another resort across the road - Harris Resort which I'm sure sells food. Plus road-side stalls just a walk away.

Adrine: Ya for many years already!

Theresa: thanks.. I look forward to the food too. Pity about this one, but otherwise was a good stay.

Brandi: do you have A&W in Canada?

Jess: you should! it tastes great with an ice-cream float!

Emily: thanks! it's good she's at an age where she doesn't mind playing with other kids even if we aren't there too :P

Grace: yup I wish I could have a massage every weekend! hahaha

yAnn said...

Happy anniversary! Holiday Inn does look good, thanks for sharing. One more option for future staycations. ;)