Bintan is one of the Indonesian islands closest to Singapore, and it is therefore a favoured spot for visits. It only takes an hour to get to Bintan by catamaran ferry; at least to get to the Bintan Resorts port. One of those Bintan resorts is the Canopi. Built at the edge of a man made lagoon for swimming and watersports, it is a ‘glamping’ hotel.
I quite like neologisms and portmanteau words, but glamping is one which has always rubbed me up the wrong way. It seems to be about marketing to trendy hippies… or maybe it’s just that I have had so many horrible camping experiences!
However, as a treat to the woman I love, I had to suck up my prejudices and give it a go. I was pleasantly surprised. First, it is not camping in any way whatsoever. It’s just purpose built permanent chalets which happen to have canvas for walls instead of brick.
Second, the room was massive and comfortable. You can do non-camping things like stand up and not sleep on your bags. Third, there was a private shower and toilet, so we didn’t have to endure a freezing communal clean up while some creepy guy in a mac watched, or to dig a hole in the ground.
Those are just generic points, though. I’ll focus on the Canopi now. When we arrived at the port, it and seven or so other hotels had all chipped in to pay for an extra immigration officer, so we had quick passage through the procedures and got on the waiting bus which took us about a kilometre down the road to the hotel.
Check in was, in contrast, a slow and tedious process, due to understaffing (check out was similarly protracted). Given the hotel knows when the 4 boats a day arrive, this felt like bad planning. The staff were friendly, though, and we got a glass of chilled sour apple cordial as we waited.
We stayed in a Lagoon View room, which was a bit bigger than the other options, and came with a whirlpool tub. It was a nice room, with a comfortable four poster king size bed. There was also a day bed, a desk, aircon, and a fan. There were two trunks in the room – stood on end, these housed a wardrobe and the tea making facilities and fridge. Quite a clever touch.
The TV had a range of mostly modern, mostly obscure films (Norwegian drama, anyone?), and apparently some local TV channels, though we never found them. The room then had an outside shower, which I approve of, and an outside toilet, which I don’t. The former was powerful enough once you figured out the taps (one was reversed, oddly).
The lagoon has all sorts of different water based activities (at additional cost), some of which we were keen on, but we were really unlucky. 5 minutes after reaching our room, the rain started and it didn’t let up until after dinner, so we didn’t get to use the lagoon.
We had dinner at the restaurant, and I won’t review that separately. In brief, our gado-gado (salad with spicy peanut sauce), roast chicken, and Mediterranean pizza were all pretty good, but the cocktails were awful. It was quite pleasant to walk around the lagoon after dinner, though it was poorly lit in places (and once I nearly walked into the water, but fortunately fiancée was more alert than me!).
The next morning, we woke up early for breakfast, intending to swim afterwards. Breakfast was a buffet of Eastern and Western food, with small sections of each of fruit, cold cuts, hot food, cereal and pastries, plus an omelette station. Everything but the latter was a bit substandard; my omelette was very good though.
Amazingly – or annoyingly – on our walk back, the heavens opened again! Determined to get some use of the facilities before check out at 10.30, I dragged a parasol over the jacuzzi, and we enjoyed a whirlpool in the downpour…until the parasol was blown around by the wind…ah well, we tried.
I hesitated before rating Canopi 3, as the room was good, and it wasn’t the hotel’s fault we didn’t get to use the facilities. However for the money we paid, the room should have been good, and nothing else was good enough to elevate the score. The clincher was asking my other half, who didn’t hesitate in saying ‘3’!
Address: Jalan Raya Haji KM 01 Kawasan Pariwisata, Teluk Sebong Lagoi, Bintan, Kepulauan Riau 29152, Indonesia