Monday, July 14, 2014
Telunas Private Island: Rustic Beach Resort in Indonesia Adds Luxury Expansion; Romantic Sunsets Remain
Remember Telunas? Yes, the wonderfully rustic Indonesian resort on stilts over the sea, where you can escape to for total relaxation and just reconnect with nature, tranquility and bliss.
I blogged about them in 2011 here:
They have done well, and now there's more. They have just expanded to the island across the original resort. Telunas Private Island has 15 sea villas with touches of luxury, spa massage services and even a freshwater pool. Same rustic appeal, same friendly service, only with more comfort.
But the best amenities here, as they aptly described on their website, are the ones they didn't create - the stunning sunsets and sunrises.
The sunsets here are so beautiful, I don't even need to edit the photos. All taken on my old faithful Canon 400D (yes, yes, I know it's time to upgrade, but it's still going strong after six years of abuse).
It is a bit of a journey from Singapore to Telunas - about three hours in total by sea. So it's nice to have cold towels ready for you as you disembark. Right off the bat, the staff are welcoming and cheery.
That's not all that awaits you - we love those signature welcome drinks. Beautifully thick fruit juices that make a sweet start to the stay.
The Grand Lodge is where the reception is, and overlooks the freshwater pool.
Oh we couldn't wait to go and see the villas.
The sea villas here have the same kind of fenced wooden boardwalk as the original resort, but they are built on sturdy concrete pillars instead of wooden stilts (which need to be replaced every two years).
It's amazing how they take on different colours as the day progresses. From the outside they still look quite simple and rustic. But inside, you'll see how it differs from the original resort.
Firstly, it's very spacious - each sea villa is 90 sq m! The living area has very high ceilings - high enough for them to build a loft!
The ladder is bolted solid to the wall. It may look a little steep but it's very secure. Just climb up carefully and before you know it, you'll be used to it. The first three rungs are also removable, if you prefer young children not going up.
Jolie was the first one to make it up there! I was surprised, because normally Nadine is the fearless adventurer, but this time she was a little scared. But we practiced and she was able to climb up and down on her own pretty soon.
The loft is really designed to be a children's loft. It feels like a treehouse within a home. There are two single beds, and two bean bags.
The main bedroom is downstairs, behind the living area. The king size bed has crisp white bedlinen and accent cushions. The mattress is quite firm but comfortably so.
Like the original resort, the villa here has ceiling fans but no air-conditioning. They use "wind-conditioning", a phrase coined by one of the three American owners. Natural cooling occurs over water and the sea breezes help too. For the most part, it was cool enough. If you love the balmy embrace of the warm tropics, this will be paradise for you.
The bedroom gets plenty of natural light and seabreeze. For total privacy, the curtains can be fully drawn. And yes, the glass doors open out to the balcony which is one of the highlights here.
The almost 180-degree sea view from the balcony is beautifully framed by the wooden railing.
There is an all-weather day bed here you can relax on. Jolie and I came out here at night and we could see so many stars, because there's barely any light pollution here. We even caught a shooting star - her first!
This is also the best place to have a spa massage. Your own private balcony with the sounds of the real ocean instead of some piped in CD. They are building a separate spa facility though, so you can choose to have your treatment done there as well. More therapists are also being trained.
I love how they have deliberately set the floorboards slightly apart - you see the ocean right below
The scintillating light reflected from the sea below striking the wooden bedframe - each makes a little dance.
The decor includes touches of local art and fabrics within its contemporary theme.
Thoughtful amenities - massage oil, mozzie repellant, and after-sun lotion!
There is a writing desk facing a window, and a small wardrobe.
On the desk, you'll find a Kindle preloaded with information and articles. It acts as an info guide to the resort. And there are a few free classic literature titles bundled too.
A hot and cold water dispenser in the villa itself? Oh, what a godsend. There's no need to fiddle with bottled water or boiling kettles. Saves a lot of plastic rubbish for sure.
The bathrooms are beautiful, rustic yet modern at the same time. Elements of wood, stone and glass all combine and contrast.
There is a rainshower! I was surprised to see that. Understandably though, water pressure isn't as strong as in a multi-storey hotel with its own water tank, but it works fine. I love the towel rack ladder, and the toiletries smell amazing.
We went to the pool every single day. The kids loved this part the best, I think.
You can see the original resort from across the sea. There are paddle boats on the beach you can borrow too.
Next to the pool, there is a bamboo pole outdoor shower that just totally jives with the resort feel.
Oh the place turns a beautiful pink at dusk.
That glorious sunset again.
No edits at all for these photos.
Truly the most breathtaking feature here.
The Grand Lodge looks gorgeous all lit up for the evening.
And the best is - you get to enjoy the spectacular sunsets as you dine.
How pretty the lights are at night. Makes me wish I brought a tripod. This is a two-second exposure handheld shot (camera perched on the fence).
Dawn is another stunning experience. The entire vista swathed in glorious colour.
The rolling dark clouds came and gave this an otherworldly feel.
Finally it rained. The sea and land opposite look surreal in the wet and misty morning. Once the rain cleared, we went out to the Grand Lodge for breakfast.
This is the dining area where you eat all your meals.
All the meals are written in detail on the chalkboard. There is no printed menu as the dishes change daily for lunch and dinner (breakfast is more or less the same). Pick from local or Western dish choices. Lunch is usually a fixed option, but for dinner there are more choices and they will ask you for pre-orders to help the kitchen plan how much to cook.
You can eat as much as you want, on an a la carte basis. Over at the original resort, the food may be served as a buffet, but here you get served individual portions.
The food is pretty impressive for Batam or Riau standards. For the private island, they hired a head chef who formerly worked in the Maldives and Bangkok. So you'll see not just a wide repertoire but also good presentation. They are also planning cooking classes for guests.
Nasi Uduk Komplit - essentially Nasi Lemak. And this gets my vote for best breakfast dish on the menu.
Western Breakfast choices - your usual eggs and sausages, pancakes, cereal and juices.
Ayam Panggang Kecap Manis, Nasi Putih, Perkedel Jagung, Tempe Bacem, Sambal & Lalapan (Roast Chicken Marinated with Sweet Soy Sauce, Steamed Jasmine Rice, Corn Fritter, Braised Fermented Bean Curd, Spicy Sambal & Fresh Vegetables)
Creamy tomato soup with pesto croutons - highly appetising - we almost made ourselves too full on this and bread. Homemade fettuccini with spinach, kidney beans and tomatoes was not bad, but the kids' spaghetti is really just pasta, plain sauce and mozzarella. The sate (satay) is a little different from what I am used to. It seemed to have been parboiled first before grilling. The meat is a little on the dry and salty side. Not sure if this is a regional variant.
Udang Bakar Bumbu Bali & Mie Telor Campur (Balinese Style Grilled Prawn, Vegetables Egg Noodles)
More dinner options - calamari with olive tartar sauce; roast beef sirloin with wilted spinach, nasi tumpeng with sambal egg, fish satay and what looks like ikan bilis but are actually very fine potato shreds fried with a sweet sauce.
Desserts also vary daily at lunch and dinner. This is the chocolate cookie dough sundae. There's also panna cotta with strawberry coulis, bread and butter pudding, and the ever healthy fruit platter.
Have you noticed their furniture? These are predominantly made from recycled boatwood. The strikingly bold colours not only show the grain of the wood but also add character.
There are not one but two lounge areas in the Grand Lodge, where you can play games and relax.
They have Jenga and some compendium games. There's also a ring toss toy.
You could also explore the resort, and the hiking trail behind it. Honestly though, the resort was built for serious unwinding. The main activity here...is to do nothing. Some people find that really hard to do.
You can still hop over to the Telunas original beach resort (however, guests from there cannot come over to the private island, because the pool and spa facilities are not available to them).
This is the original Telunas resort, which also saw some expansion.
There are plenty of things to explore there. The soldier crabs are still scurrying around. The beach is bigger here and there are deeper hiking trails. A fire pit, volleyball court and beach huts await. Jump off the platform into the water or just .
But nothing beats bliss in a hammock!
The Telunas original beach resort just celebrated its 10th anniversary, and they saw fit to also launch the new private island on the same day in July. So it will be a two-for-one celebration every year henceforth.
You have a choice of both resorts - the original one will continue to appeal to those who love the rustic edge and simple escape, the new private island for those who want more resort perks.
Either way, both advocate total relaxation. What a happy place to be.
Room prices for the original resort start from S$135 per night for two persons, and for the private island, S$225 per night for two persons. Daily costs for dining are S$50 per adult at the original resort, and S$85 for the private island. Local boat transfers cost S$85 per person.
OK, if you are still reading, thank you. This has been an epic post with almost 80 photos. Probably my longest yet. There were just too many lovely things to shoot. My kids are already asking to come back to Telunas. They really had a good time, even though Nadine had a small mishap. The staff helped us with the first aid kit, and followed up very well. I was glad to see good processes in place.
Getting there is an adventure by itself, but not too difficult:
First, you take a Batamfast ferry (45 mins) from Harbour Front Ferry Terminal (next to Vivocity) to the Sekupang terminal in Batam. A Telunas representative will meet you there and accompany you on a Malay-style fishing boat (about 1 hour 40 mins) which will take you direct to the resort.
You may want to refer to their website for latest directions. It has recommended ferry times to book. I am also hoping they will upgrade to a faster speedboat for the local transfer.
Moro Kepulauan Riau (Riau Islands)
Phone: +62 811 7710951
Thanks to Telunas Resorts for the invitation and lovely hospitality!
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