Barefoot Luxury: Bawah Reserve

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I had the privilege of staying in Bawah Reserve on a long weekend. Bawah Reserve is a private island located in the Anambas Archipelago, west of Indonesia, just 300km northeast of Singapore. Consisting of 6 islands, 13 beaches and 3 lagoons, Bawah Reserve not only offers outdoor enthusiasts a variety of land and watersports activities but also a reclusive escape for individuals looking to indulge in paradise. With an all inclusive concept, guests can expect the inclusion of round-trip transfers from Singapore (including seaplane ride), buffet or à la carte breakfasts, lunch, dinner, non-alcoholic drinks, unlimited spa treatments, yoga classes, non-motorised water sports, on-land activities, unpacking service and daily laundry. Whereas, alcoholic drinks, diving and boutique purchases come at an additional charge. I was particularly stoked to see this slice of paradise as I’d seen pictures and read so much of this private island that in my mind, I’d imagined it to be every bit like Maldives but a tad more untouched!

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Getting There In Style

My journey started from Singapore, outside my door step right to the resort and it was a seamless, hassle free and a premium experience that we had the pleasure of enjoying. First thing in the morning at 7am, we were whisked away in a white Mercedes Benz, pre-arranged by the resort, to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. A 30 minutes ferry ride and we arrived in Batam to take a private van to the international airport for our seaplane to depart to Bawah Reserve. At every checkpoint, we were greeted with a friendly representative who lead us to the next point. There was little to no wait time as we had a quick access even through immigrations. The best part of travelling to Bawah Reserve was being on seaplane! The seaplane ride was an adventure of its own where we flew up above the clouds for an 80 minute journey with Captain Wolski, an international pilot with more than 6000 flying hours under his belt. We felt like we were in good hands and whether it was on water or tarmac, Captain Wolski landed smoothly both ways. From up above, the views were incredible especially upon arrival to the resort. The whole journey from Singapore to Bawah took only 3 hours for us to arrive in style and just in time for lunch. Guests in Singapore can be picked up from their residence, hotel or airport and ushered onward to Bawah whereas international travellers coming from Indonesia can arrive in Batam to take the seaplane.

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50 Shades Of Blue 

Upon disembarking from the seaplane, I could tell that my imagination of Bawah had been spot on! I was awestruck just standing by the jetty! The sea was a turquoise shade of blue and so crystal clear that the coral reefs can be seen from above. In the distance, a white sand beach stood at the end of the azure blue sea and one begins to see some beach suites enveloped in lush greenery, it was truly a feast for the eyes. I felt like I was at the epicenter of marine bio-diversity and couldn’t wait to go snorkelling and join in on some water sports activities. 

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Private And Exclusive Oasis

The island boost 35 luxurious suites, of which you can choose from Garden Suites, Beach Suites or Overwater Bungalow. Every suite is serviced by two hosts and they are always available to help make your stay more special with personalised arrangements. The suites’ structures are made from sustainable bamboo and the beachfront and garden suites reminded me of a luxurious safari tent. They are decked out with canvas roofs, recycled teak flooring, and roller shutter–style canopy that roll up at the touch of a button and turns the room into a jungle-esque oasis. On the other hand, the overwater bungalows boasts large decks and views of the open waters with steps leading straight into turquoise blue sea. Bathrooms of all suites remain consistent with the luxurious safari-themed interiors with copper tubs, twin sinks and standing shower. It is wise to mention, that the suites are equipped with one air conditioning and fan above the canopy bed; perfectly pleasant for those who may be air conditioning dependent. However, do expect to go on a digital detox as there are no televisions, alarm clocks or radio available in room and wifi access is only at limited band length. Not to worry as it won’t be long before you ease into Bawah Reserve’s plush suites and dive into the myriad of experiences it has to offer.

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A Multitude Of Experiences 

As part of the all inclusive vacation package, a wide array of activities are available at no extra charge. Water sports lovers can look forward to snorkeling (around the 3 lagoons at one’s leisure or join in on the snorkeling trip that sets off twice a day, weather dependent), paddle boarding, kayaking and sailing. Land activities include yoga and pilates classes, guided hikes, beach cinema under stars, star gazing and bird watching. Unique moments can be customised to your liking to include personalised dining, private picnics on the beach, sunset cruise of the 6 islands, hands on cooking classes etc. Those seeking a wellness retreat in paradise can treat themselves to unlimited spa treatments all throughout their stay.

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Dining

There are 3 bars, 2 restaurants, and plenty of personalised dining options on the island. Pre- or post-meal drinks can be alternated between the Boat House for a beachside escape, Grouper bar for pool side relaxation and Jules Verne bar for a romantic pre-dinner drink. Cocktails were delicious and mixologists are ever ready to whip up a killer cocktail of choice. Choose to dine beachside to the panoramic views of the lagoon at Boat House where lunch, dinner and drinks is à la carte menu with a modern take on Indonesian fare. Alternatively, dress up for a fine dining night out to Tree Tops. Perched on a hill under a jungle canopy, the restaurant has a breathtaking bird’s-eye-view of the turquoise blue sea, jetty and surrounding islands. Personally, I loved being at this spot to watch magnificent colours paint up the sky as the sun went down. A tip for those looking to celebrate a special day or simply spend some romantic moments under the stars, be sure to make a booking for “The Lookout”.

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Sustainable luxury

The resort has been 6 years in the making and the owners created Bawah with a fervour to preserve it as an ecological utopia. Today, the 6 islands of Bawah are now a designated marine conservation area, making fishing illegal in these waters. The design and build of the resort is centred around having a light impact on the surrounding flora and fauna and minimising energy consumption. Throughout your stay in the resort, it is clear that the resort is thoroughly committed to responsible and sustainable practices, from ocean-friendly sun cream, eco-friendly laundry detergent, and no use of plastic bottles or straws. On the island, the only land vehicles are electric buggies and even the 2 boats are  solar powered boats! All waste is recycled; paper is mulched; food waste is composted, and crushed glass is used in the water filtering process. The water used for showering is heated by solar energy and waste water is treated for use on their organic fruit and vegetable gardens bringing cauliflower, chilli, papaya, melons, pineapples, lemongrass, mint, lettuce, spinach, potatoes and tomatoes, to your plate. Rain water is harvested, treated and stored with their sophisticated reverse-osmosis seawater treatment plant. That’s not all, the resort is also part of the Bawah Anambas Foundation, created to channel funds back into the land, the sea and the local community.

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Highlights

Bawah reserve is a stunning private escape away from city life where the waters are crystal clear and sporting all shades of blue. It is so untouched, you are literally at the epicenter of marine bio-diversity such that a leisurely snorkel by the lagoons gives you easy access to beautiful coral reefs and an opportunity to spot colourful marine life. I even spotted a baby stingray while paddle boarding! While sustainability was at the core of its practices, a great deal of attention to detail has been poured into the design to ensure that guests were able to enjoy their surroundings while kicking back to plush interiors. Dining facilities available superseded my expectations with beautiful spaces for different moments and mood. As the accommodation package is all-inclusive, I particularly enjoyed having the rare inclusion of return seaplane rides and spa treatments, usually available at extra cost in other all-inclusive resorts. Our hosts (Trioo & Bayu) went above and beyond to make personalised arrangements, all within short notice, and constantly paid close attention to our needs. Since we were on island time, it meant we literally had no care for the time of the day and they came to remind us about every engagement we’d booked for. They were so thoughtful that they even had the kitchen prepare us sandwiches before our seaplane ride home, since we’d missed out on lunch! All in all, Bawah Reserve is a beautiful private oasis for those looking for a luxurious retreat close to Singapore! This paradise will certainly give Maldives a run for its money.

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