Review: The Sanchaya, Bintan
The Sanchaya is by far the most elegant resort on the island of Bintan in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia.
Guests experience The Sanchaya before they even reach their destination. When they reach Bintan, they are whisked to the private arrival lounge for some refreshments as they wait for their travel papers to clear. We are reliably informed that it is the only resort on Bintan with this sort of VIP lounge at the ferry terminal itself. Our friends at Form magazine in Singapore tell us all about the excellent resort, which they first visited early last year.
The Sanchaya is by far the most elegant resort on the island of Bintan in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia. The resort comprises a 9-suite Great House, 21 villas and various pavilions. The Great House is reminiscent of the black-and-white mansions that the British have bestowed upon the Straits Settlements, blended with elements from Southeast Asian colonial architectures, including the Dutch and the Spanish.
A deep driveway leads to the main entrance of the Great House, around a fountain ringed by a formal garden. Ample verandahs hug the principal building in front and at the back; the first looks out to the gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Boonchai Sakulthamrak, and the second to the sea. This, along with entrances to the suite, breaks the simplicity of the façade and gives the massive structure a sense of lightness and even a hint of delicacy. The strong symmetry that is evident in the front and rear elevations of the main building extends to the internal layouts.
At The Sanchaya, the forepart of the ground floor houses the small front office that faces the staircase, and the twin receptions rooms that are placed adjacent to each other. Another door leads to the back of the building that is oriented towards the private beach. Here, the symmetrical configurations continue to mirror each other, with the reflecting pool being flanked by the Dining Room and staff facilities on one side, and the Salon and, past a colonnaded deck, the Library (below).
The suites are all lined up on the second storey and are fitted with ample verandahs that provide views of the grounds and of the Indian Ocean. Each has a sitting room, walk-in closet, and large high-ceilinged bedroom.
Interior design firm P49 did a beautiful presentation of the suites with a blend of updated colonial custom furniture. There is a familiar ‘heritage’ touch in every area, but it is always tempered by modern attitude whether in dimension, fabrication, or details. Up-to-the-minute show and talk conveniences are worked seamlessly with the furnishings; the feeling is that of a grand home where travel mementos and family heirlooms have accumulated and then edited for a modern lifestyle.
For most of the day, The Dining Room (below) is fully lit and set up. The spread is elaborate and varied—there are freshly churned butter and rhubarb jam for the warm scones and brioches that are piled in linen-lined baskets. At one end of the buffet, past platters of terrines, pates and galantines, and carafes of cold-pressed fruit juices, steam rose from a cauldron where stock for the mee soto burbled.
The limited number of organised farms on Bintan Island makes the kitchen of The Sanchaya heavily reliant on imported produce. Executive chef Giacomo Turzo handles this situation with creative discipline in order to maintain the resort’s fares of continental and Southeast Asian cuisines.
The kitchens’ requirements are enormous. Besides the Dining Room, The Sanchaya runs the poolside Tasanee Grill, which serves Bangkok street cuisine. But the resort also has roving F&B services ranging from food-and-wine pairings at The Salon and The Library to gourmet picnics on the boat and neighbouring islet, in-villa or in-suite meals, high tea service and bespoke table-side cocktails. That is to say nothing of the estate’s 400-label cellar and well-stocked charcuterie. Meals are not regimented at The Sanchaya; except for the implicit dress code—and one would want to dress up around this place—guests can dine at leisure whenever and wherever they choose.
By mid-afternoon, the staff set up croquet and archery equipment at the lawn (check out the images after the jump, bottom). Guests are informed that high tea may be served by the reflecting pool or at the suite’s verandah. On the estate grounds are a spa, a well-equipped gym with a certified fitness instructor, and a resort shop that sells artworks and bespoke merchandise. There are grounds to cover on leisurely walks or in a buggy, and private parties to host. Weather permitting, boat excursions can be arranged to surrounding islands.
Not only is the service impeccable, it is in some ways above industry standard. For instance, instead of chocolate bon bons on the pillow, guests may request for the elaborate Chocolate Experience comprising a warm chocolate beverage and a selection of artisanal chocolate pastries served in one’s suite (above). Instead of a mini-bar, guest suites are supplied with a complimentary ‘maxi’ bar, as well as a wine refrigerator stocked with decent wines.
By Marc Almagro