Continuing from our last post. For the bits that didn’t work:
Our two interconnected rooms were the largest problem. We’d already mentally prepared ourselves for their state through the Tripadvisor reviews prior to our arrival but they were still depressing when we saw them first-hand. Our rooms were in Block ‘P’ which is nearly at the furthermost end of the resort. The walk from the main building to our rooms took several minutes, but on non-raining days the walk was typically pleasant (there is a completely sheltered alternate path for times of inclement weather).
Of problems though: our rooms were dimly lit, sparsely decorated, and had a distinctive musky odor when we checked-in. Furniture was clearly worn. The air-conditioning in the children’s room rattled loudly, and never got fixed despite our reporting it to Reception. Rust and stains were in several spots and paint peeled off in the children’s room. There are no door bells nor feet mat at the door entrance. The main door in our room did not open smoothly using the keycard – it required us to jiggle the card in the slot, and then apply some force to jolt the door open. Our ‘king-sized’ bed was really two beds joined together from two separate bedframes, and the separation of two mattresses could be clearly felt. Each room had a separate toilet from the bathroom – hooray – but missing a wash basin – duh.
In-room entertainment was also lacking for the couple of rainy afternoons when we had to hideout in the rooms. The TV is small (32″ maybe?), and while pre-programmed with several channels, reception was very poor – we received static for most channels. Internet connectivity is so-so with occasional drop-outs, requiring re-connections.
Ling especially felt that housekeeping was below par, with newly laundry/amenity items occasionally left out, and the additional cushions piled at one corner of the floor which wasn’t really clean. And the room hidden surfaces – e.g. below bed frames – were all dusty.
Honestly put – the quality of rooms is simply not befitting the price of stay, and reminded us in parts of the old dilapidated East Coast Chalets from the 1990s. Using a scale of one to five stars, with Capella at 5, Ayara Hilltops at 4.5, Telunas, Santhiya and Naumi at 4, Legoland at 3.5, Tepi Sawah Villa at 3: we weren’t expecting rooms of the same luxury class as Capella’s of course, but we were still hoping for something that’s about four out of five stars and would have settled for three. As it is, I’d put the rooms at two stars at best.
I guess one could make the argument that if you’re doing a Club Med stay, one would be out of rather than inside rooms. And in case one feels that I’m being unduly harsh on the state of rooms, numerous Tripadvisor reviews make mention of this issue too, some politely, while others as pointedly as I’ve done here. There doesn’t seem to be many reviews praising the rooms! Oddly and on the other hand – several of the blogger reviews I read heaped glowing praise on hospitality and accommodations, and stayed in rooms that looked a heck lot cleaner and better looking than ours. Perhaps we were just plain unlucky to have drawn poor rooms (though how that syncs with numerous other Tripadvisor reviewers pointing out the same issues is anyone’s guess) or there were other reasons for them emphasising the good rather than less savory aspects. To be fair – several bloggers did declare that their stays had been sponsored by the Club. One of the benefits of a completely non-sponsored/affiliated blog here I guess – I can be entirely candid and say exactly what I feel about a stay that is as typical as any other non-sponsored traveler.
Kids settling for pre-loaded cartoons on the Surface Pro, since the room TVs only showed static.
The age of the resort wasn’t just immediately observable in the rooms, but also in other spots. The internal little gardens separating each block seemed in need of maintenance. The laundry/dryer machines while no-doubt a welcome convenience (we did laundry – twice!), were sitting in a room that looked like my NTU hostel’s laundry room from the 1990s. The fan blades in the building’s first floor bar, theater and common areas were rusting. The GOs themselves seemed to recognize that they were operating in an old facility, and one shared that the resort was going to be refurbished next year, and promised that things would be better after that.
The resort’s gym – located at the Sports Center. Did the thread mill and a couple of static stations here. Not much of a view.
We signed Peter up also for the Petit Club Med at additional cost, but just after a few hours on the first day of that, the attending GOs hunted us down to return him as they found themselves unable to handle Peter. We’re aware of his clingy temperament, but it was also a downer as we’d hope the Club could manage him and have him enjoy their activities. No apologies were tendered nor offers of refunds given – not that we’re hung-up about the latter, but a gesture would had been nice.
It would had been also helpful to add a note in the booking/sign-up part of this experience during booking on what are the contingencies in which a service could not be consumed, e.g. a service guarantee that if kids cannot adapt to the club early on, a partial refund would be given. A lost customer service-centered opportunity. And the irony – he got a completion certificate on the last day. Guess the resort didn’t realize that he was barely in the Petit Club.
And other comments:
We were visited by a troupe of monkeys one morning upon waking up who ran around our rooms’ porch area, and peed on one of the deck chairs even LOL. Made for some interesting interaction opportunities for Peter especially, though behind the glass doors. I quipped to Ling that this was like a reverse Zoo. The monkeys were the real residents of the resort and were observing us in our rooms from the outside – while we were the real animals in the zoo this time!.
This fellow peed on the chair when he departed.
The resort didn’t feel too crowded during our stay, though we weren’t sure if this was because it wasn’t at full capacity. There were several visitors from a certain large country far up in the North who, by way of fossilized cultural mannerisms, spoke loud enough at every conversation that their presences were always obvious. Guess there’s no vacation spot left on Earth where you can go without being reminded that you’re not far from that part of Asia.
On the overall: we’d recommend Club Med Bintan if you’re looking for an all-inclusive, family-friendly resort with a variety of activities that you’re interested in, and are willing to accept the generally poor rooms. If you’re however more introvert and envision yourself spending more time inside your room to enjoy its amenities to relax, then we couldn’t recommend this place. There really are more luxurious properties in the region at similar price points. For ourselves, there are also other Club Med resorts in the vicinity, and we’d be hard-pressed to think of a good enough reason for a return-stay, unless the rooms and housekeeping significantly improve.
Next couple of posts on the equipment and pictures!