A luxurious getaway is just 45 minutes away from Singapore. Accessible via a ferry from Tanah Merah, Montigo Resorts is located just minutes away from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal. This place is popular amongst Singaporeans who love an affordable getaway without having to board a flight. For information about Montigo Resorts on how to get there and what to do there, be sure to check out The Shutterwhale's first Definitive Guide to Montigo Resorts!
This is the view you get when you first arrive at Montigo Resorts. The resort offers complimentary transfer from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal in order to ensure a fuss-free experience. Besides, I strongly believe that there should be a seamless transition from Singapore to Montigo Resorts to establish a consistent passage from home to vacation. The driver from Montigo Resorts waited for hotel guests outside immigration as we proceeded to the beautiful site in approximately five to ten minutes. Upon arrival, a cold towel and a welcome drink was provided by the hotel.
I took the 11:00am ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and arrived at Nongsapura at approximately 10:45am. This isn't some time-warping experience but simply because Batam (GMT+7) is one hour behind Singapore (GMT+8). I arrived at Montigo Resorts at 11am (local time) and found out that my room wasn't ready. Well, the official check-in time is actually at 3pm and since it was a weekend, the resort was extremely busy. Therefore, I would highly recommend you to take a later ferry unless you wish to have lunch at one of the restaurants in Montigo Resorts (or utilise the beautiful pool while waiting).
I decided to soak in the beautiful view while waiting and more importantly, to replenish my Vitamin D deficiency from cloudy Singapore. If you notice the construction that is going on to the left side of the photo, that is where you will be able to own a piece of paradise for a really attractive rate. Yes you heard me right - you will be able to purchase a villa (or more) in Montigo Resorts with a kilometre long coastline where you'll be able to enjoy a permanent escape from Singapore.
Here's a quick snapshot of how your very own villa will look like if you decide to buy one! Montigo Resorts is developed by KOP Properties; the same developers who developed The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Singapore, Cairnhill and Hamilton Scotts, the world’s tallest en suite residence with elevated car garages.
I really like this area near the lobby of the hotel - cleverly placed lines of different thickness accentuated by the beautiful natural lighting coming in from the top. My interpretation of it is that amongst everything else, nature (e.g. light, air and rain) gives life and it's only through nature that we can sustain life.
Since I arrived at Montigo Resorts four hours before the official check-in time and it was a busy weekend, I had plenty of time to kill. As such, I caught one of the many buggies that took me to TIIGO, a bar and restaurant next to the stunning swimming pool. At the time of writing, 10,000 Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is equivalent to approximately S$1.07. Indonesia has an effective tax rate of 21% therefore, anything you see on the menu for IDR 10,000 is effectively IDR 12,100 which is roughly S$1.30. Thus, for easy estimation of prices in SGD (we are all guilty of this), anything in the menu which says IDR 10,000 is approximately S$1.30 after taxes. Mocktails are IDR 50,000++, cocktails are around IDR 95,000++ and beers start from IDR 50,000++.
This is the stunning view you get from being inside TIIGO, away from the sun. If you want to be out in the sun (and you should, since you are in a resort after all), there are cabanas that you can laze around on. Otherwise, just make use of the changing facilities next to TIIGO and jump right into the pool! Nothing like an iced cold beer in a beautiful pool while looking out to the sea.
The swimming pool is truly beautiful and I would highly recommend you to take advantage of this waiting time to jump right into this! The truth is that you will have your very own private plunge pool in the villa later so there is definitely less motivation to take a buggy from the villa to this pool - make use of this facility now or you will most likely be too lazy to utilise this later.
Montigo Resorts' all-day dining restaurant, TADD'S offers à la carte local, Asian and Western cuisine. Located just a minute walk away from TIIGO, TADD'S is surrounded by lush greenery while offering spectacular views of the sea.
This is the complimentary house ciabatta served with a refreshing topping while you wait for your mains to be served. One thing that would have made this dish better would be to put the ciabatta in the oven before serving. Bread without a proper crust can be quite disappointing!
Since I had my breakfast at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal prior to this, I wasn't exactly hungry (but decided to order some food to sample anyway). The first dish that arrived was the Gado-Gado for IDR 65,000++. For those of you who are unfamilar with Gado-Gado, it is a traditional Indonesian salad with spinach, bean sprouts, white cabbage, long beans, quail eggs, chicken saté (satay), bean cake, crackers and peanut sauce. I thought that the food here was all excellently plated and this dish had a good balance of flavours. The peanut sauce was not overpowering and it complemented the dish greatly without stealing the show. Definitely one that I will recommend if you are coming here for lunch.
The next dish to arrive was Montigo Resorts's own version of Ayam Panggang Berempah (IDR 110,000++) which translates to Spicy Grilled Chicken. The dish comes with an oven-roasted spring chicken serving, spiced long bean , prawn crackers, steamed rice and sambal. This has got to be my favourite dish at TADD'S; the chicken was moist and flavourful and the sambal is spicy (the way I like it) and fragrant. The spiced long beans help to cool the burning sensation in your mouth. A definite must-order when you are here!
TADD'S also overlooks the main swimming pool area and TIIGO so you can be certain that the two dining establishments are only a short stroll away. Looking out to this view, I simply cannot believe such a beautiful place like Montigo Resorts is located less than an hour away from Singapore.
Shortly after lunch, I was informed that my villa was ready and a buggy was arranged to pick me up before transporting me to a Hill Side Villa (one level below the Hill Top Villa). The terrain in Montigo Resorts is extremely hilly and therefore it is common to get chauffeured around in a buggy. Bearing in mind that it is probably bright and sunny out there, it is probably not a good idea to scale the mountains.
The villa (approximately 306 sqm) comprises of three levels:
- Level One - Living room, dining area, powder room and private plunge pool.
- Level Two - Bedrooms and bathrooms.
- Level Three - Roof terrace.
Photographed above is the main living area on the Hill Side Villa. It comprises of an open kitchen with a microwave oven and induction cookers, coffee and tea-making facilities, a minibar that comes with a selection of beverages and a huge living area that sits four comfortably.
You will find a LCD TV with DVD player and satellite reception in the living room. To be honest, I hardly spent any time in the living room (apart from waiting for my buggy). Most of the time in the villa was spent in the private plunge pool, the huge tub or in the most amazing bed ever (more on this later!).
Gazing out to the pool from the living room is surreal - it is truly a luxury to have a private pool in your villa. To make things better, the view from the pool is equally amazing. Despite not being in a Seafront Villa, you are still get a good view of the sea (albeit having some villas obstructing the view) and the sky.
If you choose to enjoy in-room dining or cook in your very own kitchen, be sure to have your dinner outside by the pool in the evening to enjoy the beautiful sunset.
The master bedroom suite with king-sized canopy bed and en suite bathroom. I did not personally like the idea of a canopy bed (and thankfully it did not come with awful drapes) but I guess it the lines kind of fitted with the overall design of the villa. Prior to visiting Montigo Resorts, I was told by some friends that the bed was amazing. Having been to many luxury hotels by Conrad, InterContinental and Grand Hyatt, I thought that I would probably not be too impressed with it but I was wrong!
The master bedroom came with its very own LCD TV with a small selection of satellite channels. There's also a daybed where you can laze around before bedtime. You will be able to see your own pool and part of your neighbours' pool from the full-length glass window in the master bedroom. Therefore, keep in mind that your neighbours can very well see your pool from their bedroom too.
Finally, hidden away from plain sight (particularly so if the curtains are drawn) is your very own en suite bathroom with an oversize tub and a separate rainshower. Light comes it from the top of the bathroom and people on your roof terrace will be able to glance in from the top. Something to take note of when you're sharing this villa with friends. Couple of things to note with the bathtub:
- It is a good idea to wash the tub yourself before using it.
- Filling up the tub takes a while so be sure to start early.
- Hot water ran out a couple of times after filling the tub up so keep that in mind if you want to shower in the early morning.
Bathroom amenities used to be provided by Malin and Goetz but that has changed to Argan bath amenities instead. Do note that the former amenity (which I prefer) is still for sale in the gift shop if you choose to purchase it. I got a limited-edition Christmas Penguin from Lush Singapore prior to visiting Montigo Resorts and I really love the beautiful blend of orange flower absolute, Sicilian mandarin and lemon oils.
The second bedroom is slightly smaller and it comes with two smaller twin beds. The third TV in the villa can be found in this room.
The second bedroom also comes with its very own private en suite bathroom (without the tub). Unfortunately, there is only one tub in the villa but there's a nice rainshower head here as well.
Level three is your very own roof terrace. Seriously, you can have a small party here with 20-30 adults easily with the huge amount of space. This place reminds me of the Greek island, Santorini somehow. The famed rood terrace offers unobstructed views of the sea but keep in mind that depending on which villa you are assigned to, your neighbours may be able to have a bird's-eye view of what's going on.
Watching the sun set from the comfort of your very own roof terrace is simply amazing. I was blessed with the most beautiful weather ever while I was there and it was truly a great experience.
Local amenities like a fruit bowl and some cakes were sent to my villa shortly after that. I am not sure whether these amenities are supposed to be sent at such an odd hour since they are usually sent shortly after check-in. The cake was dry and hard - nothing impressive at all but the fruits on the other hand was fresh and placed in a really nice bowl.
I chose to have my dinner at Pantai restaurant, located near the check-in area of the resort. Pantai restaurant operates only for dinner from 6pm to 10pm on weekdays and up to 11pm on weekends. I thought that the food was pretty average but the rustic ambiance truly accentuated the feeling of being far away from home. The restaurant serves a mix of class Indonesian and Singaporean favourites as well as fresh seafood. When I got back from dinner at Pantai, I realised that my room has been turned down. The bed has been made, towels have been replaced and I found this stranger on my bed - creepy elephant with stuck on eyes!
I made my way up to the roof terrace to admire the number of stars and the beautiful night view before deciding that the mosquitoes are probably bloated from feeding off me. Insect repellent is provided in the bedroom so be sure to use it if you want to spend some time on the roof terrace. For an ultimate indulgence, you may choose to have a private barbecue or a steamboat party by the pool or on the terrace. Resort staff will be there to help you to set up, cook and clean up. These experiences require booking 8 hours in advance (so arrange with the hotel prior to arrival) and they do not come cheap:
Surf & Turf Set (for two): IDR 960,000++ (approximately S$130 after taxes)
Satay Set (for two): IDR 885,000++ (approximately S$115 after taxes)
Steamboat (for two): IDR 600,000++ (approximately S$80 after taxes)
Breakfast is served at TADD'S and it was already included in the room rate. I chose the Nongsa Breakfast and an American Breakfast. You may choose to have your breakfast in your villa if you wish at an additional charge.
The American Breakfast comes with two fresh farm eggs cooked any style, chicken sausage, hash brown, tomato baked beans, bakery basket, selection of jams, butter and yogurt: natural or with apple, banana or orange compote. The Nongsa Breakfast (which I recommend) comes with soto mee egg noodle,chicken, tomato, cabbage, leek, in rich beef broth and green sambal scrambled egg with sambal bilis on toast. I thought that the Nongsa Breakfast was an interesting choice and I will highly recommend you try this!
I can spend every morning drinking coffee while staring out into the sea. The whole experience reminds me a little of Nusa Dua in Bali.
There is a children pool located by TADD'S so you can enjoy a cold beer while watching your children have fun in the pool. The Olo Kids Club next to the restaurant also provides 6 to 12 year olds and young people from 12 to 18 years of age, with a host of unforgettable experiences – sporting, artistic and educational.
here’s a wide range of physical activities for kids to enjoy, including swimming, beach volleyball and tennis. Artistic and educational pursuits involve, art and craft and cookie baking. It also includes a playground and a playroom equipped with PS3, XBox, Wii, soccer table (fussball) and mini billiard.
I proceeded to the Montigo Spa shortly after breakfast for my pre-booked spa treatment. Be sure to arrive slightly early so that you can fill up the form and make your preferences known. Since it is a spa experience, you do not want to be rushing from point to point so just order a buggy early (there is no excuse for being late!).
Like most good spas around, you will be given a refreshing welcome drink and a choice of a few massaging oils for your treatment. I went ahead with the 60-minutes Indonesian Massage (IDR 650,000++) - approximately S$85 after taxes - which combines acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy using one of four signature Montigo oil blends.
While I am not a huge fan of massages and spa treatments, I really enjoyed my session there. The private spa villas were located by the beach so you get the sound of natural waves crashing on the sand. My therapist was also amazing - his strokes were forceful to target the deeper layers of connective tissues and muscle. If you like your deep tissue massage, I will highly recommend asking for Yoyo as your (male) therapist.
There is also a spa pool located in Montigo Spa that you are welcome to use after your treatment. This is the perfect end to your indulgence and rejuvenation.
Enjoy a hot tea and some snacks after your treatment and muster up enough courage before leaving the villa and facing the world again. I proceeded back to my villa after the spa treatment to pack up my belongings before heading to TADD'S for one last lunch.
I had the Semur Lidah (IDR 95,000++) - approx. S$13 after taxes - which is a braised beef tongue in sweet soya and onion, button vegetables with steamed rice. I thought that it was very average and is probably something I would not recommend. I also had the Nasi Goreng (IDR 95,000++) which is fried rice with prawns, cabbages, beef saté and chicken wing. My starter (which actually came last) was a Crispy Sweet and Spicy Calamari (IDR 75,000++) - approx. S$10 after taxes - which sits above some green mango, papaya salad and fresh herbs.
Prior to visiting Montigo Resorts, I did not think much about it I thought that the photos will not be representative of the actual property but I have to say that this is incorrect. The property is beautiful, the level of service is excellent and the facilities are great. The only improvement that I hope to one day see is a better maintenance process. The villas are beautiful but they can only remain beautiful if they stay white. The tub is great but it's only perfect when it is clean. The private plunge pools are a treat but they need to be better taken care of. With all that being said, I cannot believe that a beautiful (and largely affordable) place like Montigo Resorts is literally at the doorstep of Singapore. With return ferry tickets under S$50 per person from Tanah Merah, Montigo Resorts is truly the perfect place for a getaway outside of Singapore if you do not have the luxury of time. Enjoy the extravagance and comfort of a private villa and spend an incredible and memorable weekend here with the people you love most.