Bidding au revoir to Sekupang terminal in Batam, it is the last we’ll see so much civilisation and boats jostling for space at the jetty.
Together with our baggage, we were transported to a traditional wooden boat which will take us directly to the resort. We were served a soft drink and water in the boat, and passed little pockets of neighbouring islands along the way – to think Indonesia has about 20,000 islands!
Our 90 minutes passed like a breeze as Juniper, Joanne and I caught up for the first time in 2019 after I came back from Japan in February through the hum of the boat’s engine. It certainly was interesting to hear the challenges and woes of a bride-to-be.
Checking in to Telunas Private Island, Batam, Indonesia
As the boat cut its engine, a row of picturesque stilt houses came into view. Standing in a row at the jetty, the staff gave a warm welcome to us, presenting us with a cold towel upon disembarkation.
After a quick cooling down in the tropical weather, they ushered us through the short boardwalk into the reception lobby. A sense of deja vu filled me while walking through the boardwalk that only past visitors to the Maldives would be familiar with.
Read: 17 Mind-Blowing Maldives Hotels You Would Kill To Visit
The reception, along with the rest of the restaurant and common area, is built entirely of wood and covered by a thatched roof.
Immediately upon arriving, we were served a refreshing fruit juice and taken to the restaurant to have lunch. I noticed how the straws we were drinking our juice from had their brand embossed on it, which made for a really nice eco-friendly initiative.
This, I realised later, was just one of the ways the resort supports environmental protection and sustainability.
Telunas Private Island’s Room
I no doubt lit up with joy upon entering our villa. Save for the fact that it was over water with a view of the ocean all to ourselves from our very own bed, the natural earthy hues that make up our villa provided a homely vibe.
Something about the use of white – on curtains, bed linens, sofas and window sills – also made for a really clean look. The pop of colour from the purple cushions and various adornments on the wall racks injected life into our villa. It’s hard not to feel bliss amidst this rustic elegance.
I especially like the idea of the wooden stairs to the upper loft which makes for a quaint little living room, albeit a little steep. This allows an occupancy of 4 per villa, with a maximum of 5 pax per villa available on request.
You could really see the water from in between the cracks of the wooden planks that make up our floorboard. Hearing the waves lap through the balcony might possibly be my most hypnotising pastime of mine.
TIP: You’d want to safeguard your little trinkets e.g. rings, hair clips, and pins as if they fall through those cracks, they’ll join the ocean and never be seen again.
Minimal and eco-friendly living couldn’t be more apparent in the room than anywhere else. Apart from the lack of internet (I’m not sure if millennials like us can ever feel its omnipresent absence) and the absence of TV, the rooms also function without air conditioning. In its place is a large fan looming overhead the beds.
Read: Bintan Travel Guide, Indonesia
The cool wind is definitely evident at night as it ripples through our curtains, although do note that there may be mosquitoes. That said, it could just be our luck on the time of the year that we went. When we raised this to the property, they said it is very rare that other guests had instances of mosquito bites in the night.
Another eco-friendly initiative is how toiletries, instead of being provided to each room by default, are provided by request. Given that I’ve been using my own toothbrush and toothpaste to avoid the temptation of using disposable toothbrushes that regular hotels provide, I really appreciate this initiative by the resort.
Hairdryers, bedroom slippers, dental kits and make-up remover wipes are also available on request.
The balcony is another favourite spot of mine. The 90 m² villa provides ample space at the balcony for you to stargaze, spot fish (you can also fish from your balcony), sunbathe, catch the sunrise, work out and do yoga (more on that under Services).
The room also provides an unlimited supply of water, along with coffee, tea and Milo.
With only 15 North-facing sea villas on the private island and a maximum occupancy of 75, you can be sure nowhere on the island is too rowdy. In fact, I found our group to perhaps make the most racket. We were supposed to conduct a really embarrassing Hen’s night for Juniper but decided against it as we figured the other guests chose this resort, particularly because of the private island’s tranquillity.
As part of keeping the resort minimal, close to the environment and homely, there are no locks in villas and no telephones in each villa. This means that guests have (to have) complete trust in the staff and other guests, which some may feel uncomfortable about this lack of security, and that if you want to request for something, you have to walk the whole way to the reception. While the walk is inevitable, the resort added safe boxes in each room for extra precaution against theft of valuables.
Telunas Private Island’s Amenities
Used more for its form than function, the infinity pool is set below the restaurant deck and overlooks the wide expanse of the South China Sea. While not huge to properly swim, it is a favourite spot for many.
What they lack in gym facilities, they make up for it by providing light weights and yoga mats for guests to work out in the room upon request.
There are plenty of activities available, from kayaking to stand-up paddling, ping pong, board games and volleyball to occupy ourselves. There was not one time we ran out of things to do, even without WiFi.
Each day, they would have an organised tour – either to visit a local village, a jungle waterfall hike, pottery-making or low ropes course. While we initially thought that we were able to pick and select the type of day tours available, only upon enquiring did we learn that each day’s social activities are fixed to one.
For the days that we stayed, we were only limited to a local village tour one day and a low ropes course on the second day. The much-anticipated jungle waterfall hike and pottery-making were unavailable, much to our dismay.
We spent one of our mornings visiting a local village, that is part of the Riau islands. This is one of the ways Telunas brings sustainable positive impact to the surrounding communities and supports the local economy.
Taking a boat to a predominantly Muslim village, it is mandatory to cover our shoulders and knees. With a population of about 1000, 70% of them are Muslim. We passed by a mosque juxtaposed with a nearby temple, a symbol of how different religions can live together harmoniously within a small village.
Our guide also showed us the local school, and we got the chance to visit a local home of a fellow employee of Telunas. He treated us to homegrown fresh sugarcane shoots, and briefly shared about his family and garden. We also learned that electricity is only run for 6 hours each day, and the villagers draw water from a common water tank.
Visit to sister property, Telunas Beach Resort
We were consoled by the fact that we could request a boat to transport us across to their sister property, Telunas Beach Resort, to explore the grounds. As compared to the Beach Resort, Telunas Private Island definitely trumps in terms of the exclusivity, spaciousness of each villa and room views.
We took to doing Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) on both days at both resorts. Unlike the Beach Resort, guests in the Private Island can rent kayaks and SUP for free. On the second morning, seeing that we didn’t head out for the tour and had the whole morning to ourselves, the 4 of us picked up a challenge to SUP around the island.
We didn’t know quite what to expect – definitely not the swampy mangroves that we had to cross, and most definitely not a staff following us around in a motor boat to ensure our safety. I suppose no guests have ever been as adventurous as us to SUP the whole island!
Telunas Private Island’s Nature Trail
You can also choose to walk around the border of the Telunas Private Island’s Nature Trail. Here, you can find the staff’s living quarters, pay a visit to the garage where they carve wooden decorative pieces and furniture, a beach on the other side of the island which is even more pristine than the main side (and where turtles come to hatch their eggs during the season), and find the ONLY spot where local staff go to in order to get service on their phones to connect to the outside world.
Spanning about 2km, it is a great trail for guests to do short morning runs. You may chance upon the odd encounter with monitor lizards along the way.
The first night, we coincidentally were in time for a bonfire night. It was especially memorable for Joanne as it was her first time roasting marshmallows over a big campfire. I can’t believe us city people!
Telunas Private Island’s Services
Spa and Massage
If there’s a best spa view award, it will definitely go to them. Set above the water on separate pavilion huts per bed, each massage bed is West-facing, which means that you can do your massage to a view of the sun melting on the horizon!
The last booking is at 5pm, and there are only 4 massage huts available so if you’re keen to do an overwater massage, it’s better to reserve your spot early!
Dining at Telunas Private Island
It might comfort you to know that all 3 meals are taken care of by the resort, so you don’t have to worry about being stranded on an island. It is also the only time when we will see the island’s guests at full force, which makes it all the more homely to greet these familiar faces. With a myriad of activities to do, you’ll never find a place within the island too cluttered with guests.
Telunas offers a few meal options for each meal and tries its best to accommodate any requests guests have. We were caught off guard when the staff who came to take our orders took the initiative by offering other options outside of the menu choices, at the cost of the chef’s inconvenience. For instance, they offered to change our rice to noodles, pasta or – I quote – “anything we want as long as it is within the chef’s capability to prepare.
To manage food expectations, I wouldn’t say the meals are impressive by Singapore’s standards, but every meal time is always a surprise as no two dishes are the same, except for breakfast, which we are given the same couple of options each morning. The meals served are usually a mixture of Indonesian and Western cuisines.
Sand Bar by the pool also sells cocktails and mocktails. That said, you can bring your own liquor, but keep in mind that it incurs a corkage fee.
Note: The duty-free limitation for bringing liquor to Indonesia is 1 litre per person.
Telunas Private Island’s Location
If you compare it with its sister resort, Telunas Beach Resort which is across the island, you’ll realise what a tiny speck Telunas Private Island, which is 12 ha in size.
To get here from Singapore, you have to take a 60-minute Batam Fast ferry from the Harbourfront ferry terminal, followed by a 90-minute wooden boat direct to the resort. Ferry timings can be found here.
In 2.5 hours, you are transported to an entirely different world.
Telunas Private Island’s Prices on Weekdays (Sun – Thurs)
Weekday room rate IDR 3300k++ (USD233)
Adult Dining (3 meals/night) IDR 940k++ (USD66)
Child Dining (3 meals/night) IDR 400K++ (USD28)
Additional Adult IDR 850k++ (USD60)
Additional Child IDR 500k++ (USD35)
Domestic Transfer (round trip) IDR 900k++(USD63.50)/adult; IDR 580k++(USD60)/child
Prices (2019) above do not include a 10% Indonesian tax and an 8.5% service charge.
Basic rate includes lodging for 2 persons, max occupancy of 5 persons.
For the most up-to-date prices, check out their website.
Telunas by night is equally mesmerising. With the floorboards lit up minimally, you can spot a sky sprinkled with star dusts. It has been a while since we’d seen so many stars in the sky. Stepping out into the balcony of our villa, the silence resounded in my ears. I was glad to be reminded of what quiet was like!
While I appreciate the minimal use of technology and electricity (TV, telephone, WiFi, aircon), we would definitely have enhanced our stay without trying to turn our fans on full blast in the afternoons and the itchy bites from the sandflies/ mosquitoes.
The exclusivity of the island is what draws many to this family-run resort, coupled with the resort’s unique no-WiFi policy. In today’s day and age where a lack of connectivity is more a luxury than a scarcity, it is where Telunas has an edge over the rest.
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Special thanks to Telunas for making this stay possible! All opinions remain my own.