Situated on a stretch of Bintan’s most impressive beach with a north facing aspect over the South China Sea, The Sanchaya is the brainchild of Russian entrepreneur Natalya Pavchinskaya.
Pavchinskaya, who lives in Singapore, discovered a secluded 10-hectare beachfront plot on Lagoi Bay back in 2008 and dreamed of building a luxury hotel there. Six years later, with the support of renowned design company p49 who have also been responsible for projects like the W Koh Samui, the Sofitel Hanoi, Six Senses Laamau in the Maldives and the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Muscat, The Sanchaya was born.
- Opened: December 2014
- Rooms: 30 (17 Suites and 13 Villas)
- Staff: 200
- Check-in: 2pm
- Check-out: 12pm
- General Manager: Magnus Olovson
- Sommelier: Jeroen L’abée
- Spa Manager: Ria Cantle
The Sanchaya is located in the Lagoi Bay area of Bintan Island, Indonesia, around a 10-minute drive from Bandar Bentan Telani, the island’s main ferry terminal.
The ferry crossing from Singapore’s Tanah Merah ferry terminal takes 50 minutes. If you are arriving by air, Tanah Merah ferry terminal is a 15-minute bus ride from Singapore Changi Airport, slightly less in a taxi.
There are limited domestic flights at Tanjung Pinang airport on Bintan itself, a 1 hour 15 minute drive from the Sanchaya.
Flights there are primarily to and from Jakarta with Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air and Lion Air. Wings Air also flies to Batam and Pekanbaru, and Xpress Air flies to Matak and Natuna. Contact the hotel directly to arrange transfers to and from Tanjung Pinang airport.
A new airport in Bintan is due to open in 2020, with international flights promised. The location, near the west of the island, will make it an approximate 40-minute drive from the Sanchaya.
Most guests arrive from Singapore by ferry and The Sanchaya experience begins shortly after you arrive in Bintan. The hotel has its own team at the ferry terminal to greet you, escorting you through the immigration channel then leading you to the hotel’s own private lounge facility.
Here you are offered cold towels and a drink while any checked luggage is collected on your behalf and brought across to the car in preparation for your transfer to the resort. The check-in formalities for your room at The Sanchaya are also taken care of here.
The Sanchaya is apparently the only hotel on the island offering this ‘seamless arrival experience’. It was certainly a very civilised arrival experience and we enjoyed a nice cup of coffee prior to the resort transfer.
We first visited The Sanchaya in June 2018 for a 4-night stay in a Junior Suite. Our visit was so enjoyable we asked to see a 2-bedroom villa as an option for an upcoming family celebration. Needless to say we were suitably impressed and we returned to The Sanchaya for just that occasion in mid-September 2018.
This review is therefore a collective of our two Sanchaya experiences.
On our first visit we were personally welcomed by the hotel manager Magnus, who advised us we were one of only three couples staying at the hotel that night. Later in the week it would become busier, however with a significant staff on hand it was sure to be very personal service at least for the early part of our stay.
Our return in September was no exception, Magnus was on hand to welcome us once again and during the midweek portion of our stay the hotel was expected to remain quiet.
Formal check-in procedures aren’t necessary and on both visits we were first invited to take an escorted tour of the resort while our luggage was taken to our suite / villa.
Despite being less than 4 years old, the hotel is carefully styled to resemble an old and beautifully restored colonial mansion house. The quality of the finish is superb and you’ll want to have your camera at the ready from the moment you arrive here.
There’s a clear design concept at the Sanchaya and it strikes you almost immediately upon arrival.
We booked a Junior Suite for our initial 4-night stay using the Citi Prestige concierge 4th night free offer. We use this perk several times a year and when you’re paying top end for a hotel like this one the saving really comes into its own – 25% off the basic room rate in this case (taxes still need to be paid for all 4 nights). If you aren’t familiar with the 4th night free offer we’d recommend reading our review of the Citi Prestige card in Singapore.
Remarkably this is the entry-level room type at The Sanchaya, alongside the Lawan Thai Villas. Room sizes vary from 70 m2 to 84 m2 and inside there’s thoughtful placement of almost every item with the continued colonial theme evident.
A total of nine of these Junior Suites and larger Sanchaya Suites are located on the second floor of the main building – known as The Great House. Eight additional Sanchaya Suites are located across 4 villa-style buildings in the grounds of the estate each with a private entrance and located either on the ground or upper floor of the building.
A range of in-room snacks and beverages are available in what The Sanchaya refers to as your own “maxi-bar”. This is re-stocked daily with beer, soft drinks and chocolate.
Freshly baked snacks such as cookies are also brought to the room during each evening turn down service.
A wine fridge is also stocked with some bottles (chargeable) and each room has wine glasses, a decanter and an espresso machine. If like us you prefer milk in your coffee you just have to ask and they will stock fresh milk in your fridge each day.
A grand Chinese style cabinet contains a Bang & Olufsen TV with Apple TV and an iPad equipped with hundreds of movies and a wide music selection. A pillow menu is also provided, though we found the standard offering excellent on the large comfy bed.
Drinking water, both still and sparkling, is filtered in-house and delivered to the room twice daily in recycled glass bottles in line with the hotel’s eco-credentials.
Junior Suite bathroom
The bathroom is large, well appointed and stocked with Aesop toiletries, a favourite of ours.
There’s a dedicated full-size shower cubicle and a separate free standing bathtub.
The staff at The Sanchaya are referred to as ‘Artisans’, and from start to finish they were incredible during our stay. All our needs were quickly catered for and every staff member addressed us by name from the outset, a nice personal touch.
The Sanchaya management makes efforts to recruit and train locals as staff to support the surrounding communities.
The centrepiece of the resort is an Olympic-length (50m) salt-chlorinated infinity pool, with views over a fantastic expanse of beach.
Staff bring a hamper to your deck chairs when you arrive, with still and sparkling water, cold towels, sun cream and after sun. There’s also a food and drinks menu provided inside.
Throughout the day the staff also bring round small frozen fruit skewers to poolside guests.
On most weekdays we sat by the pool with only perhaps 4 to 6 other guests. At the weekend it was busier, however, the staff had already provided additional sun loungers to cope with the ‘demand’ (if you can call it that in a hotel with 30 rooms) and there was never an issue securing a poolside spot throughout both our stays here.
It’s not hard to see why Natalya Pavchinskaya was inspired to build a hotel here when she first saw this stretch of beautiful beach 10 years ago.
The vista is stunning and far more reminiscent of the Maldives or Mauritius than Bintan.
The beach stretches for well over a kilometre in each direction, perfect for a walk especially around sunset as the temperature becomes much more bearable.
A number of sun loungers with umbrellas and day beds are located on the beach, these are also within a short walk of the main swimming pool and other hotel facilities. Service from the staff is on hand as you’d expect with food and drink options never far away.
A great deal of effort goes into keeping the beach in this pristine condition as the Singapore Strait is notoriously polluted by the passing ships waiting outside of the Singapore ports. We have visited many other resorts along this coastline and their beaches have been dotted with tar spots and rubbish. We walked extensively in both directions from the Sanchaya and it was immaculate.
A fully equipped air-conditioned gym is set in its own dedicated building and is open to guests 24 hours a day.
A good selection of machines and free weights is sufficient for a thorough workout. Towels and water are provided, including a fridge with chilled towels and water if you prefer. As you’d imagine everything is kept spotlessly clean.
A fully equipped spa is located adjacent to the gym in a fully enclosed private garden. A small but diverse menu offers all the usual treatments you would expect plus some more bespoke items like the ‘Kawasaki Lift’. Ria, the spa manager, is very knowledgeable and will quickly guide you to the right treatment.
Both single and couple rooms are available. All the treatments we tried were excellent, above the standard of other hotels we have tried in the region. Whilst expensive, in-line with what you would pay in a premium spa in Singapore – the quality is worth it.
At the far end of The Great House is an elaborately decorated library that’s fully equipped with every conceivable variety of reading material. The high end, leather, cowhide and wood furniture certainly continues the colonial theme.
Selected board games are also provided, making this the perfect retreat on a rainy day.
Through the library is “Decanter”. A tasting room lined with wine fridges and meat lockers.
We tried their wine and cheese pairing for lunch. It was an excellent alternative to the restaurant options, especially if you’re lucky enough to be staying for a few days, and for approximately S$100 per person, offered good value for money in our opinion.
Sommelier Jeroen’s fantastic selection included a glass each of:
- Woven Stone Sauvignon Blanc 2016
- Tormaresca Chardonnay Puglia 2015
- Bunnamagoo Estate Shiraz 2011
- Château du Tertre Margaux (Grand Cru Classé) 2005
These were served with a variety of hard and soft European cheeses, including an excellent Dutch variety and finishing off with the fabulous Roquefort.
As we mentioned above during our second visit to The Sanchaya in September 2018 for a family celebration we booked one of the 2-bedroom villas.
These are also located near the beach, all on one level offering a large living and dining room with two similar sized master bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms.
The master suite is set up as a king while you can request for the second bedroom to be a twin or king bed arrangement.
A beautiful veranda runs along the entire back of the villa, accessible from both bedrooms and the living room, and is the perfect spot for sun downers and offering direct access to the lawn and beach.
2-bedroom villa bathrooms
Each bedroom is en-suite, as you would expect, and the bathrooms are no less impressive than those in the Junior Suites. A large shower and separate bathtub features in both villa bathrooms, with the same Moroccan floor tiling and white tiled walls finishing off that elegant clean look.
Of course, the same Aesop toiletries are found here and the bathrooms are complete with spacious wardrobes / dressing areas and fluffy bathrobes.
The Lawan Thai villas are the entry-level rooms and are priced the same as the Junior Suites. They offer the same space and facilities but are slightly more private if staying in the main building is not for you. They are situated around a natural lagoon with a small patio.
3- and 4-bedroom villas are equipped with private pools. The 3-bedroom option is near the lagoon with the 4-bedroom villa at the beach front.
The 3-bedroom villa closest to the lagoon is made up of three separate Thai Lawan villas which make up the bedrooms, together surrounding a private pool.
The 4-bedroom beachside option, the Presidential Vanda Villa, consists of two buildings accommodating the bedrooms and living / dining room alongside a private lap pool.
Daily breakfast is included in all room rates and is served in The Dining Room. This is a real highlight of the day and is served until a very civilised 11am. The chef’s ‘harvest table’ is set up for self-service and includes granola, yoghurts, bread, preserves and honey. A live soup and noodle station is also offered, changing daily between different local options.
A wide à la carte menu is also offered including local fare such as Mamak Mee Goreng from Malaysia alongside western fare like Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and truffle hollandaise.
It is also possible to have breakfast served on your private balcony or terrace if you wish, we took this option on a couple of mornings during our first stay.
Champagne by the glass is also available at a supplement to accompany your breakfast in addition to the usual tea and coffee / juice options.
Bars and restaurants
Aside from breakfast, The Dining Room also serves lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Seating is available inside or on the terrace for a slightly more casual experience with a view over the pool and the beach.
The Tasanee Grill is the Thai restaurant located next to the swimming pool, serving authentic Bangkok street cuisine for dinner between 6pm and 10pm. Seating is al fresco, under a canopy in case of rain.
Selections here include crab cakes and spring rolls to start, with vegetarian dishes like spicy green papaya salad and soups including spicy tom yum with prawns.
More substantial main courses include grilled pork belly on a lava stone and marinated grilled lamp chops in a massaman curry. You can even try one of their set 3-course Thai culinary journeys.
A selection of rice is served with main courses, with choices including white and brown rice and watermelon rice.
A lunch menu is served poolside, or if you prefer you can sit in the Tasanee Grill or The Dining Room. All the lunch options we tried were excellent, so we’d recommend at least sharing one of these even if you enjoyed a large breakfast (which is likely!).
Personal recommendations would be the Minang Burger and the Tuna Nicoise Salad.
On our last evening, we decided to celebrate two excellent stays with a private beach BBQ. A separate kitchen, including a private gazebo, was set up just for us on a private stretch of beach. The usual excellent service and food ensured and even though it was expensive the food was excellent, plentiful and it represented good value for money.
The Salon & Library also serves snacks on request and you can arrange a wine and cheese tasting with the hotel sommelier at Decanter.
The Bar, as its name suggests, is the hotel’s main bar and cocktail lounge. Located on the ground floor of The Great House, it also features outdoor seating and swimming pool / sea views.
Inside the bar you’ll find the opulent theme continued with chesterfield sofas, high and low seating options and a range of artwork with some sporting memorabilia thrown in for good measure.
A flat-screen TV in the corner is where you’ll be able to catch up on any live sporting events, just ask the friendly bar staff who will help you find what you’re looking for.
For us, the beauty of the bar was the comfortable evening ambiance outside with excellent table service from the staff. A wide range of drinks and cocktails are on the menu and we found the bartender was happy to go off-piste with your favourite if it isn’t listed.
One of the main spectacles which is well worth a try is to order one of the table side cocktails. Here your drink is mixed ‘live’ next to your table, which is a fun experience.
In the evening cocktails and drinks are served alongside a selection of tasty canapés.
This was a lovely touch and perfect to get you in the mood for dinner.
The Sanchaya is a perfect retreat for those like us happy to while away their day by the infinity pool with an iPod or a good book, interspersed with the occasional swim and perhaps a massage in the spa or an hour in the gym.
For those who find that schedule at least a little boring, fear not as there are several other activities available at the hotel. These include:
- Croquet lawn
- Blokart sailing
- Stand-up paddle boards
- Eclipse boards
- Papillionaire bicycles
- Pétanque (boules)
- Private archery (additional charge)
- Private mangrove forest boat tours (additional charge)
We decided to take some bikes down to the nearby Lagoi Bay Lake for a leisurely 7.5km evening cycle.
It was a very nice experience and an easy way to leave the hotel for an hour or so. Highly recommended. There is also nearby golf, as you’d expect on Bintan.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel and we recorded acceptable download speeds by the pool.
There is also a shop in the hotel called ‘The Collection’ with a range of gifts and clothing items for sale.
It’s not adults only
It’s right to assume this is mostly a retreat for couples, or an adults-only group vacation, however, the Sanchaya accommodates younger guests too with children’s activities, a playground and children’s menus in the restaurants. Even the bar offers child-friendly food options, like burgers and chips or hot dogs and spaghetti. Babysitting services are also available for a fee.
It won’t surprise you that a unique boutique hotel like this is not part of one of the major hotel chains, meaning you won’t be able to splash your Marriott or IHG points for example on a stay here.
The hotel is now part of the American Express Luxury Resorts and Hotels scheme which means that if you book using the platinum concierge you receive certain complimentary benefits. More information can be found here.
It’s also part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts group, which runs its own loyalty scheme ‘I Prefer’. See here for details.
The Sanchaya is nothing short of a stunning hotel with service and facilities to match. Yes, it’s expensive and you’ll pay Singapore hotel or higher-end restaurant prices for food and drink during your stay.
That shouldn’t put you off trying out a luxury stay here in our opinion. Even for just a couple of nights for a special occasion, if you’re anything like us you’ll leave longing to return to this place.
For us, proximity to Singapore is another major advantage. We managed door-to-door from our house to the hotel in 2 hours 45 minutes. By the time you reach a resort in Phuket, for example, it’s easily 3 hours 30 minutes, and Bali is obviously much longer.
From the incredible design and top-end finish in all the suites and villas to the fabulous infinity pool and the jaw-dropping expanse of beach, this place ticks all our boxes and then some.
From the moment you step off the ferry from Singapore and are whisked into the private arrivals lounge, there’s a real feeling of elegance and exclusivity throughout your stay here.
Example non-refundable rates for a weekend stay in November 2018, including breakfast:
- Lawan Thai Villas from S$642 per night
- Junior Suites from S$642 per night
- Sanchaya Suites from S$962 per night
- 2-Bedroom Villas from S$1,604 per night
- 3-Bedroom Villas from S$2,093 per night
Exchange rate of 1 SGD = 10,712 IDR assumed.
Stayed June 2018 & September 2018
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)