December 2016


GOLFING In search of perfecting her swing, and to prove to her husband that the months of golf lessons were worth every penny, EMILY FINCH heads to newly revamped Laguna Golf Bintan and discovers she can (nearly) hold her own over 18 holes. GETAWAY

S o, if you’ll excuse the terrible pun, I will start from scratch. Last year, I took up what some people (shame on you!) perceive to be the ultimate game for the middle-aged: golf. The competitive side of me wanted to get a good decade’s head-start: learning such a sport in your late 40s, when the body’s not quite as supple as it used to be, has surely got to be way harder, right? The folks at Laguna Golf Bintan clearly recognised my potential (hee hee!) when they read my golf entries on our EL blog and kindly asked me to come and try out their updated course. Not content with just a day’s golf, we decided to super-size our day on Bintan to a few nights away. George and I are big fans of the staycation. While our friends back “home” think we live in the world of helper- heaven – and certainly the live-in help is a huge bonus on a daily basis – we do miss being able to drop the kids with their grandparents and do a proper runner. It had been six years since we’d last had more than one night away together. One step up from the stay-cay is a trip that doesn’t involve flying, but where you

On arrival at Lagoi, we were assisted by a Banyan Tree staff member through immigration (British passport holders no longer need a visa, by the way) and ushered with our kit onto one of the resort’s smart people-carriers. Ten minutes later, we’d arrived. As you would expect, the place is beautifully kept, charming (thatched roofs get me every time) and well run. Buggies take you everywhere you need to go – it’s a big site. We were whisked across the resort to our Sea View Villa and during our buggy ride could see how clever they’ve been about the positioning and aspect of each plot; no villa is overlooked by another. We felt a real sense of privacy entering our digs, complete with its own private terrace and plunge pool, and facing west to capitalise on those sunsets. We could also see the lights of Singapore in the distance, which was quite comforting, having left the kids behind. Inside stood a massive double four- poster bed complete with romantic mozzie net draped over the top, and ceiling fan above. Don’t worry, there’s air-con too, along with a desk in case you need to work, and a large day bed

get to head off for more than one night, still relatively guilt- (and child-) free. This is where Singapore’s neighbour, Bintan, has the edge. PLAN We chose to do our two-nighter from a Thursday, meeting at Tanah Merah for the 5pm ferry to Bandar Bentan Telani. We knew we’d feel a lot happier leaving the girls on a day when they were at school, rather than floating around at home over a weekend. Also, being back by Saturday lunchtime meant we had most of the weekend still ahead of us to make up for our bunk! Remember, Bintan is an hour behind Singapore time, so you gain an hour when you get there; this meant we were ensconced in the resort and hoovering our first Bintangs by 6pm Indo-time. STAY There are so many options now on Bintan. We’d come away for a bit of luxury and wanted somewhere close to Laguna Golf Bintan – I’m not a morning person, but in this climate an early tee-off is essential – and the Banyan Tree Bintan provides exactly those things.



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