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“Sweet spot”
Review of Nikoi Island

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Nikoi Island
Ranked #1 of 35 Hotels in Bintan Island
Certificate of Excellence
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Sweet spot”
Reviewed 20 April 2014

Family holiday with the young boys. We'll be back for sure. Not cheap and books ridiculously far in advance but is too good to really complain.
You've got the entire island with very few other guests, unique sea-side villas - well maintained and cool architecture, but open air (so if you fear bugs/lizards and must have sanitised rooms this ain't for you) - great beach and spectacular pool area, above average local food, and a fun bar with specialty rum and gins (plus they make their own tonic). There is a kids club that is built for adventurous boys (we came home with wooden swords scabbards, and cross bows) and they light a bonfire at night and put on a movie so the adults can have time to unwind.
Fishing and jumping from the jetty are fun if you are into it. The snorkelling nothing to get excited about, but the beach is great.
From Singapore, the trip can be tricky. Indonesia customs tried to shake us down because one of us only had half a blank visa page left in the passport. We played dumb and ultimately called their bluff to not let us in until they relented, but still not ideal to be brought into room, scolded, and asked for money. Nikoi staff were there but not able/willing to help.
Then you've got an hour drive over to the other side of Bintan. Fine, unless you're prone to car sickness. But once through that, the speed boat ride out to Nikoi is quick and fun and the resort has a slick little waiting spot set up on Bintan while you wait for the boat.
All in, a great spot. We'll be back for sure, if we can find a suitable time that isn't already booked up that is.

Room Tip: Rooms are on both sides of the island. The offshore breeze direction shifts depending on season. You...
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank ELongview
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 20 April 2014
Thanks for your kind review. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay. Also very pleasing to hear you enjoyed the food and the bar. Sorry to hear your experience about with the immigration authorities. It is a requirement that you have at least one clean page in your passport and whilst rather mindless it is something that they enforce. It is not that our staff would have not been willing to assist but rather that it would not have been well received by the authorities and would have most likely have made matters worse. Unfortunately this is outside our control although we do warn guests of this in the literature we send out in advance. We look forward to hopefully welcoming you back some day.
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English first
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 April 2014

This is one of the most fantastic places I have been with my family ever. Only thing that comes near is the Seychelles.

Extremely well built, astonishing architecture, great views everywhere.

The laid back atmosphere was just what we were looking for.

Very nice staff, super familiy friendly.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank JonTollerup
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 12 April 2014
Thanks for your very kind review. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay so much. Hopefully we will see you over on Nikoi again some day.
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Athens
Level Contributor
97 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 265 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 April 2014

We spent a week with my girlfriend at Nikoi Island in February. We were looking to find alternative to the Maldives private island resorts. Nikoi looked great on the website, and so we booked a trip to Nikoi, via Singapore.

Getting there from Singapore is mildly complicated. A catamaran ferry ride to Bintan (1 hour), followed by a 1 hour drive through Bintan, and a 30 minute boat ride to Nikoi. All very well handled.

Upon arrival (around dinner time), we were checked in, and shown to our room. Because we could not book a single villa for the full duration when we attempted to, and because we had to go on specific dates, we ended up booking a two villa complex. This is made up by two nearly identical villas on stilts. We only used one for the entire duration. We had Villa 15.

The first big issue I have is the way the villa is built. Yes, I get all the eco-friendly stuff, but no curtains, and open air on the sides? Any flying critter had an open invitation to visit our room at night, and they were especially drawn by the lights. Also, at dawn, the light was everywhere in the room, which bothered me a lot. I don't see why the management cannot keep the eco-friendly part (no air conditioning), but add something to keep the flying pests out, and some curtains.

The room, apart from this issue, was OK. The bed was comfortable, and thank God for the mosquito net at night. The whole villa is on stilts, apparently so that lizards wont be an issue in the room (there are some pretty big ones on the island). The bathroom had another issue: Hot water comes from a solar panel heater. So, on a cloudy day, or at night, after one showered, the next got cold water only...

One of the main reasons I like to visit private, exotic island resorts is the fact that I like to swim and snorkel in the sea. More issues here: First, the fact that there are two high and two low tides every 24 hours, and these are about a meter-plus apart, means that at certain times there is not enough water to swim in at the beach. You have to walk (with special shoes on, as there are a lot of rocks around the island) quite far to get to the swimable part at low tide. The sea was murky, and there was a lot of debris at water's end. Plastic, metal, glass, and at some points, tar (I totally destroyed a pair of flip flops walking at the beach next to the pool). Overall, I was disappointed by the condition of the beaches. This is a major asset of this resort and I would think that with all the people working there, they could afford having cleanup crews twice daily. In the last resort we visited in the Maldives, a crew would go around the island at daybreak, pickuo all the recyclable garbage washed out on the beach for recycling, and bury deep into the sand rocks, pieces of coral and seaweed, so the beach was coral sand pristine. At Nikoi, apart from the garbage, the natural "junk" is left on the beach, which means the sand is littered with rocks, broken coral and seaweed, which stinks when exposed to the sun, and you literally cannot walk barefoot on most of the beach (especially the part in from of villa 15). I understand that some parts of the beach is not accessible by foot, for natural reasons (the area between the swimming pool and the mangroves), but they could do so much better keeping up the beaches which are accessible. Just clean then up more often!

A highlight of the resort is the pool area. Also built on stilts, and overlooking the South China Sea, its an oasis! Great drinks, nice pool, cool breeze. If no one else is around, its the best place to be on the island. We spent nearly every day there after we discovered it, and given the state of the beach.

Another big issue I had was the meals. Breakfast was OK. A choice of cereals, some juice, choice of eggs, with some sides, etc. This kept us all day, until dinner, so we never had lunch (which, however is in the same style as dinner). For dinner, we felt as if we were at summer camp: 1 choice = no choice. Yes, if earlier you asked to have something else, because you did not like what was for dinner, they would accommodate you, but there is no menu here. "Tonight we have this for starter, this for main and this for dessert". No choice. This is by far not "chic". And I really do not see why they could not have a choice of at least 2 dishes for each course. Even economy class passengers in airplanes are asked "chicken or fish?"!!! The food itself was good, no complains, but the lack of choice did not make me happy. Service at the restaurant was inconsistent. Some staff was professional, and acted out their training, some others not.

Another point: Boredom. There is nothing to do at night, after the meal, apart from accessing the Internet (only 1 hour free wifi per day), or have a drink at the bar. No TV, yes you can read a good book (I read two during the week), but very limited options. For kids, at 7:30 pm, they show a kids movie at a nice roofed area, where the kids entertainment area is during the day. This finishes at 9. You would think that someone could have suggested to have a 9:30 to 11:30 movie, with free popcorn and maybe some soda for the grownups... I would have loved it. But no such luck. Oh well, whether I wanted it or not, I caught up on my sleep...

Overall, maybe its just me... Maybe I just like to have solid wall and curtains, maybe I just like to have seaweed cleaned off the beach, maybe I just like to have a choice of what I'll eat. But maybe it's not just me. However, given the choices of private island, eco-friendly resorts in the world, I will not be returning...

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank AlbertR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 11 April 2014
Thanks for your review and for the feedback.

We are the first to admit that Nikoi will not suit everyone. We did not intend it to. Our intention was to develop a private island that felt like visiting a friends place. That is, that it does not feel like a hotel with formal staff, a host of rules, menus and constant upselling. In our mind the luxury of a visit to Nikoi is the space and privacy that big hotels just do not offer these days. With typically no more than 50 guests Nikoi is these days a true escape that many destinations cannot match. Even most of the resorts in the Maldives would cater for many more guests on far smaller properties.

With regard to your suggestion that we provide screens for insects this would firstly be complicated by the nature of the construction and secondly it would block any sea breeze and thus make the rooms hotter than they might be otherwise.

Our staff could have provided a movie after the kids one - I am sorry this was not done. We do not have a big selection of adult movies but we can even set up a smaller screen on the beach so I am sorry this was not explained to you. I will remind our staff to do so.

I am a little confused by your comment on the tides. Our tidal range and the 2 low and 2 high tides per day is quite normal. The tidal range like everywhere will vary depending on the lunar cycle. Yes at very low tides it can be difficult to swim in the sea off the beach but you can always get access to the sea from one of jetties. During the months of December to February (ie when you visited) the seas can be rough and as a result the sea can be churned up and thus visibility is not great. There is an information sheet on our website that explains this.

We do rake up seaweed but we leave it on the beach as this is an important part of the eco system. Any resort that takes it off the beach is removing an important part of the eco system.

We do not offer a menu at meal times for several reasons. Firstly it helps reduce food waste and we believe that because we operate in what is a relatively impoverished part of the world it is important to minimise food waste, secondly we have found that many guests like the fact that they do not have to be bothered with menus and thirdly we find that by leaving it up to the chef to chose the menu based on what is fresh and seasonal in the markets we get better meals. We do however recognise that some guests will have dietary requirements so we are always happy to tailor menus to guests needs. Our staff will ask guests after each meal if they are happy with the menu for the next meal and if not we are happy to tailor the menu for them. To us this gives guests a wide variety of options. It is, as explained above, much more akin to visiting a friends private island than a resort.

I am sorry that Nikoi did not suit you and that you will not be returning. I would also like to apologise for the shortcomings that you experienced. We greatly appreciate the feedback and the time you have taken to give your review and hopefully it will help others from deciding whether Nikoi is suitable for them or not.
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Singapore, Singapore
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 30 March 2014

Let me start by saying that I will definitely be returning to Nikoi for at least a third time. That said, I had two issues on my latest trip that I hope can be addressed before I return.

The main issue I had with my most recent stay was the check in procedure. We arrived on the boat at 11. As usual all bags were brought to the beach bar to await the rooms being ready. For some reason, our room was not ready until close to 4. My bags, with passports and other valuables would have been left unattended at the bar this whole time. Instead, I stayed with the bags while my family snorkeled. This is incredibly frustrating after spending 2 hours in a ferry then a car to sit at a bar sweating miserably. To make it worse, the bar was not even staffed, so there was nothing to drink. Our check in experience during our first visit was not vey smooth either, but not nearly this bad.

The other issue I had was food related. For our final meal of lunch, the kitchen ran out of tofu and tempeh so we were not able to get full portions. When we asked about this, they said that there was no tofu on the last boat in. As vegans this was pretty frustrating as we alerted the staff at the time of booking and again about a week prior to arrival so they could plan our meals.

While both of these issues were annoying, they were minor in comparison to the multitude of great things that will bring me back.
First of all, the staff is incredibly friendly and will not hesitate to honor a request. Many of the staff remembered us from our first trip. Pedro from the bar still remembered that the Rum Mejan was my favorite drink.
The rooms are amazingly close to the beach. In fact, from the balcony of the master suite, I was able to hear something below. When I shined the flashlight on it, I realized it was a sea turtle digging a spot to lay her eggs. I woke my wife and kids. We were fascinated to see such a beautiful creature.


Another great aspect of the island is the large number of activities. We participated in snorkeling, paddle boarding, wind surfing, kayaking, trekking, and of course laying on the beach relaxing. The kids enjoyed the kids club where, after a bonfire to roast marshmallows, the kids watch a Disney movie each night. This allowed the adults some free time and the bar in the evening.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Dax74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 1 April 2014
Thanks for your kind review. I am sorry to hear about your late check-in experience. Normal check-in should be done by 1pm which means guests who arrive in the morning can check-in after lunch. There are showers and toilets to change in. We are reviewing our procedures to see how we can improve this but unfortunately as we run at high occupancies it can put pressure on our staff particularly if guests are tardy in checking out. Our staff should have been able to put any valuables in our safe but certainly there is no excuse for not being able to check you in earlier - so my apologies for this. The Tempeh dish served at lunch was an entree so I am a bit confused about what you mean by full portions. I am sorry we were not able to offer you more than what you wanted. Great to hear you enjoyed the stay regardless and hopefully we will see you on Nikoi soon.
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Singapore
Level Contributor
34 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 March 2014

My husband and I have just returned from a wonderful 3 nights on Nikoi, our third trip there. Everything was as amazing as expected, from the friendly staff to the delicious food. The driver who drove us from the Bintan ferry terminal to the Nikoi terminal was very friendly and we enjoyed chatting with him about Bintan. Samuel from the restaurant was very attentive and he remembered that we liked spicy food and that I dislike cheese. Boyan was extremely helpful and went to great trouble to get a bottle of the Nikoi Island soap for us.

The beach was beautiful this time round without any oil slicks. We stayed in villa 1 and although it was close to the check-in bar, the plants at the side ensured adequate privacy. It was the first time we stayed at that side of the island and the scenery there was certainly breath-taking. The constant wind made the air very cool and we certainly did not miss air-conditioning! The only bummer was that the balcony door was rather hard to open due to the hinges which probably need some oiling.

Food-wise, our tummies were extremely well satisfied. I was delighted to see that my previous suggestion on TripAdvisor for jam spreaders to be provided at breakfast was actually implemented! One suggestion - if feasible, it would be great if the bar sold ice cream, ice cream sundaes or ice cream floats. I'm sure they would be a hit with the kids, and adults too.

As I said previously, we'll definitely be back!

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank mlmleong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 1 April 2014
Thanks for taking the time to post your very kind review. I am sure our staff will be very pleased to read of your praise. I have asked our maintenance team to look into the hinges on your room. Unfortunately the salt air means that anything like this takes quite a beating. We will also look at how we can provide ice creams. Thanks again.
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Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
39 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 March 2014

Just back from an amazing three days on Nikoi Island. This is my second visit after a long hiatus and oh my god, what a difference. Our first visit was fun but Nikoi was relatively new but now on return, Nikoi has certainly grown up. Now Nikoi is a fully fledged resort with fabulous Robinson Crusoe style accommodation, a pool, tennis court and in room massages. We personally loved sleeping on that fabulous bed with all the windows open and no doors looking out over the sea and enjoying the cool breeze under the safety of our mosquito net. The water was crisp and clear and while you do need shoes if you have precious feet because the sand is covered in shells the temperature was divine. For those that don't like the sea they have a fabulous pool that is long and super deep and is perched on one side of the island with fab views over super white rock formations. The food was great but above all else the staff and service was wonderful. It truly felt like nothing was too much - we were there for a friends 50th and so the highlight was without question dinner on one long table to accommodate over 30 people on the sand with white table clothes and lanterns - a truly magical experience.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank bella2767
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 1 April 2014
Thanks for your kind review. Great to hear you enjoyed your stay so much. We are very pleased to hear that you feel Nikoi has evolved since your last visit and that your weekend was a "magical experience". We look forward to hopefully welcoming you back.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 21 March 2014

Spent three totally relaxing days on Nikoi Island, can only describe this place as paradise, so relaxing, all the staff were so friendly and nothing was to much trouble, the manager Tony is also a real nice guy to talk to, food and houses are also out of this world, we found our island get away, this is not for every one, if you want drunk yobs and loud music don't come to Nikoi, if you are after perfect peace on a tropical island with great food great accommodation and very friendly staff then this is the place for you, we will be going back. Thanks Tony and all you guys on Nikoi.
Tony and Carre Nesbit

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank rabcnes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
relaxedby, Owner at Nikoi Island, responded to this review, 24 March 2014
Thanks for your delightful review. It was great to read that you enjoyed the food, accommodation and service so much. We look forward to welcoming you back some day. Thanks very much.
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Additional Information about Nikoi Island

Property: Nikoi Island
Address: Riau Islands Province, Indonesia
Region: Indonesia > Riau Islands Province > Riau Archipelago > Bintan Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Bintan Island
#1 Spa Hotel in Bintan Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Number of rooms: 15
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nikoi Island is a 15 hectare private island just 85 kms from Singapore and has long been regarded as one of the most stunning islands on this unspoiled coast. Ringed with white sandy beaches and coral reefs of spectacular color and diversity, Nikoi is for those seeking a true private island experience and the comfort of a destination dedicated to responsible tourism practices. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Nikoi Island Bintan Island, Riau Islands
Nikoi Island Hotel Bintan

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