We spent 5 nights here in early March 2020, during the COVID-19 crisis. Stayed in a Beach Suite.
Let's start with the trip. We spent 3 night in Singapore prior to going to Bawah, as we traveled from Europe. The trip begins early in the morning at 7am, when you are picked up by a private car from your Singapore hotel. The car takes you to one of the two ferry terminals, where you are met by a Bawah representative. They take care of your ferry check in and luggage, and then you wait for the ferry in a "VIP" (kind of) lounge. The ride to Bintan takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, and the boat is big and fast. Nearly empty in early March due to COVID-19. When you arrive at the Bintan ferry terminal, you are welcomed by another Bawah representative at the boat, that helps you through immigration. Your luggage is loaded into another private car, and off to the Bintan airport. There you check in for the next private flight, and spend a little time at Starbucks - they buy everyone coffee! Then out a gate, onto a van, and off to the plane which is a 12 seat amphibious plane, that takes off from land and lands on the water! All very well organized, and great fun. The flight is about 80 minutes long and the view before landing is amazing.
Upon arrival - it was just us and another 2 couples - you are welcomed by the staff, and one of them is assigned to you to take care of whatever you need during the stay. Then off to the villa.
The villa itself is a bit "open" in that there are no real walls. But you can take down the "blinds" on each side, and that gives you a sense of being in a normal room vs. a tent. When it rains it gets very noisy. The villa is well appointed (no TV), the bathroom is large, there is AC to cool the room, and everything works well. The porch is a very nice area to chill, and the water is 10 steps away (or 20 during low tide!). You get some stuff in the mini bar for free, but nothing much. The villa is not the highlight of this place. It's where you'll sleep and shower. Most of the time will be spent elsewhere, or on your porch or patch of private beach in front of the villa.
The service is phenomenal. Everyone has a smile on their face, and it's not fake. Everyone has a can-do attitude, shows genuine care. Service is a highlight. The staff is the resort's greatest asset.
Food is another highlight. Whatever we ate was excellent. Although due to the extremely low occupancy during our stay (I think it was about 15%) we had a lot of "themed" nights with set menus, the food was always great. We enjoyed eating at every one of the 3 restaurants. I think the one on the beach was my favorite - great pizza!
Drinks is an issue. For a place that charges upwards of $2k per night, not including any alcoholic beverages is a mistake, in my opinion. How much would it cost to include some local beers and some wines in the package? Charge an extra $X, and just add it on... I don't think that people that pay $2k per night will abuse it, or even set a limit.
Another highlight is the natural beauty of this place. It's simply phenomenal, especially if you snorkel or dive. The underwater life is just incredible, some of the biggest coral formations I've ever seen are right inside the lagoon. I saw tons of different fish, sharks, sea turtles. Well worth exploring with a kayak, or during a guided tour.
The prearranged activities are plenty and very interesting, from the twice daily snorkeling excursions, to island walks, to sunset cruises around the islands, yoga, etc. Highly recommended to pick whichever interests you. Never a dull moment.
No TV in the room - although the internet was just fine - but they arrange movie nights on the beach or at the pool every other night, and that's really great fun. They make popcorn too! Movies under the stars!
The daily free spa treatment (the rate includes one treatment per person, per day) is excellent! We didn't miss any of them, and all the treatments we had (facials, massages, pedicure) were great.
This place is truly exceptional. Not easy to get to, but it's totally worth it. We have traveled all over the world (Seychelles, Fiji, French Polynesia, other places in Indonesia) in search for something as good as our favorite place in the world, the Maldives. Finally, I can say that we have found one! Although double the price, it's worth it. (Just add some drinks in the rate next time!!)
Would I return? Definitely yes!