Not so long ago I was lucky enough to get a free pass from Mr C for a girls’ weekend (or perhaps I should say ‘ladies weekend’, now I am 40) with five friends to Batu Batu, the new private-island resort on Pulau Tengah, located off the east coast of Mersing in Malaysia. It was the first girls’ weekend I’d been on since my hen weekend SEVEN years ago, and my first time without my two children.
Batu Batu (which means ‘Rock Rock’ in Bahasa Malay) is a three hour drive and 20 minute boat ride from Singapore. The resort has been built-in the Malay vernacular style out of sustainably harvested, tropical hard woods and glass. It has 20 1-bedroom villas and two 2-bedroom villas. This gorgeous island has seven beaches around it, some more accessible than others, with a dense jungle interior. The waters are clear and the white sand beaches are unspoilt, and often deserted.
Going away without children in tow, or husbands for that matter, was an entirely novel experience. I packed
light lighter than normal, I had plenty of room for my clothes and my shoes, and the journey was a breeze. No “mummy, I need a wee”, “mummy, I’m hungry”, or “mummy, I dropped my toy and can’t reach it”. And no tears or tantrums. The six of us arrived feeling relaxed, calm and happy.
In jungle villas on stilts, made out of dark wood and set back into the hillside. The 90 sq. metre villas at Batu Batu are simple but stylish, with big terraces, plenty of space, huge bathrooms with vast stone baths and rain showers. There are lots of steps leading up to them, so I wouldn’t recommend them if you have young kids. Each room also has a TV and DVD player, Ipod Dock, Malin & Goetz toiletries, mini bar and a hair dryer,
The food at Batu Batu was first class, and amongst the best I have ever tasted at any resort. Meals were served in the open-sided Pavilion bar and restaurant overlooking the sea. We went full board so lunches were two course, dinners were three, and included modern versions of Malaysian dishes such as beef redang and laksa with king prawns as well as beef carpaccio, grilled beef rib-eye and lychee, blood orange and mango sorbets, all presented as if you were in a top restaurant. Breakfast was the least inspiring meal of the day. Wines were French and cocktails were moreish. As with many resorts in Malaysia, the service was a bit of let down.
I hear there’s been a change of chefs at Batu Batu so I hope they manage to keep the same standard of food.
We sunbathed and snorkelled; swam in the sea, stayed up late and slept in; jumped off the jetty; lazed by the freshwater pool watching Rufus the Turtle bobbing up and down in the sea; behaved like teenagers; drank cocktails; and laughed ’til our stomachs hurt.
Long Beach, on one side of the main property, was our favourite and we claimed it as our own. There was rarely anyone else on it. The only place that ever felt busy was the infinity pool as it was often full of kids. As the kids were not our own we were still smiling, safe in the knowledge all ours were a few hours away, under the care of the fathers.
There’s a dive centre, spa, freshwater pool, bar and restaurant, and beach bar on Long Beach. You can walk around the island, hire kayaks and snorkels, and Batu Batu will arrange island-hopping or snorkelling trips. The snorkelling on the house reef was far better than anticipated, especially the further away from shore you are. Don’t miss the wall of fish right by the jetty. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Batu Batu will make an easy escape from Singapore for families too, in fact it filled up with kids at the weekend. (Please bear in mind this is a tiny island resort and it is not ClubMed!) This gorgeous, little island has not been child-proofed either. Their Ocean Villas have an annex with a bunk bed. There’s a TV for kids in the play area and a kids’ playhouse, although that hadn’t been completed when we were there. It’s got a pool which is great if you’ve got kids. There’s a simple children’s menu or you can choose to downsize the adult’s menu. They provide complimentary purees for babies. You can also hire babysitters.
We got there:
We were picked up at 7am from our condo by private taxi, which Batu Batu helped us to arrange. Three hours later we arrived at Mersing for the 20 minute (fast and a bit bumpy) boat ride to Batu Batu.
When to go:
It follows the same seasons as Singapore, so November to March is the rainy season. We hedged our bets and went at the beginning of November, but there was plenty of sunshine and not much rain.
Example of Rates: SGD $1220 (+10% tax) for 2 nights in an ocean villa plus full board for 2 adults, 2 kids over 4. Taxi and boat additional.
Top tip: Book well ahead and bring plenty of mosi repellent!
For more information please go to the Batu Batu website
As for our girls’ weekend, it was the best fun I’d had for ages but great to get back to see the children. Roll on the next one!