Bawah is a picture-perfect, tiny archipelago of previously uninhabited islands surrounded by turquoise waters, and covered by lush tropical greenery. And it’s an ideal retreat for luxury travellers seeking their next undiscovered paradise.
This island resort is located only 150 nautical miles off Singapore, but it could just as well be a world away. Getting there was an adventure in itself, and it felt like being gradually removed from civilisation.
First, we were picked up from our hotel in Singapore (we stayed at the Six Senses Duxton) and taken to the ferry terminal. Accompanied by the hotel representative we sailed to the island of Batam. Then another drive, to a local airport, and soon we were boarding a private amphibious aircraft. It took some 90 minutes to fly to the Bawah archipelago. It’s not a quick journey — and yet, it was worth it.
As the seaplane neared the destination, it circled the paradisiacal spot of blue lagoons and coral reefs, deserted beaches and the thick, tropical greenery covering the islands, all basked in the brilliant sunshine.
Everything here felt in sync with the impression of being sheltered in carefree insular seclusion — with every wish catered for. From the welcome ceremony to the arrival to our Ocean Bungalow, and then from the restaurant service to the spa, the experience of Bawah is designed around the promise of luxury in a remote tropical destination.
The style of the resort matches the theme of eco-luxury. There are roofs thatched with palm leaves, tables and chairs put together from flotsam (at the beachside Boat House), while the Tree Top restaurant and the library wow with art installations and the jellyfish-shaped lamps, hung from the roof. The guest bungalows and suites have a natural elegance, thanks to teak floors, canopied beds and soft rugs. Free-standing copper bathtub, bamboo lattices and a sophisticated wallpaper give the rooms a unique character.
Bawah has its own brand of lo-fi relaxation and barefoot luxury, with a strong back-to-nature mindset — which is apt, given that this small archipelago of “6 islands, 13 beaches and 3 lagoons” is a marine conservation zone. The resort makes a lot of effort to be a steward of nature here. There is a no-waste policy, pesticides and fishing are banned, and a high-end water purification system is in place as well, installed by a specialist firm from Scandinavia.
All the spa
This is one of those places where the promise of “all-inclusive” luxury is meant literally. The transfers (including on the seaplane) are covered in the hotel rate, and so are all guest experiences — including, the best of all, daily spa treatments. It became a daily ritual for us to spend up to two hours there trying out different treatments from the spa menu.
There are many other attractions on offer. We would wake up with the sun and fill our time with a ton of activities, from kayaking to hiking and from open-air cinema screenings to sunset dining in the Tree Top restaurant.
One of the best things we’ve done was a deserted beach experience. The excellent staff of the resort took us on a boat ride and left us alone with the picnic set up under a gazebo. It really felt exclusive, romantic, and adventurous to have an entire beach to ourselves. Another thing we loved was the dinner under the stars at the Tree Tops restaurant, in a special spot called The Lookout, which has sweeping views of the sea from the tree canopy level.
There were so many things we wanted to try and do here that the few days we spent at Bawah seemed too short and quite busy — if you treat paddling, spa, boat rides, and walks on the beach as “doing” things.
As we were preparing for our departure, we felt that we are leaving behind a resort that managed to put together all the best ideas from the barefoot luxury templates and craft it into a perfect escape destination.