Set amid Indonesia’s Anambas archipelago, serene and secluded Bawah Reserve puts you in a prime position for a dose of total relaxation. Unplug and unwind while on this luxurious yet light-touch private island. Cast adrift from the southern shore of the Malaysian peninsula and Borneo’s western coast – yet not close to either of them – here are no TVs to distract or remind you of the real world here, just days of snorkelling the three lagoons, exploring the untouched hinterland, indulging in the open-air spa, and dining on Indonesian cuisine at the three waterfront restaurants. It’s a hectic world, indeed…
10am; late check-out available, but subject to extra charges. Earliest check-in, noon.
Double rooms from £1478.30 ($1,951).
Rates include buffet or à la carte breakfasts, plus lunch, dinner, non-alcoholic drinks, spa treatments, yoga classes, non-motorised watersports, unpacking service, daily laundry, service charges and government taxes.
All non-motorised watersports are included in booking – enjoy paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing and boat trips around the lagoon – as are a variety of on-land activities, such as guided hikes, an open air cinema, star gazing and bird watching.
At the hotel
13 beaches, open-air cinema, tennis court, watersports centre, spa and wellness centre, wine cellar, library and a small boutique. In rooms: beach bags and towels, straw sun hats, outdoor veranda, free WiFi (though very limited), minibar with unlimited free bottled water, tea- and coffee-making facilities, open-air bathroom, safe, ceiling fans and air-conditioning above the bed only.
Our favourite rooms
The ultimate tropical-island hideaways, the Overwater Bungalows offer direct access to two of the turquoise-blue lagoons; just roll out of bed, throw on your swimwear and dive in.
Tropical waters are never more than a hop, skip and a dive away here. Once you’ve snorkeled your way around the three lagoons, there’s a small family friendly, freshwater infinity pool near Grouper Bar.
The Aura wellness centre and spa has four treatment rooms – one especially for couples – in which to unwind with rejuvenating facials, energising salt scrubs, manicures and pedicures, and their signature relaxing massages. Make the most of the waterfront or beachside yoga, pilates, relaxation and meditation classes during your stay too – all treatments, massages and yoga classes are included with your stay.
The latest best sellers for lazy afternoons spent lounging on the beach or on your private veranda. If you've forgotten anything, there's a small boutique stocking all island essentials.
Rugged Bawah Island isn’t suited to wheelchair users or guests with mobility issues. There's a three-night minimum stay on the island.
Over-5s welcome. Rooms can fit an extra bed on request, but be sure to speak to the Smith24 team when booking. Keen water-babies should be ready to embrace the wild (there are no TVs and only limited WiFi).
Bawah is the first island in Indonesia to be powered by a renewable microgrid. The resort was hand-built from sustainable bamboo and other recycled materials, such as driftwood and copper. All water is sourced on the island and recycled as drinking water. Water is heated using solar energy; all paper is mulched; composted, crushed glass is used to filter water; and all other waste is sent back to Batam for recycling. The hotel is part of the Bawah Foundation, created to channel funds back into the local community.
Bag one of the swing seats in Boat House for a rocking good night.
Embrace island living with flowing dresses and linen trousers with tropically inspired shirts.
Dine with your feet in the sand at laid-back beachshack, Boat House; take one of the swing seats and enjoy fragrant salads or a selection of sharing-size snacks, like rosemary focaccia with hummus, courgette and peppers. Elevated in the jungle canopy, Treetops is made out of recycled bamboo and overlooks one of the island’s blue lagoons. The menu features Indonesian staples, such as nasi goreng (stir-fried rice) and mie goreng (spicy noodles), and a many more innovative dishes by chef Omar. A tasting menu guides you through the highlights. The food in both restaurants is locally sourced from responsible fishermen and the resort’s own vegetable and herb garden.
The hotel has three bars for you to alternate between. Enjoy a pre- or post-dinner drink overlooking the lagoon at Treetops bar. For a romantic tipple or two, take a seat at the low-lit Jules Verne bar, which is made of old tree roots; their mixologists are dab hands with a cocktail kit and will whip up anything you ask for. Sip the house’s margaritas while listening to chilled-out electronic beats in Grouper bar – they can ramp up the tunes if you’re in the mood to party.
Breakfast is served 7.30am–10am at Treetops, lunch is from 12.30pm–3pm at Boat House, and dinner is from 7.30pm–9.30pm at Treetops. Grouper Bar is open from 7am, the Boat House Bar is open 9am–6pm and Jules Verne Bar is open every evening from 6pm.
Room service is available 7am to 9.30pm; enjoy small snacks like truffle and cheese chips, Parma ham croquettes and crispy vegetable tempura, or opt for something more filling such as beef short-rib sliders with aioli or nasi goreng.
You need a transfer to reach this hotel. For approximate costs, see location information
One of Indonesia’s 17,500 idyllic islands, Bawah is located in the Anambas archipelago, cast adrift between the Malaysian peninsula and the western coast of Borneo.
Fly direct to Singapore’s Changi Airport from London and Australia, or connect in Taipei if coming from America: our round-the-clock Smith24 team of travel experts are on hand to book your flights.
On this car-free island, a decent pair of flippers becomes your go-to mode of transport.
The hotel will arrange your onwards travel from Singapore (for US$700 a person): a representative will meet you at the airport and take you by car to the port where you’ll board 30-minute ferry to Batam Centre. After clearing Indonesian customs (the hotel will arrange a speedy VIP fast-track pass for you), you’ll catch the hotel’s seaplane for your 9.30am 80-minute flight to the island. Thanks to a 60-minute time zone change, you’ll land at Bawah at noon. Your return seaplane will leave Bawah at 1pm, and land at Batam at 1.30pm; your ferry will land at Singapore Harbour Front at 4.40pm, so it’s best to book your flight out of Singapore after 9pm, or the next day. There’s a strict 15kg luggage allowance a person for the seaplane. Excess baggage can be stored in the property's Batam office (the seaplane's departure and arrival point) free of charge during your time on the island, subject to pre-arrangement at the time of booking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Bawah is an official marine conservation area in which fishing, anchoring and collection of any marine life is forbidden; as a result, fish and coral reefs flourish in the lagoons making it a great spot for snorkelling. There are multiple other ways to splash out in the water, too – paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing and boat trips are all included in your booking. Back on dry land, there’s a tennis court on the island and the hotel offers morning pilates and yoga classes. Hike to a bat cave and discover the island’s wonderful array of wildlife on one of three walking trails. Come evening, snuggle up under a blanket for movie night in the open-air cinema, then take a romantic stroll along the waterfront gazing at the starry night sky.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this private-island hotel in Indonesia and unpacked their snorkels and all-natural spa products, a full account of their tropical beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Bawah Reserve…
Saving the planet just got a lot more luxurious at private-island retreat, Bawah Reserve. Say goodbye to constant social-media updates and the ever-present news cycle, and get ready to embrace untouched nature at its best. Built out of bamboo, driftwood and other recycled materials, the resort champions sustainable projects that are seeking to safeguard coral-rich Anambas archipelago. You can witness the benefits of their work by snorkelling, paddleboarding, kayaking or sailing around one, or all, of the island’s idyllic blue lagoons, or by hiking in the untouched hinterland. Such exploration is hungry work, so refuel on Indonesian and international fare in one of the two laid-back restaurants; choose between canopy-high Treetops, or beachside Boat House where you can snack with your feet in the sand. There’s also a tennis court, daily yoga and pilates classes on offer, and a jungle-side spa offering a range of treatments using Ytsara products – it’s luxury done naturally.