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Turquoise Sea in Batu Batu, Malaysia

My friend Lucy has exquisite taste.  When she recommends a resort, I know it’s somewhere I want to go.  Ladies and gentleman, here’s her review of Batu Batu!

Batu Batu Argo Family

Batu Batu resort, Tengah Island, Malaysia

June 9-13 2013

Traveling with our two kids (4 and 2.5 yrs old)

I had been recommended the hotel by a few friends so I just went onto their website and sent them an email checking availability. It was difficult to get in last minute (I had previously tried at other bank holidays) so this was booked about 6 months in advance.  

Getting There

We took the Singapore airlines flight from Hong Kong at 10.30 am which takes around 4 hours. You need to travel down to Mersing from Singapore, which takes anything from 3-4 hours. Batu Batu had provided lots of information on how to get there including a list of car companies so I had pre-booked the first one on the list to collect us on arrival. I had also pre booked a car seat for my 2 year old but was told they only had 1 available so we decided to check in our 4 year olds car seat at the airport. On the way to Hong Kong airport I received an email from the car company to say there had been a problem and the car seat we had pre booked was no longer available. I always find getting car seats in Asia a nightmare! Luckily we were driving to the airport so last minute we decided to check in both our own car seats so we could guarantee not only safety but also that the kids would sleep on the journey!
 
The flight was great. Both kids watched TV the entire way and the pre ordered kids meal was really good. Spag Bol, crisps, juice, jelly (and a chocolate bar which I whisked away and ate myself later!) my kids are fuss pots though so luckily I had brought sandwiches for them!

Arrival in Singapore and transfer to Batu Batu  

On arrival immigration took forever so I would advise getting off the plane as quickly as possible but the car was waiting for us and within no time we had our bags and were packing up the car. Car was meant to be 7 seater with ample space for cases, double buggies etc but turned out they needed to use some of those 7 seats for luggage and there was no boot due to a gas cylinder taking up all the space. So my husband was sandwiched between two car seats for the whole journey which is not ideal plus his seatbelt was broken (also not ideal!!) Being 7 months pregnant I obviously got the front seat! Definitely worth checking in more detail what car you are getting. It’s about an hour to the border but you just show your passports through the window so no need to get out. I heard that sometimes you have to wait hours so it’s worth trying to pick your timing wisely. We didn’t have to wait too long. Once across though we had to change car/driver to continue on through Malaysia but this was easy and quick. Then it’s another 2 hours from there depending on traffic.
 
Batu Batu is a 20 min boat ride across from the town of Mersing. They have 2 scheduled per day but if you don’t fit into this timing wise you can pay a bit extra and specify your own time, which we did. We were 45 mins late but I just called ahead and it was no problem. Boat was there when we arrived and we nipped across to the island on luckily very calm waters.

Batu Batu

 

Batu Batu
It was a very long journey (left house at 8am and got to Batu Batu at 7pm) but it was so worth it as we approached. The island is stunning. Crystal clear water, long wooden piers Maldives style and we were greeted by the first of many friendly accommodating staff.  We had a 1 bedroom beach villa with annex, which was a huge villa right on the beach with a small annex attached with a bunk bed in it.

Batu Batu Beach Villas

The Annex room is very small so we couldn’t get a cot in there too but our 4 yr old slept in the bunk and the 2 yr old in a travel cot already set up by them in our main room. Both equipped with mosquito nets. It’s worth noting that the travel cot provided was tiny – our daughter filled the entire thing but she really didn’t seem to care so it was fine. The room is also fully black out which is a massive plus for many parents I’m sure! The price for our room was RM880 per night.
 
The resort is very simple but so nicely done. There is nothing else on the island and they don’t even have a shop (although you can buy toothbrushes and Pringles from the reception as I discovered). It has 1 restaurant/bar totally surrounded by the turquoise sea and 1 other beach bar on the long beach which is the beach they recommend for swimming with kids as the sand is as soft and white as cotton wool. This only serves drinks from 1pm-7pm. In the main restaurant they have set meal times of 12-3 for lunch and 6pm for kids dinner (7pm for adults). There is one kids meal on the menu per day (1 lunch and 1 dinner). Adults get a choice of 3 starters/main and dessert. The chef is one of the best things about the island. He trained at the Savoy and everything we ate was delicious and an extremely high standard. If you have fussy children they can make something else depending on what they have in the kitchen. I didn’t have any complaints about the food at all. Breakfast is very simple – cereal, toast, croissants, fruit or a choice of eggs any style. Not the huge choice you get in big hotels but just what you need (plus you can sneak a few chocolate croissants in your bag for snacks later.) Price is RM200 for adult full board and RM100 for child full board (Children 0-3 are free).
Batu Batu Pool

In regards to facilities there is 1 freshwater infinity pool with breathtaking views and a basket of kids toys to use in the pool or beach. There are several beaches some better for snorkeling and some for swimming. The beach outside our villa had little stones on it and rocks in the sea so we had to be careful with the kids there. There is a conservation centre and a water sports centre where you can hire kayaks etc or book diving trips. There is also a spa, which we didn’t try sadly. The island is small and you can walk around it in 45 minutes. They have a playhouse but it isn’t particularly good. Just a wooden Villa with various ikea toys. No drop off option but there is enough to do with pool and beach so it didn’t matter for us.
 
The pool is great for kids. There is a shallow step the entire way along length ways so little ones can potter with buckets etc and the bigger ones can swim happily. If you have older kids they can go off snorkeling easily from the beach or you can go out in a boat.
 Batu Batu Long Beach One thing I should mention is there is no doctor on site and although the town of Mersing is only a 20 minute boat ride we weren’t even able to get basic medication on the island so make sure you go prepared for illness.  

Weather was sunny and cloudy and sometimes really windy but in a way that was perfect as made walking on the beach possible. Apparently monsoon season is November to late Feb so probably March to September is the best time of year to go there.

I got the staff to help me book a different car company for the journey back to Singapore. They were fantastic. Huge 7seater car with loads of space and it only took 2.5 hours with no car change. The number we used was ++60 1115305825. I would highly recommend using them. The price is around Sing $ 200 for a one-way trip depending on which car you choose.

We ended our trip with a few nights in Singapore staying with friends, which was fantastic. The highlight was the Singapore zoo, which is incredible and the kids loved.  At the end there is a fabulous water park where they can refresh themselves in water fountains and slides so make sure you bring swimmers along.  We also had a lovely time in the botanic gardens and despite it being very hot there is so much shade that it somehow doesn’t feel as stifling as summer in Hong Kong. The Equestrian club is lovely too where you can have a fantastic brunch and then take the kids on pony rides.

In summary I would highly recommend this trip for a family friendly holiday. Despite it being a bit of a trek the island is just stunning and if you round it off with a few days in Singapore it doesn’t seem such a long distance to travel.

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