A brand new year and new school term calls for new travel plans. Especially since there are a total of SIX long weekends in Singapore in 2016! Well, five actually since New Year's Day (1 Jan) has already whizzed by. They include:
Chinese New Year (Feb 8 & 9, Monday & Tuesday)
Good Friday (Mar 25, Friday)
Labour Day (May 1, Sunday)
Hari Raya Haji (Sep 12, Monday)
Christmas Day (Dec 25, Sunday)
So if you are planning to head out of the country for a short break, I have short-listed 8 resorts that do not require too long of a travelling time - all of which are good for a 3-days-2-nights stay with the family. All of them are family-friendly, bursting with activities to keep the kids occupied and most importantly, tried and tested by the monkies!
So... time to take out those calendars and plan away!
1. The Canopi
Just a one-hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and 5 minutes away from the Bintan jetty lies a cluster of uniquely designed safari tent-suites which offer camping at its glamorous best! Glamping (Glamorous Camping) is offered at Canopi via three types of air-conditioned tents: Safari Tent Suites, Lagoon Tent Suites (with views of the Crystal Lagoon) & Jaccuzi Tent Suites (with Lagoon views AND an outdoor Jacuzzi!).
The two-hectare resort is a wonderland for nature lovers as it is surrounded by bountiful bodies of water including a private mangrove river and an absolutely gorgeous crystal lagoon. The latter is the largest crystal lagoon in South East Asia, and is filled with filtered salt water, with NO waves at all - perfect for kids!
Where do I begin? If the kids get bored with jumping into the crystal clear lagoon, they can relish in the resort's offerings of numerous water activities including cable ski, stand-up paddle, water tricycles and kayak rentals. Or they might fancy scaling an inflatable climbing wall at the Floating Watersport Park!
Land activities include zipping around on a two-wheeler Segway, rough-roading around the forest area in the UTV and ATV or for the kids, there are always the oh-so-cute mini ATVs to ride around the resort.
2. Montigo Resorts Nongsa
Montigo Resorts Nongsa is THE place to head to with the kids for a luxurious and fun-filled getaway. A 40-min ferry ride from Singapore and a mere 5-min car ride away from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, the resort is Batam’s first 5-star all-villa resort with villas dotting the coastal shoreline offering unobstructed magnificent views of the South China Sea. The villas come with three floors of living space, each one boasting a private infinity pool—right outside the living room.
The two storey OLO Kids’ Club will be a hit with the kids! The first level houses several cubicles with game consoles like Wii and Xbox Kinect to keep older kids entertained while the entire second level is littered with toys, books, boardgames, three tube slides and a ball pit. The Kids’ Club also has a wading pool for kids. Sign the kids up for the full-day or half-day programmes (chargeable) and staff at the Club will look after them, while parents sneak off to indulge at the Montigo Resorts Spa.
3. Telunas Resorts
(Riau Islands, Indonesia)
Combining the sun, sand and sea in an all-inclusive resort with full comfort and no airport time, Telunas Resorts is all about long days at the beach - building sandcastles, fishing, paddling in a kayak, without the distraction of technology. The Telunas Resorts is made up of two parts - Telunas Beach Resort and Telunas Private Island. For a more economical option, head to the family-friendly beach resort. Rooms are built over the sea so that when night falls, guests hear the gentle ripple of waves beneath the room.
Take your pick from the many nature-centric activities. Laze on the stunning beach where low tides are perfect for swimming, even with infants, as the waves are mild. Families can also go on a Jungle-Waterfall Trek, Mangrove River Tour, Low Ropes Obstacle Course, or simply experience the thrill of jumping from the dock into the sea.
4. Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (KOREF) Resort
Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm Resort is a no ordinary resort. A little more than 2hrs by car from Tuas Checkpoint, the Eco Farm spans 260 acres of arable land at the fringe of the tropical Malaysian Rainforest Reserves. It is also the first and only certified organic rice farm in Malaysia that provides free and easy eco farm stays. Stay in its Floating Chalets on the lake for that simple kampong-living experience. Nature lovers will enjoy this rustic getaway.
Keep the kiddos occupied with the many outdoor activities. Kids can row on a bamboo raft, pretend they are participating in Ninja Warrior on the Water Obstacle Course, scurry like little hamsters in a Water Ball and go zipping down a Flying Fox line suspended over the lake. For something calmer, there are rabbits, ducks and fishes to feed.
5. LEGOLAND Malaysia Hotel
If your kids adore LEGO, they will love LEGOLAND Malaysia Hotel. Even during check-in, kids can dive into towers of LEGO bricks and start building while parents look on in envy as they wait in line. The rooms are the clincher for kids as each floor of the hotel is furnished with a different theme: Adventure, Kingdom and Pirate. In the kids’ room are bunk beds and a trundle bed to accommodate up to three kids, while parents have their own room furnished with a king-sized bed.
Are you kidding? Even within the room, kids can go treasure hunting in their room by looking for clues in the room. Answer the questions to crack the code on the number lock to unlock goodies from the safe! Younger kids will be busy with the box of LEGO Duplo bricks found in every room as well. Of course, there is still the tiny matter of bringing the kids for a full day's worth of fun at the nearby LEGOLAND Malaysia Theme Park and Water Park.
6. KSL Resort
If you are looking for a fuss-free short break away from Singapore, KSL Resort may just be your best bet. Located within the city centre of Johor Bahru and a few minutes' drive away from Woodlands Checkpoint, the hotel is directly connected to KSL City Mall which houses shops, eateries, arcade, cinema and even an indoor playground. Best of all, hotel guests have free entry to its Dinosaur Water Park!
Compared to the usual swimming pools of other hotels, KSL Resort's dinosaur-themed water park will definitely be welcomed by the kiddos. While the swirling slides may not pack the same oomph as those found in water theme parks, they will keep the kids busy all the same. Younger children have the option of going on splashing into a shallower pool via gentler slides - together with dinosaurs that spray water occasionally!
7. UK Agro Farm
Situated in Johor - about an hour’s drive from Singapore - UK Agro Farm Resort is Malaysia’s largest goat and sheep farm, with 100 acres of grazing land for 4,000 sheep. It offers a farmstay experience in the form of the ‘Long House’, a traditional house structure that has its roots in the Iban community in Sarawak. Built on stilts and with long corridors, the rooms overlook vast green meadows and grazing pastures. Rooms come with the usual amenities like air-conditioning and water heater so they are pretty decent, clean and functional.
There are tons of farm activities to do such as touring the Herb Sanctuary and Mushroom and Fruit Farms to learn all about plants. The highlight of the farm tour is probably feeding and cuddling sheep at the Sheep Farm. Kids can try bottle feeding baby goats, or feeding grain to ostriches at the Ostrich Park. For the adventurous, try your hand at the Sheep Challenge where participants are given 3 minutes to catch a sheep in an enclosure, and they stand to win a prize if successful.
8. Lotus Desaru
Located on the southeastern tip of Johor, the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort offers apartments (1–4 bedrooms) with living and dining areas, as well as a kitchenette (microwave and fridge). In addition to fun at the beach, there are various activities that families can enjoy while at Desaru. Visit the nearby Desaru Fruit Farm and Ostrich Farm for a fun-filled educational day. Or go on an evening Fireflies Cruise where kids will see these fascinating insects light up the trees.
With a massive ‘spash-tacular’ water park situated in the middle of the resort, what do you think? Water park features include numerous water slides, a water playground and a huge tipping coconut - all of which are guaranteed to elicit squeals and screams from delighted kids. Don’t miss the Lazy River - a meandering slide that starts at the top of a slope and brings sliders down four water channels and three whirlpools!
Do you have any more suggestions? Leave them in the comments below!