During the Lunar New Year weekend, we had a couple of free days and decided to go on another spa-escapade to Batam Island at Harris Resort Waterfront Batam.
I have reviewed this under Specialty Lodging as I really couldn’t bring myself to categorise this as a resort. A resort, in my opinion, has a special meaning and a certain standard to adhere to.
Depending on which part of Batam you’re staying at, you are going to have a few choices as to which ferry terminal to alight at. Do note that each ferry terminal is only serviced by selected ferry services at specific timings only, so do check out their website and do your homework!
A rough idea of the main ferry terminals that tourists head to –
- Batam Center – Nagoya Area (Batam Fast, Sindo Ferry, WaveMaster)
- Sekupang – Tempat Senang (Batam Fast, Sindo Ferry, WaveMaster)
- Harbour Bay – Swiss-Belhotel (Batam Fast, Prima Ferry)
- Nongsapura – Nongsa Resorts, Montigo Resort (Batam Fast, WaveMaster)
- Waterfront City – Holiday Inn, Harris Resort (Sindo Ferry)
As we were travelling during the festive period, securing the ferry ticket was top priority even before we got our accommodation. After purchasing our tickets (no online reservation, so we have to buy the tickets in person), we confirmed our accommodation (at Harris Resort) and spa treatments (at Holiday Inn).
A ferry ride on-board the Sindo Ferry is pretty straight forward. Get past the Singapore customs and wait to board your ferry. One thing I don’t like about going to Batam Island, is that there is no seat assignment, so a ridiculous queue will start to form as it approaches the ferry departure time. Enjoy the mad scramble for your seats!
Once comfortably seated, the trip was rather uneventful as usual. Soothing waves, noisy kids, and of course movies shown on the television. Plug in our ear-phones and we doze off into Lalaland. The ferry stops first at Sekupang Ferry Terminal – sit tight, you don’t have to do anything if you’re headed to Waterfront City Ferry Terminal.
Upon arrival, be patient. People are going to scramble for the door before the ferry even stops. Clearing customs can be a pretty leisurely affair, and can easily take up to 45-minutes if you are at the back of the queue, like us! Meanwhile, enjoy the company of kids who have the luxury of space to run around while impatient Singaporeans around you complain about the inefficient service.
On the way back, the customs processing was actually much faster. Likewise, some little movement is going to trigger a queue to form way before the boarding time but nothing much is going to happen so you can just sit tight and relax.
Harris Resort Package & Pricing
Like Holiday Inn, the shuttle service from Harris Resort pretty much keeps running to ferry guests to the resort. Harris Resort’s transport buses are pretty recognisable, being bright orange in colour. If you missed one, don’t worry, the trip only takes 2-minutes.
Tip – Take the smaller minibus, the bigger bus is pretty stuffy and the air-conditioning don’t work well.
You can get a standard room at Harris Resort Waterfront Batam at a nett price of only 444,000 Rupiah, which is roughly SGD$46 – very, very affordable by any means. Of course, by paying only this price, one has to manage his/her expectations. After all, you pay for what you get, isn’t it?
In case you’re wondering, our stay clashed with the Lunar New Year festival so the normal packages weren’t available. We got ours at 1,135,000 Rupiah (SGD$118) which includes breakfast for two and a yoga (nah, we didn’t bother to go) session.
At the time of writing, 1 Singapore Dollar is roughly equivalent to 9,620 Indonesian Rupiah.
Staff were doing a welcome dance, welcome drinks and cold towels were handed out, and we could help ourselves to home-made cookies in a giant jar. Service was smooth and pleasant, besides the fact that it was kind of crowded in the small lobby.
Check-in time was 2pm so we left our luggage in their storage room and went to have lunch at Harris Cafe, which serves a lunch buffet at 150,000 Rupiah per pax in addition to their ala carte menu. The lunch buffet wasn’t anything to shout about in terms of both quality and variety, we would probably give this a miss if we were ever here again and order their famous pizza instead. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Lunch time is crowded as expected since there wasn’t really any other options here at Harris Resort. The missus spotted a couple of ants on the table which wasn’t pleasant.
Price per pax for buffet lunch : 150,000 Rupiah
Harris Cafe & Room Service
On the day of check-out, we had lunch at Harris Cafe again. This time, we opted for ala carte menu instead of the buffet.
We ordered their famous pizza, which was just about the best food we had here at Harris. At only 100,000 Rupiah, pretty good value for money!
On the other hand, the Thai Green Curry was pretty bad – bland and diluted (even though it looked nice).
We even had the chance to give their 24-hrs room service a little test at 2am in the morning. Our call was answered promptly and our order was delivered in 20-minutes, which was great! Sadly, we couldn’t find chicken wings in their menu so we settled for Nasi Goreng and Bebek Goreng (fried duck). It has been a while since we last had Bebek Goreng and luckily, it was supeeeeeeeeerb!
Buffet breakfast is served at Harris Cafe as well. We came by early in the morning and there is no control over the number of people who can enter despite it being full. Thus, we spent time wandering around looking for seats, which reminded me of the lunch-time food-court experience in Singapore.
Finally went back to the counter at 2:00pm. The reception asked if we wanted a twin bed or king-sized bed (king-sized, of course!) and were told we would be given a room with a lovely sea-view (which was unfortunately, in the old wing). We were told that our room will be ready in another 15-minutes, but then we were handed our room cards.
Puzzling indeed – we decided to wait at the lobby for a while before going up. Oh, the reception must have forgotten to tell us where our room is but it was pretty straight forward by referring to the signage.
First thing we noticed was an overpowering floral scent when we stepped into the room. A thought flashed through my mind – was there an attempt to conceal any smell? Haha!
Nice and bright with plenty of sunlight!
Floorplan! Each of the room has a balcony.
The bathroom is looking clean despite looking like it needed a little makeover. The edges around the wooden door looked like it’s rotting or something.
Yay for bathtub, but we didn’t use it. Why? The water temperature was kind of screwed up and it couldn’t maintain the supply of hot water – bummer.
In their rush to ready the room, the housekeeping staff forgot to replenish our bath towels. A call to Harris operator and the towels were promptly delivered – excellent service! Another time, the remote control to our air-conditioning didn’t work and they promptly fixed it for us. Kudos!
Huge wardrobe with pretty much nothing inside. Not sure if there was supposed to be any bathrobes. Oh well.
It was the Chinese New Year and there were nice little touches in the room.
Empty minibar – haha! *speechless*
If you need anything, you’ll have to call the reception. My suggestion is to buy all the food and drinks you need in Singapore and bring them over. Alternatively, there is a mama-shop just beside the lobby and the drinks are cheaper!
The room was generally clean despite looking a little jaded. Well, it was the old wing after all. I didn’t mind that it was the old wing, but it badly needed a extra power socket here and there so that we could charge our devices like mobile phones and cameras.
Looking out from the balcony, we have a decent view of the bay-like area. No soothing sound of waves, sadly.
One perk though – plenty of DIY fireworks were set off at the beach area right in front of our balcony and we got to enjoy the fireworks, up close and personal!
Tip – we walked by the Harris Cabana Room and while it is close to the beach, it does look somewhat depressing and there are ATVs running around the sandy beach. Request for the Harris Room in the new wing in the upper floors =)
Delima Seafood Restaurant
Located right beside the Waterfront City Ferry Terminal is a seafood reataurant named Delima, and it offers pretty good value for money, especially when you compare it to the overpriced resort food you find at both Harris Resort and Holiday Inn.
First, you’ll need to get to Delima Seafood restaurant but by either walking (maybe 10-minutes from Harris, probably not as safe at night) or by getting a taxi at Harris Resort. There are plenty of taxi at the taxi counter, so no worries about getting one in advance. They also have a flat-rate price list stating the price to each destination based on the distance travelled.
We chose to go by Taxi because it seemed safer and faster, and we didn’t know where the restaurant is anyway. So, tell them you going to Delima Seafood Restaurant and would require a return trip. A taxi ride is 35,000 Rupiah one way.
Hop on a cab, and the driver dropped us off at Delima. Paid him and told him to return in about an hour and a half.
Delima seafood “restaurant” is really an outdoor tse-char place but we were well prepared after slathering on mozzie repellent and mozzie patches.
Service was OK, the seafood was fresh. Tasted delicious and comparable to what we have in Singapore except the hotplate tofu, you should skip that. No scamming involved, and we paid for what we ate. Two of us ordered 4 dishes in total.
Black Pepper Chilli Crab (1 crab) : 140,000 Rupiah
Butter Fried Prawns (medium, 5 prawns) : 85,000 Rupiah
Sambal Kang Kong (small) : 35,000 Rupiah
Hotplate Tofu (small) : 35,000 Rupiah
White Rice (2 plates) : 14,000 Rupiah
Coke (2 cans) : 30,000 Rupiah
We finished our meal in an hour (inclusive of waiting time) and had to wait a little bit for our driver to come and pick us up. To our surprise, we didn’t see him at the agreed-upon timing, and we were approached by another man who asked if we’re going to Harris.
Apparently, he kept repeating “Going to Harris? Same same.” and told us that his friend asked him to pick us up. Worried that it might be a scam or something, we asked repeatedly for his friend’s name and only got into the cab after he gave us the correct answer. Phew!
Tea Tree Spa, Holiday Inn Resort Batam
Having experience the awesome massage at the award winning Tea Tree Spa, we returned for their Traditional Indonesian (Balinese) Body Massage with Aromatherapy Essential Oils (90-minutes) that’s designed for releasing muscle tension and improving blood circulation.
You can refer to our previous Batam post where we stayed at Holiday Inn. Enjoyed two awesome cups of stronger ginger tea before, and after our freaking fantastic couple massage.
Price for 2-pax in a private villa (before taxes) : 1,330,000 Rupiah (approx. SGD$138)
Service Charge (10%) : 133,000 Rupiah (approx. SGD$14)
Government Tax (11%) : 146,300 Rupiah (approx. SGD$15)
Total : 1,609,300 Rupiah (approx. SGDS167)
To get to Holiday Inn, which is really a 1-minute taxi ride away, again you can go to the taxi-counter at Harris and they will get a taxi for you, hassle-free.
Small-Change Scam & No-Change Scam
Twice, we were somewhat scammed while at Batam island.
The first time was at Holiday Inn’s Tea Tree Spa. In total, the spa was 1,609,300 Rupiah so we handed over 1,610,000 rupiah but no change was given. It was only later that I remembered about the change. Then again, the change was only S$0.07 it didn’t really matter to us.
The second time was the taxi ride from Holiday Inn to Harris, which we were quoted 30,000 rupiah. Hmm, why did it cost 35,000 to get here then? When we reach Harris, we gave driver 50,000 rupiah but driver claimed he has insufficient change (what-the-heck?) so could only return me 15,000 rupiah. Feeling generous, I relented and gave him the 5,000 Rupiah “tip” which amounted to SGD 50 cents.
Moral of the stories? Keep sufficient small change with you and use up your big notes first if you’re very particular about such stuff.
PigGeeks Final Thoughts
For the price you pay to stay at Harris Resort, it is OK I guess. Pretty rough around the edges, Harris looked like it badly needed a make-over and would need improvements to many, many areas. Popular with families and kids, you might want to give this place a miss if you’re after a peaceful getaway from Singapore.
Despite the short-comings, one bright spark is definitely the fabulous staff there who tries their best to give you an excellent holiday experience. Thumbs up to them!
It would be unfair to compare Holiday Inn Resort to Harris Resort as they don’t belong in the same category, even though they are the only viable options you have if you stay at Batam Waterfront City. Personally, it would probably be my first and final visit to Harris.