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Batam (Holiday Inn Resort) F&E Day 1

Shortly after our 1 Day Malacca trip, we are off to Batam Island again!

Yes, this is our 3rd time to Batam and we are starting to get bored with this island. Maybe we have always been visiting the same few attractions mainly the shopping malls in Batam. This time round, we wanted a more relaxing getaway. And little did we know, the world cup finals was held on Sunday morning, which is when we were still in Batam!!

Since we wanted a relaxing getaway, as usual we started off with finding affordable accomodation yet provide us with a comfortable stay. We come across Holiday Inn Resort, Montigo Resort, Harris Hotel, Kings Hotel.... We sent a few emails to the various hotels to enquire about their rates and Holiday Inn Resort actually provided us with cheaper than whats available on the net. We were attracted by the rate they provide. Our second choice was Kings Hotel, whereby the rates on Agoda is very attracctive, in which two rooms for only around SGD$80+ and they provide shuttle bus services too. However, we wanted to give Holiday Inn Resort a try to see what is so good about the resort such that it has been attracting many Singaporeans back there.

Image from: http://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/reservation
Holiday Inn Resort is under the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) which have presence in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Chicago, China... After confirmation of booking with the IHG staff through email, we finally settled with our booking and went on to read more reviews about Holiday Inn online. Though they only reply on weekdays however I must say that their staff is very friendly and efficient. We enquired a few details through facebook prior to emailing their reservation team, and I must say their facebook team is equally efficient in which you can expect a reply within 2 or 3 hours and they are all very polite and provide you with the detailed information that you asked for. Thumbs up for their service!

Upon learning that the membership for IHG is free and there are additional perks that could be enjoyed such as better rates and rewards points system we applied via online and is issued a e-membership card.

IHG membership card
The membership number is indicated and be sure to quote it at the reception counter when you check in to enjoy the best rates!

Enough of the accomodation, for the ferry tickets wise this time round we purchased ferry tickets from Pacific Ferry via deal website as they are having an affordable deal of $30 for 2 ways ferry ( inclusive of taxes) but only valid for departure and arrival at Sekupang Terminal which is slightly further away from the town area of Batam. There are pros and cons between alighting at Sekupang and Batam Centre which we tried from our second trip to Batam (See here). I would suggest arriving at Batam Centre and departing from  Sekupang Ferry if your ferry operator allows this arrangement.

From our observation, Sekupang Ferry Terminal tend to experience heavier arrival traffic ( clearing of customs) as compared to Batam Centre. However departure wise, Batam centre's departure traffic ( clearing of custom ) is more chaotic than Sekupang Ferry Terminal.

Harbourfront Ferry terminal
Our Pacific Ferry bound for Sekupang is due at 10.10am. We reached there at around 9.20am, as we have collected our boarding passes earlier before. Be sure to check which is your boarding gate and which berth you are supposed to report to!

Off we go to Berth 5 to catch our ferry!
Our Pacific Ferry bound for Sekupang!
We were among the first few to board the ferry which is good as that means we can choose the seats! As its free seating. Seats at the back tend to have more "engine smell"! Ferry boarding is around 15mins before departure. Delay may occur sometimes due to the busy harbour especially on weekends. However this time round, not too sure if the reason is because of world cup or some other reasons, there seems to be lesser people at the Harbourfront terminal going to Batam as compared to the same month last year and during our last trip to Batam.

people boarding the ferry
Look at the amount of baggages!!
There is a TV installed and they were showing some emergency evacuation video at the start of the journey followed by "Laugh for Gags" Sitcom.

Around 50 minutes time, we reach Sekupang Ferry Terminal!

Sekupang Ferry!
It's not raining but perhaps the waves was rough and the sea water splashed onto the screen. We reached at 10.05am (Batam time). Batam is 1 hour behind Singapore.

We waited for quite some time to clear the custom which was full of people. Be caution of speaking loudly/shouting at the custom area. A group of guys was laughing loudly and one of the custom officers slammed the table top and this followed by a guard that went over and reprimanded the guys.

We finally cleared the custom in around 20-30 minutes time. Once we exited we saw a Holiday Inn staff who is holding the board with Holiday Inn written. We have arranged for land transfer immediately once we reach. We approached him and he mark off our name on his list. He is in charge of fetching other passengers too. They have a few vans. And actually at that point of time, one of their van is full, and they will be driving another van over. We told the person that we will be going to level 2 to purchase our return tickets first and he is very friendly and provided us with the directions.

So we went to level 2 where all ferries departure booth are there. We have earlier reserved the 2.30pm timeslot with them via email and confirmation number was given. We have done this previously with wavemaster during our dec trip to batam last year and it is much more convenient.

Pacific ferry schedule: 2.30pm back to SG (effect from 7 may)

However this time round it is so disappointing. We finally understand that small print like - " Ferry schedules are subject to change without prior notice" may come true.

So when we approached the counter staff and told them our reservation number, show them the email correspondence and quoted them with the ferry time they say there isn't 2.30pm ferry timing anymore. But rather only 12pm or 3.50pm.

We were pretty shocked, I mean confirmation were given. How can they just change. And even if they really do change, shouldn't they inform their customers either email or mobile number once they changed the ferry timings? What if their customer is catching a flight and the ferry timing has to be strictly adhered to!

The new timing of 12pm is too early for us as that means we may have to leave the hotel around 11am or 10.30am which means we have lesser time to enjoy the hotel facilities. while 3.50pm is quite late for us as it would mean we have too much time idling in the hotel and when we do reached Singapore it would be around 6pm, which is considered a little late for us. But since we have no choice and we already bought the return ferry ticket, we chose the 3.50pm timing instead. But we believe this service experience can be improved and Pacific Ferry certainly left us a bad impression!

NEW Pacific ferry timings as per on their website ( take effect from July 2014)
Then we went back to level 1 to board the van to Holiday Inn Resort. We waited for awhile for the other van to arrive. Together with us is a couple and another family. The van can occupy around 10 people.

The journey from Sekupang Ferry to Holiday Inn Resort took around 20mins. The view along the way is a little different from what we see during the previous trips to Batam. Previously what we see is more of central city area, while this time round is more of a rural kind of environment.

Along the way we passed by Harris Waterfront too. We finally reached holiday Inn Batam at around 11.15am.

Holiday Inn Resort Batam
Entrance!
Holiday Inn Van and their coordinator
We were worried that we couldnt check in since we are early and their check in time is 2pm. Luckily there's rooms available and we happily proceed with the check in procedures!

check in counter
Holiday Inn Resort Entrance (first story: ralph lauren polo shop, second storey: sports lounge, games room, karaoke)
While we were waiting, their staff approached us and the rest who were waiting to check in, with our welcome drink and some fried wanton! The fried wanton is part of their advertising promo for the chinese restaurant in Holiday Inn - Dragon Inn Chinese Restaurant. 

Fried wanton and our welcome drink - Fruit punch
self-service of welcome drink - free flow
The table that contains the welcome drink container is placed just opposite the check in counter across the lobby, where guests can just help themselves to the drink while waiting for the van or check in/check out.

As we have reserved our room earlier on via email correspondence with their Holiday Inn Staff, we just provide with the email confirmation from Holiday Inn. I would say the processing is a little slow, and halfway through the staff gave us a Holiday Inn membership form to fill up. As she said the promotional rate is only valid if I am a member and I told the staff I am already a member and furnished with the membership number. Hmm it gives me a feeling that they doesn't seem to have a linked database...

Despite confirmation earlier on through email regarding the shuttle bus to Nagoya and back, there was no update in their record sheet for my family pertaining to that. And luckily we asked about that and we managed to subscribe ourself to their list on the spot. 
Hotel room card
After that we were given our room cards and left to find the room ourselves.
 There was a lift at the lobby and we thought it is the lift to the rooms, however it turn out not to be that. Luckily one of their staffs is quite friendly and offered to bring us to our room. I guess most of the guests that come here to stay are returning customers who are so familiar with the place. So for first timers like us, I must say we are pretty lost. 

We are supposed to cut through the lobby to the cafe and then out where we will be greeted by the pool where the 4 blocks of rooms are situated in Holiday Inn Batam. My family booked a 2 bed room suite and our room number is 4401. That means Block 4, level 4, room 1.

And did I say, we love our 2 bedroom suite! ~

There is free wifi given too in the room, where your user id will be your registered name and password is your room number!

first view when we step in at the door
dining table and kitchen top
minibar - pay for what u eat!
kettle and tea packets
No worries, the tea/coffee sachets are free!

4 bottles of drinking water
That's more or less for the living rooms. Our 2 bedroom suite consist of a master bedroom and normal bedroom.

Master bedroom

washroom and cabinet with safebox/ironing
One of the good things to mention about the 2 bedroom suite is that there is an attached bathroom to the room. In another words, there's 2 bathrooms in one suite. The main difference is that the bathroom attached to the master bedroom has a bathtub while the one in the living room is a standing shower. However have 2 bathrooms means there's no need to fight for shower times anymore! :D

Bathroom
Normal bedroom

smaller cabinet and a makeup desk
Balcony ~
Yup the suite comes with a balcony. However do be careful with the sliding door. It can be quite difficult to managed as I guess the property is not that new after all and many people has been tampering with the balcony sliding door.

Let me introduce you to the view from our room ~

view from right of the balcony
view from centre of balcony
view from the left of balcony

It is totally a resort! Suitable for family a adults can go to the spa while kids can play with the pool. There is also a kids room where there are staffs to look after your kids while you pamper yourself with their award winning spa treatment!

We then idled around and then head to the Dragon Inn chinese restaurant for our lunch before we catch the 2pm bus to BCS Mall. More details about the bus arrangement and why we decide to head to BCS mall instead of nagoya hill first will be explained later on.

There was an ongoing promotion for July at Dragon Inn, and we decided to go with the Eat all you can dim sum lunch.

way towards Dragon Inn Chinese Restaurant
Dragon Inn Restaurant!
Voted the best Chinese Restaurant in Batam, a visit to this restaurant is a must during your stay at the Holiday Inn. Enjoy authentic Cantonese cuisine and Dim Sum prepared by Chef Ahin. Opens for lunch and dinner except Sunday and Monday.
- IHG resort Batam website write up (http://www.ihg.com/holidayinnresorts/hotels/us/en/batam/btaid/hoteldetail/dining)

Tennis court in Holiday Inn Batam
Interior of Dragon Inn Chinese Restaurant
We reached there at 12.10pm and it was still quite empty :/

We informed the staff that we will be having buffet instead of alacarte and they gave us the menu where we are supposed to indicate the qty we want.

dim sum buffet menu
Little did we know that we are supposed to indicate the quantity in the boxes. Normally we would just indicate the portion like eg, if we want siew mai, we would indicate maybe 1 as we would assume 1 container of siew mai have 3 or 4 siew mai inside. However for this buffet, they look at individual quantity. So if you have 4 persons and all would like to have siew mai, you have to indicate 4. Although the staff there are not fluent in English, however they are friendly and kind enough to remind of it for us and help us choose the relevant quantity which they think will suit us.
Appetiser ( Boiled peanuts) and chili
We waited for around 5minutes for the first dish to be served. The following pictures are food that we have ordered, but not in any order of presentation.

Congee with Shredded Chicken and Century Egg
Porridge is good! Quite generous with ingredients too!

Left to Right: Siew Mai, Steamed BBQ Chicken Buns
Left to Right: Deepfried beancurd with shrimp topped with bean sauce, steamed chicken balls topped with dried scallop sauce
We feel that the chicken balls/siew mai is a bit different from what we have usually in Singapore. And honestly, we prefer Singapore/HongKong way of Dim sum.

Top to Bottom: Steamed Glutinous Rice with chicken served in lotus leaf, Steamed chicken feet in Spicy bean sauce
For friends who love to eat chicken feet and can tolerate spicyness, be sure to try their steamed chicken feet in spicy bean sauce! Thumbs up!
Deepfried crispy Wantons served with mayonaise sauce
The deep fried crispy wantons is what we tried when we were waiting to check in. And I must say they are very nice!!

Panfried Radish Cake
Fresh Shrimp Wanton Soup
We decided to try their desserts which is included in the buffet menu too. And we ordered chilled herbal jelly and hot barley. We love the chilled herbal jelly especially! Can taste the difference that it is indeed homemade and not factory manufactured!
Hot Barley with Ginko nuts and beancurd skin
Chilled Herbal Jelly served with Honey

The buffet was quoted to be IDR 138,000 ++ per person. So it comes up to be SGD $14.53 before taxes and service charge. And our final bill shows a charge of IDR166,980 (SGD $17.58) after taxes and service charge.

There is a toilet in the restaurant, and pool at the back of the restaurant (near the toilet area).

swimming pool @ Dragon Inn Chinese Restaurant
We left the place at around 1.30pm and head around Holiday Inn while waiting for our bus at 2pm to BCS Mall. FYI, Holiday Inn provides shuttle service to and fro nagoya hill and batam city square mall (BCS at 3 different time slots on weekends.

near entrance of the resort - rural looking area
Downtown shuttle service @ Holiday Inn Resort Batam
There is only 1 chartered bus that departs from the hotel to the two malls. It will alight at Nagoya Hill Mall first then drive over to BCS Mall. We wanted to have our dinner at Nagoya Hill Mall as we wanted to have a chinese dinner and there isn't much at BCS Mall. Hence we decided to take to BCS Mall and then we take a cab to Nagoya Hill after we are done shopping at BCS Mall. Then we will take the 8.45pm bus from Nagoya Hill back to Resort. Nagoya Hill and BCS Mall are quite near each other so the cab fare is still reasonable and not a hefty price.

Free shuttle bus!
Be sure to be at the lobby at least 15 minutes before the departure timing. We saw on the net and their own website that they advised their guests to sign up for the bus slots earlier as it is on a first come first served basis. However what we noticed is that generally once the bus came, everyone just rush to the staff who is taking attendance. Basically just tell him your room number and pax, and he will mark according to his list and let them up the bus first. however if your room number happens not to be in the list, he will just add on to his list and allow you to board the bus. Of course when we depart to Holiday Inn at 2pm, there is overwhelming response and 1 bus is clearly not enough. They do not allow standing also. However they provided great hospitability by accommodating the rest of the guests who intend to go Nagoya Hill/BCS by van. They have plenty of Holiday Inn Resort Van/Taxis. So in conclusion, I will say that it doesn't matter if you register your interest early or not, since they will still cater to your needs. Great quality service provided I will say! :)

The journey from Holiday Inn to Nagoya Hill is around 40 minutes. Most of the people on board the bus alighted at Nagoya Hill Shopping mall. We eventually reached BCS Mall at around 2.55pm.

Ramadan food sale outside BCS Mall
There is plenty of Ramadan sales going on in the shopping mall. In general, we feel purchases in BCS Mall is cheaper than Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall. It could be because Nagoya Hill is a more touristy area. There are a few things that we wanted to buy wasn't found in BCS superarket but was found in Nagoya Hill Supermarket. Vice versa. So I will say better to go BCS Mall first and get whatever you wanted to buy since the prices are cheaper ( eg. sanitary pads), then if there is anything that BCS does not have, you might want to go Nagoya Hill to check it out.

A few of our recommended buys this time round from the supermarket will be the Lipton Yellow Label Tea and Johnson&Johnson Baby soap.

Courtesy of NTUC Fairprice (Singapore) Online
In Singapore, 50 sachets of individually wrapped Lipton Yellow Teabags cost $4.55. While in BCS supermarket we found the exact same product sold in 100 pcs, cost IDR 37,500. Which is SGD $3.95 per box! I must say, it is NOT ON SALE! It is the regular pricing. It offers 2 times more sachets than what is sold in Singapore, but yet cheaper in price! MUST BUY if you are a fan of lipton English Tea !

Courtesy of NTUC Fairprice (Singapore) Online
Next up is Johnson&Johnson Baby soap. They are sold in individual packaging in batam instead of in packets of 4 in Singapore. In Singapore the price is $2.95 for 4 soaps which is roughly around $0.74. While in Batam each soap is sold at IDR 4000, which is equivalent to SGD $0.43! Yes the price difference may not be as significant as the Lipton tea, however one good thing about buying from Batam is that you can purchase them individually up to any quantity you like. And they have a few fragrances for you to choose from: Normal (White), Blue (Milk Lotion) or Pink ( floral).

our purchases from BCS Mall
We took a cab from BCS Mall to Nagoya Hill hired from the taxi counter at BCS Mall. It is a fixed price of IDR 50,000 (SGD $ 5.26 ) for 4 of us. You can view the full taxi hiring price chart at our previous Batam trip post :)

Nagoya Hill Shopping Mall

main entrance ( food street and souvenir street on both right and left side )
We reached Nagoya Hill shopping Mall at around 5 plus. We had our dinner at the Grand Duck restaurant at around 7pm, which is the peak period of dining. This is our second time dining there, first time was during our december 2013 trip to batam.

There were no empty seats and no one came to take queue number for the customers who were waiting. It literally come to a point where it's like food court, customers just stand around the restaurants and just take any tables that is vacant when the previous diners leave. They were clearly short of manpower and no one clear the dishes or serve us menu. We certainly did not expect this since it is a restaurant setting.  Some customers actually left half way while waiting. We had no choice but to take the smoking area this time round as there is no other vacant seats.

What we see different is that this time round there is a table that offers free self serve crackers. We ordered a 3 dishes only as compared to previously since we are still quite full from the lunch buffet. We love the 3 dishes that we ordered. They are tasty as a whole :)

Dinner @ Grand Duck Restaurant (Nagoya Hill shopping Mall)

From left to right ( clockwise):
1. stir fried long bean/french bean with chicken IDR 42,800 (SGD $4.51)
2. Sapo Tofu ( w Spicy XO sauce) IDR 50,800 (SGD $ 5.35)
3. 1/2 roasted Beijing Duck IDR 138,800 (SGD $14.61)

The Sapo Tofu is especially delicious since the spicy gravy makes it very appetising. As usual the duck is their signature dish and it certainly did not disappoint us.

Receipt
We spent a total of IDR 312,840 (SGD $32.93) for dinner. Price is still reasonable but if you are looking for cheaper alternatives, we believe there are other cheaper Chinese dining restaurants out in Batam like the one in Harmoni One Hotel which we had during our first trip to Batam.

After our dinner, we went to get Layer cakes which is famous in Batam. Just in Nagoya Hill, there is 2 shops selling Layer cakes of the same brand and layout. Not too sure why. We asked the store owner when we were purchasing layer cake, but they are not too fluent in English and couldn't describe the situation well. We actually saw one of the stores, "snatching" the 500g boxes from the other store. Looks like competition is pretty tough here.

Layer Lamoist (Kueh Lapis)
We purchase the original flavour at IDR 100,000 (SGD $10.50). No discount was given even though we purchase 4 boxes in total.

price list of Layer lamoist cake
Layer Lamoist cake (original)
Generally, they can be left in the open air (room temp) for around 4 days, while if kept in refrigerator, they can be kept for 2 wks.

Our shuttle bus came at around 8.30pm. While waiting for the shuttle bus, we actually saw the Nagoya one Hotel shuttle bus. Nagoya One hotel is our previous accomodation when we visited Batam in December. 

A staff from Holiday Inn(as identified from their polo tee shirt), lead us to the back of Nagoya Hill Shopping mall where the bus is. This time round there is no taking down of room number or names. The bus wasn't full. Looks like 8.45pm isn't a popular time for guests to return back to hotel. We saw a Holiday Inn van beside on standby, in case there is overwhelming demand of passengers. Risk management pass! 

When we reached the resort, the surroundings were quite dark and along the way, we see many plates left outside each rooms. Looks like most of the guests here ordered in room dining service.

Side-note:
We went to buy the LV inspired handbag along the shopping street at level 1 of nagoya hill mall and we encountered with quite a dishonest seller who wants to rip off singaporeans. Just a wording of caution to you if you have intention to purchase anything along the souvenir street. Be sure to bargain and bargain!!

LV inspired bag from Batam (Nagoya hill shopping mall)
She offered us 3 different prices each time we consider or wanted to walk away from the store. It is only at the end she asked us to offer a price, and she is acceptable with the price we offered. 

1. IDR 1,750,000 - SGD $184.20
2. IDR 175,000 - SGD $18.42
3. IDR 155,000 - SGD $16.32
4. IDR 130,000 - SGD $13.70 ( FINAL PRICE - offered by us and they agree )

The first price offering is really ridiculous for an imitation bag from China. We initially thought the store owner keyed the first offering price of IDR 1,750,000 wrongly, but despite confirmation it is still that price. So we know it isn't. But I must say the final price that we walk away with is really good. Since most of the other stores selling the fake LV bag is normally around IDR 200,000 (SGD $21).

4 comments:

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Daisy Parker said...

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