What takes you about 90 minutes? A pampering spa treatment, a routine run, a catch-up over brunch… In that interval, you could also be skedaddling to neighbouring Bintan for a peaceful beachfront vacay – and the elegant hideaway estate that is The Sanchaya is everything you expect of a one.
The brainchild of Natalya Pavchinskaya, the 9.6-hectare site which opened in December 2014 contains, among other things, 21 villas and nine suites, a clubhouse, two restaurants, a spa, a beachside yoga pavilion, a stunning 50m long infinity pool, and – if you want something to add the charm of yesteryear to your Instagram feed – a croquet lawn.
“The Sanchaya is a home for travellers, aspiring to expose them to the Southeast Asian region’s richness and diversity,” says Pavchinskaya. “Inspired by the European Salons of the 18th and 19th centuries, we strive to recreate the feeling of hospitality, of bringing people together to share interests in art, in culture, in travel.”
And to achieve her vision of making The Sanchaya’s colonial architecture and décor as authentic as possible, traditional materials and colours have been used. “The layouts of the villas, suites and other buildings on the estate such as The Great House, with its ample terraces and wraparound balconies on which you can unwind and read a book are typical of colonial classic buildings from a bygone era,” she explains.
Anshuman Narayan, The Sanchaya’s Estate Manager, asserts that what Singapore lacks in beaches, Bintan more than makes up for, and likens the pristine and secluded beachfront at Lagoi Bay to the powder white sands in The Maldives. Indeed, guests (or rather, “residents”, as the resort refers to them) experience The Sanchaya even before they reach their destination. The reason: The Sanchaya is the only property on Bintan with its own VIP lounge at the ferry terminal with express immigration and customs clearance handled by The Estate Artisans, as the staff are termed.
“The estate’s yacht is available for private transfers from Singapore to Bintan as well as private charters and sunset cruises,” adds Narayan, who also tells us more about the resort’s meteoric rise, his favourite spots and the magic of the island’s fireflies.
The Sanchaya opened in December2014. What has changed since then?
Since our opening in December 2014, The Sanchaya has been selected for inclusion on the Condé Nast Traveler Hot List of Best New Hotels in the World, the Travel + Leisure IT List for Best 43 New Hotels Around the Globe, DestinAsian’s Luxe List and World Travel’s Luxury 50, all for 2015. P49 Deesign & Associates, the team behind a design that captures the elegance of the Orient with European refinement, clinched the International Hotel and Property Award 2015 in the under-50 rooms Asia-Pacific category for The Sanchaya. We continue to cultivate highly refined service standards that pay homage to the attentiveness observed by artisans on a private estate. We also continue to look for ways to build on The Sanchaya experience and create new experiences for our guests. For example, we have just launched Detox at The Sanchaya [a two-day restorative programme involving nutritious meals, body massages and private yoga sessions]. We also recently staged the Asian premiere of the award-winning film The Doghouse [as part of an events series called Pala, aimed to create a modern Asian salon fostering intellectual and cultural exchange among Asia’s top players].
How would you describe The Sanchaya experience?
European travellers, during their travels to Asia, collected stories, building a collection of art, books and other artefacts. The Sanchaya means “collection” in Sanskrit and our estate embodies a collection of tangible memories stemming from travel, discoveries brought to one place. Our guests, whom we refer to as our “residents”, are made to feel like they are coming home or coming to visit a close friend’s luxurious estate, so they can immerse themselves in a collection of memories and wish to return. At The Sanchaya, the possibilities to sequester yourself away from the world for much-needed rest and restoration are endless as you choose the canvas of your own luxurious escape.
What is your favourite part of The Sanchaya?
There are so many intriguing spaces to The Sanchaya, ranging from the wine-cheese-and-cigar lounge (known as The Salon and Library) to the presidential suite (the $12,000-a-night Vanda Villa) that it is difficult to pinpoint a favourite part. What I really do love about The Sanchaya is that it has one of the world’s most stunning beach vistas – placid Lagoi Bay replete with powder-white sands, sun-spangled waters and picturesque islands – that can be enjoyed from myriad vantage points across our estate, including from our capacious, breezy cabanas, the tranquil 50m long infinity pool and our beachfront manor’s vast, wraparound balcony. The Sanchaya’s villas represent a collection of 10 Southeast Asian countries, making for a captivating microcosm of the region’s rich history, cultural depth and variety. The estate embraces design elements, stories, artworks and artefacts from Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, The Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
What are some of the must-do activities when one resides at The Sanchaya?
There’s a whole host of them on the property and beyond in the nature lover’s paradise that is Bintan Island: Capture a bird’s eye view of Lagoi Bay by taking to the sky in an ultra-light, open-cockpit seaplane; play a few rounds of golf at Ria Bintan Golf Club designed by golfing legend Gary Player; cruise down the Sebung River to marvel at Bintan’s mangrove forests (home to macaques and silver leaf monkeys) or see it by night and be surrounded by fireflies. Known as lightning bugs, they are literally the stars of the show, collectively twinkling like Christmas tree lights.