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rest, relax, recharge Start the new year refreshed. Here are a few island getaways that will help you recharge your batteries and which won’t break the bank.

By Elisabeth Lee

When you want to go green A finalist in the Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards, Nikoi prides itself on being ‘beyond’ green — it’s much more than your typical eco-friendly getaway destination. Indeed, no trees were cut down to build this 43 acre-resort — the only one on the island — and there’s no air-conditioning; though a shrewd deployment of ceiling fans along with sensible layouts ensure that guests stay cool. What’s more, building materials and ingredients for cooking are bought locally, and all waste is recycled. All this means that guests can sit and enjoy Nikoi’s desert island charm without worrying about Mother Earth. Grab a snorkel and fins to explore the picturesque reef that surrounds the island or chill and relax with a book and one of Nikoi’s famous pina coladas. With only 15 beachfront chalets scattered over the television-, telephone- and computer-free resort, you can certainly get away from it all.

WHAT IT WILL COST Rates for 2012 start at S$330 for a one-bedroom beach house. Daily board costs S$90++ per day per adult and includes free use of kayaks, snorkelling equipment, sailing boats and windsurfers.




PHOTOS: Nikoi, Japamala Resorts

HOW TO GET THERE Transfers from Bintan Ferry terminal to Nikoi cost S$90++ return per adult and S$45++ per child. This includes VIP immigration clearance, car and boat transfer.

When you’re looking for romance In 1958, the charms of this island won over Hollywood and served as the setting for the movie South Pacific. Pacific. More than 50 years later, Tioman hasn’t lost its charm. While the backpacker beaches might get a little noisy and crowded, there are plenty of tropical hideaways for those who want to get away from it all with their loved one. One of those is Japamala, Tioman Island’s only boutique resort. Set amid 11 acres of lush jungle, this totally secluded Relais & Chateaux resort promises a weekend of uninterrupted luxury and romance. Check out the Samadhi Spa or chill out on the special beach pavilions for two. Come sundown, Asian snacks are brought to you while you unwind, while resort staff use aromatherapy oils for a special aromatic turndown of your rooms. Guests can also expect the option of a customised dining experience for two. WHAT IT WILL COST Regular rates start at RM450 (about S$185) for a treetop chalet. Luxe For Less low season specials start at RM1,250 (about S$513) for a three-day package that includes breakfast, welcome drinks, a massage for two and resort transfers. What’s more, get a complimentary RM150 (about S$62) voucher if you’re rained out for the day. Terms and conditions apply. HOW TO GET THERE Berjaya Air flies direct from Singapore’s Seletar Airport three times a week on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Or you can drive or take a bus to Mersing, Malaysia and catch the speedboat. >>

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When you’ve got the kids with you A mere three hours’ drive from Singapore, Pulau Sibu is one of the closest Malaysian islands, making it ideal for weekend breaks. It’s a small island with all the requisite tropical charms — visitors can hike in the jungle, snorkel amongst the colourful reefs or relax on the white sand beaches. It’s just a short boat ride from Tanjong Leman on the mainland, and the absence of vehicles on the island means peace and quiet all day long. For parents, the island’s Sea Gypsy Village resort is incredibly child-friendly — with a morning kids’ club, afternoon games and evening baby-minding services — so you get a chance to enjoy a relaxing holiday without having to worry too much about the little ones.

What’s more, the resort’s restaurant has special child-friendly menus for babies and toddlers, all prepared using fresh produce. With the kids well-fed and out of your hair, you can try your hand at boogie boarding, snorkelling, diving and sailing — or simply sit back and relax with one of their signature cocktails.

HOW TO GET THERE Sea Gypsy Village will arrange return transport from Singapore to the island for RM90 (about S$37) per person, with special timings on weekends, so families can maximise their time on the island. Or you can drive or take the bus to Tanjong Leman before boarding a quick 15-minute ferry over to Pulau Sibu. >>



PHOTOS: Sea Gypsy Village, Kamalaya Koh Samui

WHAT WILL IT COST High-season rates for a regular sea-view chalet start at RM210 (about S$86), and Sea Gypsy Village often has special packages for longer weekend stays that include transport and a welcome cocktail. Larger groups can opt for a family chalet, with two bedrooms that can sleep up to six.

When you need to detox If you’ve been so busy with work that you’ve neglected your fitness and health regime, then perhaps a short wellness break is in order for the start of a new year. From detox and weightloss programmes to special retreats for stressed executives or yoga enthusiasts, the Kamalaya has it all. Tucked away on a private beach on the southern coast of Koh Samui, the award-winning retreat integrates both Eastern and Western therapies. The menu includes treatments ranging from Ayurvedic therapy to Chinese

medicine, as well as daily classes in Pilates, yoga, qigong and more. Just three days is all you need for a healthier, happier you! Once you’re feeling rested and refreshed, reward yourself with a day trip to one of the neighbouring islands of Koh Tao or Koh Pha Ngan, or head to the marine park for a spot of snorkelling or diving. There’s also plenty to do on Koh Samui itself — check out the island’s famous Big Buddha shrine or the stunning Na Muang waterfalls.

WHAT IT WILL COST The 3-night “Introduction to Detox” package for two people starts from 89,700 baht (about S$3,763). It includes accommodation, full board, a wellness consultation, numerous scrubs, wraps and massages plus use of the fitness centre and access to daily holistic fitness activities. Customised packages are available, with hillside rooms starting at 7,100 baht (about S$298) for two. HOW TO GET THERE From Singapore, Bangkok Air flies direct to Koh Samui. Kamalaya is a 45-minute drive from the airport. >>

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