Just drive and enjoy | MINI Getaway 2019

BY Joel Tam

We all need a break sometimes, and the magical call from MINI Singapore couldn’t have come at a better time.

It had been a busy month for me juggling various projects and the work was wearing me down. I had just been contemplating some time-out, when the invitation from MINI to join them on their annual customer road trip came.

Dubbed the MINI Getaway, for 2019, the itinerary for the trip included a lot of driving (in a scorching hot MINI JCW 3-door), basking in the sun, floating in crystal clear seas, snorkelling with turtles and indulging in plenty of good food. I had to think about it. Are you kidding me? Of course the answer was a resounding “Yes!”

This was the fourth year in a row that MINI had organised this for its owners. The trip started with customers meeting at MINI Habitat in the wee hours of the morning at 4 am. This was necessary so that we could avoid heavy traffic at crucial points of the crossover to Malaysia.

By 5:30 am, we had met up with other MINI customers at the Gelang Patah R&R, and all 42 cars were on our way to our destination - The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort on Pulau Redang. But not before we got some breakfast in Yong Peng and lunch in Kuantan!

Driving with the group was smooth and enjoyable throughout the journey. All 32 customer cars and 10 support cars were broken up into three convoys. Each convoy had a lead car and a sweeper car at the back, while MINI also provided support cars with spare parts in the case of an emergency.

The list of cars that came for the trip featured almost every model in the MINI line-up. From a MINI One 3-door to the larger Countryman JCW, it was a mixed bag of fun rides from the English brand. Our ride was probably the swiftest of them all. While there were other JCW 3-doors in the group, ours was probably the fastest because it was red!

In all seriousness though, the JCW was a blast to drive. Be it hurtling down the highway or carving the backroads (also known as B-roads) of Malaysia, the 228 bhp machine was quick and full of precision even when pushed to its limits. A lot of cars start to feel ‘light’ and jittery when pushed hard. Not the JCW. Despite being a small B-segment car (versus a larger C-segment model like the Volkswagen Golf), it manages to feel solid and stable.

The space in the rear seats was surprisingly spacious too. The three of us adults managed to comfortably swap places without complaint throughout the whole journey and even pack in all our luggage on the 4D3N trip. Impressive!

Getting to the resort was only by speedboat. So we parked the cars in a designated parking lot at the jetty and hopped onto a boat and made a 30-minute bee-line for the island.

Redang island is beautiful. Clear waters and acres of tropical greenery surround the hilly island. The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort proved to be an exceptional place to stay. Extremely well-maintained with quality finishes, the facilities and food standard was top-notch.

Eco-friendly activities are readily available, go on foot and trek up a hill or paddle around the island on a kayak. Jet-skis and water-skiing are banned though, to protect the marine environment. You also can’t cast a line and go fishing, but you can do a bit of angling outside the 2.5 km boundary. Fancy some snorkelling to get up close to some sea turtles as I did? The resort will arrange that too (see the little friend I snapped on my GoPro up there ^).

The last night at the resort ended with a beach BBQ dinner with a radio DJ host specially flown in for the occasion. It was a beautiful and cool evening under the stars as the hotel staff cooked up a sumptuous dinner for everyone.

But this trip was far from over. From a luxurious beach holiday to have some shopping and street food in the city, it was time to head to Kuala Lumpur! Our group decided to cafe-hop, while other participants explored the town for a durian feast! The last night was spent at the Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara, which provided superb rooms (mine had a bathtub!) to rest a weary head and body.

It was all smiles as everyone made their way back to Singapore after this restful but fun-filled trip. If you were one of the MINI owners, you would be smiling too, especially since the trip was fully planned and organised for you! All we had to do was just drive and enjoy!