We are at Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa in Malaysia. A pair of six foot long monitor lizards clamber over giant granite boulders beside the beach, forked tongues flashing; Hornbills, reminiscent of pre-historic birds from a school textbook, squawk loudly and sweep through heavily scented frangipani trees; fruit bats dangle like strange fruit over the tropical gardens and macaque monkeys chatter as they scramble through the trees tops.
Dare we say Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa is something of a real life Jurassic Park, and occupying its own private island it is easy to experience the holiday brochure ‘get away from it all’ cliche. However, fear not, If any of this seems a touch too ‘exotic’ the five star comforts of one the finest spa resorts in the world is right at hand.
Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa is a magnificent collection of luxury cabanas clustered around – and over – a couple of palm-fringed beaches. It is also Asian Spa of the year, a the Conde Nast Top 20 Resort as well as being a regular feature in a host of other ‘Best of’ listings.
The closest international airport is Kulala Lumpur where we recommend breaking your journey as we do, with a stay at the elegant colonial style Majestic Hotel (see review here). From here it is a four hour drive and a short speedboat hop to the private tropical island which is home to Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa
On arrival we were welcomed in to a gently lit teak cabana with a cool towel and a glass of rosella water, a delicious rosy red drink from hibiscus flowers that’s handily also packed with vitamin C and free-radical busting flavonoids.
A brightly smiling and impeccably costumed hostess guides us along illuminated pathways lined with decorative bowls of floating flowers, coconut palms and scented bushes, to our Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa villa. These come in grades from garden and hillside through to beach, sea and spa, the latter two types built, in the style of fisherman’s huts, on stilts over the water.
Other than the obvious variation in location the accommodations are broadly similar in features, although those over water are slightly smaller and don’t have an open air bath or TV. They are all delightfully decorated and pretty spacious, with lots of teak and traditional design features like shuttered windows and carved headboards.
All Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa villas have marble baths, rainforest showers, quality toiletries and nice extras like plenty of complimentary water, minibar, Nespresso, kettles, fans and air conditioning. A daily turndown comes with scented candles and extra water. We would particularly recommend the stilted Spa Villas for their secluded location, proximity to the spa and exclusive access to the more peaceful spa pool and garden area.
As you might expect in such a unique environment the Spa is something rather special (see review here). Occupying its own bay it is centred around a wonderful infinity pool that overlooks the beach and backed by the Jamu Bar, hosted by the always cheerful Raimon. Relax there for a few minutes and you are likely to find a plate of sliced fruits or delicious yam ice cream spontaneously appearing at your side.
The spa treatments are not only Malaysian, but Indian Ayurvedic and Chinese style, each with a ‘menus’ which you can either dip in to ‘a la carte’ or immerse yourself more deeply in week-long holistic ‘healing programmes’.
Malaysia, with its multi-cultural background, is a foodie heaven reflected in the variety available. Breakfast at the Feast Village is a vibrant affair with diverse offerings from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond – we particularly enjoyed the Indian selection with freshly made dhall, chutneys and breads.
Evenings we chose from local delicacies and flavourful Malay cuisine or opted for the more formal event at Fisherman’s Cove. Here Chef Wai crafts seafood themed dishes at a fabulous location on the rocks close to the spa village. There are even more panoramic views of the Straits of Malacca from under the umbrella-roof of Uncle Lims Kitchen, perched high on a rocky outcrop, where Chef Lim Fang Tat has been serving excellent Nyonya and Hockchew Chinese-style home cooking since 1985.
During the day we occasionally joined with the free Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa morning yoga or tai-chi sessions or ventured out for a naturalist-guided stroll through the rainforest, echoing with exotic sounds. We could have also taken excursions to local islands, sunset cruises or rented boats, canoes or paddle-boards.
On the whole however we opted for lazy and peaceful days lounging and reading at the two beautiful beachside infinity pools. We enjoyed light lunches of fresh and healthy salads and the Royal Bay Beach Club, Jamu Bar and Chapman’s Bar – each sitting on a different, spectacularly beautiful tropical beach.
Leaving Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa was hard, but the scenic half hour boat ride to the mainland was a very pleasant way to say goodbye. We vowed to return, but with a tempting choice of other YTL Resorts still to try there is going to be some stiff competition!
For more information visit Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of YTL Hotels and Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa
Other YTL Properties include:
Spa Village Resort – Tembok Bali
For our curated reading recommendations for Travel, Art, Culture, Design and Architecture books visit the CELLOPHANELAND* bookstore