Unique Sleeps: Cameron Highlands Resort, Malaysia
Unique Sleeps: Amazing hotels hand picked by Expedia Experts. Cameron Highlands Resort, Malaysia
The Cameron Highlands Resort greets us as we take the final bend up the mountain, its grandeur rising up like a castle through the mist.
We’ve driven three hours on winding roads to escape the hustle and humidity of Kuala Lumpur, and to see a different side of Malaysia. What greets us is almost the stuff of Malaysian folklore.
It’s cooler up here than the city. The landscape has changed and is filled with rolling green tea plantations, the tallest of trees and gorgeous forest covered slopes. The air smells cleaner; the mood more romantic, the feeling of cosyness and warmth envelops us.
In a region known for its tea, it seemed fitting a freshly brewed, hot cup is presented upon our arrival. Our deluxe room, on the hotel’s second floor, overlooks the neighbouring golf course. It’s decorated with the same British colonial touches we had come to love of its sister The Majestic, Kuala Lumpur. Our four-poster king sized bed looks out at a small living area and private balcony. More extensive suites are named after historical figures – the Jim Thompson suite comes complete with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a living area. Marble bathrooms are filled with luxurious toiletries, fluffy towels and our bed adorned with towel shaped swans and “Welcome to CHR” spelt out in flower petals and foliage.
At turn down each night, a rose was left on my pillow, a crystal vase appearing the next night after I saved the bloom in my water glass. These little touches of sweetness are icing on the Cameron Highlands teacake.
The area is famous for tea and strawberries – much of this evident in the way visitors to the area spend their days. High teas with clotted cream and strawberries on scones, picnics amongst the tea plantations, tea factory tours and strawberry picking are all on the agenda should you wish to leave the comfort of your resort.
On our first morning we scurry downstairs to meet our walking guide who drives us a short distance to the Jim Thompson trail. Much of the area’s history centres on the mystery of Jim Thompson. The American architect known for revitalizing the Thai silk market vanished mysteriously, literally into thin air, one night whilst walking. The mystery surrounding his death seems to enchant and baffle the community who honour him through everything from recreating his famous walk, to stores with silk bearing his name – one of which sits on the ground floor of the Cameron Highlands Resort itself.
The Jim Thompson Mystery Trail took us on a similar pathway to the one Jim Thompson took that fateful night of his disappearance. Our guide tells us the story as we climb up the Malaysian jungle to the peak of the highlands.
The walk, for an unfit blogger, is not easy (there may have been literally hauling oneself up a hill involved) but the stories are golden, the experience of jungle walking in Malaysia incredible, the activity free and the promise of a spa treatment to come, the ultimate reward.
The spa is world class at Cameron Highlands and touches on YTL Hotels spa village concept – treatments all inspired by tea and local flora and fauna. The spa village sits at one end of the resort, guests greeted with hot tea and fresh towels as they relax in an open-air pavilion. Our pre treatment – a tea bath with a raw lime and sugar scrub, iced tea bags to de-puff the eyes and a gentle exfoliant of tea leaves to smooth the face – is bliss. Nothing makes aching joints from climbing hills sing with joy like a hot tea bath.
We are left to nap on one of the day beds before our Signature Semai Treatment (named after the indigenous people or Orang Asli of the state of Pahang) begins in a private room. We start with an Urutan Batin and Minjau Asli massages before a scrub, hot tea bath and of course the conclusion of specially brewed, hot tea. It’s a decadent three hours of pampering.
The resort, with its colonial style décor provides much space to continue relaxing. The reading room in rich wood tones, open fire and leather lounges is the perfect quiet spot for a glass of wine and a good book while snooker tables and quiet lounge areas dotted around the resort allow for quiet moments hidden from the cold.
There are three dining rooms on site at The Cameron Highlands Resort. The Jim Thompson tearooms serve lunch and high tea in light filled quarters, the homemade sweetened ice tea a welcome relief after our day’s activities. The main dining room serves up cascade breakfasts and fine dining for dinner. Its formality is all about the romance. Fairy lights and candlelight sparkling as my red wine, in a glass bigger than my head, went down way too smoothly.
While the staff can create romantic private dining experiences in fairy light lit gazebos, our favourite option of all was Gonbei – the hotel’s hot pot restaurant. Open air, (blankets provided), the restaurant gives a special dining experience. Guests choose from six broths, seafood, red meat or vegetarian platters, a huge selection of locally sourced fresh produce, sauces and toppings before being guided through cooking a hotpot dinner at their own table. With the cold descending as night falls, it’s definitely the perfect way to spend an evening in the Cameron Highlands
And that’s the special thing about the Cameron Highlands. The community here doesn’t complain about the cold, they embrace it. We’re invited to a fire lighting ceremony on our first night, a nod to welcoming the cold night air as we toast with sparkling strawberry drinks by the fireside. We’re served hot tea and given snuggly blankets at every turn. We rush to open our balcony doors when we wake to watch the fog rise and the sun weave its way in every morning, and we’re not alone. The cold here sweeps over the mountaintops with fog and is welcomed, respected and most of all – enjoyed. It’s the perfect escape for a romance, the atmosphere ripe for snuggling, red wine and open fires.
The Cameron Highlands showcases a different side to this tropical country – one that is steeped in history and pays a respect to the stories and atmosphere of its surroundings, one that involves something more quiet, something more subtle than its sunny, tropical neighbours.
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