Unique Sleeps: Pangkor Laut Resort
Unique Sleeps: Amazing hotels hand picked by Expedia Experts. Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia.
If there’s one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I haven’t really done the “holiday” thing much. So when I head to somewhere that has accolades and pretty pictures on its website – I expect a lot. And when it comes to choosing a honeymoon hotel, brides have high expectations.
Malaysia’s Pankgkor Laut delivered.
It wasn’t the overwater bungalow that did it, the tropical cocktails or the emerald green water; it wasn’t even the spa with the incredible massages and bathhouse rituals.
It was the unexpected romantic surprises – the little things that took this resort from losing us in the crowd of 280 guests the island can accommodate, to feeling as if we had the island to ourselves.
A three-hour drive to the marina and we’re welcomed with sweet hibiscus and raspberry iced tea, completing check in before a ten-minute speed boat ride to the island of Pangkor Laut. A team of uniformed staff welcomes the boatloads of guests – each couple and family met by name and whisked to rooms as if we’ve arrived at Hogwarts and been assigned via the sorting hat.
Our room, and my recommendation for honeymooners, is one of the Spa Villas. Located at the far end of the resort (a ten minute walk, shuttle buses provided to help you get around), the spa villas are adjacent to the Spa Village. This section of the resort is inaccessible to anyone but spa villa guests and spa village clients. With an oversized infinity pool and the private beach, there’s all the peace and quiet you’ll need for your romantic escapade.
Our Malaysian hut-style villa sits over the emerald green water, with its own deck and loungers. Inside is a king sized bed, writing desk, bathroom, mini bar and the piece de resistance – an enormous waterfall bath (complete with flower petals, candles, bath salts and of course, towel swans) that opens up on three sides to overlook the incredible views of the bay.
We start our romantic stay with a sunset cruise around the island, enjoying canapés and wine as the incredible Malaysian sunset casts its final golden light. Still adjusting to the humidity, we arrive slightly sweaty at Fisherman’s Cove Restaurant for our dinner reservation and are confused, bedraggled and trying not to look disappointed when the maître d‘ tells us “you won’t be dining here tonight”. Welcome to unexpected romantic surprise #1 where the theme of this resort, with its love of romantic gestures, starts to become clear.
We’re guided down a candlelit path to a private table by the water that’s lit with lanterns, candles and covered in fresh flowers. A romantic private dinner, just for us.
Our personal waitress Sara knows just when to bring us food and when to stay discreetly away as we dine on the restaurant’s specialty of fresh fish and sparkling wine while the waves lapped the shore. It’s the stuff honeymoon dreams are made of.
We awaken on day two just in time to catch the sunrise – bright orange casting peacefulness over the resort. Our day is packed full, kicking off with a walk to Feast Village (the resort’s buffet style restaurant) for breakfast. The buffet includes a cheese bar (my favourite spot obviously) and fresh juice bar, made to order. Next we meet the resort’s naturalist Aris for an hour long hike (free, along with plenty of other activities like the sunset cruise, golf, yoga and tennis, while you can also trump up for fishing and snorkelling tours, hiring a private yacht, and even cooking classes.) to the real gem of Pangkor Laut – Emerald Bay.
Its name gives away its secret – the water is as green and as glowing in real life as the name suggests. On the bay sits the resort’s private beach. A quiet oasis packed with loungers, soft sand and the right mix of sun and shade. Chapmans Bar serves up fresh beachside lunches and attentive staff are keen to provide beach towels, cold water and drinks of your choice right to your lounger’s side.
The other restaurants on Pangkor Laut are just as much of a treat – Uncle Lim’s Kitchen serves up Chinese-style home cooking and has been a hallmark of the resort since it opened. Royal Bay Beach Club sits beside the resort’s main pool and has a light Asian and western light meal menu before becoming a lounge bar after dark. For romantic dinners, The Straits is a must visit with private dining booths against the water that are the perfect recipe for a romantic sojourn.
For our final dinner on the island we head back to Emerald Bay where we were swimming only hours before, for a private dinner. This place is the best on the island to watch the sun set and a special few seem to know the secret.
As the final guests depart back to the resort, our waiter Surian guides us to our candle lit flower adorned table in the centre of the beach where it’s just us, and only us. We’re served up an incredible feast – caesar salad, tom yum soup (in a coconut shell), lobster, all cooked by our chef Sulvian. The experience of being the only ones on the beach is quite overwhelming as the sun’s glow leaves the sky and the stars come out. My tip for Pangkor Laut? Book as many private dinners as you can, the team here knows how to take care of everything, leaving you to focus on the important stuff.
A final dining option, and our last meal on the island was at Jamu Bar. Part of the Spa Village, Jamu serves up fresh sashimi and healthy juices which embody the mood and spirit of this end of the resort. One could quite happily never leave the walls of the Spa Village.
Pangkor Laut’s Spa Village is award winning for a reason. Old villas have been converted into eight treatment pavilions, three healing huts sit on the sand ready for massages, you can even hire out the Belian Treatment suite for a day’s worth of pampering with the therapists trained to offer treatments from all parts of the globe (China, Japan, India, Thailand, Bali and Malaysia included!).
Treatments start with a traditional bathing house ritual. We sit for a traditional Chinese foot pounding before being led to a bathing house to don sarongs. The Malay circulating bath is first, a deep pool with cascading water evocative of bathing in streams or rivers. Guests are invited to smell invigorating steaming herbs before being guided to a Japanese style bathing house with goshi-goshi cloths and a pot of water for an invigorating scrub. A warm cup of tea in the heated Rotenburu pool is next before the therapists assist you in a full body scrub.
Our chosen treatment is the campur campur (which means ‘blending of varieties’ in Malay) and massage combines lemongrass and pandan leaves steamed in small pouches that are pressed into the body blended with an incredible massage. For longer stays, guests can even try customised programs (including personal treatments with the resort’s Chinese Medicine doctor) and daily treatments.
The island itself is truly worthy of the term ‘private Island’. The resort takes up only a small part with the jungle, and its wildlife (including lizards, monkeys and of course plenty of birds) inhabiting the rest and making their appearance known (guests are advised to keep doors locked, as the monkeys are adept at opening the mini bar).
Here, the littlest touches made the biggest impact – the beach bag left in one’s room to cart essentials for the day, the incense burning upon our return to our room after dinner, the daily towel ‘animals’ left on our bed and being greeted at breakfast and asked about our day.
But what I will never forget is how special we were made to feel. The incredible Nurulazura with her sparkling eyes whisked us from romantic surprise to romantic surprise and always seemed to know what we needed. Mr. Ong, the resort’s food and beverage manager greeted us as if we were long lost friends. The entire team, led by GM Ross, is warm and kind, greeting us like we were the only guests on the island.
There’s a lump in my throat when, as our boat departs, the porter, Ross, and other team members stand at the dock and wave (clearly a psychological trick designed make you want to come back). It works though – I left a piece of my heart in this beautiful place and I plan to return to find it.
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