Malaysia, Hong Kong & Singapore a back-to-nature experience
Visit Malaysia and you’re sure to do more than just chill-out together on a palm-fringed beach. No matter how Witty the repartee or how gripping the book you’ll always be distracted - whether it’s by the sight of a majestic Sea eagle returning to its nest or a wild macaque monkey on the look-out for lizards.
For this is a back-to-nature country where the five-star hotel experience comes with a huge supporting ‘cast’, and if you’re fascinated by the flora and fauna right on your doorstep, then you can discover even more on escorted jungle treks or by visits to national parks. Orang-utang sanctuaries, crocodile farms and the largest flower in the world are just a few things that might tempt you off your sun lounger. Yet Malaysia actually comprises two quite distinct parts; Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia, the latter consisting of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
Add to this exotic little islands like Langkawi and you’ll realise the holiday possibilities here are endless. Most stays kick off in Kuala Lumpur, a capital city which might boast the tallest skyscrapers in the world, but still warmly embraces its multi-cultural past. But before you disappear off to the tropical beaches and lush jungles of Langkawi, you might like to step back in time to colonial ‘Malaya’ and linger a few days in the picturesque Cameron Highlands. Of course, those of you prefering white-water rafting and insectivorous pitcher plants to afternoon teas and ‘English’ rose gardens will make straight for Sabah and the Kinabalu National Park.
HOW TO GET THERE Malaysia Airlines fly to Kuala Lumpur in about 121/2 hours. (One-stop flights with Emirates and Etihad are also available). Onward flights with Malaysia Airlines to Langkawi take about an hour and Kota Kinabalu can be reached in 21/2 hours.
WHEN TO VISIT Malaysia tends to be hot and humid all year-round and it’s rare to have a day without rainfall. Whilst this can often be brief and intense, it’s more prolonged between April and November.
This captivating Four Seasons Resort meanders along a mile-long beach in the Langkawi UNESCO Geopark. Offering an intriguing blend of natural beauty and adrenalin-fuelled adventure, its plush Malay-inspired accommodation is about as good as it gets in Asia.
The Datai Langkawi is an icon of luxury nestled in an ancient virgin rainforest, with meandering paths leading to secluded villas and on to a peaceful private bay of white sandy beaches fringing the Andaman Sea. Here, Dusky Leaf Monkeys and an abundance of wildlife is never far away.
Gaya Island Resort is situated on Pulau Gaya, part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, a natural marine conservation area off the coast of Borneo. It is surrounded by tropical rainforest, teeming wildlife and edged by golden beaches and coral reefs.
Include this luxurious Shangri-La in your Oriental itinerary and you’ve not only got a three-kilometre white sand beach and ecologically-friendly golf course on your doorstep, but ready access to an on-site nature reserve - guests can say hello to macaque monkeys, mouse deer and orang-utans all before breakfast.
Famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti loved Pangkor Laut Resort so much that a luxury suite here is named after him. He described the resort, set on a private 300 acre island off the West Coast of Malaysia, as ‘paradise’.
This resort of traditional luxury on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia reflects the grandeur of 17th century Malay Palaces. Shaded by gently swaying palms, Tanjong Jara Resort is steeped in Malay tradition of hospitality and the concept of Sucimurni, which emphasises purity of spirit, health and well-being.
Cameron Highlands To stay at this serene hideaway is to surrender to the romance of colonial Malaysia. It’s rated amongst the five best ‘tea plantation hotels’ thanks to a certain nostalgic charm combined with an attention-to-detail that is very ‘now’.
Expect old world charm and personal attention at The Majestic Malacca, a graceful 1920s colonial mansion in the historic seaside city of Malacca. Sympathetically extended to house 54 rooms and suites, you’ll be surrounded by local antiques, the original porcelain flooring and teakwood fittings. The guest accommodation is equally authentic, with four-poster beds and clawfoot bathtubs.
The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur has grown from the historical colonial hotel and national heritage site. Built in 1932 it became an icon of Malaysia’s pre-World War II boom years and the new hotel is redolent of this glamourous past.
A sophisticated beachfront paradise nestled in ancient rainforest in a secluded cove on the island known as ‘the Jewel of Kedah.’ Its 85 suites and 4 over-water villas are graciously appointed and adorned with artworks by esteemed local artists. They offer chic island luxury with every comfort you’d expect from a brand carrying the illustrious legacy of the Astors. Wake to a decadent breakfast in the gastronomic Garden of Eden, indulge in the sanctuary of the Iridium Spa and dine at the resorts celebrated over-water restaurant.
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