Feb 12, 2011

Romantic getaways in Malaysia

Romantic getaways
Saturday February 12, 2011
By Boey Ping Ping

Love a good holiday? Then break away this Valentine’s Day.

LOVE is in the air. Whether you’re lovebirds, newly weds or long married, rekindle your romance on Valentine’s Day at one of seven unforgettable destinations right here in Malaysia.

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi

For the self-indulgent couple: Champagne and strawberries, check. Roses, check. Private villa, check. The crème de la crème of Langkawi’s resorts has all the trappings of an extravagant sojourn; from sipping bubblies onboard a rustic sampan (local boat) at sunset to reclining by the beach gorging on giant, double chocolate-dipped strawberries to being serenaded by musicians at a private seaside dinner. Roses turn up in specially drawn baths, flower trails and a hand-held bouquet for the lucky gal.

The beach villa is the only place to stay to experience true luxury and privacy. Outside, enjoy views of a long stretch of silky sand while sunbathing on deck chairs or immersed in your plunge pool-cum-jacuzzi. Inside, a palatial villa houses its own treatment room where pampering massages are performed to the tune of chirping birds and roaring sea.

Wake up to the smell of fresh ocean air and indulge in a champagne breakfast served by your personal butler on your private courtyard. It’s hard to be anything but lovey-dovey when you’re feeling this spoilt!

o www.fourseasons.com

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat

For the health-conscious couple: A spa and wellness retreat may not be everyone’s idea of a romantic escape, but a peek into one of 25 luxury villas will have both of you holding hands ready to jump into your spring water jacuzzi. And if that doesn’t set your hearts racing, try going commando in your private plunge pool or outdoor rain shower.

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is surrounded by majestic limestone hills and lush tropical foliage.The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is surrounded by majestic limestone hills and lush tropical foliage.

An all-inclusive honeymoon package dispels worries of forking out extra for food while a massage and a facial are thrown in to boost positive feelings. Being surrounded by majestic limestone hills, lush tropical foliage and geothermal ponds is as refreshing as the retreat’s welcome drink of lemongrass, ginger and lime. There’s lots to do like getting hooked on garra rufa (doctor fish) nibbling your toes, sweating it out in the steam cave or wading through a reflexology pool. The combination of heat and minerals in the water soothes joint pain and heals eczema.

When it’s time to relax, the men get the Adam package – facial, massage, compress, scrub, wrap and a Tongkat Ali concoction to ignite the fire – while the women are treated to the Hawa package – a rejuvenating facial, massage, hibiscus scrub, wrap, and a female jamu (herbal) drink.

Fall in love with each other and the breathtaking beauty of this world-class luxury retreat right in the heart of Ipoh.

o www.thebanjaran.com

Tanjong Jara Resort

For the tradition-loving couple: The spirit of kampung (village) life is alive and well in this traditional destination that is the embodiment of Malaysian warmth and hospitality. The locals here live simple, happy lives in the pursuit of purity of spirit, health and well-being.

Designed to replicate 17th century Malay palaces, the villas are comfy, but the lure of the east coast beach is too strong to resist. The cooling breeze and gentle sway of a hammock will put you in snooze mode, pronto. When you awake, enjoy a gourmet picnic spread at the beach pavilion.

A popular destination for honeymooners, the resort offers a Mandi Bunga (flower bath) ritual which sees couples blessed with flower-scented water collected from seven sources – rain, well, lake, stream, river, waterfall and spring. A 100-minute massage for two completes the experience.

While the breakfast buffet lacks oomph, Chef Ann’s mouth-watering lamb rendang and buttermilk prawns make an unforgettable dinner. Tummies filled, slide up to your darling on a “moon chair” for a spot of stargazing, but be prepared to play hide-and-seek with the clouds and stars.

Leave your mark here by planting a bougainvillea sapling bearing a wooden sign carved with both your names. Now you’ll have an excuse to return.

o www.tanjongjararesort.com

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur

For the city slicker couple: Can’t leave the city? Then hop into a limousine and stay in style at this opulent, elegant five-star hotel whose proximity to shopping paradise, Suria KLCC, isn’t lost on shopaholics.

Despite being a city hotel, the staff makes you feel special if you don’t already when spending the night at the lavish Club Suite. The spacious marble bathroom has double showers and two sinks so you won’t suffer from separation anxiety. Arm yourself with the suite’s soft towels, fluffy slippers and toiletries from Asprey and luxuriate in the whirlpool bath. Steam things up in the room’s private sauna but spare us the details.

Mandarin Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s lavish Club Suite.
Mandarin Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s lavish Club Suite.

For lunch, dine on dim sum and for dinner, leave it to Chef Cedric Darthial of Mandarin Grill to whip up a degustation menu that will surprise and titillate your taste buds. Next door, MO Bar’s choice of exotic cocktails is perfect to unwind with as you cuddle up in a private corner.

A stay at the Club Suite entitles you to breakfast, tea and evening cocktails at the Club Lounge where you can soak up panoramic views of the KLCC park and dancing fountains. But even urbanites need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life and nothing is quite as blissful as the spa’s deep-tissue massage and hydrating facial enjoyed side by side.

o www.mandarinoriental.com

Hard Rock Hotel Penang

For the fun-seeking couple: Girls just wanna have fun. And so do boys. So live it up as a twosome at this funky hotel with enough rock ’n’ roll memorabilia to be mistaken for a museum. Vibrant decor and loud music (it’s even piped into the swimming pool) dominate this hotel. From dance fiestas to beach games and guitar lessons, there’s plenty to keep couples entertained. And when you’re tired from all the fun and games, book a hot rock massage for two and be soothed and seduced by the warmth of the heated stones.

Sexy bathrooms, beach frontage and rooms that open out into the swimming pool ooze sex appeal that hint of a weekend of flirty fun. Here, it’s ok to let your hair down and go crazy. So have a go at the water slides and bring out the kid in you.

Hard Rock’s Valentine’s Day Love Package includes a night in a seaview deluxe room with breakfast, sparkling wine, chocolate strawberries and a scrumptious Valentine’s set dinner by the poolside with live entertainment.

Have a rocking Valentine’s Day at Hard Rock Hotel Penang.
Have a rocking Valentine’s Day at Hard Rock Hotel Penang.

Before you go, get matching T-shirts from the Hard Rock Shop. Have a rocking Valentine’s Day!

o www.hardrockhotels.net

Cameron Highlands Resort

For the highlands-happy couple: Strawberries, chocolates and a bottle of bubbly await lucky lovebirds enjoying the Treasured Moments package. Savour breakfast together in your comfy four-poster bed and dinner at a private gazebo, far from the maddening crowd. Just tell the chef what you like and he’ll concoct a five-course dinner featuring your favourite dishes to be relished under the stars, enveloped by the cool, crisp air.

Join naturalist Madi as he walks you through the Jim Thompson Mystery Trail to discover the true identity of the Thai Silk King. Was Thompson a lonely wanderer who got lost in the woods or a CIA agent who disappeared with his country’s secrets?

At the Boh Tea Plantation, experience a tea-tasting session and learn tea secrets. Take your tea soaking in a tea bath at the spa, scrub clean with a rose-petal and rice powder scrub and loosen up with a rose-scented massage.

Before kissing goodnight, read to each other from the Tales of the Highlands, a collection of short stories that will leave you dreaming about your next romantic adventure.

o www.cameronhighlandsresort.com

Pangkor Laut Resort

For the island-loving couple: The Chocolate Lava Cake here is meltingly delicious. But you’ll have to bake it yourself. As part of the Treasured Moments package, Chef Kali transforms couples into domestic gods and goddesses in a 15-minute cooking class.

Breakfast is a grand affair as you plough through waffles, pancakes, roti canai, poori and eggs cooked on the spot. Lunch is served in a gourmet picnic basket best enjoyed at a secluded beach spot on Emerald Bay with wine glass in one hand and lamb curry puffs in the other. Dinner is enjoyed at a candle-lit table at Fisherman’s Cove.

The resort’s mantra: “One island, one resort” doesn’t apply anymore since The Estates, an exclusive resort featuring eight private villas recently sprung up on the north side of the island. You’ll catch a glimpse of it during the Sunset cruise as you ride the waves on an Oriental junk sipping wine and watching the sun slip down the sky.

For breathtaking views of the property, occupy the spacious hill villa and chill out in your outdoor bath tub with a bottle of champagne and a flower bath drawn by the staff. Indulge in a couple’s spa experience which starts with a unique bath house experience followed by a Balinese massage for him and a Malay massage for her.

End your romantic interlude with a symbolic tree planting ceremony – he digs, she waters – and photos as a memento of your time together.

o www.pangkorlautresort.com