LUXURY RESORTS: Pangkor Laut Resort, Perak,
water , Malay-style
Scene: One resort, one private island
Seen in the lobby: The well-heeled and wealthy from nearby KL
When Sting's helicopter landed on the island of Pangkor Laut on the west coast of Malaysia the waiting staff member wasn't sure how to greet him. 'Sting' seemed somehow too casual, 'Mr Sumner' a little strange. Nevertheless however he was welcomed Sting and his family would have found a level of private luxury at Pangkor Laut that few other Malaysian resorts offer, which is why he isn't the only star to touch down on the island. Pavarotti loved the place, so much so that they named a suite after him.
Sting's private vehicle would have whisked him straight to a secluded cove, a bay away from the main resort. No wait at check-in for him. In the curling jungle are eight elaborate estates. Four of them can be glimpsed from the water by guests of the main resort enjoying a sunset cruise aboard Pangkor Laut's teak wood junk, so down by the shore you risk the possibility of paparazzi (a low risk since the whole resort is on its own exclusive island) but gain the luxury of a private beach. The more lens shy can pick one of the four hillside estates that blend so seamlessly into the jungle they are completely invisible. When we make our next million
The Luxury Travel Bible is going to book an extended stay at Estate No. 1 with its grand, columned patio that looks out at nothing but the water and the islands beyond.
Each Estate has a cook and a butler and the use of a private vehicle should you wish to leave your exclusive enclave. Now normally once ensconced in a villa like this there is no way your luxury Loving correspondent would ever want to venture forth but Pangkor Laut Resort does have some compelling reasons to do so.
The Spa Village for one. Now, the estates do have their own private massage pavilions (
natch) but the Village is so impressive that even your average spoilt superstar might want to sling on a sarong and slip in unobtrusively.
One of the first of its kind anywhere in the world when it opened in 2002, the Village took the concept of 'stand-alone spa' to its ultimate incarnation. Since then its creators YTL Hotels have used the concept successfully in their other resorts such as Tanjong Jara Resort on Malaysia's east coast and Cameron Highlands Resort .This really is a whole separate 'village' of indulgence with its own 50-metre swimming pool, its own spa-cuisine restaurant , a small library and its own private massage pavilions. Scattered through its landscaped gardens are healing huts where experts from a variety of disciplines from Indian Ayurvedic to Chinese herbal wait to advise you.
The Luxury Travel Bible also found the three little stilted 'nap pavilions' where you can snooze on cushions after treatment especially appealing.
Whatever treatment you opt for we recommend you book a Bath House Ritual first. The staff will tie-you into a sarong (see 'dress code' below) and lead you through two separate bath houses and a series of watery indulgences from waterfall-style showers to a Japanese goshi-goshi wash and steaming hot pools. Then if you follow this with a signature Malay Lapis Lapis wrap we guarantee you'll be so mellow you'll want to do almost nothing for the next 24 hours at least.
Which is why, if you are not staying in the exclusive private estates,
The Luxury Travel Bible recommends the over water Spa villas as the next best thing. These 22 villas are with the confines of the Spa Village so really, you never have to leave at all.
The original dark wood over-water Sea Villas in the main part of the resort are a few years old now and lack the clever design of some more modern over-water paradises
The Luxury Travel Bible has found in Tahiti or the Maldives where there is feeling of real closeness the water. Nevertheless strolling along the wooden walkway one evening we see a giant water monitor lizard basking on the rocks and plate-like rays swimming beneath us so maybe we're just being too picky here.
There are five restaurants to choose from. Uncle Lim's perched on a rocky outcrop near the spa serves wok-hot Chinese and is great fun but the real treat is The Straits set apart at one end of the resort with individual dining balconies jutting out towards the sea. Across the other side of the island at Emerald Cove we eat lunch with sand between our toes and then swim off the private beach. They are setting up for an evening wedding and strings of paper lanterns bob in the breeze.
No time however to toast the happy couple because there's a plane to catch. A private speed boat whisks us from the main jetty across the edge of the Straits of Malacca to the mainland and a three-hour journey back to the big city bustle of Kuala Lumpur.
Check in:Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Laut Island, 32200 Lumut, Perak, Malaysia. Tel: +603 2783 1000
Ultimate Luxury:A private estate or over-water Spa Villa
Most Indulgent Moment:Moment? How about 'day'? And it has to be spent exclusively in the spa. All day.
Insider Secrets:The more exclusive and expensive the Pankor Laut private residence, the less you can see it from the water. Think 'rainforest- rich'.
The Little Things: The day beds in the library are perfect for indolent holiday reading
Junior Luxies:No specific facilities but welcome
Dress code: W
ide straw hats and properly tied sarongs (get the spa therapists to help)