About Time: You Found Paradise in Pangkor LautBy Angelica Malin
When was the last time you felt truly relaxed?
Weightless, carefree, de-stressed and detoxed? It’s almost impossible as a Londoner; the need to check your phone, scroll through Instagram, keep up with friends, trends, restaurants, news, tube strikes, are all subtle ways of our bodies telling us our equilibrium is off.
Try as we might, with weekend spa breaks and stay cations, it’s difficult to feel total ease in our busy, hectic city. We’re always thinking about the next thing, the next day, the next party. Tomorrow is always too close.
But I have a solution.
It’s called Pangkor Laut Resort, and it will change your whole world. An island resort near main land Pangkor in Malaysia, the hotel doesn’t offer ‘digital detox’ packages, because it doesn’t need to.
Come here and I will guarantee you’ll lose your desire to check your phone, to be switched on to the world. Come to stop thinking about tomorrow. Come for today.
If you’re planning an incredible holiday in 2015, here’s what you need to know:
Pangkor Laut Resort: The Rooms
The island is split into beach and spa villas. The incredible spa villas are on the water, propped up on wooden sticks, and each one features an outdoor balcony with day beds where you can watch the sunset with a drink. You can also have a nap to the sound of lapping water here.
This comes highly recommended.
Totally secluded and private, the spa villas give you the opportunity to feel totally at one with nature – surrounded by water on all sides, you’ll forget all about the world outside your little kingdom. It’s helped along by the fact that there’s no televisions or WiFi in the rooms (shock horror). You won’t need them; there’s an incredible, huge bath, which opens up to views of the water ahead – it’s like your bathing in the ocean.
The room will be kitted out with fresh exotic fruit every day, as well as handy extras like flip flops and beach bags. The island size means you might need to be ferried around in a car; if so they are easily ordered to the nearby Spa Village.
Pangkor Laut Resort: The Facilities
The resort boasts an incredible, award-winning spa, where you can simply lose yourself for days with incredible Malaysian, Balinese and Thai treatments, as well as complimentary Ayurvedic consultations. The resort’s swimming pools are incredible – another advantage of staying in the spa villas, is that you have assess to the spa’s infinity pool all day. The spa area is child-free, so the spa pool is slightly quieter and more private than the main pool. Come for a swim at sunrise as the sun streaks the sky pink and orange, and you’ll swear it’s the most beautiful experience of your life.
Beyond the dining and activities featured below, the hotel is also home to one of the most beautiful private beaches in Asia; the Emerald Bay Beach is a quiet, tranquil spot, complete with hammocks for napping and day beds to forget your worries on. The beach hosts an amazing traditional Malaysian restaurant; come for a Banana Leaf curry on the beach, stay for a pina colada at sunset.
Pangkor Laut Resort: The Activities
Once you’ve taken a few days to detox and chill, you might want to try one of the activities on offer at the resort. Or you might not. And that’s totally OK too.
For the yogi, there’s complimentary yoga and tai chi every morning, which takes place outside by the water, just after sunset.
For the foodie, the hotel offers a Chef’s Experience; at only £90 per person, this half-day trip features an excursion to Pangkor Island, where you’ll discover the gastronomy behind the resort. With an expert guide, the island’s head chef, you’ll visit the local fish market to see where they source their produce, the anchovy stores, the noodle makers and a fish farm. With 80% of the island’s produce locally-sourced, the trip is a fantastic way to fully immerse yourself in the island’s rich and important food history. You’ll return with your produce, and be cooked three recipes by the chef in an open dining experience in Feast Village. It’s simply an amazing way to see how the resort pays homage to its local surroundings and uses the best of Malaysian produce.
For the adventurer, you can take a morning jungle walk and nature excursion with the island’s resident naturist. From the fruit bats of the nearby trees, to the kinds of snakes (almost harmless) that reside on the island, your eyes will be opened to the natural beauty and wildlife of this stunning country. You’ll get a chance to look at monitor lizards and crabs, before taking a 30-minute jungle trek (bring suncream, mosquito repellent and a hat) where you will identify local birds, discover fascinating plants and trace the footsteps of wild boards, before ending the journey at Emerald Bay for a much-needed dip in the ocean and a cocktail on the beach. There’s also a longer jungle trek, which takes 2 hours, which you can do at your leisure.
For the romantic, try a Sunset Cruise, which is a fantastic way to see the entire island, including the island’s private estates, in the most beautiful light. On board the cruise, you’ll be served refreshments and canapés, in the comfort of soft pillows on the top deck. With a glass of pinot in your hand at 6pm, the setting sun casting an orange light over the sky, you’ll think you’re literally on top of the world.
Pangkor Laut Resort: The Spa
The spa is a destination in itself.
In fact, you could come to the island and try none other of the activities, and be totally content. What makes the spa special is their Bathing Ritual, a 45-minute process, which is complimentary with every spa treatment.
The bathing ritual is a mixture of traditional Asian rituals, such as Japanese bathing, and Thai hot baths. The ritual is as back to nature as its gets; wearing only a sarong, there are four stations to the ritual, including freezing cold plunge pools, herbal steam inhalation, warm baths and traditional Malaysian scrubbing. The ritual is the perfect way to ease you into a spa treatment; it helps prepare you, mentally and physically, for a state of total relaxation and unwind.
Choose from a huge array of massages, treatments and facials. Their Balinese massage is truly special; applying pressure to certain points of the body, it relives stress and tension. The traditional Malay experience features Thai, Balinese and Malay techniques in one – using hot rice pads, the body is scrubbed and steamed after the massage, leaving you incredibly smooth and supple. The treatment takes over an hour and a half, and we guarantee you’ll want to do nothing but sleep and listen to the crashing waves afterwards.
Pangkor Laut: The Food
I can’t quite believe we haven’t got onto the food yet.
The island’s food, with beautiful local produce, fresh fish and a mixture of Asian influences, is one of its crowning features. There’s a variety of dining options available, suited to those who want more casual, formal or romantic settings.
For breakfast, an incredible spread of food is put on at Feast Village. This ‘interactive dining’ experience is nothing like a buffet – it’s so, so much more. At breakfast, you’ll find food from every continent and cuisine; including incredible traditional Malay breakfast dishes, such as Roti Canai, which is a pudgy, flaky bread, served with a variety of spicy and sweet chutneys, lamb curry and vegetable dahl. Another winning breakfast dish is Nasi Lemak, a chicken curry, served with rice, that will give your morning a kick. You can also try Chicken Congee – a savoury Chinese porridge – and amazing chilli noodles with tofu and prawns. For the more intrepid traveller, there’s a sensational fresh juice counter where you can select your fruits to make your own juice, including papaya, star fruit and fresh ginger. Perfect.
Feast Village is also open for dinner – a fantastic way to get a crash course in dim sum, Malay, Indian and Western cuisine at once. Don’t miss the beautiful Malaysian sweets; banana coconut treats, sweet potato doughnuts and coconut jam toasties are all musts. For lunch (not that you’ll need it) grab an ease bite at the Royal Bay Beach Club, which does poolside comfort food, including burgers, chips, sushi and beautiful noodles.
For dinner, Uncle Lim’s is the most popular dinner restaurant on the island. Uncle Lim is, in fact, the resort’s first ever employee and at 80-years old, still oversees every dish that leaves the kitchen. The food is Chinese-influenced; with sensational steamed fish, lemon chicken and incredible bean curd dishes. Overlooking the sea, decorated with red lanterns and feature circular tables, it’s has a buzzy, sociable atmosphere, and is perfect for families. Don’t leave without trying the banana fritter with vanilla ice cream – apparently the trick is to deep-fry an under-ripe banana so that it’s soft and melty in the middle. Whatever the trick, it’s total sorcery to me.
For the fish-lover, Fisherman’s Cove is your spot. The ocean-fresh fish is laid out on ice, and you can select your dinner on arrival. The restaurant has the most beautiful outdoor balcony setting – all white, overlooking the ocean – and is a great one for couples. The restaurant’s famous for its seafood feast for two, which includes prawns, lobster, oysters and muscles, and the beautiful fresh lobster, which is simply grilled and served with lemon butter. Fisherman’s Cove is a fantastic spot for a pre-dinner cocktail; come for the sunset, stay for the Caprinhinas.
For the romantic, The Straits is set atop the rocks, with sunken tables that feel as if you’re dining at sea. The beautiful, dramatic restaurant is one of the most smart on the island; it offers a Chef’s Menu with 8 courses. The beautiful dishes, from lamb rendang to curry prawn risotto, play homage to traditional Malaysian cuisine, with inventive, quirky twists. Each plate is its own small, beautiful artwork. Don’t leave before trying a chocolate bento box; the chocolates are served in their own edible chocolate casing. Heavenly.
Pangkor Laut: The Idea
By this point, I’m hoping I don’t have to tell you that going to this island will be the nicest thing you could ever do for yourself. If you take a loved one along, so be it. But you’re also fantastic on your own, FYI.
The island has everything the foodie, curious traveller could want; culture, energy, liveliness, with respect and admiration for its beautiful natural surroundings and a love that goes into everything. From the bathing ritual at the spa to the fresh juices at breakfast, every act will make you fall in love with this island more and more each day.
Pangkor Laut Resort
Prices from £1,985 per person based on 2 adults sharing a Garden Villa Room on a bed and breakfast basis including private car and speedboat transfers. Based on travel 4 – 11 Sep 2017. ITC Luxury Travel (01244 355527, www.itcluxurytravel.co.uk).