Haute Hotels: The Datai, Langkawi
Nature is the big drawcard at this five-star gem set in the rainforest of Langkawi
An oasis of tranquillity in an ancient landscape, The Datai Langkawi melds the castaway fantasy with luxury living in a Malaysian archipelago bathed by the Andaman Sea. Discreetly tucked into the rainforest of Langkawi’s northwest and overlooking a perfect crescent of beach, the resort is isolated from the populated side of the island by the craggy peak of Gunung Machinchang, where fossilised ripples speak of life on the seabed 500 million years ago.
Life today doesn’t get much better than a stay in one of the 2,350-square-foot Beach Villas, with their separate sleeping and living pavilions, pool, spacious sundeck, garden and personal butler. Gaze from seclusion across the shimmering sea to the forest-draped ramparts of Ko Tarutao, once the haunt of bloodthirsty pirates. Comb a beach National Geographic ranks in the world’s top 10. Have your chef serve lunch poolside, or a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach.
When ready to step out of blissful hibernation, summon an electric buggy—never more than a few moments away—to whisk you up to the main body of the resort for cocktails in the Lobby Lounge. Then cross the pool terrace for a Thai feast at The Pavilion—a restaurant suspended in the rainforest with a view of Thailand—or dine at another of the five gourmet venues serving local and Western cuisine. Executive chef Richard Millar draws inspiration from the rainforest and Asian cuisine in putting an original spin on fine dining.
For breaks from private poolside reverie, the Beach Club beckons with a wide array of water-based activity as well as a bar and dining. The area’s flora and fauna star on forest walks and aquatic excursions with the Datai’s resident naturalist, Irshad Mobarak, and marine biologist, Jonathan Chandrasakaran. For offshore exploration, the Datai offers a range of cruises and private charters aboard the Naga Pelangi, a hand-built 30-metre wooden schooner that combines Malay maritime heritage and modern luxury.
Nature provides a restful soundtrack at the award-winning Datai Spa, where gifted hands dispense fragrant ministrations in private open-air pavilions beside a gurgling stream. Built around ancient Ramuan teachings and natural medicinal ingredients, the spa’s menu of massages and treatments embodies the healing wisdom of Malaysia.
For the exercise-minded, the well-equipped gym will build fitness and an appetite, laps can be swum in the large adults-only main pool, and mountain bikes are available at no charge. Just minutes away is the Els Club Teluk Datai, an 18-hole par 72 masterpiece. Designed by one of golfing’s greats, Ernie Els, it mixes dramatic sea, forest and mountain views as players traverse the emerald fairways.
If you prefer to stay close to the resort’s main pool, terrace and lobby, the 2,800sqft Datai Suite accommodates four in the lap of luxury, with expansive living and dining areas opening onto a large balcony with panoramic views. And the Pool Suites make the perfect hideaways for families or groups of friends; joined by sheltered walkways, the four 1,800sqft suites share large living and dining areas, with kitchens, and are built around a private pool and sunbathing terrace.
The Datai’s 125 villas, suites and rooms come with Bose CD sound systems, pre-loaded iPods, flat-screen TVs, and all the inclusions and attentive service you’d expect of a top resort. And nature complements the luxury, adding fragrant rainforest, gentle sea breezes and a chirpy soundtrack to The Datai experience. Modern-day castaways will live well on this island, paradise found.
For bookings and enquiries please visit The Datai's website