Stylish villas embedded on a jungle-clad hillside above the ocean, a good choice of restaurants, an outstanding spa and its own private beach make this hotel on the Malaysian island of Langkawi an exclusive, but expensive choice. It’s worth every penny.
Embedded in jungle on a hillside above a long curl of platinum sand in the relatively isolated north west corner of the island. Not only did it bag a prime spot back in 1993, but secured itself a private beach as well.
Address: Jalan Teluk Datai, Teluk Datai 07000, Malaysia.
Style & character
If Nobel gave prizes for tranquillity, as opposed to peace, the Datai would have won a handful. The idea was simple: build an expansive lodge in the jungle and give guests very little to do and lots of staff to help them do it. Constructed with almost more timber than there is in the surrounding forest, it’s the epitome of a tropical retreat. More traditional than glitz and more open walls than glass, appeal to an old school clientele, particularly the British, who comprise 90 per cent of the guests in winter. Many have been coming for years. Although the resort is on the beach, its real habitat is the rainforest. Few rooms have a view of the sea, all look into the jungle. There are water sports, but none motorised. A big site of more than 46 acres requires golf buggies on permanent call to breeze you between room, restaurants and spa. Long popular with families, who tend to head for the Beach Club where there is a pool. Children are not permitted in the main pool and Lobby Bar.
Service & facilities
Relaxed, friendly and obliging, most of the staff know your name within a day. If there were inconsistencies – a newspaper one day, not the next, a lighting problem promptly attended to but not rectified – cheerfulness invariably made up for them. Only as you ascend the ranks of management does the spontaneity wear off.
Four open-air villas set along a calming stream and treatments inspired by ancient healing and indigenous Maya treatments – the enticing spa here is a true back-to-nature experience. The menu includes an array of massages from Ayurvedic Abhyanga to Himalayan Hot Stone, but don’t miss the Datai Jade Massage (involving two therapists), which includes a facial, foot massage, body polish and Oriental bathing ceremony. You’ll leave feeling fully rejuvenated.
- Room service
There are 124 in nine categories. If the original (deluxe) rooms seem dated, it’s because the latest (beach villas) are state of the art. They are also nearly four times the price. Their high-tech bedrooms and living rooms are in separate spacious buildings enclosed in walled gardens with 10 meter pools. Sadly, for beach villas, a stockade fence allows no view of the beach, though that is supposed to change. The variety of accommodation includes 35 roomy, if dark, villas built beside a steep path through the jungle. Most overlook a rushing river. Five similar villas have plunge pools.
Food & drink
With ‘eating out’ not really an option because of the remote location, three, sometimes four, restaurants offer Thai, Indian/Malaysian, International and European bistro food. The airy, seductively lit rooms are spectacular, more so than the cuisine.
Access for guests with disabilities?
No adapted rooms and a steep hillside but ramps can be provided.
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