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It’s the last day of February, so here’s hoping Spring will come soon to those of us still hiding from the cold. If in addition to a bit of warmth, you could do with some isolation from overcrowded cities, this sea villa at Malaysia’s Pangkor Laut Island should look pretty appealing right about now – it certainly does to us.
There is more than one of these overwater bungalows, but this shot makes it look like it’s just you that is lucky enough to gaze out over and sleep above the Straits of Malacca (between Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra). Given that this is the only hotel on the island, peace and quiet will be easy to come by.
The conundrum for North American travelers when it comes to Southeast Asia is the upfront cost and the time it takes to get there. Sure, it's a sexy destination, but it's halfway around the world, and most people struggle with finding the time to make the trip a reality.
For what it's worth, travelers who brave the journey will be happy to know it gets much easier on the wallet once you hit the ground. Take Kuching in Malaysia, for example, where not only the food and cost of living is cheap compared to the American dollar, but the hotel rates look really good, too.
A trip to the Malaysian side of Borneo is not complete without experiencing life in a traditional Iban longhouse. Our bro Jaunted is going to dish on that immersive experience next week for those of you who find the idea of sleeping on the floor or in the jungle appealing, but what about those of us who prefer a soft mattress? Well, a remote Hilton property near Batang Ai may be just the compromise.
Officially called the Batang Ai Longhouse Resort Managed by Hilton, this property is a 4-hour drive and a 15-minute boat ride from the nearest airport in Kuching. It's located amongst and adjacent to what makes Borneo famous: the rainforest. This means the main attractions are nature walks, hikes, boating, fishing, and chasing down wild orangutans.
Know what's weird? We just returned from spending 4 days in the country of Brunei.
Know what's even weirder? That, in Brunei, the hotels where we stayed had specifically banned certain fruit, and it wasn't just one fruit. Three fruits are banned in these particular hotels, and the Directory of Guest Services even spells it out in all caps.
Having durian banned from a room isn't anything new to us; the stinky fruitthe smell is often likened to rotting, gross feetis even prohibited from riding in the subway systems of Asian metropoli. It's the other banned fruits which intrigue. They are: Kuini and Cempedak.
What's so bad about these fruits? Well, Kuini is described as having a "characteristic fragrant resinous smell," while Cempedak rates worse, like "fermented urine combined with sweet syrup."
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The other day we showed you our favorite shots from our favorite hotel at our favorite island in the South China Sea: Bagus Place Resort.
Comprised of seven hand-built villas, or "chalets" as the folks at Bagus like to call them, the resort is a true island paradise, with white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and dense forest cutting you off from any hint of civilization—at night, we could even hear the ooh-ooh-aah-aah of monkeys scurrying around in the treetops outside our room!
Checking In: Check-in is quite an experience here, as it entails taking a private boat from the Tioman Island airport (a tiny little strip of tarmac built on the northern part of the island). After a rollicking 15-minute cruise along the coast—which we mostly spent staring out at the island's gorgeous scenery—we finally pulled up to the Bagus Place jetty.
As we made our way slowly down the insanely-long wooden jetty (where a welcome cocktail awaited us), we took in all the sights, and thought to ourselves, "Oh, this is gonna be good…"
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A 45 minute flight from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur, Tioman Island is considered one of Malaysia's most beautiful islands. It is mostly covered by dense forest, with a range of different types of resorts dotted along the coast. By far the most charming of these is Bagus Place Resort, a sustainably-built eco-resort with seven private "chalets," or small villas.
Pictured above is Bagus Place's private jetty. At 162 paces from end to end (we counted), it's the longest on the island.
Click below for more photos!
What's better than a Harrod's store inside a hotel? How about an entire Harrod's-branded hotel?
That's what Qatar Holding—the luxury department store's new owners as of 2010—have in mind, and they're certainly not wasting any time. Construction will start next year on the world's first Harrod's hotel in Kuala Lumpur, in the Bukit Bintang shopping district, says Bloomberg.
The building will house 300 hotel rooms, apartments, and, of course, retail outlets—most likely full of stuff we couldn't afford back in London and probably still won't be able to afford. But it's still fun to look!
Malaysia is heavily courting tourists with the opening of several new resorts. One of them is the Seri Chenang Resort & Spa Langkawi, opening June 30th. The property, located on Langkawi Island on the Malaysian Peninsula, promises to be quite luxe, though determined to add a heady mix of Malay culture to the guest experience. In other words—don’t expect a holiday where your only foreign interaction is with the staff and a plate of noodles.
For being the hotel snobs that we are, we actually dig the "no frills" concept of Tune Hotels. And despite having a room that was only slightly larger than a sleeper cabin on a train, we really enjoyed our stay at the Tune Hotel Westminster in London. The price was right and the room was rather cozy.
But the one thing that did sort of irk us was all the add-ons that the hotel charges, mostly before you even get there.
However, Tune is finally doing away with one fee--the room administration fee. In conjunction/celebration of the new Tune Hotel Bintulu opening in Malaysia, Tune Hotel is dropping this fee across all 12 properties starting today. And you can thank Tune expansion for that.
Labeling itself a "boutique resort," the Club at Saujana is a great compromise if you're wanting or needing to stay in hectic Kuala Lumpur but want a place to sleep that doesn't exactly feel like KL. The Saujana complex where the Club belongs is half an hour out of downtown KL and half an hour away from the airport, so if your plans can accomodate it, this is definitely the quiet way to stay in the Malaysian capital.
The Club at Saujana has 105 rooms set in the middle of a tropical garden and two 18-hole golf courses. Inside, it sounds it's got one like one of those "no expense spared" kind of designs: rooms are "lavishly made with terrazzo floors, marble, and Burmese teakwood, with designer fabrics and European glassware."
Room rates start at 700 Ringgit (almost $200) for a basic Club room, but that includes breakfast and WiFi so, really, not so bad. They also have a Weekend Escape deal going right now: if you stay over a weekend, you'll score complimentary minibar goodies and cocktails, plus "culinary highlights" in the lounge each evening.
Until last week, if you said “Langkawi" to us, we’d have replied ”Datai”. Admittedly, this is mainly because we once had the pleasure of interviewing his hotness Ewan McGregor, and he said that the Datai was his favourite hotel in the world, and we’ve been indulging in poolside cocktail fantasies ever since. But also, the Datai is pretty synonymous with Langkawi luxury.
Langkawi luxury, Datai-style, comes at a price, though – rooms start at $400 and up. We were looking for luxury on a budget, so when we found rates at $121 at the Taj Rebak Island Resort (formerly known as the Rebak Marina Resort), we decided that Ewan wasn’t really worth an extra $300 a night.
We were a bit hesitant on arrival, because the website wasn’t that inspiring, and TripAdvisor had some very mixed reviews. Speaking to locals, apparently it used to be a little grim before Taj took it over two years ago – but none of them had been out since the revamp.
So we were preparing for the worst. As we were being driven from the airport down a grotty, un-paved path to the hotel jetty (it’s the only resort on Langkawi to be on its own private island, so you have to get a boat to and from the main island of Langkawi), we were having doubts.
But then we reached a pretty little gazebo with snazzy armchairs on the water’s edge, and after a short wait (we timed our flight well) we got onto the boat. It’s about 10-15 minutes to the island, and on our way we spied a pod of dolphins. Things were looking up.
Until last week, if you said “Langkawi” to us, we’d have replied . Admittedly, this is mainly because we once had the pleasure of interviewing his hotness Ewan McGregor, and he said that the Datai was his favourite hotel in the world, and we’ve been indulging in poolside cocktail fantasies ever since. But also, the Datai is pretty synonymous with Langkawi luxury.
Langkawi luxury, Datai-style, comes at a price, though – rooms start at $400 and up. We were looking for luxury on a budget, so when we found rates at $121 at the Taj Rebak Island Resort, we decided that Ewan wasn’t really worth an extra $300 a night.
We were a bit hesitant on arrival, because the website wasn’t that inspiring, and TripAdvisor had some very mixed reviews. Speaking to locals, apparently it used to be a little grim, before Taj took it over two years ago – but none of them had been out since the revamp.
So we were preparing for the worst. As we were being driven from the airport down a grotty, un-paved path to the hotel jetty (it’s the only resort on Langkawi to be on its own private island, so you have to get a boat to and from the main island of Langkawi), we were feeling a bit grim.
But then we reached a pretty little gazebo on the water’s edge, with snazzy armchairs, and after a short wait (we timed our flight well) we got onto the boat. It’s about 10-15 minutes to the island, and on our way we spied a pod of dolphins. Things were looking up.