Malaysia boasts a beautiful coastline featuring hundreds of clustered islands. That makes for some remarkable beaches and resorts that can turn a simple getaway into a dream vacation. And though the high-end downtown properties aren’t as sandy, they’re equally as sensational. Right in time for summer, here are our picks of the most luxurious resorts around the country:
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Kota Kinabalu
There’s more to Kota Kinabalu than Mount Kinabalu — although that is quite impressive. KK, as it’s affectionately known to locals, has some of the whitest, most sparkling beaches in the country, and the Rasa Ria Resort makes full use of it all. The resort is outfitted in the style of Shangri-La’s signature Old World décor with plenty of earth tones, plump sofas, plush carpets and a layout specifically meant to catch the stunning views at every possible angle. Relax in a cabana by the beach or put in a round of golf at the 18-hole championship course. When you get restless, try out water sports, including jet skiing, kayaking and boogie boarding. Then chill out with a spa visit and indulge in CHI signature therapies and massages before enjoying Naan’s Indian cuisine or a sunset dinner at the seafood-focused Coast Restaurant and Bar.
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur
Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur sits close to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, overlooks the 20-hectare (or about 50-acre) KLCC park and counts Suria KLCC shopping mall as its neighbor, too. It’s an excellent base from which to explore KL on foot, but chances are you won’t want to leave very often. Take in a great view of the city while lying by the rooftop pool, or enjoy an exclusive look at the Twin Towers’ architecture right from your own room. The scene from Mandarin Grill, Lai Po Heen and Mosaic is nearly as breathtaking — only this time, it’s fine Cantonese and modern Oriental dishes that captivate. With its tantalizing cuisine and consistent decorative themes of wood and warm shades of brown, the Mandarin Oriental makes a comforting, welcoming contrast to the glitter of steel and glass next door.
The Danna, Langkawi
A comparatively new addition to Langkawi’s coastline, The Danna models itself after a colonial mansion — expansive and imposing but maintaining a dignified, discreet experience. Step through the doors and you’ll find high ceilings, glimmering marble floors and rooms that are a thoroughly modern interpretation of a luxurious safari trip. Outside, you’ll notice that The Danna is lucky in location — one side faces the marina and the other looks out onto a three-tiered infinity pool and a private stretch of beach. For daytime pursuits, the hotel will take you island hopping (Langkawi is technically made up of more than a hundred islands, varying in size) and you can snorkel in the waters or bird-watch from the boat. The famed Langkawi cable car is also only a 15-minute walk (or five-minute drive) from the luxury hotel. If you’d rather stay on the grounds, pull your deck chairs right into the shallowest reaches of the pool. For those celebrating a special occasion, a private candlelit dinner can be set up there as well.
Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor
Pangkor Laut has been a byword in beachside luxury since 1997. It’s a private island off of the west coast of Malaysia, housing stilted chalets that stretch out into the sea. There are no rooms in Pangkor Laut, only villas and suites — including one named after the late operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti, after he expressed his admiration of the estate — each characterized by their proximity to the sea, beach, rainforest and spa. There’s plenty to keep you occupied, with swimming pools, squash and tennis courts, jungle walks or the hotel’s yachts, but Pangkor Laut is probably most famous for its Spa Village. There is an extensive menu of treatments from China, Japan, India and Thailand to be experienced here, but start with one of its signature massages, such as the Sesegar Bayu body rejuvenation, which employs traditional Malay, Thai and Japanese techniques to relax and detoxify.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur
Right in the center of the city, The Ritz has remained a constant in high-end accommodations in KL over the decades. This is proper, traditional luxury — expect pillowcases monogrammed with your initials, a discreet and efficient butler service and some excellent food. You’ll find some of KL’s best Chinese cuisine in Li Yen, while the Sunday Roast lunches (think lobster, leg of lamb and oysters) served at the lobby are legendary. The spa also boasts an extensive menu with treatments such as the Terra Timur Body Scrub (red clay, ground soy, rice and papaya). And you can opt to enjoy your treatment in an outdoor cabana and pretend you’re not in the city at all.
Photos Courtesy of Pangkor Laut Resort, Benur Perdana SDN-BHD, Shangri La International Hotel Management LTD